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.
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!”
Twice 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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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…
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 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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, for more information!
Once again, thank you for your part in FOCUS!
FOCUS on the GOD WHO SHOWS OFF
Peg speaking at one of the two retreats in Tanzania. 18 amazing volunteers served women representing 52 mission agencies, 14 African countries, with over 859 combined years of service.
With Peg in Tanzania
As we began preparing for the missionary women to arrive at our Tanzania retreats (2 back to back), we specifically prayed, “Lord, we want you to show off!” He did! In little ways, like sunsets through thorn trees, to the big, as women were transformed. Over the course of days God, Himself, refreshed, their intimacy with Him, renewed their identity in Him, and restored their invitation to join Him on mission!
Peg went to be the key note speaker, being out of country for just over two weeks, but found herself wearing different ministry “hats.” It was a blessed time for her, as once again, the Lord showed her what a need there is to serve the serving. Newest statistics show that one in fourteen missionaries are leaving the field every year, and 67% of those are for preventable reasons. As we walk alongside these gals for a few days, encouraging them, praying with them, sharing God’s truths (reminders that are simply difficult to remember when life is throwing hard things our way), laughing with them, and bringing them a taste of home, it is amazing the difference that is made. Rather than just tell you in my words, here are some of theirs.
A White-elephant-type-game where women fight over products from home they can’t find in Africa
Besides speaking, Peg often counsels, leads small groups, & gives pedicures (what a joy to wash & massage the feet of those who spread the Good-News of Jesus)
A highlight of every retreat are the refreshing times of solitude and prayer
Thank you for loving me so extravagantly. That is how our Father loves us, and I felt it through you at this retreat. -Vanessa
I didn’t know just how much I needed such a time of refreshing. God bless you for your part in encouraging me to keep fighting the good fight! An additional gift for me is that following a recent robbery I was able to sleep through the night after months of waking up with nightmares.
Wow! Wow! Wow! I feel so blessed to be prayed over, showered with gifts, Biblically encouraged through Peg’s messages, and so much more! You have made it possible for me to feel refreshed and joyful to serve. God bless!
I write this as I sit on my bed this morning in the hotel room, soon to depart for the airport and return to home in Kenya…..
Lord, these last few days here at the THRIVE retreat in Dar have truly been a GIFT!! I was worn out, weary, exhausted, and had “hit a wall”! I needed REST….Rest of all kinds—physical, mental, spiritual rest and relaxation. I have known I’ve needed this for awhile and the timing of coming has been just perfect. I have been hungry for YOU….hungry not to just believe YOUR presence is with me, but to feel YOUR presence…I’ve wanted to hear you speak to me, and I have searched for you…and did I hear from you?? Yes! And, I feel like I can breathe now!!! I feel like I can go home and be a better wife, a better mother, a better missionary, a better host, and most importantly a better lover of Jesus!!!
Michaela was my first connection @ the Thrive retreat. Come to find out, her mom and my oldest daughter, Stephanie, work on the same floor in the same hospital! Steph had given them both a copy of my book Please Don’t Send Me to Africa, which still sits on her shelf! Only God could orchestrate that! Here was her email:
I just wanted to write to you and say how thankful I am to you and the other volunteers for the Retreat. After arriving home I am still under the effects of the retreat. I feel that my mind is more stable and I see things differently. I am not as anxious about our ministry and I feel at peace. I know God worked in my heart, and it wasn’t just a spiritual high but He transformed my heart more and continues to do work in me, which will make me more effective for the Kingdom. I know the volunteers pay their own way and that is just amazing that they would do such a thing. I am so grateful, and so thankful that there are people out there advocating for us women abroad and who pray for us.
I knew I needed to meet Karen – she’s a good friend of a good friend, plus I had brought her stamps from the U.S. so she could mail her Christmas cards. So, God ordained that she’d be the first gal to sit in my pedicure chair. Another gift… This morning, I had the following note from her on my Facebook page:
Yesterday morning I was chopping vegetables in the kitchen. The door was open and my four year old neighbor boy was sitting on the stoop chatting with me. I could smell fire… like rubber and rubbish burning. I asked the boy where the smell was coming from. He said “Your sitting room.” I said “No way!” and he said, “Yes, I will show you the fire;” and so he ran inside the house and grabbed your book. I have been reading Meet Me at the Burning Bush with a friend, and he showed me the flames on the cover of your book. If only I could smell the presence of God like that!!
