Friends,
Last week my mom and I handed out at the downtown train stop the Valentine treat bags we had made. We got many happy reactions, many who said we made their day and greatly blessed them. We were able to encourage, pray with those who asked for prayer, give out several Gospels of John, and remind every person we encountered to love God and others.

One woman to whom we gave a gift bag, continued to shyly stand near us. Thankfully, though we were starting to walk away, I realized she wanted to confide something to us. So I asked, “Are you doing okay?”

The woman then told us that she had just found out that she has a brain tumor. We talked with her, hugged her, told her some verses such as Ps. 107:20 about God’s Word healing us, prayed with her, and hugged her as we prayed. When I woke up this morning, I felt so burdened for her again, and I spent quite some time praying for her and feeling God’s love for her. I’m praying for her tonight also and I plan to keep praying for the Lord to comfort her, remove her fear, and heal her. Readers, please pray for her.

One young man we met asked to take our picture and though I always agree to that, I don’t usually ask to have it texted to me. This time, I felt it to be fine and besides, my mom and I had never had our picture taken together while witnessing down there, even though my mom has joined me in evangelizing at that station many times a year since I began in January of 1996.

Here is the picture of us:

This picture I took of my mom, with our cart of gift bags, before we started out:

My mom took this of me showing one of the other signs I used.

Besides our love, smiles, and signs people could see, the recipients of the gift bags received one of my short tracts as well as a published tract, a pocket calendar with verses, and three pieces of candy, as well as several of these things: a Scripture verse bookmarker, a sparkly heart ornament, a Valentine card, a heart notepad with a small pen, a pretty pencil, a gaudy heart ring, heart gems, heart cutouts, and some other things. Most everyone seemed very appreciative and several said they would be saving theirs to give to a loved one. May the Lord keep reminding each recipient to love God and others, for Scripture does tell us that this is the summation of all of God’s commands. (Mt. 22:36-40 // Rom. 13:8-10 // 1 Cor. 13:13 // Gal. 5:14)

I am thankful to two of my aunts who gave us some money last month to help us buy the items we put in the bags. I am thankful to the one aunt who while visiting from MN helped make a lot of the treat bags this time. I am thankful to the Lord that my mom was healthy enough to go witnessing with me last week in giving out the Valentine gifts. I am thankful to the Lord for His favor and for answering specific prayers we prayed about. I am thankful to the Lord that we can still witness on the streets and for giving us this ministry. I am thankful to the Lord for His Word and His presence and His power and His help and for His Truth, and that all of that belongs to those of us who trust in Him.

A thank you, as well, to those readers who would consider giving to our ministry. (See Donate at my Comment Page.)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Photos From 2018 Agta Trip

January 6, 2019

Friends,
I pray 2019 is going well so far for everyone, especially for those who seek the Lord daily.

2018 seemed to me to speed by and I’m already a week late in highlighting photos from it, but below is the first set. It is of my brother’s trip to see the Agta in the Philippines last April. He (Steve) took with him his two sons (Kael and Ian), my sister’s middle daughter (Violet), two young women and two young men from their church, and also a young man from Japan who is good friends with my brother’s family. His name is Rin Miratsu and all the photo credits for this post go to him. Thank you Rin!

There is a very good work going on among the Agta (who my parents translated the New Testament for) and if anyone would like more information, here is a link:

https://www.raisethevillage.org

Thank you, Lord God, for all You have done for the Agta, that so many of them worship You now, and that many are having the opportunity to go to school. Thank you for protecting their land rights again throughout last year, and please continue Your help. Amen.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

