What a rich and full summer we experienced as a family. As I write this, Chaili is back on campus at Trevecca Nazarene University here in Nashville, TN to begin her second year in the nursing program. The Lord has been so gracious to provide for every need and she is thriving in this experience. It is quite a thing to see her now with medical scrubs and a stethoscope! In the meantime, Carey is beginning 8th grade, and has also joined the Civil Air Patrol to follow his inclination toward the military and a future in aviation. Trina and I continue with our work, all the while with hearts bursting with thanks and amazement for all God continues to do with our family. In May we were blessed to visit our close friends, Sam and Joy Burch, for a time of fellowship in the Lord at their home in Clearwater, FL, now one of our favorite places in the world! The remainder of the summer has been filled with precious times and memories, from spending time with the horses here to just being together to traveling and sharing with people in other places.
July was our busy travel month as we were a part of two lengthier campmeetings. The first was the Cowden, IL Campmeeting, July 11-19. I was so very pleased that Trina, Chaili, and Carey were able to be with me for the first weekend of this camp before needing to head home and care for some things there. Cowden is very familiar to me because of our close relationship with the Barnes family, whom we came to know in our church when I was a pastor in Joliet, IL. I have been to Cowden four times for revival services in the past few years at the Cowden Free Methodist church, and many of the people involved at the camp are now like family to us. It is amazing what God does through continued relationships! As the only evangelist, I preached twice a day at this camp (for anyone keeping track, that was 16 times across those 9 days). I will confess that there were times during this camp in which I felt that I was in a spiritual battle, and I also missed my family as the days passed by. But Jesus seemed to do something remarkable and unmistakable sometime in the second half of this camp. I sensed what seemed to be a powerful turning that took place, and people of all ages were amazingly responsive to His Spirit speaking through God’s Word. I was greatly encouraged and excited by this. I believe it allowed the Holy Spirit to move in a special way (probably His normal way), and there was warmness of His presence that seemed to prevail in the services and across the campground among people. As I drove off of the campground, I heard a closing prayer over the camp PA system, and I was deeply thankful for having been there. I was reminded again of why I like campmeeting – because of the opportunity to live with people for a period of days and seek the Lord together.
That dynamic only continued for us from the very first moment as our family arrived on the grounds of
Camp Sychar Holiness Campmeeting, Mt. Vernon, OH, July 24 through August 3. It is hard to believe that this was my sixth time to be an evangelist at Camp Sychar, and our third time in the last four years as I filled in for some cancellations in previous years. There will be no way for me to describe what happened for us in these days at Sychar this year. The moving of the Holy Spirit produced an atmosphere that was as near to what heaven must be like as anything I have ever experienced. This happened to large extent in the services, where I experienced a unity with the other workers that can only be produced by Jesus. If you ever have opportunity to hear or have Rev. Ryan Bash or Dr. Chris Bounds to speak in your setting, please do so. These brothers in the Lord were not only an encouragement to me, but I received so much from the Lord through them. God worked through these men, and each service over these 11 days had an air of revival about it. God was working powerfully, and people of all ages (including the 80 youth) were responding. But this sweetness of the Holy Spirit was not limited to the services; He permeated the grounds. That is what our family loves about Camp Sychar. The services are awesome; and the fellowship throughout the day in all aspects of life together is the living out of the reality of Jesus in our lives. We have loved each and every time we have been at Sychar, but there was something exponential for our family this time in the bonding of relationships that took place with people and families there. I shared earlier that Clearwater, FL is one of our favorite places in the world. My children would say that Camp Sychar is tied for first place in the hearts of our family, and I would have to agree. It is amazing what God does through continued relationships. And, because of a cancellation, I have been asked to come back again to be the Bible teacher next year, for which there is much joy in our home!
May I request prayer as we enter into this fall season? On September 8, I will begin a new year of online classes with The Potter’s School. This will be my first year to teach the three sections of Bible Survey (three different groups of students in three different classes) in addition to my other Bible classes. I have been working for most of the summer in preparation for these classes, and will be continuing right up until the first day. With the combination of all of these classes, we will have over 70 students this year from all over the world, with the majority of those in the United States. I am overwhelmed with both thanks and the opportunity to share Jesus with these students and to encourage them and their families in the Word of God. But, it is beyond my ability in a number of ways, and I know that Jesus must produce something that I cannot do. Would you pray with me for the awesome reality of His presence through these classes, that students would have a hunger for His truth, and that we would all grow in Him in a new way?
I thank you very much for your prayer for these classes and the upcoming fall revival meetings. Please let me know as well how I might pray for you. It is amazing what God does through continuing relationships, and your life has been an avenue of His grace to us and others.
Still running together in Christ,
Evangelist, Teacher, Writer,
Husband, and Father