“Thank You” This Thanksgiving!

✪ Thank you for following and caring about our family. We are thankful for all the Lord has done in China. We know that we couldn’t do it without our partners. Thank you for praying, giving and loving on our family over the years. From our family to yours, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

✪ This past Sunday night I was honored to preach a charge at my brother-in-law’s ordination and be part of the ordination council. I am excited to see how God is going to use his life in South Africa. They are at 97% of their support and leave next week. If you are looking for a missionary to South Africa that is arriving next week, they would be a family worthy of support!

✪ We are in Tennessee for thanksgiving and look forward to celebrating with family.

✪ Our team of church planting missionaries serving with Vision Baptist Missions has launched a new team name: “Vision For China“. Check out our website and follow to learn more about China and what you can do to be involved.

✪ Our team should be sending around 79 SD cards monthly now into NK as part of our initiative. Check out more about it here.

How Can We Go Forward In The Face Of Persecution?

We can go forward in the face of persecution if we are “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”—which is a simple command for us to act properly when in hostile environments. Also, we must be committed to ceaselessly preaching the gospel. Finally, we have to be willing to go forward doing right regardless of what happens. Thus, as a result and in the midst of persecution we will glorify God and fulfill His purposes and mission.

Go Forward In Wisdom And Harmlessness

  • Jesus sent His disciples forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. In this scenario the sheep is the one in danger—meaning that the persecution was imminent for the disciples. Jesus knew that persecution was going to be a reality if they obeyed His command to go and preach the Kingdom and He sent them anyway. Thus, the advice He is going to give them wouldn’t mean they were to suspend their mission if they were persecuted or even at the “chance” of being persecution. Ceasing to preach or speak in the face of persecution was never intended, but His intention was to encourage them to “go forward,” but as they did, they were to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”.
    Matthew 10:16; (Context: Matthew 10:1-42)
    • “Wise as serpents”—in scripture, serpents are used both in a bad and good way. Here we are told to have this good characteristic: wisdom. Snakes have to be wise because they often live in hostile environments (not many people like them). The first aspect of this wisdom is being shrewd and having a sharp sense of judgement. They pay attention, are watchful and careful. The second aspect of this “wisdom” it to cause the disciples to keep from becoming “slothful” out of the timid, cautious and circumspect characteristics that come when facing danger. Thus, in the same way, we need to have this sense of wisdom as we face persecution.
      (Compare to prudence: Proverbs 12:16, 23; 13:16; 14:8, 15, 18; 15:5; 16:21; 18:15; 22:3; 27:12)
    • “Harmless as doves”—doves have no real defense or offense. They don’t fight back when attacked. They aren’t seeking to hurt others, take advantage of others, nor are they attacking others. They easily put themselves in danger so that is seems silly or stupid. A dove is vulnerable. It isn’t fearful nor does it hide. As a messenger of the gospel “harm” shouldn’t be characteristic of who we are. Though people will mock, hate and hurt us because of the gospel, we shouldn’t fight back. They might harm us, but we don’t harm them. To apply this to our lives we have to understand that God uses suffering for the advancement of the gospel. Our suffering is a testimony to the grace of God.

Go Forward Ceaselessly Proclaiming The Gospel

  • Go forward speaking the gospel and do not be silent. As believers we are sent forth preaching the gospel and when we are persecuted for Jesus’ sake, we should continue being witnesses to them. In the face of persecution we should always be proclaiming the gospel message, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us. Jesus said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace”. Also, after Paul was arrested He used this opportunity to preach the gospel. Never cease preaching.
    Matthew 10:18-20; Acts 18:9-11; 21:27-26:32
  • Go forward speaking the gospel and if needed flee to another location. Jesus tells His disciples that when people persecute them in a certain city they were allowed to flee to another city. We should be aware and alert to the danger that could happen and if needed move to another location as long as we keep on preaching the gospel. We are permitted to leave a city because of persecution but we shouldn’t stop preaching the gospel. Thus, the task is more important than the location—even if the location can’t be changed.
    Matthew 10:23
  • Go forward speaking the gospel and if persecuted keep speaking the gospel. Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city and left there supposing he was dead. But when the disciples stood round about him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe and preached the gospel there. Even after being stoned and left for dead, Paul was faithful to preaching the gospel.
    Acts 14:19-23

