Showing Them Inside the Empty Tomb

Rocks or stones are a frequent image in the Bible. Think of the rock that Moses struck in the desert, the Rock of salvation and refuge David frequently sought, the stone the builders rejected which became the chief corner stone, the rock on which a man who keeps Jesus’ sayings is said to build his house, and the stones Christ said would cry out if cries of Hosanna had not burst forth from the Palm Sunday crowd.

Now think of the stone that was rolled away by an angel, who sat upon it and declared, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Without the Resurrection, Paul says, we are the most miserable of people, still in our sins, professing a vain faith. (1 Corinthians 15:13-19) This is why the resurrection has always been an essential element of our faith. This season in which we celebrate the Resurrection gives us a great opportunity, since visitors have reason to be more interested: we had increases in our visitors over last month, but what’s more interesting to me is the increase in our percentages: we went from 9-12% of our visitors indicating decisions for Christ, which resulted in an average of an extra 10,853 decisions for Christ every day. What this highlights for me is the enormous scale of our outreach. So I decided to investigate our impact on the hardest-to-reach places in the world: what Open Doors ministry calls the “World Watch” list of the fifty countries most resistant to the Christian faith.

World Watch List

I found that we’ve registered 83,858,074 gospel visits, 7,392,652 indicated decisions, and taken 566,615 new contacts from these countries. “Fritz,” one of our busiest Online Missionaries, received one of these Contacts from Yemen (in the top 5 of that list) last month. “What makes me a Christian and what does faith recommend me to do?” he asked. Paul’s response included John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

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With war continuing to rage in Ukraine, we’re still reaching people there at an accelerated rate: over 400,000 gospel visits and 65,000 indicated decisions for Christ since the war began. Our Russian Language Director shared a conversation between one of his Online Missionaries and a Ukrainian contact who was asking for ideas about where he and his family might find shelter. In a way that reminded me of Peter and John’s invitation to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple in Acts 3:6, the Russian volunteer used the opportunity to share Christ as the greater shelter. (The Ukrainian visitor received Christ!)

Ukraine

Results since the first day of the war in Ukraine:
431,639 Gospel Visits; 69,126 Indicated Decisions

In a recent Dallas Morning News op-ed piece, an atheist publicly admitted, “between COVID and nuclear weapons, I’m ready to give God a try.” Like the sudden platform given to Peter and John by the miraculous healing, the combination of this visitor’s intensely felt mortality and our ministry’s constant worldwide presence made it possible for him to flee to our Rock of salvation and refuge as the resurrected Christ was preached. Although the Ukrainian Contact had no idea that the compassionate one on the other end was a Russian, it’s beautiful for us to see how the love of Christ transcends division, borders and the aggressive efforts of regimes like Russia’s and the World Watch List countries. Please pray for our volunteers in Russia, as they’re facing some unique security challenges and difficulties related to the international sanctions on the country. Thank you for your prayers for our Ukrainian Online Missionaries: I’m pleased to be able to report that they’ve all been able to get out of the country! They’ll still need to find dependable incomes and permanent housing where they’ve emigrated, so we appreciate your continued prayers for them.

Like the op-ed piece implies, illusions of peace and security are eroding more and more each day. Psalm 62 is a profound cry for rescue. I love what David says about trust in men in it: “Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.” (verse 9) The salvation (Literally “Yeshua” in Psalm 62:1!) David was waiting for has come: the action and message of the angel on the tombstone are one: it wasn’t to enable Jesus to get out, but to let the world see inside. Please pray with us that we’ll be bold and effective in declaring that the tomb is empty, the Lord is alive and that real peace and security is only through faith in His name.

We thank you once again for your vital investment in us, so that this message can be shared with the world 24/7/365 to every nation and every generation, as our latest Easter video proclaims!

Family Easter Collage

P.S., I’d appreciate your prayers for my upcoming bladder cancer screening on April 28 at 9:10 AM CDT. My last screening did reveal another small cancerous tumor. Thankfully, my doctor was able to remove it in the office.

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