Male friendship in the church helped vet overcome PTSD

Male friendship in the church helped vet overcome PTSD

By Michael Ashcraft —

One of the hardest transitions for Wesley Pinnick from hunting terrorists in Iraq to civilian life in America was the loss of brotherhood he felt in the military.

“A lot of guys who go in the military have blood brothers, but they go in the military and they say, ‘You’re closer to me than a blood brother’ because you literally spend a year or years all of your time together,” Wesley says. “Those guys I went to combat with know everything about my life. You have nothing else to do but play dominoes and talk. It’s emotional bond that you have with these guys.”

Of course there was post traumatic stress disorder. Of course the shift from adrenaline jolts while dodging bullets to the drudgery of a day job was difficult. But it was the bond that was formed with those brothers — and then was broken when he returned to America — that hit him hard.

Terrorist hunter Wesley Pinnick in 2005

“When I got home, I realized, I’m never going to be as close with anybody ever again as I have with these guys — even to the point of when I get married, will I ever be this close to my wife?” he wondered.

Wesley is lucky. He found a church and fellowship with Christian brothers that, if not as close, was a decent approximation. He ran a discipleship house with new converts to help them break free from drugs, alcohol and other habitual sins as they learned to follow Jesus at the Door Church in Tucson.

As the U.S. war on terror extends itself with no end in sight, the U.S. is seeing increasing numbers of soldiers who struggle with traumas. Wesley’s story points the way to one great help for these soldiers — Jesus and the bond of brotherhood that can form in the church.

“The question is how do I live a life when I’ve already done potentially the greatest things I will ever do with my life, and I’m 21?” Wesley says. “What I really needed was people I could depend on and who could depend on me. I needed that camaraderie.”

Today, Wesley is a pastor in Long Beach, CA. But how he left his childhood church and enlisted to raise hell in Iraq is the story of a prodigal son.

Wesley knew nothing but church as a kid and teen. His dad was a minister in the Door Church, and he never had a friend outside the church. He felt burned out on the “unreasonable expectations” imposed on church kids.

“The reason I joined the military was to get away from church,” he says. “I backslid because I didn’t see any reason for me to stay saved. I didn’t want to mark out the next 30, 40 years in the church.”

So he bolted. Instead of fighting the devil, he fought terrorists. He and his buddies blasted open doors with C-4 plastic explosive and hauled off suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists in 2004 at the start of the war in Mosul.

“It was a very traumatic experience in a lot of ways,” says Wesley, who fast-tracked to sergeant in two years. “I still don’t know how to talk about that.”

He was in the middle of the desert without God. Between the deaths of two buddies, he suddenly decided to re-start his relationship with Jesus by praying at night in bed.

“One day I just said, ‘God, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to have a relationship with You, but I want to have a relationship with You,’” he remembers. “‘I don’t have a church, a pastor or a Bible. I don’t know how this is going to work, but I’m willing to do it.’ But looking back, those six months were some of the most intense moments I had with God in my entire relationship with God over the course of my entire life.”

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the constant brushes with death that drove him to Jesus, he says. In fact, the exact opposite happens: soldiers who have escaped unscathed from conflict wrongly believe they are invulnerable.

“You think you have a power, that you are wielding something that has been tested,” he says. “You feel you’ve overcome it.”

One day over a cigarette, Wesley just had a simple thought: God had left him. His next thought was that he didn’t care.

Then it struck him as alarming that he didn’t care.

“That was the first pivoting moment when I started to go back and re-engage my relationship with Jesus,” he says.

Two years after enlisting, Wesley was released from the Army and returned to his hometown. He was diagnosed with mild to strong PTSD, for which doctors prescribed psych drugs.

“I did not go on medicine. I went to church,” he says. “It took me five years to feel like I had a hold of myself. But I still have flashbacks today. They’re not as a strong as they used to be. It’s a wound but more like a scar.”

The church and Veterans Administration courses helped him

Now 35, Wesley is married with three children. He has been pastoring the start-up church in Long Beach for two years. It’s been 15 years since his release from the Army, and he still struggles — though to a lesser degree — with putting the past fully behind him.

“I take the scripture of being a good soldier and apply it to what I’m doing today for the gospel,” he says. “I think I’m always going to be transitioning. I’m a continued work in progress.”

Michael Ashcraft pastors the Lightouse Church in Van Nuys.

God Reports, August 2, 2018











Christian wife locked out, finds key in a fish

Man locks Christian wife out of house, she finds key in fish’s belly

By Mark Ellis –


After a West African woman began to follow Jesus, her Muslim husband often beat her because of her newfound faith. Steadfastly, she maintained her quiet witness as she served him, all the while praying to God for his salvation.

