Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Another Year

As the focus goes to Christmas and the birth of our Savior, it does my heart good to reflect on what God has done this year through our family.  This year marked 15 years that we have been traveling and preaching all over the United States and certain foreign countries of the world.

The fall round of meetings was particularly good for us, taking us from Virginia to Montana and back to South Carolina before ending the season in Ripley, TN, 80 miles from home.  The Lord has been so good to us to allow us to travel and to strengthen churches in the places to which He sends us.

We are all home now, enjoying the time at our home church and resting a bit before the schedule resumes again in January.  Josiah is learning to drive, everyone is doing school, and we are all enjoying the time at home.

As we head toward the new year, we are excited to see God's continued working in our lives and ministry.  Thank you so much for all your prayers and support this past year.  May God bless you all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mountain Men

After a great time of ministering in camp in the Southwest, we are back in the swing of revival meetings once again.  The schedule is full this fall, with lots of churches and lots of travel.

So far, one of the highlights of this fall has been the Inter-Mountain Baptist Fellowship meeting in Cody, WY.  Many of the men were men whom I had never met before.  In answer to specific prayer, the Lord greatly used the services to encourage and strengthen the preachers before they had to leave this morning.  While the goal was not to get new meetings but to be a blessing, many did express a desire to have us back in the future.

Earlier this year, the Lord opened a ministry opportunity that I never envisioned myself doing.  A church asked us to help them in the interim after their pastor had resigned.  I had never seen myself doing anything like that, but the Lord opened the door and we went through it.  Though we were only able to spend four weeks there, the Lord allowed us to be able to bring a stability to the church and see an interim pastor installed that continues to help and see the work move forward.  God's ways are never our ways.

My 2018 itinerary is very minute at this time, but it is posted online for anyone thinking of scheduling a meeting for next year.  We are excited about the doors that God is opening up for us.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Home

After a month in Central America, my family and I arrived back in the United States on the afternoon of December 29, 2016.  It was good to be home in the United States once again, even though the Miami airport into which we flew still featured English as occasional tongue of a minute minority.  Deciphering the accent of the rental car agent in Miami was almost as difficult as communicating with Guatemalans: at least you expected them to speak Spanish.  The heavily accented "English" was a challenge indeed.

In fact, our arrival back in United States presented us with a long sequence of events, the consequences of which still affect our lives.  The wait for a rental car in Miami was almost as long as the flight from Guatemala City.  And they didn't give give us a drink, snack, or seat like the airline did.  We were finally able to get a rental car and drive across the peninsula to the Gulf side where our trailer awaited us in North Port.

On the way across Florida, we stopped by a Sprint store to try to get Sarah's cell phone working again.  That was when we discovered that someone had stolen our credit card information and used it for fraudulent purchases in Michigan during our absence.  The credit card company, sensing something was not right, then canceled the cell phone payment causing us to be overdue.  The service was cut off due to a lack of payment.

After a long trip across Florida complete with its bad news, we finally arrived in North Port where our trailer was parked.  A Russian speaking church rents this church's facility from them, and although the midweek service was complete, choir practice was ongoing when we arrived.  It usually goes until 10:00 pm, we were told.  We would have to wait until they were gone to set up our trailer so that we could finally get to bed.  No problemo -- we would just get the trailer all ready to move so that as soon as the last note was dying off, we would chase everyone out of the parking lot and park the trailer where all the choir members' cars were currently parked.  While attempting to hook up the truck and trailer, we discovered that the trailer battery was, after a full month of being unplugged from any type of power source, DEAD.  The trailer jacks refused to budge in any direction due to the lack of power.  This necessitated a frenzied search for the extension cords in the darkened bays, barked orders at small minions to "hold the flashlight where I can see," and a good deal of scrabbling around in small spaces.  Finally the appropriate cords were found, outlets located, and the jacks received enough power to attach to the truck.  Still, the Russians sang on, oblivious to the drama outside.  In the end, I jumped the gun and asked the Russians to move 15 minutes early.  We finally got to bed around 11:00 that night.

