Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ministry Update & Season's Greetings!

It has been a very long time since we have sent a newsletter from the foreign mission field. However, it is a great season to do so!

First of all, we want to send love and prayers for a blessed and prosperous Christmas and New Year to all who are reading this. You are in our hearts, and we think of you often.

You are no doubt aware of the fact that Vickie, Zachariah, and I have been living and working in the Dominican Republic. We love living in the DR! It is hard to believe that we have actually been here for 1½ years already. At the first of the year, we will begin taking language classes on a more consistent basis. For those of you who may think the Goodman family moved to the Dominican Republic to retire, please consider this: we are NOT retired; we are REFIRED!

We truly appreciate the love and support that is received from individuals and churches across the continents. Together, we are making a difference and seeing lives changed for the glory of God. Here is a small synopsis of the various areas of ministry in which we’ve been involved to include future plans.

Oceanside Christian Fellowship (OCF)
The church that we planted one year ago in Sosua, Dominican Republic, is doing quite well. The congregation includes folks from a variety of countries and backgrounds. This is an English-speaking group comprised of missionaries, ex-pats, and locals who have been here for years. It is a great blessing to provide a place of ministry, teaching, and fellowship for those who are serving on the frontlines in the field and the marketplace.

Local Outreach
We are becoming more and more involved with street outreach in the Sosua area; this includes prayer walking as well as one-on-one evangelism. As local Dominicans come to Christ, we make every effort to get them connected to a local fellowship where they can continue to grow.

We also started going to a Police Station in our area a few months ago. A dear friend had received dreams of simply handing out bread to offenders. As she shared this with Vickie, she was encouraged to be obedient as it sounded like a “God thing.” However, our friend was uneasy about undertaking this task by herself, and as a result, we told her we would go as well. This was the start of a great experience as we now take part every week and pass out doughnuts, coffee, and prayer to those who want it. The Commandant of Police has invited us to share and pray with the officers regularly. Things are changing in this town!

For years, many Dominicans have regarded Sosua as a “cesspool.” The sex trade is very prevalent as prostitution and debauchery are seen in the streets. However, through prayer and demonstrating the love of Christ, the situation is visibly transforming!

Ministry Training School (MTS)
MTS has been conducted at OceanSide for just about a year now. We average twenty or more participants each term. At present, this is for those who speak English and plans call for extending the program. You might be surprised if you knew how many folks enter the mission field with very little biblical training. Just like I did so many years ago, they simply stepped out in faith and obedience and went to a foreign land to serve God. MTS provides an opportunity to receive solid teaching while serving and working here. Those of you who have taken the course are aware of the benefits this provides.

We are also very excited that our Ministry Training School curriculum is being translated into yet another language! The people in the Philippines will soon have MTS in their own tongue, Tagalog. God is truly using this material as a discipleship tool, and we are so honored to simply be a part of what He is doing.

Cliffdale Christian Center (CCC)
As you may well know, I am now considered Pastor Emeritus of Cliffdale Christian Center, and our son, Joshua, is doing a fine job leading as Senior Pastor! It is very fulfilling to see God at work in that local body and how Cliffdale continues to be such a beacon of light and hope to so many. Vickie and I thank the Lord for the legacy of leadership that He has allowed.

Vision for the Future
In regard to the future, we have been praying about our ministry goals. This includes an INTERNSHIP PROGRAM for those who feel that they may be called to serve anywhere in the world. At present, we are considering various options and facilities to house the base of operations.

Students would be taught during morning sessions and have opportunity to connect with local mission organizations during the afternoon and evening. GTO is in relationship with a multitude of missionaries who are involved with various ministries to include: community development, children’s outreach, feeding programs, evangelism, etc.

Vickie and I have well over fifty years of combined ministry experience and feel a responsibility to make all of this available to anyone who might be interested. We would like to hear from you as soon as possible if you think that this might be something in which you’d want to be a part.

As you can see, we are still busy about the Father’s business! Again, we want to express our heart-felt appreciation to those who support us through prayer and financial partnership.

All financial support can be sent to our stateside address or donated online through Gospel Team Outreach and is tax-deductible per IRS code.

Gospel Team Outreach International Ministries (or) GTO
PO Box 25355
Fayetteville, NC 28314

May God continue to abundantly bless each of you!

Grace & Peace,
The Goodman Family
3 John 2

Friday, December 6, 2013

Suddenlies (Digging Ditches, Part 4)

Last week we left off with the “call to dig ditches”; today we are picking up with what happens when we dig. I believe you’ll find encouragement in this message! Please read the portion below from 2 Kings 3.

And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ 17 For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’

18 And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19 Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”

20 Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water.

Can you say, “suddenly”? You know, there are many “suddenlies” in Scripture, but every one of them is preceded by something. These apparent “suddenlies” don’t just happen out of the blue. Think of: “Suddenly on the Day of Pentecost.” “Suddenly they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues.” There was something that preceded the suddenly.

God loves to involve man in His miracle-working process on earth. Man is an instrument. We are part of the enterprise; we are God’s entrepreneurs. We are the ones whom God has put here to manage, oversee, and take risks in order to conduct a successful work here on the earth for the Kingdom and glory of God! God has called you to this endeavor, be it business or ministry . . . guess what? They’re one and the same. Every business has ministry implications, and every ministry has business implications. If you don’t believe me, ask anybody who runs a ministry, and they’ll tell you that there are business aspects to it. Ask anybody who owns a business if there are opportunities for ministry, and you’ll get the same answer. God calls us to be part of this enterprise. There is something for us to do that precedes the suddenly of God. What was it that God told the people to do before the suddenly occurred?