She recounted the following remarkable testimony to Sudan Interior Mission.

It seems the woman wanted to attend a week-long church meeting away from home. She meekly asked her husband if she could attend. Predictably, the man exploded in anger. “Her husband was livid. A whole week? Who would cook his food? Clean his house?” she related to SIM.

He told her she should focus on Islam and forget the Christian church. He beat her harshly once again.

In spite of her husband’s violent response, she felt God’s leading to attend this meeting, which would nurture her growth and provide needed fellowship with other women.

The man was so upset after she left, he locked up the house and declared to the neighbors that his wife would never enter his home again. To add a dramatic emphasis to his point, he threw the house key into the river as he headed to his girlfriend’s house for the week.

The woman stopped by the local market on her way home from the conference. “She planned to have a hearty meal ready for her husband when he came home from Friday prayers. She had no idea that her husband had already locked her out of her home for good,” according to SIM.


Women selling fish on the beach (photo credit: Steve Bloom)

After she got home, she thought it was strange that the house was locked up tightly. She wanted to start preparing the meal for her husband, so she borrowed a pot from her neighbor and began to clean the fish she had just bought.

“When she cut open the fish, a key fell out of its belly. Puzzled, she examined it and remarked to her neighbor that the key looked similar to her own house key. Her neighbor urged her to try it in the lock, and it worked! She opened up the house, cleaned it, and got her husband’s supper ready to wait for him,” according to SIM.

As her husband walked home from the mosque, he was shocked when he recognized his house had been opened and a fire was burning in the outdoor kitchen.

Now he was really angry, thinking perhaps a neighbor had helped his wife bust open the door or break the lock. But when he examined the door and the lock, nothing seemed amiss.

“When he demanded to know how she got back into their house, she told him the strange story of the key in the fish’s belly. Stunned, he didn’t say another word.”


The following night he told his wife he wanted to attend church with her the next morning.

After the Sunday morning church service, the man asked if he could speak with the pastor privately. He told him the amazing story about the house key and said, “I want to serve the God of the Christians. He is the One who knows and has power to do what no one else can.”

The man surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was born again!

God faithfully answered the woman’s prayers for her husband to turn from his sins and follow Christ.

“In his gospel, Matthew tells of a fish caught with a coin in its mouth for taxes (Matthew 17:27). In West Africa in 2018, a house key in a fish’s belly became a key to the Kingdom for an abusive husband.”

“Our Lord is still a fisher of men.”


If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

To learn more about the work of SIM, go here

Source: God Reports, July 6, 2018










'Star Spangled Banner' author evangelized through Sunday Schools

The writer of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ helped evangelize the West through the Sunday School movement

By David Roach —


Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key wrote the words and music for the Star Spangled Banner
Each stanza of the anthem concludes:
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? 

Most Americans likely know of Francis Scott Key’s passion for the United States, expressed in his writing of the national anthem. Far fewer know he also was a passionate advocate of Sunday School whose leadership in the Sunday School movement helped evangelize the West.


Key helped establish more than 61,000 Sunday Schools for some 2.7 million pupils over 50 years

As the United States celebrates its 242nd birthday, Christian educators say Key’s two passions went hand in hand. Sunday School could once again, they say, be a catalyst for spiritual and moral renewal in America.

“America and Sunday School literally grew up together,” said David Francis, a retired director of Sunday School for LifeWay Christian Resources. “Nowhere else in the world has Sunday School been embraced like in America. Nowhere else in the world has the idea of a constitutional republic been sustained like in America. Two ideas. Both of God. At the same time. Spreading together across a continent. What a fortunate coincidence.”

Born in 1779, Key was a Maryland attorney, author and poet. In 1814, he wrote the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry” after watching the all-night bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry from a British ship during the War of 1812. Key had gone aboard the ship as an American envoy to negotiate a prisoner release and was not allowed to disembark until after the attack.

In the morning, the sight of an American flag still waving over the fort inspired Key’s poem, which he soon had set to music. Under the title “The Star-Spangled Banner,” it became the national anthem more than a century later.

Lesser known is that Key was “an earnest Christian,” and “a teacher of a large Bible class,” according to Edwin Wilbur Rice’s 1917 book “The Sunday School Movement and the American Sunday-School Union” (ASSU). Key joined the ASSU board of managers in 1824, the year the union changed its name from the Sunday and Adult School Union.

The ASSU’s 1835 Annual listed Key as a “lifetime member” based on his contribution of at least $30 — the equivalent of $815 today.