When we finally did get the trailer set up, everyone began unpacking their bags.  We found that our children had apparently decided that their cheap souvenirs were more important than the clothing they took with them to Guatemala.  This was deduced by the large number of articles left behind.  The news was received rather mildly, probably due to the fact that we were numb with fatigue.  We patted the children on the head, gave them candy, and sent them to bed, congratulating them on the fact that they hadn't exceeded the airline's  luggage weight limits.

Now, as we leave 2016 behind, and look forward to 2017, we have so many things for which to be grateful.  The Lord kept us safe in our travels, and blessed us with good health and several ministry opportunities.  We made new friends, and had many new experiences.  We are grateful for everyday things that we tend to take for granted here in the states - hot, running water, drinkable water, washing machines, traffic patterns and good roads, to name a few!

We are still experiencing a bit of reverse culture shock as we adjust to life in the States again (I keep answering people in Spanish when they ask me a question), and we are really looking forward to hearing church services in our own language again. Thank you all for your prayers for us regarding this trip.  God had His hand of blessing and protection upon us, and we thank Him for this amazing opportunity to minister in a foreign country.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Fall Rush

The busy fall schedule is on us now.  The Lord has opened many doors for us this fall and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing lives changed as a result of the Word of God reaching them.

With respect to our family, we endured a period of time in July and August during which we had to be out of our trailer to have some warranty work done as well as some body work due to two blown tires.  We were in a prophet's chamber graciously provided to us by the Cloverleaf Baptist Church of Mobile, AL.  We are grateful that we are back in the trailer now and everything is working well.

There is an addition to our website that might be easy to miss at first glance.  We now have not only 2016's itinerary but also 2017's available to view.  Of course, the following year is not as full as this year's, but it is available as it stands so that those interested can plan.  For those pastors who are trying to plan their calendars for the next year, we hope to be able to aid in this planning.

School is progressing about a month ahead of normal schedule so that we can be all done by the time we head to Guatemala in late November.  The Lord is bringing in funds on a weekly basis for our trip to Central America.  Our passports are bought, the tickets are purchased, and we are looking forward to our time.  Sarah has turned the inside of the trailer into a large craft area, making and selling all kinds of homemade items.  See her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram @rvmamacrow for pictures of her latest.  For my part, I don't know if I actually want you to visit those pages or not.  The more orders she receives, the longer I have to trip over the sewing machine and iron cords on a regular basis.  Nevertheless the proceeds are helping us tremendously along with the items we sell on our table--CD's, books, and so forth.

We are most grateful for the souls that have been saved recently.  A man named Hollis was the latest to trust Christ.  He came to Christ last Sunday morning.  He was born in Trinidad but brought up in New York City where he joined a gang after he was orphaned.  The evidence of God's conviction over sin was evident Sunday morning.  He told the pastor at the front of the auditorium, "I'm lost!  I need to be saved." If you like, you can find a picture of Hollis as well as others who have been saved in our meetings on my Instagram account @crowing617.

Thank you all for all your prayers for us.  It is wonderful to see the Lord working on a regular basis, and we rejoice to be in His service.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Waiting

As the schedule for 2016 began to fill and we got to know our trailer, there grew a list of warranty items that needed to be addressed.  This is always a difficult thing because it means that we have to move out of the trailer and take it to a repair facility that is swamped with other units in the same situation as our own.  In late June, two tire blowouts within 50 miles of each other on I-10 in the desert did some additional damage to the trailer that was to be repaired as well.

Because all the RV repair facilities are so busy this time of year, we scheduled an appointment over a month in advance in order to insure that the work would get done.  The day after our meeting closed in Semmes, AL, we moved out of the trailer into a local church prophet's chamber and took our home to the shop.  That is when the waiting began.

RV repairs can be counted on to cost more than originally thought and take longer than originally expected.  As I write this, we have been out of the trailer for over a week, and the unit is still not ready to go.  The reasons are somewhat complex.

Essentially, there are two veins of repairs that need to be accomplished.  The first, and faster, vein involves warranty work.  Any repairs need to be reported to the manufacturer who then authorizes them to be made so that we can remain happy costumers.  AFter a week of having the trailer in the shop, most of these repairs are complete; but there are still parts on order which have not yet arrived.

