At the end of the year, it is pretty reasonable to look back at what has happened. It’s also pretty reasonable to look forward. Before I mention what is coming up in this new year, I want to look at what transpired this past year.
The diagnosis that my daughter received is a primary focus of any remembrance of 2017. Dare I say it is the principal focus. However, other things did happen in 2017. We did present our three free seminars this year. We also had not one, but two conferences here in New Jersey. Our annual conference had Dr. Richard Land, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary as the keynote speaker. My friend Laurie Stewart spoke also. City of Hope International Church in Kearny, NJ hosted our other conference where Dr. Frank Turek was the keynote speaker and once again, Laurie Stewart joined us. I spoke at both conferences, too.
In June, Dr. Juan Valdes of Reasons for Hope joined me in presenting our No Pat Answers Seminar. I enjoy working with Juan. He’s definitely on our short list for speaking. I was in South Africa for about a week before I returned home because of my daughter’s diagnosis. Undoubtedly our lives changed with a phone call. Joanne and I have put many things aside to help our daughter. We’d do it for any of our children.
As we have mentioned in other newsletters/emails, Joanne has spent most of her time helping Jen and her family. Until recently, she’s spent five days each week in Maryland where Jen and her family live. Joanne is now able to go every other week when Jen has chemo treatments. All that to say, Jen has received some positive reports from her PET scans and blood tests. We’re awaiting another PET scan on December 28th. We should get results back right after New Year’s Day. Please continue to pray for Jen.
One of the decisions made during this time was to live as normally as possible. Jen continues to work full-time. She’s a real trooper. Joanne’s support allows Jen to focus on her job while the house is kept running. I’ve kept my ministry going as normal as possible. I was able to present our September seminar, travel to Charlotte for the National Conference on Christian Apologetics and then travel to Sarasota, Florida to teach a conference at The Tabernacle Church. (Please see the endorsement below). At the same time, our team here in New Jersey hosted Tricia Scribner for our fourth women’s conference. The reports of Tricia’s teaching were terrific. The women attendees loved her which is always a good sign.
Throughout 2016, I’ve had the privilege to speak to different churches and here at Long Branch Covenant Church. Joanne and I know we’re here to help LBCC accomplish the mission God has called the church to finish. We continue to help strengthen the leadership and congregation.
We find ourselves facing this new year with hope and faith. Personally, I like the “new” that the New Year brings. I’m scheduled to be in South Africa at Lewende Woord Bible College from February 8 through the 25th. I’ll teach a week to the new first-year students and a week with the second year also. I enjoy the interaction with these students as they’re motivated to learn and I am more than willing to leave a deposit of truth with them as the Lord allows. I make many new friends each time I’m there and strengthen the bonds of friendship I’ve already made. I hope to make another trip to South Africa in August, too.
In April, we have our annual conference with Andy Bannister from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Dr. Bannister is an excellent speaker with a lot to share. We’re very excited about that. I’ve also been asked to help put on another No Pat Answers Seminar in Schenectady, New York. MaryJo Sharp and Bobby Conway will be speaking there with me. (Both of these conferences will get more attention after the first of the year.)
If I can encourage you with anything this coming year, it would be to make sure you read through the Scripture. I cannot think of another way to know the Lord than to see how the Scripture reveals him. When asked which is the “great commandment” in Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus answered to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love others as yourself. He then said all the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments. That is, the whole of the Old Testament reveals that loving God and others is the point of Scripture. What better way to learn this than through reading the Scripture?
Although there are dozens if not hundreds of ways to read through the Scripture, I recommend The Bible Project, www.thebibleproject.com. This program is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. You may be thinking, how can one reading program be better than another? Well, the Bible Project is not just a reading program. It has many helpful videos that outline the books of the Bible but also has videos on words, themes, and types of literature. My favorite series is “How To Read the Bible.” What a great tool! If you need another incentive, it is also free! So, get to reading. Explore the website and download their app in the app store - READSCRIPTURE. You’ll love it.
Finally, thank you for walking with us as we follow the Lord. Our heart is the same as always. We want to strengthen your faith and witness as you follow the Lord Jesus. Pray with us that we will be more effective in reaching the church here in the Northeast, especially in NJ. We believe this is the sphere God has given to us here in the US. Pray also for my travels to South Africa. I believe this is an important time for this nation and I am preparing workers for the harvest.
Thank you also for helping us financially. We could not do what we do without the faithful giving of those of you who support us. Thank you for faithfully obeying God with your love and support. It is especially helpful as we walk through this difficult challenge. Again, we could not do this without your help.
Please continue to pray for our daughter Jen’s complete healing. Joanne and I are so grateful for those who stand with us in prayer and help with the finances as we walk through this. We are so grateful for all your faithfulness.
Endorsement from Pastor Dwain Kitchens of The Tabernacle Church in Sarasota,FL:
"Thanks again for doing an awesome job leading our Apologetics Conference! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the presentations. The material was excellent; and I know our people were blessed, educated and edified in their faith. You had a great way of breaking the material down so that those new to apologetics could understand and assimilate the truths and principles"