Francis wrote in his book “Missionary Sunday School” that the ASSU’s aim was to start Sunday Schools across America where individuals from lower economic classes heard the Gospel and learned to read and write “using the Bible as a primary text.” Sunday Schools typically comprised children “who rarely or never attend[ed] church,” and adult classes often formed as a secondary ministry.

Key chaired an 1830 ASSU meeting in Washington, which instituted the “Mississippi Valley Enterprise,” a campaign that established west of the Appalachian Mountains more than 61,000 Sunday Schools for some 2.7 million pupils over the next 50 years, Francis wrote. Many of those Sunday Schools developed into churches, some Baptist, in areas previously without an evangelical witness while others became weekday schools before the era of American public education.

When Key died in 1843, the ASSU stated in its Annual, “By the decease of the Hon. Francis S. Key, of the District of Columbia, we lose one of our earliest and most steadfast advocates and patrons. His frequent and liberal contributions to our funds, and his readiness at all times to vindicate the principles and advance the usefulness of the Society, furnished unequivocal evidence of his interest in our cause.”

Francis told Baptist Press the Sunday School movement under Key and other early leaders “played no small role” during America’s first century in raising up a citizenry that was “both moral and literate.” — Baptist Press

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. 

Source: God Reports, July 4, 2018











Russia: Churches use the World Cup to reach millions in church buildings

Russia: Churches use the World Cup to reach millions in church buildings

“They don’t allow believers to share their faith outside of their church buildings. So the churches invite people to their officially registered church buildings where they are allowed to freely share the gospel.” There, people will get to watch the games on a big screen, eat snacks, and encounter God’s word. 

Russia kicked off the World Cup, a month-long spectacle where millions of fans tune in to watch the world’s best soccer teams battle to be number one.

For many Christians this isn’t just a sporting event, it’s an opportunity to spread the gospel in a country that has become increasingly hostile towards evangelism. Hundreds of congregations across Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities are skirting around Russia’s anti-evangelism laws by inviting people to watch the games live in their church buildings.

There, people will get to watch the games on a big screen, eat snacks, and encounter God’s word. Since most of the popular matches are sold out, the setup is a win-win for both the churches and the spectators. The churches have partnered with Mission Eurasia to pass out Bibles, discipleship materials, and invitations to Bible studies.

Mission Eurasia president Sergey Rakhuba believes 3 million soccer fans will hear the gospel, despite the government’s crackdown on evangelism. “They don’t allow believers to share their faith outside of their church buildings. So the churches invite people to their officially registered church buildings where they are allowed to freely share the gospel.”

Source: Sergey Rakhuba

  # 1086 | June 19, 2018












Japan: Christian persecution sites nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

Japan: Christian persecution sites nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

This month, a dozen Christian landmarks in Japan – where just 1 percent of the population claims Christ – have been officially recommended to be named World Heritage sites.

“First, it recognizes the centrality of hidden Christian history in Japanese soil, which is a significant contribution to Japanese understanding of her own history. Second, it accentuates the cultural value of the resilience of Christianity even under many years of persecution.”

Spanning across the Nagasaki and Amakusa region, these sites represent places where believers during the Tokugawa shogunate (1630-1867) suffered the harshest persecution and martyrdom in the Asian nation’s history.

The list includes the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, which memorializes 17 Japanese Christians and 9 European priests who were crucified at the order of the ruler; Hara Castle in Minamishimabara, a battlefield during the uprising when Catholic rebels were massacred, their leader beheaded, and their faith banned; and other ‘hidden Christian’ sites, where Christ-followers carried on their beliefs in secret for hundreds of years.

These landmarks, if granted recognition by UNESCO, would join 14 other cultural World Heritage sites in Japan and over 800 around the world.

“This recommendation by the Japanese government on hidden Christian sites is significant for several reasons,” said Makoto Fujimura, who authored a book on faith in the midst of suffering. “First, it recognizes the centrality of hidden Christian history in Japanese soil, which is a significant contribution to Japanese understanding of her own history. Second, it accentuates the cultural value of the resilience of Christianity even under many years of persecution.”

Source: Kate Shellnut, Makoto Fujimura

  # 1086 | June 19, 2018

Trailer of the movie ‘Silence’ about the persecution of Jesuit missionaries and Christians in 17th century Japan, with actor Andrew Garfield (who stars in Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond Doss the Quaker conscientious objector in WWII and Medal of Honour winner).












Love on Fire


A fire burned inside Myo Zaw. It was lit the day the Lord redeemed him, and it grew hotter and more intense every single day. He was like the prophet Jeremiah, unable to keep the love of Christ hidden within himself. If he tried, he felt restless, he felt sick.

