EDITORIAL: Feed the Flock of God

Feed the flock of God that is among you…”  – 1 Peter 5:2

The Lord has designed godly elders, or shepherds, to lead in the local assembly because a leaderless people is destined for spiritual ruin. As illustrated in the book of the Judges, when Israel had no leader, “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Yet God knew that no people will rise higher than the spiritual level of its leaders. Therefore, He established high spiritual and moral standards for those who lead. God also knew that when the leadership turned away from God, sadly, the people would soon follow. As the shepherds go, so go the sheep. Perhaps more than any figure in the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel captures the importance of the work of spiritual shepherds. Ezekiel chapter 34 contains important lessons for leaders today.

1. Teach the Word of God—Ezekiel 34:2

Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?’” (v.2)

In this passage, the most significant failure of the shepherds is that they act as if they own the sheep and can treat them as they please. Feeding the flock with the “finest of the wheat” is the greatest need in the local church today. God’s sheep are crying out to be fed with in-depth teaching of the Word of God. Where is the consecutive, expository teaching from the Word of God? Where is the teaching on weighty and important doctrinal sections of Scripture? Martin Luther reportedly said, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” No ministry or work of God can succeed apart from the effective proclamation of the Word of God.

2. Ministering to the Broken and Diseased—Ezekiel 34:4

The diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up…” (34:4).

Many in our local assemblies are suffering from broken lives and are seeking the balm of the ministry of Christ to encourage them. God’s way of healing and strengthening is through faith, grace, and the Word of God. To bind up the broken, a lamb must want to walk again. The godly shepherd applies the mending cloths to the fractured limb by pointing the lamb to Christ. For every look at themselves, the wounded should take ten looks at Christ. They need to learn to be more occupied with the finished work of Christ than with the sin and failure in their past. Psalm 147:3 tells us that “He (the Lord) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” It is through the ministry of Christ in our lives that we are healed. Scars remind us of where we have been. They do not have to dictate where we are going. Healing of limbs can take time: and a shepherd will need to have patience with the flock.

3. Seeking the Scattered—Ezekiel 34:4-6

The scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost…” (34:4, 5)

Faithful shepherds seek sheep that have been scattered. This scattering happens when there is no shepherd. God reminds us, “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill…and there was no one to search or seek for them” (v. 6). As a result, the sheep were exposed to the danger of wild animals who would devour them. Today, there are many sheep that are scattered not for lack of a shepherd but for a lack of those who will do the work of a shepherd. The shepherds’ work begins before the sheep wander. It is much easier to bring a wandering sheep back when he knows the love and care of a faithful shepherd.

Shepherd the Flock of God

Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; you and I are weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’ rod, He needed Moses’ hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s skillful hand to propel it. For God to feed and shepherd a flock, He needs someone completely surrendered to Him to accomplish the task. There is no substitute for Christian character and maturity. No matter how much talent and training you may have, God cannot use you as He desires if you do not have character, devotion, and godliness. May the Lord raise up shepherds who will care for the flock with tenderness, feed them with the whole counsel of God, and bind up those that are broken. These are the kind of shepherds God wants; these are the kind of shepherds we need.


Worker Spotlight: Robert & Ruth Billings

In the fall of 1977, I attended a prayer meeting in an assembly in Barcelona, Spain. I would be teaching English as a Second Language in that city as a self-supporting missionary. My desire was to go into full-time work, but I did not want to be the pastor of a church and did not know what church group to join. It was a confusing time for me as a young Christian. At the prayer meeting that evening, the Spanish elder spoke on the subject of plurality of eldership in the local church. As he began the teaching, I thought to myself, “This idea of plurality is not biblical, but as a visitor, I will not say anything.” By the time he had finished the message, I was convinced that the Bible teaches that a group of elders should lead the local church. A few weeks later, I was baptized in La Bisbal Street Chapel in Barcelona. The Lord had led me to the churches with which I have had the fellowshiped over the last forty years.

Testimony of Salvation

I was raised in a loving home, went to Sunday School in a non-evangelical church every week, and generally had a wonderful childhood—except that the most important thing was lacking—I did not hear the Gospel at home or in church. I started my freshman year of college during the tumultuous Vietnam War era and lived the life of a typical student. By my sophomore year, I began to tire of that life. The Lord had put me on a dormitory floor where the only Christian students in the college lived, and they witnessed to me. I told them that they had gone to Sunday School for too long and were brainwashed. But I could not deny their lifestyle. Although, the rest of us talked about peace and love, these Christians were the ones demonstrating such qualities.