Go Forward Doing Right Regardless Of What Happens
1 Peter 4:1-2

  • Go forward obeying God even if persecution is inevitable. Paul was told by a prophet that the Jews at Jerusalem would bind him and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles when He went up to Jerusalem. When the believers heard this, they pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. But he would not be persuaded by them, saying, “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Finally, they said, “The will of the Lord be done.” Paul was willing to go forward knowing that persecution was inevitable.
    Acts 21:10-14
  • Go forward serving God even if it is against the law. When Daniel knew that the writing was signed (that said if anyone prayed to any god or man, except the king, during the next thirty days they would be thrown into the lion’s den) he went into his house and prayed just as he had done before the law was passed. He did what He had always done: he prayed with his windows open toward Jerusalem in his upper room; he did this three times each day—kneeling, praying and giving thanks before his God. He didn’t allow fear to keep Him from obeying God even though it had become illegal.
    Daniel 6:10; (Daniel’s obedience to prayer: 1 Kings 8:35-36; 44-50; Psalms 55:16-17)
  • Go forward by faith and not fear. After spying out the land, Caleb stilled the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and posses it; for we are well able to overcome it”. Then the other men that went up with Caleb to spy out the land disagreed with him and said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we”. The other men were focused on the facts and looking at all the reasons why it couldn’t be done. They had a list of fearful reasons. This caused them to fear and caused the children of Israel to fear and doubt the promises of God. But Caleb had a mindset of faith. His report wasn’t focused on the giants but on God. All the same conditions were true, all the same giants were in the land just as the other men reported, but Caleb had faith that God was going to bring the victory.
    Numbers 13:30-31; 14:7-9, 14, 24; Examples of faith: Hebrews 11:23-28, 32-40
  • Go forward assembling together with the local church and not forsaking it. Some of the Hebrews were habitually abandoning and neglecting the local gathering of the church. This was wrong. The reasons why some stopped assembling together isn’t given, but whether it was because of persecution and the fear of gathering publicly and being identified with Jesus and His church or another reason, they risked abandoning the faith over time by not assembling. We assemble because we need to exhort (encourage) one another—especially to: draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith; hold fast the profession of our faith (hope) without wavering; and consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Thus if we need this at normal times, how much more in times of persecution and as we are living out His mission in this world. This is a nonnegotiable.
    Hebrews 10:19-25; Matthew 12:30; Acts 2:42; 14:19-23 (Persecution in Hebrews 10:32-34; 12:3-4, 12-14; 13:3)

Review Questions

  • What was the environment like that Jesus was sending His disciples into?
  • What does being “wise as serpents” mean?
  • What does being “harmless as doves” mean?
  • What does ceaselessly preaching the gospel mean?
  • What are some principles of doing right regardless of what happens?

Souls Being Saved!

✪ News from China: Another two souls were saved Wednesday night after the Bible study in China. Amen! That is about 8 souls saved since we left China. I love being able to constantly report of more souls being saved in China. Charles, the Chinese pastor, is really a soul winner! Praise the Lord for his boldness.

✪ I am writing this update from NC. I was able to speak to an association of pastors on Tuesday and to a youth group on Sunday night who supports our ministry. We are thankful for every supporter we have and are excited these teens are being taught to get involved in missions.

✪ We had a great time in CA with our supporting church there. They were a blessing to us. Also, we were able to visit Yosemite–which was amazing–especially at this time of year. We are so thankful for our yokefellows and others from our home church who helped take care of our kids so my wife and I could have a trip together.

✪ Last Sunday I was in SC and had a great time at a new church, Lord willing we will be partnering with them, and also at a faithful supporting church that has supported us the entire time we were in China. God is blessing our travels and we are humbled to be able to serve Him.

✪ One of the twins took their first step, can you guess which on it was?

How Can We Be Bold In The Face Of Persecution?