Weary of holding it in, Myo Zaw shouted from the roadsides and in market places, “Christ [redeemed] me, and He will [redeem] you also!”

Love on Fire

People thought he had gone mad. Those in his community already knew him as a hot-blooded drunkard who fought with people and beat his wife and children, and now he proved his insanity.

“But I knew I was not mad,” Myo Zaw says. “The love of God just would not simply keep [quiet] in my heart. I wanted to pour it out and share it.”

Independently Ministering

Consumed by a fire that could not be put out, Myo Zaw traveled throughout his region, walking from place to place, sharing the Word of God. He told people “how a sinner like me was found by God.” In three years, he visited 100 communities. His wife, Shway, sent him letters while he was away to encourage him.

Love on Fire

“If your life can change by Christ, there is no one who cannot be changed by Christ,” she’d say. “So wherever you are going and sharing the Word of God, we are here to pray for you. I believe people will be changed by the love of Christ.”

And people were—350 of them. They heard of His great love and saw it lived out in His child, and it changed them.

Following Like Jesus

Not long after, a man visited Myo Zaw’s village and shared about the different places in their country and how Jesus went to a foreign land, though heaven was His home.

The fire inside Myo Zaw intensified. He knew without any doubt that his life needed to be about sharing the Lord’s love with others. It was a powerful love that transformed him, and he knew others needed it, too.

Love on Fire
Myo Zaw (pictured) with his wife, Shway, and youngest son.

He told himself, “It is better that I go and give my life for the people in foreign lands.” So he and his wife prayed and prepared themselves to live in an area where people were unfamiliar with the Lamb of God.

Nearly 10 years later, God sent them to the southern region of their country as GFA-supported missionaries.

Forced Out of Community

In their new community, people quickly realized Myo Zaw and his family were Christians and decided they would have nothing to do with the new arrivals.

“We were [forced] out of community,” Pastor Myo Zaw says, “and it is very difficult to live without community.”

People threw stones at Myo Zaw’s home and threatened to penalize others if they spoke to the Christians. Even Myo Zaw’s young children faced discrimination at school because of their faith.

“Sometimes, when we would go to the market,” Pastor Myo Zaw recalls, “they’d look at us as if we were enemies. All these things we faced, but the Lord showed His grace upon us through which we are still OK now.”

Turning of Hearts

Myo Zaw, Shway and their children trusted Christ throughout the hardships, and with the Spirit’s fiery love pulsating within them, they learned how to love the people in their new community.

Love on Fire

Myo Zaw’s wife, Shway, leading Sunday School in one of the local fellowships.

The pastor started with film ministry, showing people movies they enjoyed and also the film of Jesus’ life. The local children felt Myo Zaw’s and his wife’s warmth and began visiting them. Myo Zaw and Shway would give the young boys and girls treats, teach them songs and bathe the ones that came looking haggard.

The community watched how they cared for their children and wondered why this man and his wife loved them so much. Soon, people talked to them at the market, and Pastor Myo Zaw and Shway were able to reveal Christ’s love to them.

They cared for the sick and took people to the hospital when needed. When floodwaters destroyed homes and livelihoods, they and other GFA-supported workers helped provide relief. Pastor Myo Zaw frequently visited people to encourage them and offer words of life and hope in Christ Jesus. And people visited him as well.

Love on Fire

God’s Most Powerful Weapon

The fire God kindled within Myo Zaw on the first day of his redemption continues to burn brighter and hotter as the years pass.

“My love has become deeper for them. I care for them more,” he says of the people who are now his friends. “That’s why I don’t want to go back to my hometown. That is why I would like to sacrifice my whole life for them.”

After 14 years of displaying Christ’s love, people feel and understand Myo Zaw’s love for them and many return it. They’ve come to know that “everything I do is for them,” he says. And he does it because of Christ.

“What I have found in my life,” Myo Zaw says, “is that love is the most powerful weapon we have from God.”

Sponsor a missionary like Myo Zaw today.


Sponsor a National Missionary

Hindu priest embraces Jesus after getting shocked by his power.

Nepal: Hindu priest embraces Jesus after getting shocked by His power

Former Hindu priest plants churches in Nepal, the Philippines and Malaysia

A Hindu priest in Nepal once believed that Christianity is a fake religion and challenged a Christian evangelist to prove to him that was not so by making him accept Jesus Christ in 30 days.

The unnamed evangelist accepted the challenge, according to Kosh Dahal, the Hindu priest, who recounted his experience in a video posted recently on YouTube.

In the video, Dahal said the Christian evangelist kept on visiting him at his veterinary clinic in Kathmandu where he kept on talking about “the loving living only God Jesus.” “He bothered me because I didn’t want to accept Jesus Christ. He kept coming and ministering the gospel, and I kept rejecting him,” Dahal said.