1. The group

2. Gorgeous beach

3. The group with some Agta

4. Another beach spot

5. Houses in a beach village

6. Another village along the peninsula

7. Mostly school kids

8. Worshiping together

9. Praying for the Agta young people during “Youth Camp”

10. Steve teaching during youth camp

11. Kael with some kids

12. Violet & Ian in the middle

13. Ian with friends

14. Resi (who babysat us as kids) wove these baskets to give the group

15. Ian with a long-time friend of ours

16. Ian with another Agta man

17. By boat is a main way of transportation

18. Small motorbike with cab is common now since roads were made

19. Playing in motorbike cab

20. Thatch roof home with hammocks

21. Rin with cute little Agta girl

Discipling Downtown

February 27, 2018

Friends,
Below are two photos of me as I was witnessing downtown yesterday afternoon. My husband actually took them because he had a client a few streets away and was able to drive by, stop for a few minutes, and snap these. James, who I was talking to at the time and who is in the photo with me, used to be homeless. I’ve witnessed to him for about 12 years and he seems to truly love Jesus and be growing in Him. Please pray for him. Pray also for Barbara who used to be a prostitute and on drugs and got delivered about 6 years ago. I saw her yesterday and she gave me a praise report that she is still walking with the Lord, delivered, and has started writing a book about her life.

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I also saw another good friend (I’ve written about him before and he used to be a pimp) and he said he is married now to a woman he loves but that he has gone back to some drug addictions. He asked me how to get delivered and though I’ve told him many times before, I told him again: To stay away from places and people that tempt him. “And,” I said, “reading God’s Word is step one. Are you doing that?” He laughed an embarrassed laugh and said, “You’re right! I haven’t been doing that!” Please pray for this guy too.

(It sure is frustrating when I tell people over and over and over to read God’s Word and that it is necessary food (power / strength / nourishment) for our spirit, yet most people, church-going people as well, though often heartily agreeing, still do very little follow up. In other words, most people do not heed Jesus’ words in John 6:53-63 when He tells us that Eternal Life comes through ingesting His Words.)

Well, so, yesterday was a beautiful sunny Monday and I was able to have many conversations with different people about God’s Word. Some were with people I’d never met and some were with those I’ve talked with often. I prayed with those who asked me for prayer, I gave away a New Testament and one Gospel of John, and of course I handed out my short tracts (and I write a different one each time). Several people asked questions about God or about His Word, and also told me their beliefs, and several people came up to me to thank me for my efforts.

As is usually the case, almost every encounter was positive, but there was one stranger who, when I first got down there, came up to me to ask me what my beliefs were and we talked for about fifteen minutes. I wasn’t sure what he was getting at because he kept saying that he was very upset about all the “Christians” who were characterizing God as an ogre who likes to torture people forever. I said that he sounded like he was against Calvinism, which, I told him, I certainly am against, but then he asked me if I believed in Hell. I said of course I do because Jesus taught a lot about it. He told me that God is love, we are not to fear Him, and there is no Hell, and he said he had written a book about all this. I reminded him of some verses and quoted to him Luke 12:4,5 where Jesus warned us to fear God who has the authority to thrown people into Hell, but he just said, “No, no…”, apparently not believing in Jesus’ warnings. He wouldn’t let me talk after that, and while walking away, he told me that I better get the Truth. I could only think how sad it will be for him on Judgement Day when he finds out there is a Hell and when he gets judged for the many people he taught falsehood to and lead away from fearing the Judge of all. Please pray for him to repent and come to the Truth and not be able to lead others astray.

Thank you to all who pray for my ministry and for those who I’ve witnessed to and/or discipled downtown. May the Lord bless you and strengthen you, also, in His Truth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
It astounds me that there seem to be so many people that teach and believe a certain doctrine that ruins families and harms individuals to a greater extent than they’ve already been harmed. It is the doctrine that teaches that remarriage to another spouse is continuous adultery and thus, in order to inherit eternal life, such married people must divorce, must try to remarry their first spouse (even if he or she is remarried), and if that is not possible, then to remain unmarried (to anyone) till death. Or, if they do want to remain married to their present spouse, they must live in separate bedrooms and both be completely celibate. One of the promoters of this devastating and false doctrine comes out of the Church of Christ.

