Myanmar from a Muskoka Chair

While we were in Chiang Mai this summer, we stayed with Brian and Linda Crawford, missionaries to Thailand and parents of some stellar Heritage students. One morning at breakfast, Brian mentioned the deep impact the biography of Adoniram Judson had on his life. I made a note to track down the book when we got back to Canada.

To the Golden ShoreHaving just finished reading To the Golden Shore, I would agree with Brian; it was one of the most impactful biographies I’ve ever read. Drama, courage, imprisonment, heartbreak, break-through, romance, inspiration—this biography has it all.

In case the name Adoniram Judson is new to you, here’s a brief introduction: Adoniram, and his wife Ann, were the first missionaries sent from America in the early 19th century. Though aware of the acute danger they would face, they moved to Burma (current day Myanmar). What happens to them will keep you turning pages as fast as your eyes can read. It will also move you to do some personal reflection on your own life, your devotion to Christ and your heart for the gospel.

chairTo the Golden Shore will take you to Myanmar while you sit in your Muskoka chair on the patio or at the cottage.

But To the Golden Shore will not simply transport you, it will also transform you. That’s what a good book should do!

Posted in Heritage, Life Lessons, Ministry Matters, Personal | Leave a comment

Highlights from the Global Proclamation Congress

GPRo SignTomorrow marks the final day of this historic gathering in Bangkok. The experience has been incredible—instructive, inspirational and impossible to fully describe. Here are a few highlight insights we’ll be taking back to Canada with us.

Singing “How Great is Our God” with 2500 pastoral trainers from over a hundred countries. “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Psalm 96:3).

Hearing a challenging message from Oscar Muriu, the pastor of the Nairobi Chapel. Key question: “Is what you are living for worth Christ dying for?”

Ramesh

Dr. Ramesh Richard

Being reminded by Dr. Ramesh Richard of the great need for pastoral training around the world: Key stat: Only 5% of the world’s pastors have had any formal training.

 

Being in round table discussions designed to see greater collaboration between those involved in formalized theological training (seminaries) and those doing non-formal training (seminars). Both types are needed in God’s kingdom work.

The joy of preaching to an international gathering in one of the morning exposition breakout sessions. Thanks for all of you who prayed for me as I spoke on “How to be a Useful Minister for Christ” from 2 Timothy 2:14-26.

Reconnecting with pastors we’ve met over the years from many countries: Mongolia, Syria, Kenya, Lithuania, Panama…and more.

Dreaming about how Heritage could help with the training of pastoral leaders from various nations in the GTA. My colleague, Keith Edwards, who is also at the Congress, will be a great help in seeing these dreams move towards reality.

Eating Thai food every morning, noon and night. (We’ve loved it but are ready for a good ol’ burger or some fajitas).

Seeing a living demonstration of the global body of Christ and getting a preview of heaven (people from every nation, tribe, people and language—Revelation 7:9).  Tomorrow night will close with a banquet together; a foretaste of the supper Above.

Thank you for praying for us.  Please pray for all the delegates as we travel to our home countries to put into action the things we’ve learned and commitments we’ve made.

gpro group

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bridging Two Conferences in Thailand

Bridge in ThailandOn Sunday morning we finished our first conference in Thailand. It was a wonderful week with many highlights. We met stellar men and women who are serving the Lord with people groups across Southeast Asia—some in large urban centres, some in remote rural places. All of them passionate to reach to those who are largely unreached with the good news of Jesus.

One of the young missionaries we met was the son of a classmate I had at Dallas Seminary thirty years ago. Another one of the young missionaries at the conference became a Christian when he was a high school student in California. In fact, the church where he came to know Christ was started with the help of the church my father pastored in the Napa Valley. We both grew up in California but met in Chiang Mai.

Both Linda and I were impacted deeply by the commitment of the missionaries we met at the conference. You should have heard them pray for the people they serve in Asia. Tears often flowed as they cried out to God to bring His salvation to the nations.

GPRo.jpgNow we’ve bridged to our second conference–the Global Proclamation Congress in Bangkok. This is easily one of the most amazing gatherings we’ve ever seen: several thousand pastoral leaders from over 100 countries. All day long we’ve been in workshops and working groups to discuss training pastoral leaders (95% of whom have not had access to a Bible School or Seminary). Tonight we had a lengthy concert of praise and prayer.

We’ve reconnected with friends in ministry from around the globe. And we’ve met fascinating men and women from a host of countries. It’s a foretaste of heaven.

I will be preaching in one of the conference sessions on Saturday morning (Friday evening in North America). My message, from 2 Timothy 2:14-26, is entitled, “How to be a Useful Minister for Christ.” Please pray that the Lord would allow me to be useful for His purposes as I preach His Word.

Posted in Ministry Matters, Personal, preaching | Leave a comment

Global Connections

World HandsWe’re from Canada. And so are they….and they’re from Denmark and Deutschland, Holland and Hanoi, South Africa and the South, Myanmar and Minnesota, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is a multicultural place. We’re making global connections.