“One day I got challenged. I wanted to prove that Christianity is a fake religion and that Jesus can’t do anything.” ‘I will ask your Jesus for 30 days – 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening – if He is the real God, and to touch me and change me,’ Dahal told the evangelist. If his Jesus failed to convince him to change his mind after 30 days, he would file a complaint against the evangelist with the police, warning him that Nepal law prohibits proselytising. ‘You will be in trouble,’ he warned the evangelist. The Christian missionary boldly accepted the challenge.

Kosh Dahal, and Kairos Nepali Church in Malaysia

Two times every day, the evangelist visited Dahal’s clinic and preached about Jesus. With two weeks left before the expiration of the 30-day challenge, Dahal still remained unconvinced about turning his back on the Hindu gods and accepting Jesus instead. If 330 million Hindu gods and goddesses couldn’t respond to his prayers, Dahal doubted very much that one God like Jesus could do so.

However, at the end of the third week, Dahal was struck by something he had never imagined. “This power like a current of electricity came into me and began to run very fast,” Dahal recalled. “I was shocked. I was closing my eyes and opening my eyes, and I was very afraid. I kept saying, ‘Who is this? What’s happening to me? What’s inside of me running very fast?’ He said it was an experience he had never encountered in his 30 years of worshiping the Hindu pantheon of gods. “I was challenging Jesus and he sent his power. That morning I realized that Jesus Christ is real and has mighty power. He woke me up. I cried.”

Dahal promised the evangelist that he would leave everything to follow Jesus. Eventually his wife Shobah also accepted Jesus after seeing the dramatic change for the better in her husband. To the couple’s amazement, her acceptance of Jesus led to the miraculous healing of her uterine myoma, a benign growth that might have required a hysterectomy. Together with their three children, the couple abandoned the Hindu priesthood and began evangelising. They planted a church in Kathmandu. After some years, they moved to the Philippines where they planted five more churches. In 2013, they moved to Malaysia and began to minister to Nepalese at the Kairos Nepali Church Knc.

Source: Kosh Dahal, Hazel Torres, God Reports

Nepal’s anti-conversion law about to be implemented

There have been significant changes in Nepal’s recent history which have introduced uncertainty for the nation’s future. In 2015, Nepal declared itself a secular state through a new constitution. It seemed that religious freedom was growing. However, earlier this year Nepal also adopted a new law, criminalizing religious conversion. The law is about to go into effect in August. And another big change just took place last month, as well. On May 17, Nepal’s two communist parties combined, creating the unified Nepal Communist Party that now holds a two-thirds majority in parliament.

These changes have set Nepal on a new and unknown trajectory. Minority groups like Christians are prayerfully watching how these changes come into effect. The government is already watching foreign missionary groups very closely if they’re engaged in any conversion activity. Missions group Asian Access who trains church leaders in Nepal requests prayer: “Please pray that we can stand firmly and be more bold and united. Pray for the Church to stay focused on her mission and on serving God well.”
Source: Global Disciples, Asian Access

# 1085 | June 13, 2018

Mnemonics and memory aids

Mnemonics and Memory Aids


Now I’m 80 I find I can’t remember details like I once could.  So now I need my written shopping list, and I need to write notes in my diary more than before. I’ve used a diary with a double-page per week for decades. It’s simple to use and easy to see each week’s events at a glance. Smartphone users will apply this to their phone’s notepad or diary.

For over 50 years I’ve added a red biro phrase from my daily Bible reading in my diary. And yes, there were times when I skipped some days (either not reading or not noting). Some days, when I was busy I just noted a text from memory – usually comforting ones like “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20) or “I will help you” (Isaiah 41:10) or other favourites.  It’s easy to do – and even a 30-second pause to remember and pray can make a huge difference – see The Healing Power of Prayer, by a medical doctor. He writes:

“The best times of day are first thing in the morning and right before bed. However you can pray in the car on the way to work, in line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or before you eat your meals. Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.” 

I have my diary and two biros by my bed, now accompanied by my smartphone (for its not so smart user). Those accumulated diaries make interesting reading – at least for me. Much of my history is there, including daily meditations on God’s Word. Those meditations accompany my notes, appointments, and plans, and they become a record of God’s goodness and leading.

Here are a few ideas for mnemonics or memory aids.


We all make lists of things to do. It’s handy to have stick-on notes or a small tear-off notepad for shopping lists. Add items until you need to tear off the top page and take it with you. Some of you make notes or lists on your smartphone! My smartphone lists include anointed songs or choruses I hear at church, ready to use or pass on anytime.