The next school year, I had a new hunger to find out whether the Gospel was true. The Christian fellows in my dorm had graduated, and for nine months I had no spiritual conversations with anyone. But I had a Bible and began to read it earnestly. Walking alone one night, I prayed to God and said, “I do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead; but if He did, please show me.” As I read the Bible more, its message became clear: man’s basic problem is sin; our good works cannot save us; Christ died for our sins. A true savior would have to be alive—Christ rose from the dead! In March 1973, after reading Romans 3-5, I knelt down by my bed and put my faith in Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Entering Full-Time Work

In 1981, I was commended to full-time work by Bethel Bible Chapel in Red Bank, New Jersey, two miles from where I was raised. I was also commended by Lakeside Bible Chapel in Sterling Heights, Michigan, near to where I had taught in a Christian school. My primary ministry in the 1980s, in addition to teaching in assemblies, was door-to-door evangelism and discipleship. In both New Jersey and Michigan, I spent much time speaking to people at their doors, and giving them a survey about their beliefs. Some people became believers and were baptized, and others who already were believers, came into fellowship at Bethel and Lakeside. The Word of God does not come back void. After preaching one Sunday at Bethel, a couple approached me and the woman said, “We know you.” I did not recognize them. The woman then said, “Nine years ago, you came to our house.” The man started attending a men’s Bible study at the chapel. Soon he became a believer and was in happy fellowship with us for years, before passing on to Heaven.

Family Life

In December 2009, I was in Honduras preaching in the rural town of Mezapa. As I began the message, a woman came walking down the aisle to sit in one of the first pews. Her uncle had picked her up late for the meeting, almost all the seats were filled, and she had little choice but to walk to the front of the packed church. After the meeting I greeted her, and then her family. They and the group I was with ate dinner at an elder’s home. We conversed, and she told me her name was Ruth Urrea Nunez. A few days later, as previously scheduled, I spoke in her assembly in the village of Pajuiles. I then began making regular trips to Honduras, preaching 150 times in various assemblies on and near the northern coast. Pajuiles became my “home base” when in Honduras. In July 2011, Ruth again walked down the aisle toward me in a chapel, this time wearing a wedding dress. We now have a three-year-old son, Edward, and reside in Red Bank.

Hispanic Ministry

In the late 1980s, I began preaching in Hispanic assemblies in the New York area. I also began taking two trips per year to Spain, speaking and doing discipleship work in the southern provinces. All of the trips to Spain would have been worth it for the opportunity to disciple one man, Jonas. He had stopped taking drugs around the time we met, and we began spending much time together. Jonas grew to be a dedicated Christian, married a godly wife, and now has two children. In 2010, through contacts made in Honduras, I began traveling regularly to Easton, Pennsylvania, to teach at a home Bible study. It was wonderful to be there in 2013 on the first Sunday that they broke bread as an assembly. Ruth and I continue to go to Easton once or twice a month to help with the work.

The Spanish ministry in Red Bank has been expanding. In the past five years, a number of Hispanic families have come into fellowship, at Bethel Bible Chapel and there are also unbelievers who attend regularly. Bilingual men in the assembly simultaneously translate the morning message for those who do not understand English well. One couple for whom we translate trusted Christ recently. This summer we did door-to-door evangelism in an apartment complex where almost all of the residents are Hispanic. We then held an open-air Vacation Bible School at the complex, and we are currently following up on these families.

The Lord has been very gracious to me in salvation, family life, and ministry. Ruth and I appreciate all the love and support which we receive from brothers and sisters. We have so much to be thankful for.


It’s Time We Faced The Facts: Why is the Church Powerless?

Spiritually we are in a shocking condition. The status of many local fellowships is bad news, and deteriorating by the minute.

It is fairly well known that there have been scandalous cases of immorality involving even elders and full-time workers. Of course this type of news never gets into the magazines; there everything is sweetness and light. But the awful truth is that some respected spiritual leaders have fallen into gross sin in recent months and the only reaction seems to have been to hush up the whole thing, lest the word get out and our reputation be impaired.