We’re making connections to our past. Years ago we wrote our masters’ theses on the Lao language (Linda) and Theravada Buddhism (Rick). Amazingly, both of these topics are quite relevant now.

We’re making connections to Scripture. Rick’s teaching on suffering (Phil 3) has connected with missionaries who have left family and friends, feel like perpetual “foreigners”, and live in risky situations. His teaching on peacemaking (Phil 4) was also received well.

We’re connecting with new people and ideas. We’ve had time to discuss Buddhism, gender issues, unreached people groups, and cross cultural challenges with leaders from the U.K., U.S. and Canada. We’ve been amazed by the “God at work” stories from missionaries.

Our connection to this conference is through Brian and Linda Crawford, whom we met at Heritage in 2013. Brian and Linda are the parents of our Resident Directors, D. J and Bethany Mudde. On May 21st they were back in Canada their daughter, Brianna’s wedding (who married another stellar Heritage grad—Caleb Hall).

The goal of all of this is to connect people to Jesus. We’ve participated in prayer times, hearing people calling on God (in different languages) for people groups across Southeast Asia. God is making “His house a place of prayer for all the peoples” (Is. 55:7) so that a “great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues [would] stand before the throne, [saying] salvation to our God who sits on the Throne, and to the Lamb….Amen” (Revelation 7:9-11).

We’re already hoping that some of our students will want to make these kind of connections in the future. How about you? It’s been amazing to listen to the many ways that students, young parents and retirees abandoned their previous lives to come here. Come and join God’s global team; it’s a connection you won’t regret making!

Posted in Heritage, Ministry Matters, Personal | Leave a comment

The Longest…

LyndenIt was the world’s longest (at least they were hoping so).  On Saturday, June 4th, we were at the Lynden, Washington “Farmers Day Parade.”  After the parade, they celebrated by creating the “world’s longest strawberry shortcake” (over three blocks long).

Lynden, Washington (located just south of the Canadian Border) is the picturesque town where Linda grew up. It was recently given the “best main street in America” award for small towns. If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s a treasure.

We were in Lynden on June 4th to celebrate Linda’s mom’s 80th birthday. We were also celebrating our anniversary; we were married in Lynden 33 years ago. At our wedding, we pledged to “serve Christ together as long as we both shall live.”  We sang together that we would “illumine the darkness where His light has not shown.”

Today has been the world’s longest day (at least for us).  We started the day (or was it yesterday?) by attending the early service at Grace Baptist Church, where we were married.  The pastor closed the service by having us all sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”  The song brings back memories for both of us of pledges to serve Jesus wherever He may lead.  Today that has led us to Hong Kong – from where we write.  We’ve been up ever since (more than 24 hours) as we await a flight to Bangkok, and then after a few hours sleep (we hope) another flight to Chiang Mai.

Rick will speak at a gathering for Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) staff in Chiang Mai and then at the Global Proclamation Congress with Ramesh Richard in Bangkok.  In both of these areas, we will seek to serve the servants of Christ who are making Christ known.

We would so greatly value your prayers.  As Paul told the believers in Corinth, “you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:11). We’ll do our best to keep you posted in the coming weeks.

 

 

Posted in Ministry Matters, Personal, preaching | Leave a comment

Graduation 2016

Graduation day is a celebration day!

On April 30th, we celebrated with a sizeable and stellar graduating class at Heritage. Families and friends filled our gym to cheer them on as they walked across the stage to receive their certificates or diplomas.

I’m convinced many of these students will serve the Lord in fruitful ways in the years to come.  Many of them are already engaged in ministry service.  In fact, right after graduation we sent three teams of students on summer missions trips (Romania, Japan and Brazil).

Please join us in thanking the Lord for His goodness to Heritage and to these graduates!

I thought you might enjoy seeing a few pictures of  Graduation 2016 (Use the arrow keys on the bottom of the picture to advance the slides).

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve Been Everywhere…

I’ve just returned from speaking at a Promise Keeper’s training event in Scarborough. This wraps up a string of four PK conferences that I’ve been a part of in the past few months.

Linda and I have been on the road quite a bit in the last four months (which is one reason we’ve been sparse in blog posts). We’ve been in Ottawa (twice), Hamilton (twice), London (twice), New Castle, Gorrie, Barrie, Scarborough, Winnipeg and Shawville (Quebec). We’ve also been in Orlando and Louisville for conferences. We can almost sing along with Johnny Cash’s song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

Over the months and miles, we’ve experienced God’s mercies in many ways. He’s graciously given us safe travels, sustained health and spiritual strength. We’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones. We’ve had the glorious privilege of opening God’s Word to people and proclaiming the gospel of Christ.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons we’re holding up is because friends like you pray for us. We want to say “Thank You”! We’d also ask you to continue to intercede for us as we carry out the ministry God has entrusted to us at Heritage and in the wider work of Christ in Canada.

(Here’s Johnny Cash’s song, I’ve Been Everywhere.  How did he ever keep all those city and town names straight?!)

 

 

Posted in Heritage, Ministry Matters, Personal | Leave a comment