Your lists of things to do probably need at least two categories: soon and later. Your smartphone or computer can be useful for those lists – you’ll adjust them often. It’s nice when you delete items – they’re done, or forget-it! My computer desktop, and phone have pages with lists that I can adjust easily.


Birthdays and Anniversaries: Facebook reminds me of birthdays, and it’s easy to send a greeting. Each December or January I add family birthdays and anniversaries to my new diary. The double page annual Planner at the front is especially useful for that. Many of you will use your smartphone calendar. I find a perpetual journal or diary handy, so I published one with a double page per week and a devotional picture on each page. See the Devotional Journal and Planner.


Memory aids can be a fun way to remember what you want to remember.  Here are some examples.

People’s names: Link a person’s name to a vivid picture, eg. a Bible story for Peter, Paul, and Mary, or for David and Jonathan, and so on.

A Handful: Link up to 5 items to each finger, eg Ephesians 4:11 – ministry gifts:
0 Eph 4,11 hand


Two handfuls: Link 1-10 items to rhyming words for the numbers 1-10: bun, shoe, tree, door, hive, sticks, heaven, gate, vine hen. Some people prefer devon for 7 – an easier visual! Memorizing these rhyming words can be a fun activity for kids.

One way to ‘memorize’ the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) is to visualize each number as a rhyming image:
1 Bun:     No other gods – bun shaped as a god
2 Shoe:   No idols – shoe hung on idol’s feet
3 Tree:    No swearing – fall from tree swearing
4 Door:   Remember Sabbath – church door
5 Hive:    Honour parents – beehive family
6 Sticks:  No murder – kill with sticks
7 Heaven: No adultery – no marriage/divorce there
8 Gate:    No stealing – thief creeps through gate
9 Vine:    No lies – vineyard owner exaggerates
10 Hen:  No coveting – wanting friend’s fat hen

See the Blog God’s Positive Will: A Christian paraphrase of the 10 Commandments.

For a more challenging 1-10 mnemonic, try the I AM statements of Jesus:
1 Bun:  I am the bread of life (John 6:35)
2. Shoe:  I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
3 Tree:  I am the good shepherd – in tree’s shade (John 10:11)
4 Door:  I am the door (John 10:9)
5 Hive:  I am the resurrection and the life – sit on a hive! (John 11:25)
6 Sticks:  I am the light of the world – fire-stick or light on a stick) (John 8:12)
7 Heaven: I am (John 8:58)
8 Gate: I am the first and the last – through the gate (Rev 22:13)
9 Vine: I am the true vine (John 15:1)
10 Hen: I am alpha & omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8; 22:13)
You can, of course, Google these on your smartphone – but it’s fun to remember them too.
Now close your eyes and see how many of the 10 you can remember! You may be surprised.


I just discovered I can spell ‘ageing’ both ways – after I thought ‘aging’ looked weird. I’m old enough to have to visit the GP for annual checks for my driver’s license and a health check, such as being able to recall random words like house, dog, and bus, after being distracted. Visualizing the words in order makes it easy: a house where the dog chases the bus. So a year later I can still remember the ‘random’ words, in order!

However, remembering if I’ve done routine tasks, like eating fruit or taking daily medication, is more tricky. Some people have containers with compartments for daily pills, but I don’t need that. I do need to put some pills out each day so I know if I’ve taken them. Some days the ‘morning’ vitamin diet is still out later in the day, so I’m prompted to have them. It’s a bit like remembering to have an apple a day to keep the doctor away.

Well, that’s just a brief summary of useful mnemonics and memory aids. I’ve probably forgotten other ideas, but that’s it for now, and I can add more ideas later to this Blog. So if I get another random idea, I can just add it to my list till I get back to blogging.

Add your comment if you’d like to help other people with other useful ideas.


PS. I wonder what Blog Index this Blog fits! I guess it’s closest to Devotional.

















Opera singer plants church in Vienna

Austria: Opera singer from Brazil plants church in Vienna with former Muslims, Buddhists and atheists

‘We’re now no longer enemies, but brothers in Christ’

When Maria began to feel God nudging her to share Christ with Persians, she didn’t know what a Persian was. But within a week she met a girl from Iran. 

When Maria asked what language she spoke, the girl said “Persian,” so Maria knew God had prepared her and invited the young lady to study the Bible.

Maria didn’t set out to start a new Persian church. She was just obeying God. But that Bible study has now grown to over 100 people – a mixture of former Muslims from Iran and Afghanistan, former Buddhists from Vietnam and former atheists from Austria. The Iranian girl got saved, started sharing her faith with others, and brough them also to the Bible study. It was just spontaneous.