In this case, we’re talking about digging ditches in the middle of the desert! That’s kind of like building an ark and nobody even knows what rain is yet. Why would anybody dig ditches in the middle of the desert? Well, the best reason I can come up with is because God said, “Do it!” That should be all the reason we need. If God said to do it, then He is up to something, and we should do it because He is about to suddenly do something. The Word of the Lord said they weren’t going to see the wind or rain, but that the ditches were going to be filled with enough water so that their armies and livestock would be satisfied. Suddenly, water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with it.

I’m telling you, I’ve been to this part of the world, and it has some of the most dry, barren land you’ve ever seen. There are small riverbeds (wadies), but they are totally dried out. They don’t get but only a few inches of rain a year, and oftentimes it will come all at once. The water comes running through very quickly, and they tend to dry up just as fast. A lot of times the water is captured and held under the surface. There’s a high level of calcium in the soil, and it will solidify and actually capture the water under the ground. Suddenly, the water comes, and the wadi is filled, and the ditches that the armies have dug out are brimming with water.

20 Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water. 21 And when all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to bear arms and older were gathered; and they stood at the border.

Here we find the Moabites standing at the border of Edom and Moab. There is a river that is at the ancient border. On that particular occasion, the river had become so full that the overflow ran into the ditches that the Lord had told them to dig.

The Moabite leaders were standing at the borders looking out, and they saw a peculiar sight. They saw that the entire area was filled with water that the sun was shining on, and it appeared to be blood. As a result, they assumed that their attackers had actually turned the sword on one another. So the Moabite leaders said, “Look, the Israelites that were on their way to attack us have turned the sword on each other. Let’s go and take the spoils of their battle.”

When they got down there, they found that the Israelite army was preparing for warfare! The Israelites began to kick tail and destroy the Moabite army (who at that point had been taken by surprise and started to run). They began fleeing back to Moab with the army of God chasing them. The Israelites were on the verge of taking their city and laying siege to it, and the Moabites and their king were under great distress! He didn’t know what to do.

The King of the Moabites took his son up on the city wall and offered him to Chemosh, the pagan god. He killed his son in plain view for all to see. This act incited the army of the Moabites who retaliated against the Israelites with a surge of indignation. The Israelites chose to call off the whole siege of the city and go back to their homeland.

There are some lessons in this story for us:

1) It’s always best to consult the Lord before we launch the attack. This is how we guarantee success, and the victory will come as long as we act according to His will.

2) We see the value of teamwork. Israel and Judah weren’t exactly getting along back in those days, and they certainly were not getting along with the Edomites. In fact, there had been recent war between Edom and Judah, but they solicited the partnership of others in order to destroy a common enemy. So there’s value in partnership, just know with whom you’re partnering.

3) Don’t wait to get into trouble before consulting the Lord. Now, we can do that, but there is an easier way. You’ve heard me say it many times. A whole lot of problems could be avoided if we consulted the Lord before we experienced the difficulty. Our natural human tendency is to wait for the problem to come, and then we get real spiritual and cry out to God.

A lot of our problems are self-imposed and self-inflicted. We never consulted God whether we should do it; we just did it! Why? Because it made sense to us. Many times we just don’t want to do it if it doesn’t make sense. I say these words to my wife a lot, “You know, it just doesn’t make sense to me; if I could just understand.” When we do get into trouble, it’s okay to consult the Lord. “Is there not a true prophet that we can go to?” Then what did the prophet say? “Bring me a musician.”

Sometimes we need to calm ourselves. We get all wrapped up in the problem and stay in turmoil. There are times we go to sleep in turmoil. We wake up thinking about the same problem and are still in turmoil. We’re being driven by circumstances and not being led by the Spirit of the Lord.

“For the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” What’s going on inside of us can be a good standard by which we can judge our state of affairs. If you don’t have peace, I suggest you stop until you get some! STOP, just STOP! We have a hard time stopping. We think the more we go . . . STOP! Elisha said, “Bring me a musician.” He was obviously troubled in his own soul, and he wanted to be certain that he heard the Word of the Lord. So the musician came and played, and the prophet discerned a Word from the Lord that was totally contrary to human logic: dig ditches in the middle of the desert.

Maybe God has brought you to a place of digging ditches in the middle of the desert. I can think of no tougher place to do so than the south end of the Dead Sea! That ground is hard, it’s hot, it’s rocky, it’s dusty, it’s dirty. I’m sure some of those soldiers were thinking, “What in the name of Jehovah God are we doing digging ditches in the middle of this God-forsaken desert?”

So if God’s called you to dig ditches, bless God, be the best ditch digger you can be and maintain a Christ-like attitude! Digging the ditch means one thing . . . there’s a miracle coming! If you’ll just dig the ditch, your suddenly will come upon you. You probably won’t see or hear it approaching, but suddenly that water will come down and fill those ditches, and you’ll be filled with fresh life! Don’t worry about where it’s going to come from or when it’s going to get here, just dig the ditch! Don’t ask why. Dig the ditch. “Why”? “Because God said so!” “DIG”! “How deep”? “Don’t worry about it, just keep digging.” “How wide”? “Just DIG THE DITCH”! We want to ask a thousand questions. Simply take the shovel in your hand and dig the ditch, because digging it can only mean that God’s going to send the rain. He’s going to send the water! In that water you will find provision, and you’ll find new life.

Grace and peace,