As I think of these women I met briefly, and grew to love so deeply, this thought resonates with me. I have prayed for them regularly that they each learn to bask in the presence of God regularly, leaning hard into Him, so that He will continue filling their cup, renewing their hope, and refueling their energy and re-focusing their vision for the sake of the Kingdom.
WITH BAY IN INDIANA
Twenty-nine hours after Peg returned from Dar es Salaam, she dropped me off at the airport in Durango for a ten-day trip to Indiana. The prayer, asking God to show off, just seemed a natural continuation of the prayers for the retreats in Tanzania. Again, we were humbled as I stepped back, did the very things God had called me there to do, and watched Him take over. While in Indiana, I was privileged to speak at two churches (one inner city church in Ft. Wayne, and one church in the heart of Amish/Mennonite country), at an event for athletes from Bethel College, a city-wide youth event, and a weekend men’s retreat. The venues varied greatly…but that is part of the joy I’ve found in my ministry calling: bridging the gap from eight to eighteen to eighty.
One of the highlights of the time away was the youth event scheduled on a Friday night in Shipshewana, IN. I used the time with the students who came to give a strong evangelistic message. These students seemed to come hungry and ready to hear the word; and, praise the Lord, my words found favor with them. It seemed that seed fell on good soil. Somewhere between 75-80 students came forward in pockets like the one you see above, all across the stage, saying, “Yes! I need Jesus’ saving grace. Yes! I want to stand for Him.” You know God has done something, when the next morning, a mom in the area, started forwarding Peg tweets from students (see pictures on previous page) who were lighting up their Twitter accounts, reaffirming that they were, now, not ashamed of the gospel. They are a little hard to read. One says, “Thanks to Bay Forrest, and a bunch of amazing friends, I can now say that I am saved!”
Another reads, “Tonight I surrendered my life to God and I am proud to say that I am unashamed…”
Another girl wrote, “I cannot even begin to put into words my experience tonight…”
God showed up; and God showed off.
I always love men’s events. Hearing men worship together simply does something to stir my heart for heaven! What a great time of retreat, challenging the men in the picture on the previous page, to leadership: at home, at church, and in their communities. We discussed shunning the temptations of the enemy, and staying pure in thoughts, words, and actions. Their responses were humbling and encouraging.
Since that weekend, these two recommendations and affirmations are simply, again, a reflection of God doing what He does best: showing off! I always say, “If anything is REALLY happening in hearts, God did it…certainly not me!!”
“I invited many athletes from Bethel College to my house to hear Bay speak. Many of my teammates were excited to hear from a former NBA player. Being at a Christian school, a lot of athletes get turned off about hearing another speaker on top of what they get at chapel. Bay was able to connect to these guys because of his experiences, and we saw ten people raise their hands to be saved!” – Luke
“God gave this man of God 6’ 10” for a reason, and New Life is so grateful that Bay continues to leverage all of himself for God’s glory. Whether it was our area wide youth event, or the men’s retreat, or Sunday service, God used Bay to call others out of darkness and into the light of Jesus Christ. We are praying that it was the spark that leads to lasting change for so many of us.” – Drew Ryall, Lead Pastor NLF
- Dec 13. Visiting Angels Retreat – Pagosa
- Jan 10 Head to Phoenix
- Jan 16-18 Board of Directors meetings
- Feb 6-8 staff wide FCA College event @ Indiana Wesleyan University (Bay)
- Feb 20-22 New Brunswick Bible institute, Canada (Bay)
- Mar 20-22 New Brunswick Bible institute, Canada (Bay)
- April 11 Women’s Event, Lovelland, TX (Peg)
- April 21-27 New Hampshire Prison Ministry (Bay)
Obviously, one of the greatest moments of God showing off came year’s ago, when He showed up in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. He came in humility, that the humble might know Him. He came meekly, to serve. He came silently, so that only those who were listening could hear. But, He came! That is simply unfathomable! Came to die that we might have life unending. As we move into this season of Advent, celebrating that coming of our Messiah, Christ, it is with awe that we get to behold His glory as He shows off time and time again in the simplest acts of ministry.
The REAL GOOD NEWS is that He’s not done showing off…and ONE DAY…He will come again. Of this, we are certain. Only one response will be necessary: every knee will bow and every tongue will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord!
May you behold His glory as GOD SHOWS OFF this Christmas season. Have a blessed HOLY-DAY celebration!
FOCUS on Summer Ministry
Bay & Peg Forrest | 300-A Squaw Valley Place | Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
It’s Fall! Where Did Summer Go?
