“Get in touch with God, turn your radio on!” That was the theme at the Sunday afternoon worship service at Bear Pen Church. We were in our second week of Sunday afternoon drive-in revival services at the little church in Wolfe County, Kentucky. A global pandemic required us to avoid close contact with each other, but “social distancing” did not prevent us from gathering to worship and hear the Good News.
Cars gathered on the hillside in front of our Abiding Hope Food Pantry as music and a revival message filled each car. Our little FM radio transmitter sent a clear signal to each car. The “Amens!” came by way of a honk of the horn and the flash of headlights. Praise the Lord, when our church door was closed, God opened a window. The Spirit of God visited with us as we turned our radios on.
When I made my first trip to M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston, Texas, my outlook was bleak. My first diagnosis had given a rather short length of life projection. After a myriad of tests and consultations, Dr. Kuban, the lead doctor, sat down with my wife and me. Her prognosis was more encouraging. She told us that if everything went really well, they had a chance of adding five years to my life expectancy.
We had to make a temporary move to Houston to start treatment. Days stretched into weeks of daily radiation. Finally, I was cleared to return home to continue chemotherapy at a local facility. Over the next four years, numerous trips to Houston were necessary, in addition to regular doctor visits here. This last year had raised my concern as PSA and other indicators had elevated. On Monday Sept. 10, I returned to M.D. Anderson for blood work and case evaluation. Five years had lapsed since Dr. Kuban had given me cautious hope.
I sat nervously waiting for Dr. Kuban. The PA’s and nurses had reviewed my records and tests – now the wait. When Dr. Kuban arrived, we exchanged pleasantries, and I tried to appear calm. Then the shoe dropped. Dr. Kuban said, “Mr. Lauter, I am changing your status today. I’m changing you from Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor.” All I could say was, “Praise the Lord.”
I really didn’t need a plane to fly home! On the way back to Wilmore, my heart continued rejoicing at the news. Then, I remembered another occasion of such an overflowing heart. It was the day I was the recipient of a spiritual reclassification. Conviction had made me fully aware of the fact that; “… the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22, NIV). When I confessed my sins, I was forgiven and saved from my sin. I was reclassified from sinner to ‘born again’ believer.
I have been the subject of several other reclassifications, like student to graduate, renter to home owner, teacher to administrator, etc. But, nothing can compare to my spiritual change in status. That change is now closely followed by, “Mr. Lauter, I’m changing you from Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor.”
May I ask you, “What is your spiritual status?” If there is a problem, let Jesus reclassify you from sinner to believer. There is no other experience like it.
It has been a while since we have provided an update here on the website on New Hope’s many ministry activities. Here are a few ways that the Lord is blessing New Hope in these days.
Over Asbury University’s Spring Break, a team of four students traveled through NHIM to Jamaica where they led devotions for preschoolers and built a home for a family in need.
During last month’s NHIM Board meeting, members voted to increase the expense account funds for David Spencer, our Director of Church Planting. David is driving 204 miles round-trip twice a week from his home at Bear Pen in Wolfe County to work with one of our church plants, Green Hill Community Church, in Harlan County. Green Hill is growing in numbers and spiritual knowledge under David’s leadership. Attendance on Easter Sunday was 70. From ground zero, when the church first opened, to 70 on Easter is a testimony to God’s love for those folks and David’s hard work. Within a few days of approving the increase for David, an unexpected check for $2,500 came in that will help cover the increase. Praise the Lord!
Several months ago the Abiding Hope Food Pantry truck ‘went home to be with Jesus’. The truck was old and tired and threw a rod through the block. Since then it has been a real struggle to get the food from God’s Pantry in Lexington to the food pantry at Bear Pen. Many of you have been praying with us about another truck. In the Lord’s timing, David and his son Eugene located a truck. The price was reasonable, and all we needed was the money. I called the gentleman who had sent us the money we were going to use to help increase David’s expenses account. I asked him if it was all right to split the money and use half for David and the other half for down payment on the truck. After a pause, he said to use the full amount he sent to help David. Then he said, “I’ll send you the money for buying the truck shortly.” That was another “Praise the Lord!” moment. As I was sharing this great news with the fellows I drink coffee with, one of the men asked if the truck was road worthy. I told him it was as far as I knew, except the front tires were badly worn. He pulled out his billfold and handed me a $100 bill to help with new tires.
Pray for our upcoming Tent Revival in Harlan County. David will be holding an old fashioned tent revival later this spring a few miles from the Green Hill Community Church. The tent and folding chairs have been moved on-site. We are trusting that the Tent Revival will bring souls into the Kingdom and make people aware of the Green Hill Church. Prayer and fasting is helping prepare the way. Join us as we petition the Lord for revival.