The second vein involves the tire blowout and the insurance company.  Every one of these blowouts does enough damage to usually measure in the thousands of dollars, depending on exactly how the tire blows.  We had a good (if there can be such a thing) and a bad blowout on either side of the unit.  Insurance has to receive the claim from the RV repair facility, review the claim, approve the claim, and communicate back to the shop the green light to do the work.  In automobile cases, the insurance company usually does this very quickly because they assume that you need to have your car.  In the case of RV's, they take much longer because the damage in question occurred to a "recreational" vehicle, after all.  We have had RV claims go on for months.

Another dynamic that we deal with is the obtaining of parts for the unit.  The parts do not sit in a warehouse ready to be picked up and installed.  They have to be fabricated at the manufacturer and then shipped to the repair facility.  In our case, we are told that the parts can be here within a week and a half to two weeks.  The hope is that in that time, the insurance company will approve the repair and the unit can get finally fixed.

And so we wait.  The hope is that everything will be done before we have to get going again with our fall schedule, a schedule that starts August 7.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Apart Into a Desert Place

This past week closed yet another camp at the Gila Christian Ranch in Silver City, New Mexico.  Technically, it is not desert, only semi-arid, but it is a place where people can come away from the influences of the world and focus on the things of God.

This year, both juniors and teens were combined in camp so as to save the driving burden on commuting churches.  All four of my children were campers, two in junior camp and two in teen camp, while Sarah worked 14-16 hours a day in the kitchen.  The Lord blessed and several campers were saved.

Many of the campers had little background in church, and no help whatsoever from home.  It was sad to see the effects on both teens and juniors who had to witness the adults who are supposed to guide them act wickedly, especially in the area of morals.  It comes as no surprise that these kids really struggle.  When we lovingly instructed them at camp, many responded positively and opened their hearts to the Word of God.

As the Gospel went forth, several campers, both juniors and teens, were saved.  Others made life-changing decisions of surrender, while others understood purity for the first time and pledged to keep themselves pure.  Also encouraging was evidence of past camp decisions that are still guiding the lives of some of these young people, some of whom have no help outside of the local church and camp.

There are some that decry the entire idea of camp, asserting that decisions made there are temporary.  While it is certainly possible to make a decision that does not last, it is also true that lives are changed forever as a result of one person hearing the Word of God in a camp setting.  Just as children made decisions to do right in Bible times, so young people today are hearing God's Word and are choosing to do what it says.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our ministry.  The time of extended meetings is over for a couple of weeks, the scheduling calling for isolated Sundays instead.  Our next full meeting is not until July 10-13, 2016.  May God bless you all and give you all a fruit for your labor as you serve Him in your area of His harvest.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Isles Wait

Isaiah prophesied that isles would wait for the Law of God.  As I reflect on my recent trip to the Philippines, I am reminded of this truth.  My ministry there was definitely to receptive hearts as I preached and taught for nearly two and a half weeks.  If my math is correct, I ministered to 13 different churches while I was there, some by preaching in them directly and others by virtue of their coming to another place to hear me preach.  God blessed His Word in a great way during the time.

Below are some pictures with a little information about each.  Many of the churches were not photographed individually because one week consisted of my preaching and teaching in a music camp.  I spoke up to four times a day during camp, a schedule that left very little time for picture taking.


This is the Hillcrest Baptist Church of Angeles City.  They hosted me for a four day meeting in which several other churches participated.  I made the mistake of taking this picture on American, rather than Filipino, time.  By the time I got up to preach, the auditorium was full.


Two churches planted out of Hillcrest are Ambassador Fundamental Baptist Church here,

and the New and Living Way Baptist Church here.

 Then in Imus, Cavite, there was the Bethany Bible Baptist Church.



I got no pictures of camp to speak of, nor did I get pictures of many of the other churches except for this one, the Calvary Baptist Church, notable because it was the only church I preached in with air conditioning.

All in all, the Lord gave me a wonderful time of ministry among these dear people.  One of the most gratifying aspects of the trip was the tender hearts of people to hear the Word of God.  Their universal plea to me was that I come back and preach and teach more.  We are seeking the Lord’s will about next year and how to proceed.

Now, from the steamy countryside of the Philippines, I have migrated to the Sonoran Desert where I sit in a trailer struggling to keep cool while the temperature outside is 109.  Next week, we flee to higher ground to camp in NM from where we will begin to travel east again.  Thank you so much for your prayers.