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May 2013

"I hope you are doing well and staying strong, focused on the Lord and joining Him in His mission. Please pray for those on the field as we labor among populations where the gospel is not so known. This is a tremendous task as well as a sacred responsibility.Please remember to pray for others and me on the field. As Jesus proclaimed in John 15:1-10, without Him we can do nothing. Please pray that the Lord give us His grace and mercy and use us all to His full potential and help us during difficulties. God is at work. It is a privilege to continue to serve Him. I'm trying my best to fully give myself to Him, to be dead to self and out of the way, in order that His Spirit may live in and through me and reach this world around me for Him.Please pray most of all for the people here, that they will embrace Christ and make Him known. History is truly being made and God is changing the culture. I am so thankful how the culture is changing. The government failed to deliver the promised utopia. The entire society collapsed - morally, socially and economically. We are still paying the high price in daily life in many respects. This serves as a warning to the West, which I have communicated in previous emails and letters.

Today many of the people - especially the young people - are open to the faith. Postmodernism, Darwinism and Marxism is not being propagated here like in the West. The people here have learned firsthand that ideas do indeed have consequences.

They are hungry for real truth, yet are still in many respects still shackled by the lies left behind from communist thinking. It will take some time, but things are changing. Personally, please pray for me, that God will keep me pure and my heart 100% His. Please pray for me as I begin continuing studies online here in my new platform, God willing, leading to more teaching and writing. God has began opening doors in this area, as this culture is in great need of hearing the truth and how it applies to all spheres of His influence - art, music, science, business, government and culture.

The Lord has opened doors publishing here locally and lecturing in some of the universities. I'm excited and enjoying it. This may be the new door the Lord is opening for me and so I ask your prayers accordingly. God bless you as well in your mission field - wherever you live, your work and most importantly your family!

May the Lord grant all of us to be faithful about the task He has commissioned us to!"

April 2013

"As my American friends and I abide in our little neighborhood here, we are quick to rejoice over the little things that make us smile, and then to jump in amazement at the seemingly impossible tasks He accomplishes!  Last week we got excited upon discovery that we now can get fresh cherries in the market!  To add to this, one of us had the fun privilege of actually going out to the market!  (Considering that usually an local friend does our grocery shopping for us, so we foreigners do not have an noticeable routine, a trip to the market is a rare occasion to be celebrated!)  On a bigger scale, I was shocked and amazed to have recently been granted a one year residency, something for which others have applied and been waiting for over a year to no avail.  This is a huge feat attributed to the favor of God upon our sports work here!  These big and small celebrations are some highlights in our daily life in the dusty capital the past couple months! As the spring season of dust storms is passing, we find ourselves diving full-on into summer, where these current 100°F days will steadily rise another 20+°F before reaching a peak in July-August.  Thankfully it's all a dry heat, though!  No humidity does make a difference!  With summer also comes an increase in sports activities, although this year we've tapered things off quite a bit, only doing a couple of camps on a smaller scale than we have done in the past.

One cool new development is our relationship with the Baseball/Softball Federation!  Yes, they have one, and have approached us to help them develop!  God continues to not only open doors of opportunity for us, but also to provide the right coaches and the funding to make it possible.  A month from now, I'll have four qualified softball coaches visiting to conduct a week long coaching clinic and girls camp.  We're all pretty excited at this new opportunity, as are our softball friends!

* Please remember our visiting coaches, especially as they will be dealing with some pretty intense heat while conducting the clinic/camp.  (Two of them were here last summer.  Two of them are new recruits.)

* Ask for His hand of protection to be upon us as we prepare here and then as we carry out the camp.

* Ask that we will have and seize opportunities to share not only softball but Life.

* PTL that the Paralympic leadership is supportive of this new idea to allow young people in their 20s to lead a camp!  It is very rewarding to see national sports leaders embracing new methods of sports and leadership development!

* Ask that we would receive approval for the funding we have requested through the US State Dept.

Over the past four+ years in this country, I never cease to be amazed as God continues to bless our sports work, expanding our network and opportunities for engagement.  We have many new avenues opening and others continuing to grow.  At times I feel inadequate and overwhelmed.  Ask that He would grant us wisdom and discernment to know which avenues to pursue, where to invest our energies, and especially how to do it in this unstable environment where security continues to be an issue.

Thank you!"

March 2013

Over the last week, you've probably seen news stories about events in our part of the world. On Saturday, the front page of all of the daily newspapers here had large pictures and headlines about these events. In our city, however, life has pretty much continued as normal for us. We have moved about our city, had meetings, and had opportunities to talk with a variety of folks. Last night I went to the small grocery store in our neighborhood, which is owned by two brothers. We stop by this store almost daily. In fact, one of the brothers gave a present for a birthday. As we began to talk, the conversation immediately turned to world events. The two brothers were very passionate in expressing their outrage at the violence and were insistent that this is not the true way of their religion. They were so passionate that really, all I could do was listen and offer a few comments.