Boldness has the idea of speaking freely or outspoken, being daring and confident. It’s characterized by expressing fearlessness in the face of danger. We are to pray for boldness and depend on the Holy Spirit to empower us to stare into the face of fear as we boldly speak the Word of His glorious grace, knowing that no matter what happens nothing will separate us from the love of God.
Boldness: Proverbs 28:1; 30:30; Slothfulness: Proverbs 22:13; 26:13

Boldness Resides to Speaking, Confidence, And Fearlessness

  • Boldness is the trait of being willing to take risks and being willing to be candid, sincere, truthful, and forthright in our behavior (works, speech, attitude). In the New Testament “boldness” is often connected with speaking. But in the book of Acts “boldness” is almost always connected with “speaking and preaching” the Word of God. We learn two basic and important applications: (1) It takes boldness to speak the word of God because there is a risk of persecution for everyone that does. (2) It takes boldness to speak the Word of God because we have to be honest and straightforward with people about their sinful condition and their need to repent and believe in Jesus. Thus, to “be bold” means to openly, clearly, and freely speak the Word of God in spite of prohibiting or unfavorable circumstances (persecution, human law, etc).
    John 7:26; Acts 4:13; 13:46; 18:26; 19:8
  • Boldness is not only connected with “speaking” but it is also connected with “confidence”. Confidence is the feeling and conviction of firm trust in someone or something. Thus, the core of confidence is trust—to strongly rely on—but trust is only as useful as its object—the person or thing you put your trust in. Thus, a person can boldly speak about (“B”) because they have confidence in (“A”). For example, Paul, Timothy, and Silas said, “We were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God”—meaning they (“B”) dared to tell them the gospel of God in the face of strong opposition and unfavorable circumstances because of (“A”) their confidence in God. Also, in the book of Acts, sometimes when they were boldly speaking the Word of God, it also tells us “in the name of whom” they spoke or who they had their confidence in to speak so openly on the subject they did. Their confidence was in the Lord Jesus.
    Hebrews 13:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; Acts 9:27, 29; 14:3
  • Boldness is also characterized by “fearlessness”. Paul said that, “Many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Paul is saying that his boldness which led to persecution served to advance the gospel. Everyone knew that he was in chains for Christ. His imprisonment caused the believers to become confident in the Lord and bold to speak the Word of God without fear. This verse not only connects boldness with speaking and confidence but it adds “without fear” meaning the brethren were more daring. They were now more willing to take risks. The verse evens says, “Much more bold”—meaning that they were overcoming their fear. Fear is a natural reaction to danger, but as believers were are not called to react, but act—take intended action as opposed to responding in an unintended manner.
    Mark 15:43; Philippians 1:12-14

Boldness Relies On Prayer And The Holy Spirit
John 15:18-16:33

  • When Peter and John were released after being arrested, they returned to the other believers and told them everything that happened. Then they lifted their voices together to God in prayer and thanksgiving. This prayer helps us understand that not only did they have confidence in God and who He was, saying, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is,” but they relied on prayer and the Holy Spirit for boldness.
    Acts 4:23-31
    • They prayed for boldness in the face of persecution—“Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word”. We also need to pray for boldness. Before and after persecution, we need to pray that God would grant us the boldness need to faithfully proclaim His Word. We are to pray like the believers in Acts and like Paul in Ephesians—that whenever we speak, words may be given to us so that we will boldly open our mouths and fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. Paul was an ambassador of the gospel in bonds because of the gospel and he is asking that they pray that he may speak boldly, as he ought to speak. Thus, we also need to pray that we may declare it fearlessly, as we should.
      Ephesians 6:19-20
    • They needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit to speak the word of God boldly—“they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” We also need to depend on the Holy Spirit for boldness. Confidently and fearlessly speaking the gospel in the face of persecution is a work of the Holy Spirit. He empowers us not only to boldly live out our faith but also to boldly speak forth the gospel message even when that could mean potential danger for us.