It seems remarkable that such a doctrine can be taken seriously, especially when one considers all the other sins Christians have committed in the past and yet believe they have been forgiven of by God without having made amends for them all. But, if sexual sin is, as the legalists seem to think, the worst sin, then what about those who were promiscuous before marriage and became “one flesh” with someone before he or she married that person, or even before he or she married someone else?! Marriage, in God’s eyes, is not merely a vow, but a consummation of two becoming one flesh. Shouldn’t, then, the Church of Christ also say that any formerly promiscuous person must divorce their present spouse, go back and find and marry that first person they had sex with, or otherwise remain celibate? Would that not be the correct teaching if they want to be consistent in their doctrine?

The reality is, is that people usually do not divorce on a whim. They have reasons. Often good reasons. And usually they have tried and tried to work it out. Generally the majority of the fault does lie with one partner –the one who is sinning and refuses to repent. –The one who refuses to love and behave as Christ would, but instead assassinates his spouse’s character, peace, and well-being. And why? Because just like murderous Cain, who belonged to the evil one, the sinning person is wicked and the other person is righteous. (1 John 3:12) In other words, it is because evil people, while really hating themselves, rather prefer to cast their hate at easy prey who are more righteous than them.

In such situations should it not be realized that the vows of marriage have already been broken and that the persecuted man or woman is therefore not bound in such circumstances? (1 Cor. 7:15) Indeed, “God has called us to live in peace.” (Same verse)

So, if there is continued, unrepentant abuse or addiction, then there has been a breaking of the marriage covenant, just as adultery or any unfaithfulness breaks it. Certainly abuse is to break the “caring, cherishing, honoring” vow, and addiction, too, would fracture that vow, as well as there being lying involved, which would have already ruptured the “one flesh” covenant.

Without a doubt, unless there is repentance (full change) from illegal, unlawful, and/or dishonoring behavior, there can no longer be true fellowship / marriage / oneness. When God has to keep watching any continued cruelty, deceit, or poison, is that fair for either spouse to allow something to continue that is so displeasing to Him? Of course not. This does not mean divorce must happen, but certainly no one should enable that which is displeasing to God. Some sort of measures must be taken to make the wickedness stop.

Some Church of Christ type people may agree that a toxic marriage must end but they will also stick with their belief that the divorcees cannot marry anyone else, lifelong. Truly, even after divorce, the rest of us believe it is probably best to wait a few years to see if there is repentance. But regardless, everyone must permit the divorcee to listen to the Lord herself; for God, who is merciful and who does speak to His children, will guide the divorcees in what He plans or allows for them personally. God knows some people are weaker (financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.) than others, and He is compassionate in this. Only the Lord knows, not others, all the facts surrounding why a couple divorced, and why they remarried other spouses; so whatever sin God has forgiven the truly repentant, the rest of us must forgive also.

Even so, many people seem to be listening to the legalists and are thus going through great distress as they try to decide whether or not they must divorce their present spouse, even though their second marriage is otherwise fine or even wonderful. Honestly, it is heart-breaking to listen to the turmoil these Church of Christ types have brought upon already hurting, but conscientious, individuals as they insist on further family break-ups.

In my opinion, it does seem that many people are harder on themselves (or on others) than the Lord is. I think of 1 John 3:15 that says that “no murderer has eternal life in him.” But Moses murdered. (Ex. 2:12) And yet God called him to lead a nation out of bondage, did many mighty miracles through him, knew him face to face like no other prophet (Dt. 34:10-12), and had him appear with Elijah to talk with Jesus on the mountain. (Mt. 17:3) God mightily used and honored this former murderer and gave him His presence, all indicating that God pardoned Moses for his sin.

The same could be noted about Paul. Paul was party to the death of Stephen and rounded up Christians to imprison them. (Acts 8:1-3) Yet Paul became a mighty servant of Christ. We do not see him making physical amends to each family he harmed, but instead saying, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13,14) This, I believe, should be everyone’s attitude wherever they are at (spiritually), every day. And it should be the way we view everyone else who is genuinely straining to follow Christ daily.