We just noticed, other than a few “Mail Chimp” e-letters we’ve sent out over the last few months, that you haven’t received an official newsletter from us since June! You probably haven’t noticed you hadn’t received any either, if your summer has been like ours…the best words to describe it for us: on-the-go! So, let us re-cap our summer for you through pictures and a few words…
CHANGES Over the summer
Our website, www.focusministries.org, has been updated (thanks to our nephew, Paul Brinton). We like our new look; think it’s easier to find things; and love that you can get our daily prayer calendar there, as well as other information.
Peg’s blog, posted each Monday, is “just a thought” reflecting on life, Scriptures, & Jesus: www.peg-justathought.blogspot.com
CAMP of the Woods
The above picture was taken one beautiful summer evening as Bay, Joe, & Peg returned from Tapawingo (the girls camp) at Camp of the Woods (see picture of Peg below). Each summer for many years, we head to COW, the middle of July, where the three of us are involved in numerous ministries: Tapawingo (Bay, Peg & Joe), the Kids Carnival (Bay & Joe), youth camp (Bay), staff chapel (Bay), and adult chapel (Bay & Joe – see below). Every summer, we’ve seen the Lord use those opportunities for His glory with many salvations, and lots of one-on-one spontaneous meetings to encourage and counsel. A highlight this summer was one of the staff sharing with Bay how he’d been saved at Teen Camp years before & now was there working. How we love to hear that! Nothing better than multiplication!
Peg speaking to the girls at Tapawingo, the camp on the island that is in the middle of Lake Pleasant, and a part of Camp of the Woods. It’s always a delight to step off the boat & into God’s presence in this place!
It’s a little difficult to see, from the place where this picture was taken, but Bay & Joe are giving the audience a pre-chapel performance to the adults at Camp of the Woods.
Bay spoke the first of August at Burton Family Camp. The church at Burton was founded by his grandfather, Fred, whom he is named after. What a treat to take four of our grandsons with him…who knows, maybe one will carry on?
Bay left July fourth (great time to travel – he was even upgraded to first class on the way) to head to Ft. Wayne, IN where he was asked to fill the pulpit at Emmanuel Community Church. We’ve been in Ft. Wayne so often, it has almost become a second home (smile)…yet, we are so thankful for the multiple opportunities in the many different churches in that area where we’ve been blessed to share the gospel story! We count it a blessing EVERY TIME God opens the doors to put us where He wants us, when He wants us!
Sometimes, it amazes us how the Lord works. Our contact to the two churches in Montana where Bay was asked to preach in August was the District Superintendent of Nazarene churches. Bill Carr is a dear friend of ours, who generally travels to Cuba with us training pastors. Little did we know when we agreed to go that Bay had close relatives in each church. What an added blessing to be with Bay’s aunt & uncle, as well as two of his cousins and their families at Whitefish Nazarene and Libby Nazarene Churches. As well, in between each event, we snuck into Canada and did a little sight seeing in Banff (with friends from Boise, our board president, Rick & Nancy Daniels). That trip left us all breathless @ God’s unbelievable creation!
The first of September found us in Blowing Rock, NC. We were contacted just a little over a week prior by the projects manager at SP, wondering if we could move up our December trip to Liberia to meet with the Liberian staff in a crisis intervention debrief. The dreaded Ebola outbreak has taken it’s toll on each SP staff member, with two of the medical team having contracted Ebola (I’m sure you saw that in the recent news), yet seeing God graciously bring healing to them. SP brought home all their staff after a 21-day quarantine in undisclosed locations for this time of healing, encouragement and debriefing on the effects of stress and need for self-care. Bay and I were thrilled to be a part of that endeavor with both of us meeting in one-on-one sessions, speaking to the large group (Bay leading a communion service – see picture above), and Peg leading a small group discussion. What a joy to see God turn the mourning of these dear saints into the beginning of great healing!
All the family was home over the fourth of July. What great memories we made together as kids played, enjoyed the Pagosa festivities, and spent time together. Papa Bay was only here for one night of the chaos, I mean, memory making, but Nana got some quality time with all her grand-treasures! THREE Pictures
All the family together for a group picture the night before Papa left on a ministry trip. This is a “first” in many years…even our grand-dog, Izzy was around for the picture.
Nana with all fourteen of her grand-treasures – each one is unique, precious, and greatly loved! They now range from 15 to almost (he makes sure you know it’s almost) 5. What fun we had!
…the four that we like to call our “kids”, no matter how old, mature, and responsible they are. Still believe the Apostle John’s words are true – there is no greater joy than to know they walk in the truth!