“Maria’s always had the desire to serve the Lord,” said Roger Hartsill, an IMB worker who is helping Maria. “She decided to do something in her home… and we’ve pitched in to help her.”

Maria came to Vienna from Brazil more than a decade ago. She had completed a seminary degree as well as a music degree and was offered a scholarship to study opera in Vienna. After finishing her studies, she settled in Vienna, married an Austrian and embarked on a career, but her lifelong call to missions never dissipated.

‘This home-based Bible study has grown to over 100 people’

The Bible study with the Persian girl from Iran started in her home in 2014. By the end of that year, two Iranians, two Vietnamese and one Austrian had become Christians and had been baptized. Twelve new converts, most of whom were Iranian immigrants, were added to their number by the Spring of 2015.

Maria has now quit her job to be a full-time missionary. Her husband works to support the family. As the work began to reach mostly Muslim men, Maria wisely sought out male pastors, as the body has been in transition from an outreach group in her home, to a house church, and then to a recognized church within the Austrian Baptist Convention.

Hartsill, who is mentoring Maria from his home in Germany, is in a unique position to help. He and his wife Diana began their ministry with IMB in South America, then moved to Europe for the express purpose of mobilizing South American believers who have emigrated to Europe. The Hartsills want to help Latinos in Europe spread the Gospel wherever they go, but specifically to other immigrants and refugees. “We have discovered that oftentimes a believing immigrant from elsewhere can more easily connect with the refugees and immigrants in Europe than the nationals can,” Hartsill said.

‘A believing immigrant can more easily connect with other immigrants.’

Among the challenges facing the church is that teaching and discipleship must be done through translators or in a second language. New believers coming from strong Islamic, Buddhist and atheistic backgrounds have a relatively long discipleship road and their backgrounds also put many at risk. Often the new Christians can never return to their families or home countries because of their conversions.

There is always the risk of an attack on Christians or on the church, even in Europe. Recently the church in Vienna was infiltrated by an enemy of the Gospel who poisoned Maria’s food during a fellowship meal. She was hospitalized but has since recovered. The persecution hasn’t stopped Maria from forging ahead, convinced that it’s worth the risk to watch God bring former enemies of Christ together.

“Recently I was in the Vienna church for baptism, and afterwards everybody was just hanging out,” Hartsill recounted. “This guy came up and said he was from Iran. He said: ’You know Iranians and Americans have not always gotten along, but I want to get a picture with you because you’re my brother in Christ now.’ An Afghan guy heard this and said: ‘Well, Afghans don’t always get along with either of you. In fact, if you, me and this guy were in our home countries, we’d probably be looking at each other down a gun barrel. He’s Sunni and I’m Shi’ite, but we’re brothers in Christ.’ A Vietnamese guy was playing the violin for worship but stopped to join us. He said: ’Well, Vietnam has had problems with the U.S. too…’ So we got this picture – we’re all brothers in Christ. These men who were once angry don’t have to fight anymore because they’ve found peace in Jesus.”

‘We’re now no longer enemies, but brothers in Christ’

God has continued to bless the church plant. In November 2015, 22 former Muslims – all Iranians and Afghans – were baptized. In April 2016, another 18 Iranians and Afghans were baptized as well as a local Austrian doctor who has become a strong supporter of the new church. Nineteen more baptisms were celebrated on May 28, 2016, including Vietnamese, Afghans and Iranians. In August 2016, 18 former Muslims followed Christ in believer’s baptism. In December 2016, 16 were baptized, and in March 2017, 11 more.

“This new work started from zero and has seen 94 adult baptisms in less than two years,” Hartsill said. “Nearly all of the new converts are immigrants from Iran, Afghanistan or Vietnam – places where missionaries cannot freely enter. The growth is the result of these new believers sharing their newfound faith with others from their people groups.”

Hartsill visits several times a year to help with baptisms, discuss logistical problems, and wrestle through issues that come from having Muslim-, Buddhist- and Catholic-background believers in a burgeoning church family. “My role is primarily to coach,” Hartsill said. “We have identified an Iranian man who feels called to ministry and whom we hope will assume the role of pastor for this church in the near future. His immigrant status is still pending, but he is already teaching new converts in the church’s discipleship training.”

The growing church is looking for space to expand, and the Hartsills ask for prayer for the work God is doing in Vienna.

Source: Roger Hartsill, Nicole Leigh, Baptist Press
Joel News International – # 1084 | June 5, 2018












Beyond Gold – at the Commonwealth Games


Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, April 4 – 15, 2018


Over 37,000 Scripture portions distributed by Gideons, the Bible Society and YWAM.
Over 57,000 wristband prayers given away.