Legalists should remember Ja. 2:10,11: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” The verses before this are reminding us about the law of love and that if we do not love correctly, we are lawbreakers. Then verse 13 goes on to say that “judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” And that verse ends with, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” This last phrase is a huge reason for all who have sinned (everyone) to rejoice! The whole passage is speaking about love, and judgment, and law, and if we are unsure of how to interpret it, we can use other Scripture verses to help us. Such as Gal. 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law”, and 1 John 4:12, “but if we love each other, God lives in us.”

Indeed, anyone who is truly repentant about anything, including divorcees who have remarried other spouses, should be viewed by the rest of us as the Lord views that person: Forgiven, and people He wants to use, both as couples and as individuals.

Church of Christ types, though they have some excellent leads about opposing OSAS, are nonetheless, legalists. And legalism is not Christ’s way at all. Let us, therefore, help silence their doctrine by which they, in the name of Christ, “are disrupting whole households.” (Titus 1:11)

To read what I wrote several years ago about this issue, click here: https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/sermons/divorce-remarriage-new-post/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I was really surprised earlier this week when someone emailed me who I’d not seen or heard from since 1991! Having lost contact with each other, it was exciting to hear from her, especially since we’d been really good friends our last two years of high school. What was even more exciting was that she told me she has been doing several ministries –three different Bible study groups a week (besides her full-time job!), visiting at shelters, and doing a ministry where she packs brown bag lunches and then walks the beaches handing out the bags to the veterans and the homeless there. Having written messages on the bags, she talks about the Lord with those she encounters. I was thrilled to hear about it, for all these years I hadn’t known what happened to this friend or if she had continued to even follow the Lord.

See, our friendship had begun when I timidly asked her if she wanted to go to a Bible Study Youth Group that I had just begun attending and I’d said it so lamely that I silently blamed myself when she declined (though a few weeks later she did start going). Hearing from her this week and what she’s doing as unto Jesus, –well, I felt like it was a great encouragement the Lord was giving me, like He was saying, “See how I can multiply My servants efforts?” And, “Yes, concerning all the seeds you’ve ever sown, regardless of whether or not you’ve known anything about it, I have been working in those lives.”

Last night I was talking to a different friend, encouraging her concerning the hard trial she’s going through. She happened to mention that someone had told her how soothing it is to hear her play the clarinet as she often does for the residents at a nursing home. I was very excited to realize she does this on a regular basis at four different senior care centers! I encouraged her to continue, and to believe that her efforts help way more people than she realizes. For truly, I reasoned, when a person feels soothed and uplifted, he or she will, themselves, likely act kinder toward others, and this kindness is thus spread and multiplied. She agreed and was further encouraged.

It really isn’t too hard to offer an invitation, give a ride, visit someone, pray for someone, give a neighbor or a stranger a gift of Christ’s love, assist with a need, or just give someone a kind word, a note of encouragement, a compliment, or a smile. Any one of these might go a whole lot further than we could ever anticipate.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Honor Them This 9/11

September 11, 2016

Friends,
Today we should definitely remember, and pray for, the families of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11/01 tragedy of the Twin Towers. Let us also pray that the Lord will thwart the plans of evil people worldwide who, in the name of their god, think and teach that it is heroic to kill anyone who disagrees with their religion. All who have been harmed at the hands of such wickedness, and all who have fought to help and rescue others from those hands, should be remembered and honored by the rest of us.

As important as this day of remembrance is for that, today is also a day to remember another group of individuals who ought to be honored, cherished, and given attention. They are those who are grandparents.