I recently joined David in a meeting with a man who has been attending Green Hill Church for about a year. He has been a pastor and has preached extensively in the Harlan County area. This man has expressed interest in working with us in ministry and possibly becoming one of our pastors. Pray for wisdom as we explore partnerships such as these in our efforts to reach Eastern Kentucky with the Gospel.
My daughter Lori and my son-in-law Rich are leading a NHIM mission team to South Africa in May. As they were making preparations, Lori asked me if NHIM might be able to help buy some blankets for the small children in Kya Sands, a Squatter’s Camp (a terrible slum) at the edge of Johannesburg. Lori ministered there during the time she lived in Johannesburg. The next day, I ran into Tommy Baker, a dear Christian brother who had worked with NHIM on some previous projects. During our rambling conversation, he asked me if I could ever use some small blankets. I responded with a resounding – YES! When I inquired about how many he had, he said, “700”. He had secured them from an overstock at Wal-Mart for one dollar apiece. Can you believe it? The team has all the blankets the need and more. Again, I want to humbly bow my head and say “Praise the Lord!”
~ Brother Roy
Brother Roy will be preaching the messages for Wilmore Free Methodist Church‘s Spiritual Renewal Week services, February 12-15. Service times are Sunday morning (8:30am & 10:50am), Sunday evening (6:00pm), and Monday-Wednesday evenings (7:00pm). WFMC is located at 1200 Lexington Rd., Wilmore, Kentucky. Nursery and children’s ministries are available in each service.
The following messages by Brother Roy from the week are available through the website TruthCasting:
Over the past week, 26 friends and co-laborers participated in a pastors retreat cruise sponsored by New Hope International Ministries. The goal of the cruise was to provide a time to get away and refresh for several pastors with whom New Hope works in Eastern Kentucky. The theme of the week was “Come Apart Before You Come Apart” with the theme verse of Mark 6:33: “Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (NLT).
The ship sailed out of Mobile, Alabama, and included two full days at sea and a day each in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.
A major purpose of the retreat was to provide time away from the pressures of daily life and ministry. We spent much of our time enjoying fellowship with each other, sharing victories and difficulties, and eating dinner together as a family.
The retreat provided important opportunities for our group to get to know each other personally. Hectic schedules, work and ministry obligations, and family responsibilities leave little time to visit and learn about each other when we are at home, but the fellowship in sessions and around the dinner table provided opportunity for encouragement and enjoyment of each other.
While we were together as a group for many activities, we also wanted ministry couples to have some private time together – catching a nice lunch together in the dining room, watching the waves in the moonlight, or a late night coffee and dessert date provided an important time of refreshing and renewal.
In our scheduled sessions, Brother Roy preached a message on how Hezekiah took his challenges before the Lord, Pastor David Spencer shared about his vision for church planting and evangelism in Eastern Kentucky, NHIM Board Chairman Matt Kinnell spoke about how God’s plans for our lives – both physical and spiritual – are always better than we could have imagined, the laypeople traveling with us provided input on what they expect from a pastor, and we ended with a celebration of ‘The Lord’s Supper’ as a family.
Here are some photos from our week together:
Roy and Sue are visiting their daughter and son-in-law in South Africa this month. Here is a brief update from Roy:
We are doing well. The trip is a little hard on us ‘old folks’, but we are surviving. Yesterday, I again had the privilege of working along side Lori in Kya Sands Squatter Camp. It is a heartbreaking, dismal slum. The children, ages 3 to about 9 with a few 1 and 2 year olds mixed in, are beautiful but so needy.We did some fun games and a lesson and then gave each child a half sandwich, a cup of Milo, and an apple. They devoured the food, and I cried. It takes so little to bring a smile to the face of a child. As poor as they are, a hug and a taste of food seems to provide enough to merit a smile.
Lord, please help us at NHIM to continue to try to find ways to serve ‘the least of these’.
~ Brother Roy
Brother Roy has been preaching revival services this week at Mount Carmel High School in Vancleve, Kentucky. Mount Carmel is a boarding school with a large number of international students. Roy is preaching eight services during this revival, his first extended preaching engagement since his cancer treatment last Fall. The students have been responding well to Roy’s down-home, practical messages, and they have even learned some mountain vernacular from Ezra and Arze. Audio of the revival services can be found on the Mount Carmel website, here. We thank the Lord for renewed strength that is allowing Roy to begin returning to a fuller ministry schedule.