My spiritual mentor, Percy Gutteridge, taught on more than one occasion that one of the times to be most wary of enemy attack is right after a spiritual victory. That pretty well sums up our summer so far: victory in the form of ministry in the Midwest during June, followed by persistent spiritual warfare. But we have broken through to victory as August winds down.
Another trip to Honduras is in the offing, perhaps as soon as October. The pieces are coming together for a new
facet of ministry. And I’m finally getting some clarity on a key aspect of something I’ve been studying and wrestling with for an entire year. Let the summer’s report begin!
Victory! June Teaching Trip to Iowa
The Stricklands in the their new home
Kathy, Colleen, and Denise fellowshipping on a pleasant Missouri-summer evening
About every other year (not counting the summer we lost to COVID-19 last year), the Iowa Holiness Association invites me to their week-long camp meeting as their Bible teacher. After some considerable time of waiting on the Lord during the Spring, I was led to introduce some highlights from the manuscript on which I’ve been laboring for the last two years — The John the Baptist Experience. If the feedback is any indication, I’m on the right track: the teaching sessions lasted an hour every day, starting at 2:30, but the question/answer sessions and personal ministry after every session lasted the rest of the afternoon!
On the way to Iowa, Denise and I hiked over 9 mi. (15 km) in New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia and we visited Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky. We were blessed to spend two evenings with Al and Sue Strickland, our friends and ministry partners, in their new abode in Burlington, Iowa. After the week of camp we visited our long-time-no-see friends, Colleen Donnelly and Kathy Cheever Bennett at the former’s home in Missouri. It was a blessing to fellowship with these friends who are still loving and serving Jesus these many years after we were together in California. We then returned to Iowa for a few days of recharging with our friends, the McKay family, before heading back home to Virginia.
Many thanks to those of you who faithfully prayed for us during this fruitful ministry trip!
Warfare! Wrestling for a Breakthrough
At last we arrived home, rolling into our driveway to complete a ministry round-trip of over 3,200 mi. (>5,100 km). Within 90 seconds of the time we opened the door to our home, the battle began in earnest. We learned that a young member of our extended family had died earlier in the day. As a result, Denise began preparing for a trip of love and grief support that would take her to the West Coast for more than half the month of July.
Doing without my beloved wasn’t the worst of it. For an entirely different reason, daily prayer and forward progress came under attack. Why? Oh, I think I know! Before the trip I had been seeking the Lord in earnest to open a key subject, a topic so crucial to The John the Baptist Experience that I can’t move forward without light and clarity from Him. The hangup — and the hinge — in completing the manuscript has been in understanding the effect, the nature, and the origin of sin. It was just before the trip that I saw the importance of understanding that the focus needed to be the celestial origins of sin. Without that, we don’t understand the deepest ramifications of the Fall in the Garden and why sin is “exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:13).
And the more I sought God for wisdom and understanding in that matter, the tougher the fight was every day. But the warfare aspect has an encouraging side: it means I’m on the right track here as well. And it feels like once I’ve finished this part of the book, the rest of it will flow from this point. Thanks to those of you who are praying for the writing ministry, especially for the ongoing work on The John the Baptist Experience.
Advance! What We’ve Done & What’s to Come
Lord willing, coming to the website in September and to the Kindle reader by November
Antonio Rodriguez, a man with a heart for Honduras, is now his denomination’s superintendent for the entire country.
The new audio-video workstation won't exactly be an IBM “Watson” supercomputer, but it should have plenty of power to get the job done!3
There’s more afoot to share, things for which we give thanks:
- Missions ready (or: My “burden” hasn’t “rolled away,” but at least it won’t fall apart now!): While I was gone, a special someone sent me a replacement backpack. For many years of missions trips, I’ve been schlepping a 30-pound backpack containing my portable classroom, including my laptop, projector, wireless microphone system, mouse, pointer, power bricks, tablet, cables galore, and stuff I’ve probably forgotten was in there! One of the shoulder straps nearly detached a few years ago, and the emergency repairs held up for a few more trips. Retiring the old “mochila” was past due. The new 5.11 Tactical Rush72 2.0 Backpack 55L is built so well it might still be around when I’m pushing up daisies! Many thanks to… you know who you are!
- Translation: Sister Inés G. and I have worked line by line through her Spanish translation of Percy Gutteridge’s message Logos & Rhema. I hope to have it available on the website in September and available on Amazon.com as a “libro electronico” (e-book) by early November.
- Honduras trip in October? There was a major change of leadership in the denomination with which I work in Honduras. Friend Antonio Rodriguez is now the new superintendent and things are hopping down there. He’d like me to come soon to hold a teaching conference for pastors and wives, as well as one for the newly re-energized youth. When? Perhaps as early as two months from now. Denise and I are praying about the timing and wisdom of the trip (especially given the worldwide COVID resurgence). Pray that we’d both have the mind of the Lord clearly.
- More medical help: Thanks to your giving, we have another large gift to send to Perú towards Pastora Watanabe’s spinal surgery.
- Media ministry: Also due to generous gifts, we’re putting together a full-fledged, powerful audio/video computer workstation. Its purpose is threefold: restart our podcast ministry; start teaching remotely at a Bible school in Florida; and begin producing Bible-teaching videos. Assuming I can log enough hours learning the OBS and Kdenlive software packages, we might have something to see as early as the first of the year. Please pray regarding this ministry as well, that everything will fall into place in God’s perfect way and timing.
That’s it for the summer newsletter. Thanks for reading, praying, and “fighting the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12) with us. Are you in a season of warfare? Write, and let us know how we can pray for you — because we’re meant to fight through to victory together. And take heart from the words of Charles Wesley’s famous spiritual-warfare hymn:
From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle, and fight, and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day;
Still let the Spirit cry
In all His soldiers, “Come!”
Till Christ the Lord descend from high,
And take the conquerors home.
[From Soldiers of Christ, Arise!]
Much love in Jesus,
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- Title graphic created using a copyrighted photo by fotoglee under license from 123RF.com. ↩
- Photo by Denise Kerwin. From this point on in the newsletter, all photos were taken by Jim or Denise or the graphics were created by Jim, unless otherwise noted. ↩
- Photo of IBM’s Watson supercomputer courtesy of Wikipedia.org. ↩