What are the Facts?

We have been arrogant, and have not rather mourned” – 1 Cor. 5:2

And that isn’t all. We have become materialists to the core. Supposing that gain is godliness, we have degraded ourselves to the worship of money.

We have become more proud of the number of successful businessmen in our churches than of the number of men of God. The dollar has become our master. The claims of the business world have been given more place than the claims of Christ. The corporation counts more with us than the Church. Our condemnation is found in the words of Samuel Johnson, “The lust of gold, unfeeling and remorseless, is the last corruption of degenerate man.”

We have become a status-seeking people. We sacrifice everything for prestige jobs, prestige homes and prestige cars. And we have prestige ambitions for our children.

Truth is that in our mad desire to see them successful and comfortable in the world, we are causing many of them to pass through the fire in this life and to suffer the pains of hell in the next.

Too often we are living double lives. Outwardly there is an appearance of piety and respectability. But in business there are bribery, shady deals, dishonesty and numberless forms of compromise. And in our personal lives there are coldness, bitterness, strife, gossip, back-biting and impurity. We are living a lie.

Many of our children have been involved in hard drugs, liquor, free love and sex-perversion. To say nothing of the many others who have become rebels and apostates. We have lived to see the fruit of our permissiveness and indulgence. But are we broken before the Lord?

We have become thoroughly worldly, living for the love of passing things. We have been enraptured victims of the idiot tube, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Most willingly have we been poured into the mold of the world, its fashions, amusements and ideals.

The Condition of Our Churches

The sin of prayerlessness has been all too apparent. In our abounding wealth and self-sufficiency, we have not had any strong inward necessity driving us to prayer. Many of our prayer meetings need closing down.

And finally, there is our pride and impenitence. Rather than admit our low spiritual conditions, we endeavor to hide sin, to sweep it under the carpet where no one can see it. After all, we muse, time heals all things.

But does it? Are we getting away with it? Or are we reaping the fruit of our backsliding in more ways than we care to admit?

What about the broken homes, the divorces, the separations? What about the tears of heartbroken parents and children that cover the Lord’s Table each Sunday morning? (See Malachi 2:13).

When will we realize that God is speaking to us through sickness and tragedy? It is true that there is always a certain amount of sickness, sorrow and accidents. But when they come in unusual volume, and under most unusual circumstances, we should not be insensible to the fact that the Lord is trying to get through to us.

Think of the number of believers who are spending small fortunes in psychiatric treatment. Once again we grant that a certain amount of such cases are to be expected. But when the trickle becomes a flood-tide, it might just be that God is saying something to us.

There are other results of our departure from God. Many of our children hate their parents, and wish they were a million miles from home. The heavens are brass above our heads our canned prayers never seem to get through. God has punctured our bags with holes; we work, and scrimp and save, but never seem to get off the treadmill. Because we wouldn’t tithe to the Lord, we tithe to the doctor, the dentist, and the garage mechanic.

We are suffering a famine of the Word of God. The ministry lacks unction. Too often it is a rehash of the obvious. How seldom in meetings are we conscious that the Spirit of God has spoken to us in power? We live on a diet of pablum. And don’t put all the blame on the preachers!

The worship meetings are often dead. Dull, awkward pauses are the fruit of prolonged occupation with the never-never land of TV. The evangelistic meetings are an exercise in futility: fishing in a bathtub where there are no fish. Years pass without the conversion of one single person.

What is the Remedy?

If we cannot see that God is dealing with us in all these judgments, what more can He do to wake us up? We are like the people in Isaiah 1, beaten from head to foot, yet still too dull, too obtuse to realize that God is speaking.

“Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evil doers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel , they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be smitten that you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil. Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city” (Isaiah 1:4-8 RSV).

We need some prophet, some man of God to lead us to repentance! That is the need of the hour: TO REPENT – to break at the foot of the Cross and sob out the confession so hard to come by, “We have sinned.”

We need to repent in our individual lives to confess and forsake the sins that have brought us into this place of spiritual barrenness. We need to make right personal feuds and animosities, asking forgiveness from those we have wronged.

And we need to repent as assemblies of God’s people. Never in the memory of most of us has a meeting been called for the express purpose of repentance. And seldom in any of our meetings has confession ever been mentioned. But we need to do it. We desperately need to do it.

