Dear Family and Friends:
The year in review. This has been a most significant year for us: a difficult one, with failures as well as encouragements. Hurricane-proportioned challenges, as well as miniature, disk-shaped ones, stand out in relief as we survey the last year. We picture ourselves not as conquerors, but as stumblers, through a route we often naïvely thought would be more straightforward. Our enemies include the flesh as well as the world and the devil. It’s so much more crucial that we become acclimated to the arena, now that our progress depends so much more upon walking by faith and not by sight. Thankfully the adversary is a defeated and disarmed foe.
Christmas. Christmas is the special season when it is our privilege to celebrate the birth of Christ, the Incarnation—the most important birth in history. As indicated by His name Emmanuel, God was physically with us; not separated by veil, sacrifices, ceremonial washings and compartments of a guarded building. His body became the legitimate Temple . The Bible says Jesus came at just the right time, that He was born under the Law to redeem those under the Law. That He came, not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. He fulfilled the Law on the cross, fully satisfying that Law’s requirements which opposed us and nailing that which we could never satisfy to His cross. We are told He disarmed our enemy’s powers and made His victory and their defeat a public spectacle. Imagine His birth and life—the owner of everything voluntarily living such a life of obscurity, humility, rejection, sorrow and suffering. Imagine the anticipation of the agony and rejection that awaited its end!
Gifts unto men. Think of the gifts He gave us by what He endured. Not only salvation, sonship and victory, but also the perfect model of how to please Him. How could we not be willing to dare anything and everything for Him, knowing what He dared for us? The Bible says to “lay aside every weight, and the sins which so easily beset us…looking unto Jesus…” I usually think of that weight as immaterial hang-ups—but let it be anything in your mind that keeps you from following Him whole-heartedly. The hurricanes gave us a graphic picture of what a hindrance things are to us. We abandoned for a time all but the minimum necessary to continue our work during our temporary stay in South Carolina . Emily prayed, “Thank you, Jesus, for sending the hurricanes to teach us not to be so attached to our stuff.”
Our reasonable service. We’re about to “lay aside” some more stuff, on a larger scale. We’ve been staying with another Crusade staff family since putting our CA home on the market and arriving in Orlando in late July. There was a significant amount of work waiting for me, but the understanding was always that the most important thing was that we secure ongoing funding so that our work can continue. This is why we were initially given the month of October to use exclusively in finding ministry partners. The hurricanes had us on the road in North and South Carolina , so while we were there we were encouraged to seek ministry partners.
Those things which are before. Because progress at finding ongoing support has not been as rapid as we had all hoped, and because the chief goal is that our work continue permanently, our Director made the decision to place supporter development above programming and design work for now. So Cindy and I have prayerfully considered the best way to use our time and decided to temporarily relocate from Orlando to Aiken, SC. Aiken’s fairly central location to our contacts in the Southeast will ensure we can spend more time together as a family. Our second-largest is in SC, and we have relatives who have been well-established in the community for several years. One of the fastest-growing local churches has recently become part of our ministry support team, and 17 people in the area receive this letter.
We have deliberately placed ourselves “on the front lines” of a battle with an invisible foe that seeks our humiliation and destruction. His war has been lost, and he’s been disarmed; but he continues to fight with dishonorable guerilla tactics. This is why your commitment to regular prayer for us means so much. Please pray God will grant us His strength that surpasses every difficulty, open doors with the insight and will to walk through them, encouragement from new financial partners and others who will wrestle in intercessory prayer for us until our goals are met. That He will continue to remind us of the many things about this process that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and virtuous. That He will help us to see that what the enemy intends for discouragement, He intends for strengthening our faith and resiliency. We fail and are rejected so often! But all it will take is the right number of successes. As of December, 2004, our ongoing support stands at 34%. We’ve had four individuals and two churches in the last month decide to become ongoing supporters. Please pray for several others still making their decisions. 300,000 people have visited our passionofchrist.com website this year. Thousands have indicated decisions for Christ, and we are going on the offensive against what is very much a stronghold of Satan, the Internet, pulling those taken captive by his will out of the fire, as it were. Your stand with us, both financially and prayerfully, makes it possible for us to be a part of that!
May God grant you a blessed Christmas season and bless you with a new appreciation of His grace!