Let's use these world events as an opportunity to intercede for the millions of lost m*sl'ms and to not be overcome or driven by fear. "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

Maybe as you gather today in your weekly small group and fellowship, you can remember these pr requests that are specific to our context and to the people whom we live among and serve:

* Lift up the two brothers who own the grocery store in our neighborhood. They are quite religious, and one has gone on the Pilgrimage several times. I have been able to share a couple of stories and verses with the other but have not detected any interest on his part. Ask the Father to reveal Himself to them, awakening within them a thirst to know the Truth. Ask that I will share in boldness, guided by the Spirit.

* Lift up a recently married couple who are followers of the Way. They have a real desire to serve and expand the Kingdom by teaching what they have learned to others who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). They have been working with another family and the Father has laid on their heart an additional family to begin visiting. Ask the Father to strengthen their marriage as they grow together in love and service. Ask the Father to guide us and we shepherd and counsel them.

* Lift up our family as we continue to live and work here. Ask the Father to guide us to persons of peace; ask for boldness and we share Good News and pray for those around us; ask that our family will be strengthened in Him.

* Lift up our sports work -- this past week, the Father has opened doors for meetings with sports federation and club officials. Tomorrow I have another important meeting with an official in the Ministry of Youth and Sport. Ask for the Father's guidance as we seek to serve these federations and prepare projects that will help them meet their needs. Ask for wisdom as we seek to discern which doors the Father is opening in sport.

Thanks for your continued partnership with us. Don't hesitate to write if you have questions or just want to say Hi.

February 2013

"Lord, teach us to pray" Lk.11.1 Sitting on the sideline of a basketball coaches training course last week, "Marcus" (one of our young volunteers) asked me to write out a prayer of thanks like the ones my colleague and I prayed at our recent Christmas party. "Marcus" had been impressed by our words and the act of praying to thank God for the meal and for friends and fellowship together. He said that is very different from what he is accustomed to, and he is drawn to it.

(Hmmm... I thought the key part of our Christmas party was reading the story in Arabic and then explaining the true meaning and ultimate purpose of the holiday! And I feared they would only remember the fun white elephant gift exchange! Obviously I had the wrong perspective!)

It's the little things that count more than we know. I confess I am not so faithful in the little things, such as giving thanks before every meal, and I have often neglected that small act whether alone or in the presence of our friends. However, it is clear that even a simple demonstration of faith is captivating their hearts.

This brief sideline conversation was a highlight for me of the hi-level basketball coaching course we coordinated together with the local Basketball leaders.  Having been here before, it was especially significant that our visiting US coach was able to build upon existing relationships. To quote him regarding our collective impact through sports in this land, he said, "There is a blanket of sp'ritual dust settling over the coaches." That definitely resonates here as the spring dust season quickly approaches, when that fine dust seems to penetrate through even the slightest crack.

The Sovereign Lrd never ceases to amaze us, as He perfectly orchestrates His plan. He has brought us through much this past fall… from project cancellations and security issues, to deeper talks of Truth with local sports partners, to contract negotiations over finances and dates, to overcoming new obstacles in obtaining visas, to the expansion and growth of our like-minded expat sports team residing here, and to refreshing trips out… He maneuvered the details to make it all fit perfectly. Though we often fail to see His hand at the time, the seemingly small things contribute to His work of wonder, as we have seen carried out in this recent hi-level basketball coaching course. His presence is clear, and He continues to reveal the path to pursue. Thus we press on.

We kicked off the new year strong with this basketball course! Now here are some things we're looking forward to in the months to come: 1. Weekly visits to the PE college, where many of our sports contacts work as professors or attend as students. This will facilitate more opportunities for language practice, as well as greater Life and Truth impact as my colleague and I seek to engage our friends at deeper levels. Specifically, I hope to spend more time with my good friend, "Mary", who is a leader in local sports and who has increasingly confided in and sought counsel from me over the past few months. 2. A trip out for vacation with my best friend the end of February. It's always important to schedule those vacations to take a break from life here! 3. Building upon our successful hi-level course, we are now coordinating another basketball coaching course to train coaches in how to teach fundamental skills to youth. Hopefully, this course will take place later in the year, pending both our US coaches and local side schedules. 4. We will have two US coaches returning to join our team in leading a youth basketball camp, followed by a multi-sport camp for orphaned youth here.

Thank you for lifting up each of these endeavors, and especially remembering "Marcus" and others of our friends whose hearts are being penetrated by Truth and Life.

In whatever He leads us to pursue, may we each be faithful to spread that blanket of sp'ritual dust even in the little things! "You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much." Mt.25.21