What God has done in the year 2013, is no less wonderful than what he has done in previous years. In some ways, what God has done this past year, has been even more wonderful and amazing! In this letter, you will read stories that will touch your heart. They are true life accounts of how God has saved lost souls, changed lives, and performed amazing miracles for those that we have had the honor and privilege to minister to, as well as for Sharon and me personally.
Throughout 2013 we had opportunities to minister in four provinces (though we traveled eight provinces to accomplish this), on four separate ministry trips. The reason for this will be explained later in this letter.
Our journeys from our home in Kirkland Lake, Ontario took us to the east coast of Canada (in Newfoundland), and as far as Slave Lake, Alberta to the west.
These trips included four solid months of ministry in Newfoundland, two months of ministry in Ontario during the summer months, and two more months of ministry from Ontario to Alberta on our western trip from October to December. We arrived home on December 20th, just in time to join our children and grandchildren for Christmas.
As I look back through my notes, I see many entries that tell about different services and events where one, two, and as many as seven souls were saved. Let me share with you just a few of the stories that mean the most to me.
On the last day of one of our children's programs, the Pastor of the host church came to Sharon and me, and told us the following story.
A four-year-old girl had attended ‘Evan's Clubhouse’ every day that week. On the third day, she raised her hand to indicate that she wanted to be saved. Namma (Sharon) helped the children to pray. The little girl went home to her grandpa whom she calls ‘Poppy’. Her grandpa had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She said, “Poppy, today at ‘Evan's Clubhouse’, I asked Jesus to save me. Poppy, you need to be saved, and Jesus can make you better.”
The mother brought the little girl back to ‘Evan's Clubhouse’ the following day. She met the Pastor in the foyer and said, “I am not a religious woman, but this is what happened when I took my little girl home yesterday”. The amazing part is, that neither Sharon nor I spoke to the children about healing that week, and the Pastor said that the little girl does not attend church.
During that same week, an eight-year-old girl's mother came to talk to Sharon and me. She told us that her daughter had accepted Jesus as her Saviour, earlier that week in ‘Evan's Clubhouse’. She said that her husband works out of town. On the day that her daughter had asked Jesus to save her, her father who was working out of town called home in the evening to speak to the family. When he spoke to his little girl, she said to him, “Daddy, today I asked Jesus to come into my heart! I want to sing a song for you, Daddy”. The little girl sang the song, “Into My Heart, Into My Heart, Come Into My Heart, Lord Jesus”.
On the first day of one of our children's programs in another venue, Sharon and I were ready for the children to arrive. The first ones to arrive were a twelve-year-old autistic boy and his grandmother. I went to them to introduce myself. The grandmother was very pleasant and friendly. Her grandson however, turned away and hid his face against his grandmother's shoulder. He would not talk to me, or acknowledge me. His grandmother explained that he is autistic and apologized to me, for his shyness. I said that I understood.
The grandmother explained that the young man's attention could not be held for any length of time. She said that there might be times when she may have to take him to another room.
Her grandson attended ‘Evan's Clubhouse’ every day with his grandmother. Not once did he have to be taken out. His grandmother said that he was absolutely captivated with Evan and the activities in the program. He even tried to answer some of the questions.
The program ended on the Friday. On Sunday, the boy's grandmother came to Sharon and me, and said that on the way home, following the program on Friday, her grandson cried and cried. When she asked him why he was crying, he said that it was because he wouldn't see Evan again. When he got home, he cried for about twenty minutes and then he too sang the song, ‘Come Into My Heart, Lord Jesus’, which he had learned at ‘Evan's Clubhouse’. Then he cried some more. What amazed his grandmother was, that her grandson was not known to have sung before, and he sang the song in its entirety! She said that if she had known that Evan was going to make an appearance during the Sunday morning service, that she would have brought her grandson.
A father came to us at the conclusion of one of our week-long children's programs. He said that he had never seen his two sons (ages ten and twelve), respond to any program, the way that they had responded to ‘Evan's Clubhouse’. He said that they would not stop talking about it.
