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May 2015

SEEING THINGS in FOCUS

Trusting God with our schedule: that’s been the theme of the last few months. In the fall when our previously scheduled overseas events began to crumble, we started to wonder what God was up to in our ministry. While we have always sought to let Him be in charge of the calendar, it seemed uncanny the actual number of events that were cancelled for valid reasons: Cuba (change in government regulations), Liberia (Ebola outbreak), Guatemala (re-scheduling), and South Africa (visa issues). BUT GOD! Through it all, we believe He had other events in mind, for other reasons, and certainly blessings for us. Even where a calendar is concerned, God KNOWS. This month’s newsletter focuses on a recap of ministry through the winter and early spring. We’ll start with Bay’s events.

First, God filled Bay’s calendar with “Grace” (literally and metaphorically). Our home church Grace Evangelical Free asked him to fill the pulpit twice (including Easter Sunday), and Grace Community Church in Delta, CO.


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We drove to Steamboat Springs, where Bay & I had a mini-reunion with long-time friends from our Rift Valley Academy days in Kijabe, Kenya, as well as dear friends, and supporters who live in the area. What a joy to find relationships renewed in so many places! Bay spoke at a Spiritual Emphasis Week for Heritage Christian School, as well as their annual fund-raising banquet, and at Steamboat Springs Bible Church.

 

Bay was immensely blessed when invited by FCA student leaders from many of the universities across Indiana to speak at a first-ever “connection” event. The weekend event was held at Taylor University in Upland. While the attendees were all members of FCA groups from across the state, nearly 30-35% of them made first time professions of faith. One big football player commented a week later, “When the invitation was given, my heart was hurting so bad, I had to stand!”

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IMG_0851 copyTwice Bay flew to New Brunswick, Canada (yes, in the dead of winter)  to speak at two different events that brought in potential students for a winter retreat. Surprisingly, both events were filled to capacity with around 300 students. It was a great opportunity for Bay to share Jesus, and for many of these students to come to faith in Christ for the first time. In spite of the cold weather (-6 degrees at times), the fire of the Holy Spirit definitely warmed hearts and burned brightly over both weekends.


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Another highlight for Bay was a week spent in New Hampshire where he spoke at Center Barnstead Christian Church (a pre-Civil War church, where soldiers found refuge and medical attention during the war) and the New Hampshire State Prison. This was a “WOW!” event, in the Way God moved, the Openness of the men, and the Winning of hearts to salvation! We are both speechless at the orchestration of all these events, but in particular this one.

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We’d love to share just a few notes that came from the prison as an encouragement to you, our teammates. We hope you realize that you are every bit as instrumental a part of sharing the gospel as Bay is in these times of sharing!!!!

Brother Bay,

I have been incarcerated for more than 13 years, and during those years I have been involved in many of the Bible-based ministries in our Chapel. It has been my prayer that the Lord would send a spiritual awakening amongst the inmates. God blessed this request by allowing you to enter this facility and preach His simple and powerful Word this past week. As a result, at least 40 inmates made professions of having received Christ as their Savior. This has never happened here before to this magnitude; however, the miracle continues because many of those men are now attending discipleship classes! God is greatly working. Thank you so much for coming to NHSP and faithfully proclaiming the Good News. Lord willing, we will see you again this fall.

-S.M.-


Dear Bay,

I send my love and blessings to you. I want to thank you for coming to NHSP. I was there as a worker, so I was not able to hear everything that you said, but within the four days of your preaching, what I did hear was amazing. Your energy, compassionate enthusiasm, and ability to reach these men in a relational down-to-earth fashion was incredible. The way you were able to tell a story and incorporate God’s Word into it provided the vehicle for exposing the point of your message, and we need more of this here. I had been praying for a number of men who attended to receive Christ, and many did. I thank the Lord for this work. Your love for the Lord and your way with words is truly a godly gift. Thank you again.

-P.C.-


 

Dear Brother Bay,

Since my incarceration of 16 years, and working as a Chapel clerk for 14 of those years, I’ve seen many Christian ministries preaching Christ come and go. Through many months of prayer and preparation for this “Slam Dunk Revival,” I saw God’s presence as never before. He took many of these men who are castaways from society, from loved ones, and sadly even from churches, and showed them Christ. You came, not knowing what to expect and preached the love of Christ, as well as showing how to receive God’s gift of salvation. Never before have I seen so many eyes and ears open to salvation’s message. I watched in amazement as God began to tear down walls and soften hearts…

-K.W.-

Just so you can start praying now, we both plan on returning to the prison next October with dear friends of ours, to have opportunity to minister even further. Thank you for your faithfulness, as well, in giving financially. This is one of those extremely sweet opportunities that we could not afford to do without you. Certainly there is no funding on their end to allow it, either. Many inmates commented to Bay, “I can’t believe you would come here, and we couldn’t even pay to bring you in!”

Peg’s Events

Peg thoroughly enjoyed two events this spring. One, a women’s luncheon at First Baptist Church, Levelland, TX (again connecting with people we love and feel like we’ve helped “raise”). The other a three-day retreat for Skyview Presbyterian Church (Denver) held at Glen Eyrie (the Navigator’s Headquarters in Colorado Springs). Both events focused on the importance of storytelling, and the ONE who is the hero of our stories (Jesus): 1) for finding freedom from shame, 2) for encouraging others, and 3) for fulfilling our purpose of bringing glory to the I AM who is changing who i am…  Both events were sweet times of fellowship and blessing!

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TOGETHER EVENTS

We just returned from a ten-day trip to Oregon, where we spoke at supporting churches in the town where Peg was raised, as well as at a campus ministry event at Southern Oregon University. On the front side of the ten-days, we actually took a few days of “vacation” near the beautiful Pacific coast. It’s always a joy for us to touch base back home, and to get to brag on all the Lord has done (which, by the way, is the purpose of this newsletter).

Psalm 126:3, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!” We hope these GREAT THINGS are spreading contagious joy in you, too!

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To Consider

Our next Cuba trip will take place in February of 2016. We currently have a five member team committed to traveling with us. If you are interested in joining us, we still have a few openings left for this exciting and meaningful ministry. Contact us at either bay@focusministries.org, or peg@focusministries.org, for more information!

Once again, thank you for your part in FOCUS!