The time has come, O for spiritual leadership that will bring us to our knees quickly before we are consumed by God’s awful wrath! We need to eat the sin offering like Daniel, making the sins of others our own (Dan. 9:5). We need to lay hold of God’s promise in II Chron. 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

It is time to seek the Lord. He is calling us, through the voice of Hosea: “Return O Israel , to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips.” (Hosea 14:1,2 RSV).

We have been a proud people, boasting in our heritage of renowned evangelists and Bible teachers. We have claimed a special corner on scriptural knowledge and on church order. We have looked down our theological noses at other believers. Now the Lord has stained our pride. If we only knew it, our halo is shattered.

There is only one hope! “In returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isa. 30:1-5) The way to renewal and revival is to confess the awful truth about ourselves, to make right the wrongs of the past, to forsake our sins, and to get desperate with God about a perishing world and a powerless Church.


The Enduring Value of The Lord’s Supper

I grew up in a Bible-believing church that celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ once each week in a meeting called “The Lord’s Supper.” The meeting is unlike communion services in mainline evangelical churches in that it is a service where men who have trusted in Jesus Christ can stand up to share from their heart something about their Savior. While growing up I heard a lot about the importance of that meeting. Many people over the years have testified about its significance in their lives. Some identify that service as the most important hour of their week.

In what follows, I simply want to offer seven reasons why I value the Lord’s Supper. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, as if I could, in a few words, encompass the immeasurable worth of remembering the Savior in this way. While these reasons are very close to my heart, they are in no way exclusive to me alone. I hope that, in reading them you also will be moved to marvel at the manifold wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ for instituting this remembrance meal.

The Lord’s Supper Teaches Biblical Truth

This is a statement that is so often repeated that its effect has been hugely diminished. The Breaking of Bread service teaches the Bible in a vivid and theologically rich way that is not possible in a traditional preaching service. There are several reasons for this. First, although there may be many sub-themes during the meeting, the main theme is always Jesus Christ: His death and resurrection. Whatever else is said, Christ is key. That means that when a believer stands up to speak, he talks about Jesus. So Jesus is proclaimed from all of Scripture; Old and New Testaments, well-known passages, and more obscure ones. Week by week, those who speak are all doing the work of presenting a coherent biblical theology as it relates to Jesus. Second, there are a diverse group of believers reading, praying, rejoicing, and presenting Christ during this meeting. These believers have different styles, different tones and fluctuation, different levels of intensity and excitement. These different styles allow for increased potential in learning among the diverse group that makes up the congregation, since each individual believer has different learning styles. Simply put, in the participatory Lord’s Supper there is something for everyone.

The Lord’s Supper Demands Individual Reflection

“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). There are both communal and individual aspects to the Lord’s Supper. Individually, the service is a time for personal reflection on my spiritual status before God. What has my life been like since I last took the bread and cup? Is there some unconfessed sin I am harboring, some arrogant or unholy attitude of which I refuse to repent? Have I been saturated in God’s Word? What about my time in prayer before the Lord? If Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross were meant to restore a right relationship between myself and God, these relational questions must be asked and reflected upon before true worship of my Savior can commence. It is often pointed out that the personal examination is not meant to lead to abstaining from the elements in guilt, but rather to reflect, repent, and resume fellowship through taking the bread and cup. In that way, our personal reflection mirrors our salvation experience: sin does not have the final word, but is conquered by our relationship with Jesus Christ through faith.

The Lord’s Supper Adjusts our Spiritual Vision

The world we live in pollutes our minds and hearts and seeks to draw us away from Jesus Christ. From one week to the next, the rampant sin evident all around us can dull our minds, harden our hearts, and deteriorate our spiritual vision. The Lord’s Supper serves to correct that deteriorated vision by speaking truth into our lives. At the Lord’s Supper each Sunday, our Savior is magnified. It is a time where we can readjust our view away from society’s humanistic outlook. The true nature of sin is proclaimed, shifting our lens from tolerance and enablement in regard to sin to the Christian call to put to death the nature of sin. The true nature of salvation, as freedom from slavery to sin bought by Christ’s precious blood, alters our perspective. The Breaking of Bread acts as a weekly refocusing of the eyes of our hearts.