Boldness Rests In The Love Of God
Romans 8:31-39

  • We can be bold because: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” God was willing to let His own Son, Jesus, die for us to redeem us. If we are in Christ, we know that God is for us. If He gave us Jesus (the greatest gift), He will also graciously give us all things we need (lesser gifts). He made us righteous, thus no on can bring a charge against us. Jesus died, rose again and now He is interceding for us at the right hand of God, thus no one can condemn us.
    Exodus 3:11-12; Isaiah 41:10; Haggai 1:12-15
  • We can be bold because: “Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. We might have to endure persecution, tribulation, hardships, famine, nakedness, danger, or the sword—but none of these things will separate us from the love of Christ. We are to be convinced that neither death, life, angels, principalities (demons, rulers), powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from God’s love in Christ. We are secured in His infinite, unchanging, incredible, and sacrificial love.
    (Paul’s Persecutions: 1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
  • We can be bold because: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” The scriptures says that, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” So even if they martyr us for Jesus’ sake, we are never separated from or will loose God’s love. We have utterly defeated sin, death, and evil through the love of God. We have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Psalm 44:22; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Colossians 2:13-15; Ephesians 1:20-21; 1 John 4:4; 5:4

Review Questions

  • What does it mean that boldness resides in speaking?
  • What does it mean that boldness resides in confidence?
  • What does it mean that boldness resides in fearlessness?
  • Boldness relies on what?
  • Boldness rests in what?

November 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends,

Imagine you were born in a communist country. A country that denies the existence of God. A place where there was a very small chance that you would actually hear the gospel. Thousands are born this way every day in China. But this past Sunday, there was a baby boy born to a Chinese man and women who are followers of Jesus. They are leading the church we started in China. Against all odds, this boy was born into a Christian family. He, Lord willing, will be raised by parents who are in love with Jesus. Parents who every day have to truly live out their faith because of the reality of their surroundings—the reality that his occupation is considered illegal by their government. Oh, praise is to God for the changing of a generation and the work He is doing to change lives in China and around the world. 

Please pray or rejoice with us over the following updates:

  • News from China: Another soul was saved this past month in China. Pray for the growth of the church as they disciple these new believers in a growing relationship with Jesus.
  • New Support Update: We have raised an additional 5% of new support this past month which makes a total of 8% raised on furlough. We are at 78% of our new support goal, which means we only need 22% more. We are thankful and blessed by our new partners!
  • Furlough Traveling: Sine our last prayer letter, we have had meetings in: AZ, GA, OH, CA. Again, we were blessed with great meetings and missions conferences. It has been a joy to reconnect with faithful supporters and partner with new ones. There are so many little blessings in traveling and serving God—one of those is making friends all over the country with the same passion of knowing Jesus and making Him known.
  • Family News: Keep my wife in your prayers as she is dealing with a few health problems. Also, we are working on getting all the kids caught up on the doctor’s appointments.

Event Reminder: We will be participating and speaking at the Our Generation Summit in Mt. Sterling, Ohio this coming December 28-29, 2018. This conference is a gathering of Christians endeavoring to further the Gospel of Christ. This conference is open to individuals, couples, families, and church groups. If you are interested in missions, I hope that you will plan to attend. For more information contact us or visit: www.ogsummit.com.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

DOWNLOAD THIS PRAYER LETTER AS A PRINTABLE PDF

Where Is Our Loyalty In The Face Of Persecution?

Our loyalty in the face of persecution is in Jesus. He is the ultimate authority in our lives. As believers, we pledge our allegiance to Him above all else and strive to remain loyal to Him in all situations—even the hard ones, in spite of the outcome.