At the conclusion of that same week of children's ministry, the Pastor came and talked to Sharon and me. He told us about two brothers who had attended throughout the week. He said that they come from a very difficult home environment, where alcohol and drug abuse are the norm. He said that it was obvious on the first day of the program, that these boys were not accustomed to a church environment. He said that they had looked bewildered. On the second day and throughout the remainder of the week however, these two boys completely engaged themselves in all of the activities. They raised their hands to answer questions. They soaked up the songs, and sang them as though they had known them for years. They took their turns to come to the front to help to lead the singing. By the end of the week, these two boys knew all of the answers to the questions that were asked in review of the material, which had been presented that week. But the most wonderful part of all, is that both of them asked Jesus into their hearts!
In one church, where we had been asked to do a week-long children's program, the Pastor had also asked us to take the Sunday school on Sunday afternoon. This meant that we were ministering throughout the morning service, the afternoon Sunday school, and the evening service. This happens occasionally.
Sharon and I both ministered in the afternoon Sunday school. Sharon told a wonderful flannel- graph Bible story. She had many of the children come to the front to sing some of the songs that they had learned in ‘Evan's Clubhouse’, for their parents. I shared a gospel message, using illusions and Scripture. I did not give an invitation to the altar, but closed the Sunday school session with prayer. I had no idea what was about to happen!
The children and their parents began to come to the altar, on their own. They raised their hands in worship and surrender to God. They cried out to God aloud, with much fervor and weeping! The Pastor told Sharon and me later, that he had never seen anything like that before!
During the evening evangelistic service, even though there was no testimony time, a grandmother stood to her feet. She told the people how God had touched her eight-year-old grandson at the altar following the afternoon Sunday school. She said that she had been praying for his salvation, and that he had accepted Jesus as his Saviour, that day! She wept as she told the story.
I am not sure whether this story should be included in the children's ministry portion of this letter, or the youth ministry portion. However, one evening in ‘Evan's Clubhouse’, which is geared more to children ages 4 to 12, there were four teenagers (ages 14 to 17) in attendance. All four of these teenagers accepted Jesus as their Saviour, that evening!
At the end of another week of children's ministry (‘Evan’s Clubhouse), the Pastor of the host church told Sharon and me that there were a number of children including his neighbor's daughter, who had many previous opportunities to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour and had not responded, but they had responded this time! He said that they knew what they were doing.
God has also done such amazing things, in and through our youth ministry! In one service, two teenagers came to know the Lord as their Saviour! In another service, four more were saved! Following another youth service, three teenagers rededicated their lives to God!
In a small town in western Canada, two or three churches in a joint-effort, operate a youth drop-in center, which they call ‘The Bunker’. The Pastor who had booked us for the week, asked if we would go to minister to the un-churched and unsaved youth of the town, in ‘The Bunker’, on the Friday night.
Two of the ladies who help to operate the drop-in center took Sharon and me to the facility to prepare to minister before the teenagers arrived. The building was converted from a closed church into a drop-in center. There were pool tables, air hockey games, a snack bar offering soft drinks, potato chips, and other snacks. We set up our paraphernalia, and then spent a few moments in prayer together before the young people began to arrive.
Upon their arrival, the teenagers began to play pool, air hockey, and otherwise enjoy themselves. Their language at times left much to be desired, but Sharon and I both felt a genuine love for these young men and women, as well as a burden for their souls. After 30 to 40 teenagers had arrived, the ladies who were in charge, engaged the youth in some organized games and activities. It was good to see these young people having such a good time. After an hour or so of their normal activities, the young people were invited to be seated near what used to be the church platform, where I was ready to minister.
Using a number of Scriptures, two or three illusions, and ventriloquism (Evan and Granny of course, helped me with the ventriloquism), I presented the gospel message within 30 to 40 minutes. I was about to turn things back over to the two ladies in charge. What happened was totally unexpected!
A young man spoke up. He wanted to know if his soul is really eternal. His question was followed by another from a young lady. She asked if there was any other way that she could be saved, other than asking Jesus to save her. Another teenage boy had heard that the human body actually loses a fraction of an ounce when the soul leaves the body at the time of death. He asked me if this was true. I told him that I didn't know. He seemed to respect my honesty.
The questions seemed to become more and more complex. There were questions about demonic manifestations. I thank God that His Holy Spirit brought Scriptures to mind, and helped me to answer such deep questions, from such young minds. The unplanned and unanticipated question and answer period went on for at least forty-five minutes.
The ladies in charge, later told Sharon and me that they were so glad that they did not have to answer the questions, which the young people had posed.
There is one experience which I am not able to share with you because there are too many details which could point to the identity of those involved and negate their right to privacy. This is often the case. However in this situation I feel compelled to tell you that Sharon and I were so wonderfully blessed by the reception, warmth, and trust that was allotted to us by a teenage brother and his sister. They came to us in desperate need for prayer. God gave us an instant and very deep love for these two young people. Even though we met them quite early last year, Sharon and I continue to bring this young man and young lady to God in prayer, daily.
During our family ministry events throughout the year, God did many wonderful things! Many received Jesus as their Saviour. Many hearts were broken before God at the altars!
One Sunday evening in an evangelistic service, the altars were opened and the invitation was given to come for prayer, regardless of the need. Almost everyone that was there came forward. The needs were as diverse as they were many. All of those who came forward were adults, except one. A very tiny little six-year-old girl stood waiting patiently for Sharon and me to come and pray with her.
When we came to pray with this little girl, we sensed such a sweet, timid, and yet sincere spirit within her. I knelt on my knees in front of her, so that I would not be towering over her. I asked her about her need. She told me that her mommy was very sick, and that she knew that Jesus could make her better. She also said, that her grandpa was going to have an operation. Then she said that she wanted Jesus to help her at school. She said that she was having problems in school, but did not elaborate. When Sharon and I prayed with her, I felt that if she wanted to share what sort of problems that she might be having at school, she would have. I prayed about her schooling, including
a number of possible scenarios. When I finished praying, the little girl gave me a big hug!
In one of the larger cities in Ontario, in which we ministered, the Pastor asked if we would go and serve for a day in a soup kitchen in the slums of the city. We felt honored and privileged, that he would ask us to come and serve with him in this manner. What a wonderful experience that was!
We served those who are the poorest, the dirtiest, possibly some of the most depraved, and according to society some of the most unlovable. We were so blessed to be able to serve them, as well as to sit with them and share the gospel message. At the end of the day, it felt as if we were the ones who had been ministered to.
Throughout 2013, we were honored and privileged to minister to seniors in many venues. As in our other age-specific ministries, many lost souls came to know Jesus as their personal Saviour. In one nursing home service, seven souls were saved! Praise God!
In one of the senior’s homes, a man accepted Jesus as his Saviour. At the conclusion of the service I went to him and asked him whether he wanted to pray on his own, or if he wanted me to help him. He said that he would like me to help him. I led him in the sinner’s prayer, and when I thought that the prayer was concluded, he continued on his own. With his arms stretched heavenward, he called out to God for mercy and for forgiveness for his sins. He said “I mean it God! I really mean it!”
Normally, when I share with you what Sharon and I have experienced and witnessed, I do not use names or locations, for obvious reasons. In this case however, it would be very difficult and indeed impossible not to reveal the name of the town that I am going to talk about.
You may recall a news story, which broke on November 10, 2013. A plane had crashed near the airport in Red Lake Ontario, killing five of its passengers. We were scheduled for almost a full week of ministry in Red Lake. The week would include children's ministry (Evan’s Clubhouse), youth, family, and senior’s ministry.
When we heard the story on the news, Sharon and I wondered if we might receive a telephone call from the Pastor, cancelling the week of ministry. However, we did not.
We arrived in Red Lake on November the 12th, where we were received with warmth and hospitality by the Pastor. We ministered throughout the week, as scheduled. A number of souls were saved, including children, teenagers, and adults alike.
We were taken into a local nursing home to minister. Before the service began, and while people were still gathering, I noticed a lady sitting by herself in the front row. She was crying. I went to her and asked if I could be of any help. “Oh yes!” The lady said, as she reached for my hand. She told me that she had lost a close relative as well as a very dear friend in the plane crash. I asked if I could pray with her and she welcomed the offer.
During the service I asked the lady to come up to the front to help me with one of the illusions. She came to the front and participated with some enthusiasm. Following the service she thanked me for asking her to help me with the illusion. She said that it meant so much to her.
As we were leaving the nursing home, the ‘Activities Coordinator’ thanked us for coming. She said that she felt that the timing of the event was so perfect. She said that the residents of the home needed to laugh and enjoy themselves as they had that day. She stated that there were three residents there that day, who were directly impacted by the plane crash.
The Pastor of the church, and many of the people in the church also told us before we left, that the timing of our arrival in Red Lake was so perfect and our ministry was so needed and appreciated. “What a lift! Your ministry has meant so much to us!” One lady said.
God’s Timing is always perfect! I went into a church, one afternoon to prepare for the ‘Family Night’ service. My intention was to spend time in prayer, as well as to prepare the program. I was only in the church for a few minutes, when the Pastor came into the sanctuary and began to talk with me. He began to speak about the church and the challenges that he and his people were facing. His heart was heavy. He said that he needed someone to pray with him. He said that he could not share his fears and concerns with his wife, as she was already bearing such a very heavy load.
We spent a large part of the afternoon together. He shared his heart, and we spent considerable time in prayer.
The Pastor told me that if for no other reason, he knew that God had sent us to his church, so that he could share his heart with me and so that we could spend time together in prayer. What an honor and a privilege it was to share that time with him!
So much Ministry has taken place in the big red bus, throughout 2013.
In one small town, we had completed our first night of children's ministry. The following morning I had gone into the church to spend some time in prayer. Later, as I was returning to the bus, which was parked beside the highway, I saw a lady walking by. She stopped and looked at me as if she wanted to speak. I said “Good morning” to her. She returned the courtesy.
The lady said that she and her thirteen-year-old son had been in the children's program (‘Evan’s Clubhouse’), the night before. She said that she and her son had such a wonderful time. She also said that she had never seen a ventriloquist or illusions in person, before. She seemed as though she wanted to talk, so I invited her to come into the bus for coffee and to spend some time with Sharon and me.
She came into the bus, and talked with us. She told us how much she enjoyed the ventriloquism. She said that Evan seemed to be so real and so alive. She said that she couldn't get over it. She said that she was going to come every day, and that she did not want to miss one service or event.
We talked about the weather and shared in other everyday conversation. While the three of us were talking, this lady became tearful. The tears were flowing down her cheeks. She had no explanation for her tearfulness.
This lady came to the bus two and three times a day, throughout the week. Every time that she came into the bus, the tears flowed down her cheeks. She would apologize, but admitted to having no explanation for the tears.
When we told the Pastor and his wife about the lady coming to the bus to visit and about her tears, they told us that she was well known in the town for her alcohol and drug abuse. She and her common-law husband were also known to be drug dealers. They also told us that she had just gotten her two children back from the children's aid. The Pastor and his wife thought that it was so wonderful that she and her son were coming to every service and event and that she was coming to our bus. They said that they had never seen this lady or her children in church before.
Sharon and the lady sat together in church on Sunday morning. I was ministering throughout the service. Sharon told me later that the lady cried throughout the entire service.
The lady came to our bus to visit again on Sunday afternoon. Again, she was tearful. She told Sharon and me that the ministry had meant so much to her throughout the week. She said that she would be there for the evening service and that there was no way that she was going to miss it, but she did. She was not in the evening service. Both Sharon and I were very concerned.
Early on Monday morning, as we were preparing to leave town, the lady and her thirteen-year-old son came to the bus to visit. She thanked us for our ministry. She said that she had not been able to come to the Sunday night service, because she had to do her laundry. (???) Her son gave us a picture of himself with a note for Evan, written on the back of the picture. The note said that he and Evan were friends. The lady told us that she and the Pastor's wife had been talking to each other. They had agreed that they were going to try to get together once a week. She said that the Pastor's wife was going to try to help her. The Pastor’s wife later confirmed this.
These are some of the wonderful things that Sharon and I have witnessed in 2013. We thank God for the opportunities to Minister. We thank Him for his faithfulness. We pray that every soul that has come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, will serve him faithfully. We pray that the seed, which we sew, will fall on good ground.
Matthew 13:8 “But other (seed) fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold.”
We have been commissioned to sew the seed. We trust and pray that the Pastors and the people of the churches that we visit, will reach out to these babes in Christ and help them as they begin to live for God. We ask you to pray for them as well.
We thank God for protecting us as we travel. On our trip through Central and Western Canada from October until late December, we traveled approximately 11,000 km’s. Nine thousand of those kilometers were on roads that were a sheet of ice! On that one trip, we saw more accidents than we have seen in all the years that we have been on the road. In one instance, a tractor-trailer landed on top of a car in the ditch, squashing it completely. But God protected us. Though it seemed as though the bus was going to slide out of control at times, God kept his hand of protection upon us. We also want to thank God for His Love, His mercy, and His grace toward us.
On that same trip, there was a problem with our heating system. One of the two furnaces that heat the living area of the bus, quit entirely. The second heater would only work at approximately one third of its normal capability. Once again, we were sleeping in the bus with minimal heat for a period of about three weeks until we were able to arrive at a repair center for the heating system. Night-time outside temperatures were in the -35 to -40°C range. With minimal heating system function, the temperature inside the bus was in the range of -15 to -20°C. But, we thank God for even that amount of heat! We had done without heat for years until by God's grace and his wonderful provision, the heating system was donated for our benefit in 2012. Praise God!
We also thank God that the engine heater continued to function as intended, and the bus started easily every morning, to take us to our next ministry venue. Praise the Lord!
Sharon and I want to share something with you on a more personal note.
We returned from Newfoundland, on June 24, 2013. On June 26th at 11:30 PM; We were driving home in our 1997 Dodge Caravan after visiting some very dear friends. Before we knew what was happening, the back end of a moose was coming through the windshield. Sharon had the back end of the moose on her lap and against her chest. Our minivan had cut a 1000-pound cow moose in half. Sharon was covered from head to foot in moose blood and intestines. I was covered with green bile and other detestable substances. Our van was totaled!
Sharon only suffered a few bruises to her chest. The back of my right hand, which had been on the steering wheel, suffered multiple lacerations. The lacerations were down into the bones. This was caused by the weight of the moose on top of the windshield as it came down on my hand.
We were taken to the hospital by ambulance as a precaution. The back of my hand had to be stitched up. Now, we were without a van. We had no funds to purchase another vehicle.
Nine days later, while sitting in our bus in a parking lot during a week of ‘Vacation Bible School’ Ministry, a lady whom we had never met, nor ever spoken to, came to our bus.
The lady told us that she had heard that we needed another vehicle. She had prayed about our need for three days. She said that she knew that God had told her to purchase a vehicle for us. She bought us a 2012 Chevrolet Orlando that had 3,255 Km’s. on it. Yes, Our God, the only true God is absolutely amazing!
Early in this letter, I said that I would explain why we traveled eight provinces to minister in four provinces in 2013.
I was booking what I thought would be a trip through central and western Canada. I had just hung up the telephone after talking to one of the pastor's, when our telephone rang. The caller was a pastor who had become a very good friend of ours. The usual chit-chat ensued and then he asked me when we would be planning a trip to western Canada. I told him that I was working on a trip that I had thought would reach the western provinces, but that it looked as though we would be turning around in Manitoba and working our way home due to Christmas time restraints. He gave me a list of five or six churches in Alberta, and asked if I would be willing to give them a call. I agreed.
We ended up with some bookings in Alberta, which allowed Sharon and me a wonderful opportunity to spend some very precious time with my brother, who had unexpectedly been hospitalized in the University Hospital in Edmonton. His condition was critical. Approximately two weeks after our visit, my brother went home to be with his Saviour. I told you that God's timing is absolutely perfect! Thank you Lord!
Your Brother in Christ