The Lord’s Supper Creates Opportunities for Trinitarian Worship

As we read the Word together, pray together, sing together, we are given opportunities to worship the Triune God. Worship has to do with attitudes and motivations. While two individuals can be sitting together in the same service, hearing the same words read and prayed, and singing the same songs, one may be worshiping and the other failing to do so. The opportunities to worship is presented to each individual, and each must take advantage of it. Once a believer ceases to be preoccupied with himself and instead focuses on Christ, we see worship directed toward the Godhead in beautiful ways.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the center of the Lord’s Supper: it is His meal, instituted by Him. We remember His life, death, and resurrection, and in doing so, we exalt Him as He asked us to do. When we worship Jesus Christ the Son in this service, God the Father is glorified. The Father’s predetermined plan led the Son to become incarnate, suffer, and die in our place. As we pray to the Father, praising Him for sending His Son and giving His only begotten Son over to death, He hears our prayers and receives our worship. The Holy Spirit is likewise at work in the service. He guides our thinking and reading of Scripture, convicts us of sin, gifts us to encourage and build up one another, and in all things magnifies Jesus Christ as the only begotten God. Thus, in our worship service each person of the Trinity is actively involved in multiple and diverse ways, working in us, among us, and through us to build up the one body of Christ.

The Lord’s Supper Demolishes Pride and Arrogance

Confronted weekly with the crucified Savior who died on Calvary for the sins of the world and more personally, for my sins, I see my sin for what it truly is. My arrogance is revealed, the attitudes of my heart, seen by no one but me, the secret motivations for self-elevation and advancement that war against the Spirit are all laid bare. All these are highlighted against the contrast of the body of Jesus broken and the blood of Jesus shed for me. As Jesus is magnified in the Lord’s Supper, my sin takes on its real and grotesque form. In taking the bread and the cup, it is as if I stand before the Savior as He suffers on the cross, and all my self-accomplishments and the things I find worth in, apart from Christ, are shown to be worthless. I hear the words, “He became sin who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” and pride is eradicated. How can I glory in any part of myself, knowing the penalty my sin demands and how undeserving of His salvation I am? When I see Jesus while at the Lord’s table, “my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”

The Lord’s Supper Unites the Hearts of Believers

There is both an individual aspect and a corporate aspect to the Lord’s Supper. Individually, I assess my spiritual state before God, confess sin, and prepare my heart for worship. Yet as others are being led by the Holy Spirit to think about Christ in the Scriptures, sing songs of praise and worship to Him, offer prayers of thanksgiving for His work accomplished, there is a wonderful collective sense of love and gratitude. Our hearts are being united around a common love for Jesus and a deep appreciation for what has been done on our behalf. Social and ethnic distinctions that exist throughout the week no longer separate us, as people from diverse backgrounds are united in spirit to give praise to the Triune God for the salvific work of Jesus the Son. In this way, a beautiful unity in diversity and diversity in unity is displayed among believers as we look on Jesus there.

The Lord’s Supper Transforms the Mind

As our sin is confronted, and our vision focused on Christ, the Holy Spirit renews our minds, and transforms our thoughts and imaginations. The world around us passes away as we set our hearts on things above. Our worries, fears, ambitions, and motivations are all brought low before the crucified and glorified Lamb of God. The suffering and exaltation of our Jesus changes how we view the world around us. Seeing Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father silences our worries and fears. The knowledge that He has raised us there with Him eradicates all sinful ambition and motivation. What we are left with is our glorious God and Savior occupying the thrones of our hearts and the seats of our affections. If the Holy Spirit is allowed to have His way in the Lord’s Supper, the result is the casting down of all false gods and the magnification of Jesus Christ. Having been transformed by the renewing of our minds, we are ready to again wage war against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

33These are seven reasons why I highly value the participatory Lord’s Supper. In a contemporary culture where this service is becoming increasingly unimportant, we would do well to remember the words of the author to the Hebrews: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).


Under the Broom Tree with Elijah: Depression Among God’s Servants

Are we being upfront and honest about depression in Christian circles? Can the godly suffer from depression or is it only something that afflicts the weak in faith? For many believers the idea of Christian depression is an oxymoron that negates some of the foundational elements of the Christian faith, such as the call to rest in the love of God or rejoice in His grace. In Christian circles depression often carries a double stigma, one of emotional instability and spiritual decline. As a result, Christians struggling with depression often fear reaching out for help, while for those in full-time ministry it is simply unthinkable. Alone in their struggle, they chide themselves for their perceived unbelief, only to fall deeper into despair. This erodes the effectual working of the body of Christ, intended to serve to the edification of one another in love. Fortunately most pull through. But not all. Too often we hear of Christians suffering emotional breakdowns, burnout, or leaving fruitful ministries for inexplicable reasons.