National Grandparents Day was created as a reminder for us to take notice of our grandparents, to listen and learn from them, and to make them feel cherished and appreciated. This is highly important. The Fifth Commandment tells us to honor our parents so this would include honoring them as we guide our children in how to honor their grandparents. (Ex. 20:12 // Mark 7:9-13 // Eph. 6:1-3 // 1 Tim. 5:4,8)

Even for those who are not our parents or grandparents but who we suspect are elderly, lonely, and in need of encouragement, let’s pay some attention to them too. Do we realize how many persons languish in nursing homes or are confined at home, feeling forgotten and discarded? Likely way more than we wish to believe. Before the Lord we are responsible to them! (Mt. 25:31-46)

National Grandparents Day is significant. It is a day we should uphold. Grandparents are people we should respect and honor and love. Not only by our words, but in action involving our time.

Today is truly an important date for it is one in which several groups of people are to be remembered. Remembered for their contribution to us. Remembered because every person is valuable –the aged as well as those who sacrificed their lives for strangers on 9/11 in New York, and for those who died so unnecessarily as they began their normal day of work.

Let’s not forget to honor all these groups and to pray for those closely affected. And, for those to whom we can personally, let’s give our time and our love.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Take Notice, Stop, & Try

January 2, 2016

Friends,
Well, it’s a new year and I pray that all who love Jesus will make choices that further our effectiveness in proclaiming what is written in God’s Word. Because every day there are people in pain, loneliness, and despair; every day there are people in rebellion against God; and every day there are people dying and going to Hell. Even if we have our own concerns, it sometimes takes only five or ten minutes extra to make a big difference. I was reminded of this again this week when I passed through the ER lobby on my way to the 5th floor of a hospital.

I passed a young woman groaning and writhing as she lay on her side on a long cushion bench. “What could I do?” I thought. “I’m already tired, and I’m in a hurry.” The person who had been waiting for me as I parked the car said that the woman had been calling out to Jesus and that maybe we should tell a person at the front desk to check on the woman. I whispered that I suspected her problem to be drug related and that since she had a hospital band on already, she probably was just going to have to wait her turn. It was distressing, though, for there must have been at least 50 people waiting their turn.

I was going to go on, but the person with me said we should do something. I decided to try to do what I could and I went over and knelt by the young woman. “I’m so sorry you are in pain,” I said. “Do you want me to pray with you?”

“Yes, please,” the woman cried, grabbing my hand.

“What is your first name?” I asked gently.

She told me, and with my face close to hers, my left hand holding her hand, and my right hand caressing her back, I prayed that God would alleviate her pain, heal her, bring her close to Himself, and give her a good and happy 2016. I prayed that God would comfort her and help her. She said “Amen!” several times through my prayer, and afterwards when I hugged her, she hugged me and didn’t want to let go. So I just kept hugging her as she cried. I told her to be reading God’s Word because that is food for our spirit and makes us strong and courageous and gives us comfort and guidance. She kept agreeing.

When she saw I was about to go, she asked me to get her some ice, so I said I would ask a nurse, which I did. The nurse said she couldn’t have ice, but that she would go and check on her. I hope she did.

I tell about this occurrence only because the Lord is leading me, I believe, to tell it. (I was going to write about something else tonight.) But I believe the Lord wants to encourage us through what I’m writing about here to remember that we are to stop and take notice of those people –at least those in our path– who are “bleeding in the ditch”. We can’t help everyone, that’s for sure, but we can often ease a small bit of pain someone is experiencing, if we would just give a few minutes of our time. –Even if we are hurrying to church. –Even if we are rushing to a ministry post. –Even if we are tired or feel we have little to offer in curing the person’s problem.

We should still try. We should still stop. We should still ask. I had thought the woman would not welcome a prayer from me, a hug, or a word of gentle exhortation about God’s Word. But she did. And she thanked and thanked me. So… shouldn’t we always take the chance if we can?

I think the Lord is reminding me to do so. I hope others will hear the call as well.

Then 2016 might be a turning point year. For someone. Someone we stop next to, take notice of, and give help to, even if it seems “meager” to us.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel