UpBuilding Men, Women, and Children in Practical Christianity

January 2006 Monthly Letter

Dear Partner in Ministering New Life,

From Biloxi, MS, to Oak Hurst, CA, to a Place of Peace in Jesus Christ.

While in Oak Hurst, California, I felt led to preach a sermon on The Place of GRACE. The emphasis was on God's Righteousness At Christ's Expense.

Ephesians 2:8-9 was the text accompanied by several stories that poignantly painted word pictures revealing how amazing God and His Grace are! Communion by intinction followed it.

A Presbyterian "opportunity to respond to God's preached Word" was given at the close of the sermon. With heads bowed and eyes closed, I asked for anyone who wanted to receive Jesus, God's gift of Grace, to pray with me. Those who did were then asked to indicate that they had prayed by raising their hands, lifting their heads, and opening their eyes. Ten did.

As the congregation lined the aisles for communion, I left the platform, approached each of the ten, obtained their names and asked for permission to call them in the afternoon about their prayer.

Here is one of the results of what our gracious Lord did. Shelly, a woman from Biloxi, had lost everything in hurricane Katrina. Her daughter was in prison. She and her three grandchildren had escaped with nothing but their clothes. They had no place to go but to the community shelters.

The congregation in Oak Hurst contacted FIRM, the Fresno International Relief Mission and asked for a family it could specifically help. FIRM knew of Shelly and her family and that coincidentially she had an estranged husband who just happened to live in Oak Hurst! Hmmm!

The congregation enabled Shelly and her grandchildren to come to Oak Hurst. Her estranged husband agreed to let them come and live with him. (He and Shelly had never divorced but they had not lived together for years!)

The congregation brought to them food, clothing, and toys. Financial support and friendly visits from various members also followed. Shelly and the children began coming to the worship services and Sunday school.

Shelly described her praying experience in these words:

"I understood exactly what you were saying about grace. That there is nothing we can do to earn favor with God. I have nothing! Katrina stole everything from me. My home; all my personal possessions; my keepsakes! EVERYTHING!

I've been distraught. Depressed. In shock. Not knowing what to do. Today, when I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Savior, I experienced a calmness come over me that I can not describe. As Katrina totally wiped away all that I had, Christ wiped away all my fears, worries, anxieties, and sins. I felt His calmness calming all my personal storms. I just can't explain it!

When I picked up my grandchildren after Sunday school, they asked, 'Grandma, what happened to you!' They saw the difference in me. Jesus did that. All I could say was, 'Jesus calmed all of Grandma's storms. Jesus, calmed my storms! He is my Savior AND my Lord.'"

Only God could have orchestrated such a happening! We have the privilege of seeing His hand at work even in the midst of such tragic loss and sorrow! Thank you for allowing me to represent you and your desire to up build peoples' lives, many who are going through stormy times

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