Depression is a life-threatening condition that is often muddled with troubling confusion. Many confuse mood and depression; it is not uncommon to hear people say, “I am feeling depressed” or “You look depressed” when one is merely sad or discouraged. Those suffering from depression may feel sad, but they are just as likely to feel irritable or emotionally drained. It would be better to characterize depression as a state of overwhelming hopelessness, aggravated by feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing and even guilt. Other common symptoms are a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, a general lack of energy and being overwhelmed by even simple tasks. Those suffering from depression will often display behavioral changes that are out of character: recurring bouts of anger, uncontrollable crying, or social withdrawal. They may have trouble making simple decisions and exercise poor judgment. Serious or prolonged depression can seriously affect one’s physical wellbeing and be accompanied with a longing for death or even suicidal thoughts.

In 1 Kings 19:4 we read: “But Elijah himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die….” While it would be foolish to begin making a medical diagnosis of any Biblical character, I think we can safely affirm that Elijah was not in a very healthy state of mind at this particular point in time. Physically exhausted, he collapses under the broom tree wishing only to die. Why? “For I am no better than my fathers!” is the reply Elijah gives us. In other words he is overwhelmed by a sense of personal failure and hopelessness. How could a man of such remarkable faith sink to such lows? We might expect this of others in this story, such as wicked King Ahab, but instead Ahab basks in his palace while the man of God weeps in the wilderness. We are left to wonder what happened to the man who boldly denounced the idolatry of Israel, who with unwavering faith endured three and a half years of famine, who fearlessly faced the 450 prophets of Baal. To find him in this wretched state of mind only days after the remarkable events of Mount Carmel is perplexing.

Surprisingly, Elijah is not alone. In 1857 the great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, while preaching on Isaiah 41:14, shocked his audience with this confession:

“I have to speak today to myself and whilst I shall be endeavoring to encourage those who are distressed and downhearted, I shall be preaching, I trust to myself for I need something which shall cheer my heart—why I cannot tell, wherefore I do not know, but I have a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me; my soul is cast down within me; I feel as if I had rather die than live; all that God hath done by me seems to be forgotten, and my spirit flags and my courage breaks down… I need your prayers.”1

It turns out Spurgeon was subject to frequent bouts of the darkest depression, at times having lost the will to live. Even the apostle Paul appears to be in a terrible state of mind on more than one occasion. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 we read: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.” Not only did these men of God feel hopelessly overwhelmed but they “despaired even of life.” More examples could be taken from the lows in David’s life, or from other Bible characters, such as Moses, Jeremiah, Rachel, or Hannah. While not all believers can identify with these experiences, many can.

In a sense it is comforting to know that others, who are admired for their devotion, have passed through similar experiences to our own. Spurgeon, in his Lectures to My Students, again offers an interesting insight:

“Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy.”2

Similarly, in writing to the Corinthians, Paul says, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us.” Sometimes being open about our own emotional struggles can be a source of encouragement and comfort to others.

Often we forget that the Lord’s servants are just people. As James aptly reminds us: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.” (James 5:17) Should it surprise us then if he was afflicted by the same weakness of other men? Spurgeon writes:

“Fits of depression come over the most of us. Cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”3

There are no superheroes among believers, just men called to a work that far exceeds their own strength. The victories won are the triumph of God’s grace, but physically our bodies are still weak and earthly, susceptible to illness and exhaustion. Should it come as any surprise that the mind is subject to infirmities and exhaustion as well? Do we not all take on a little too much from time to time? Yet the Lord is gentle for He “knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

God neither cast Elijah aside nor condemned him but instead sent an angel to care for his needs. He gave Elijah time to rest. He neither sermonized nor chided but quietly awaited till he had regained his strength. The Lord blessed him with a new vision of himself and listened quietly while Elijah replied to his query: “What are you doing here?” When he was ready, the Lord gave Elijah renewed direction and purpose (1 Kings 19:1–18).