As we all know the Gold Coast was the host of the recent Commonwealth Games. What many may not know is what went on behind the scene as the Churches of the Gold Coast, together with the help of Christians from other parts of the nation, undergirded the Games with prayer and evangelism.

The Church took the initiative responding to the Holy Spirit to work His miracles amongst those who attended the Games, and also within the community of the Gold Coast. Be encouraged and give God the Glory.

This report was compiled for Beyond Gold, the combined Churches initiative that co-ordinated all the aspects of the Christian witness provided to the Games and was supplied by Pastor Len Rossow, the Australian Prayer Network Coordinator in that area.    

 43 churches engaged in the 24/7 prayer canopy for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Some of the hidden gems were:

 *  Since September 2017 prayers were prayed that the hidden gems would emerge in the City. (Specifically Artists and Musicians) We were praying for Artists that carry the Lord’s heart of love and unity and whose work speaks to the heart.  We were Praying also that hearts would be open in the City to respond to the Lord’s message in their works.

* We were praying that in the planning God would go ahead of our organizing team, opening the doors for live art, flash-mobs and music in the public square.

* We have been rejoicing in the way Christian Artists and Musicians have been linking together.

Teams from 16 churches were prayer-walking strategic games related locations across the city through Feb – March 2018. In early March a 40 hour Prayer Weekend was held with 45 intercessors from outside the Gold Coast joining with 35 from the Gold Coast to form 8 teams of 10 (Covered 32 Assignments across the Gold Coast. This event was organized through the Australian Prayer Network) It was a powerful weekend bringing a shift in the spiritual atmosphere in the City and preparing the way for productive outreach.

The Baptism of our Mayor, Tom Tate, on Easter Sunday together with positive media publicity set the tone for a great witness in our city as we sought the Lord for a spiritual awakening to the Gospel across the Gold Coast.  85 local churches (3,500 people) were represented at the Easter United Celebration at the new HOTA Amphitheatre. There was a great sense of family and unity as together we lifted Jesus Christ up as Saviour and Lord over the Gold Coast and as a banner over the Commonwealth Games. Quite a number responded to the call to open their hearts to Christ as Saviour and Lord.

The unity of the Churches seen as Street Chaplains, Red Frogs, Gideons, YWAM and many church groups worked in tandem to see the gospel lived out in word and deed during the Games.

Some of the answers to prayer that happened during the games were:

* 380 Bibles and 400 testaments were distributed through the Multi-Faith Centre at the Athletes Village.

* Chaplains reported never having seen such hunger or such engagement during a Games previously.

* Reports of friendly, peaceful atmosphere in the village itself.

* 57,070 individual wristband prayers were given out amounting to 5.14 kilometres of prayer chain

* 30 different groups and 5000 people directly involved in the effort from around the globe.

Traffic and Transport

* Traffic Flow was brilliant. (Seemingly many coast residents heeded the warning extensively publicised through the media to stay at home or use public transport. Many left the coast for the duration of the Games.)

* Public Transport Networks operated efficiently …no breakdowns


* 10,180 scriptures were given away

* Several hundred given away also in Townsville and Cairns where some of the events for the Games were also held.

* 98 Gideon members from every mainland State participated.

* There were 8 known salvations on the streets.

* Distribution covered people from all walks of life 

* 20,000 Gospels of Luke were supplied to churches and organisations for distribution by the Bible Society. 

YWAM street teams & Outreach Tent:

* 368 YWAMmers releasing 16 ministry teams on the ground through community events, games and sport, street evangelism, street chaplaincy, FLASH Mobs, worship and performance.

* 7000 Gospels of Luke and 6,500 flyers handed out

* 10,000 estimated meaningful conversations and 1 baptism

* 4 churches and organisations partnered with them throughout the Games.

Street Chaplains:

* 100 trained for street chaplaincy by Sports Chaplaincy Aust and Chaplain Watch QLD.

* 43 street chaplains from GC churches, Chaplain Watch Qld, Canberra, Sunshine Coast and Qld regional areas, YWAM.

* Southport, Broadbeach and Surfers covered throughout the Games with Street Chaplains.

Social Justice


* While there were indigenous protests at the Games which attempted to disrupt venues and transport, they were quickly dispersed.

* The Indigenous art and festival at the Ganggalah Ministry Training centre went well and with positive impact.


Praise God for the ways in which the hubs sponsored during the Games where the homeless of the Gold Coast were encouraged to find shelter during the Games operated virtually incident free and for the new possibilities opened up through their success.

Source: Beyond Gold