Believers Know That Jesus Wields The Ultimate Authority

  • All Power: As believers we live out our lives and fulfill God’s mission in this world under His authority. Jesus’ authority supersedes all other authority structures and governments. After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples and told them that, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”—absolute and sovereign authority. From this position of authority, He commanded them to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. Thus, the church has been God’s active witness in the world since then. And since then, as they have fulfilled this command, Jesus has gone with them, and will continue to do so through the entire process until the end of the world.
    Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:19-23
  • Counting the cost: Thus, as the church goes forth in their local communities and sends missionaries around the world making disciples, there will be individuals, communities, governments, and nations that reject Jesus’ authority and persecute those who come in His name. But we have a declaration from the King of kings and the Lord of lords to go forth into every part of the world where there are people to reach with the gospel of Jesus—there is no where we can’t go carrying the good news. But this will come at a cost because even though all people need the gospel, they aren’t always welcoming to it. Thus, to obey the command of Jesus we have to be willing to endure persecution if necessary. For example: God tells His prophet to go into a land with a hostile government. He gave him a specific duty to do (sacrifice) for his protection against the government (undercover) in order to carry out his ultimate mission (anointing). So the choice is left to the believers: obey God and possibly suffer persecution because of it or disobey God.
    1 Samuel 16:1-13
  • The Apostles’ Example: The Jewish leaders questioned Peter and John, saying: “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, told them very clearly that His authority was “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” and He continued to tell them that, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” They understood that they were going in the authority of Jesus, were eager to declare He was the ultimate authority and willing to suffer for it if need be.
    Acts 3:11, 25; 4:1-12

Believers Pledge Their Allegiance To Jesus Above All Else

  • Believers pledge their allegiance to God over man to fulfill His mandate. When the Jewish leaders saw the boldness of Peter and John they commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus so that it wouldn’t spread further among the people. They had to choose who to obey: God or man? They responded by saying they, “Cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” They were released and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Then as the apostles were doing many signs, wonders and teaching they were arrested again and asked, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
    Acts 4:13-31; 5:12-42
  • Believers should obey the government but ultimately pledged their allegiance to Jesus. God has ordained the authority of the government so that mankind will have order and be protected from evildoers and their unjust causes. God has also ordained the authority of the government to be in accordance to His will. No government is autonomous, but they are all under the sovereign rule of God. No government has the right to make a law that is contrary to the commands of God. Therefore, if the government is carrying out the function that God has established for them to do, we who are under their authority should be subject to them (even though they are not perfect). Only when the authorities over us are commanding us to do something that is contrary to what God has commanded or prevents us from obeying God, should we choose not to obey.
    Romans 13:1-4; Proverbs 21:1

Believers Exercise Abiding Loyalty In Hard Situations

  • Our loyalty to Jesus will be tested. The wicked will test to see if we truly pledge our allegiance to Him or if we will renounce Him. There are numerous situation in which this can happen, but we are going to look at the following two Old Testament examples that encourage us to exercise abiding loyalty in hard situations.
    • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego remained loyal to the true God when they were commanded to worship an idol. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold and commanded all the people, nations, and languages to worship the idol when the music was played. Whoever would not worship the idol when the music was played would be cast into a burning fiery furnace within the same hour. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego only worshipped the true God, thus they refused to obey the kings order to worship the idol. Instead, they made a very calculated risk and told the king that, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…”—meaning they believed that God could deliver them from being persecuted. Then they said, “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods…”—meaning that even if God chose not to deliver them from being persecuted they wouldn’t worship the false gods or idols. The three men were cast into the fire but God did a miracle and delivered them. This caused the King to repent and bless the true God.
      Daniel 3:1-30
    • Daniel remained loyal to praying to God even when it was made illegal. Certain government officials were jealous of Daniel and tried to find something against Daniel to tell the king, but they could find no fault, so they said, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” They knew He was faithful and loyal to God. So they tricked the king into making a law that would force Daniel to have to choose between his loyalties: the king or the living God. Daniel remained loyal to God and was cast into the lion’s den because of it. But God delivered Him and the king made a decree, that in every dominion of his kingdom people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
      Daniel 6:1-28
  • Abiding loyalty means that we pledge our allegiance to Jesus even if we don’t know the result. Every believer will receive different types and degrees of persecution. King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, planing to persecute them. He killed James the brother of John with the sword. Then he proceeded further to take Peter also, but the Lord had delivered him out of the prison. Why did God deliver Peter and not James? We don’t know but both men exercised abiding loyalty to Jesus.
    Acts12:1-17; Romans 1:16; (Another example, Jeremiah was delivered but Urijah was killed: Jeremiah 26:10-11, 20-24)

Review Questions

  • What kind of authority does Jesus have?
  • Should believers obey God or man? Why?
  • What are the two Old Testament examples of “loyalty” being tested?
  • What were the different outcomes of James and Peter? Were both loyal?
  • Believers should pledge their loyalty to whom above all else?