Why do these fits come upon those who should be rejoicing in the grace of God? There are no simple answers. For some it may simply be a result of mental and physical exhaustion. Others may finally have succumbed to the constant pressures of their multiple responsibilities. Perhaps they have taken on too much. Some may simply be more prone to a melancholy of spirit. In other cases it may be providence keeping them from vainglory (2 Corinthians 12:7). Generally there are many contributing factors that have accumulated over time. Ultimately, though, it really makes little difference to those struggling with depression. Finding fault will do nothing to lift the spirits of those who likely already blame themselves, and trying to justify their condition will not convince them otherwise.

When it comes to Christian service, the fact is the work is too great for any of us. It can only be accomplished in the power of God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Christian leaders are virtually 24-hour ERs. In moments of dire need (death, terminal illness, financial ruin, family crisis, or spiritual infirmity) these simple men and women are suddenly expected to provide answers, counsel, comfort, and direction. Tirelessly, they are expected to care for the spiritual needs of entire congregations while they seek to spearhead a fruitful ministry. When there seem to be no tangible results or the lives of those under their care fall into chaos, they often blame themselves. Further, their lives, and those of their family, are under the scrutiny of the public eye. Every choice they make is subject to judgment, and criticism is never far. Silently they endure personal injury and hardship. They are but mortal men, who in the course of their service become only too painfully aware of their shortcomings. Is it really any surprise they become overwhelmed and disheartened?

Those who are responsible for our spiritual care need encouragement. They also need to get away and find time to renew their strength. The Lord knows His servants need rest; do we? (Mark 6:1) Even a mule must be put out to pasture. The commended worker needs time to rest, and those who commended them should be concerned they do. These men and women did not act independently when they went out to serve the Lord. They acted in unison with their commending assemblies, who confirmed their calling. The course of their lives, and those of their families, were affected by that decision. If they fail it is as much the responsibility of those who confirmed the Lord’s calling as that of the brother or sister who went. The opposite is also true. If their ministry is blessed, the joy is shared.

Depression can have profound consequences. It can destroy families and the productivity of one’s life. It is the leading contributor to drug and alcohol abuse. Prolonged depression increases the likelihood of developing a serious illness. It is by far the leading factor in the tens of thousands of suicides every year.4 The Canadian Mental Health Association distinguishes depression from “the blues.” They note its all-embracing nature on a person’s life: “Someone experiencing depression is grappling with feelings of severe despair over an extended period of time. Almost every aspect of their life can be affected, including their emotions, physical health, relationships and work.”5

The church needs to be proactive in preventing and dealing with depression, if for no other reason than Christian charity. It is not something she can afford to turn a blind eye to. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 18 million Americans suffer from depression every year, and yet almost half of them are afraid to reach out for help.6 This should never be the case among God’s people. Surely if anyone should be willing to listen with compassion, it should be those who are debtors to God’s grace. Hebrews 5 speaks of the High Priest being chosen from among men that he might have compassion on the wayward because he himself is subject to weakness. Everyone needs a sympathetic listener, someone they can trust. The commended worker needs someone in whom he or she can confide, and the leadership in their commending assembly needs to be proactive in ensuring that is the case, particularly when serving in an isolated area. Visits by the leadership, and especially two-way communication in a gracious, sympathetic spirit is essential. As a church we must look to emulate our Lord and His promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) May we also stand by one another in times of weakness and in times of joy.

1. Spurgeon, C. H. “Fear Not, Sermon 156.” The Spurgeon Archive. October 4, 1857. www.Spurgeon.org/sermons/0156.htm;
2. Spurgeon, C. H. Lectures to My Students: Complete & Unabridged. New ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1954;
3. Ibid;
4. Murray, Bob, and Alicia Fortinberry. “Depression Facts and Stats.” Depression Fact Sheet: Depression Statistics and Depression Causes. January 15, 2005. www.UpliftProgram.com/depression_stats.html;
5. “Depression.” Canadian Mental Health Association. www.CMHA.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/depression;
6. Murray, Bob, and Alicia Fortinberry. “Depression Facts and Stats.” Depression Fact Sheet: Depression Statistics and Depression Causes. January 15, 2005. www.UpliftProgram.com/depression_stats.html.
Originally published in MISSIONS magazine and is published with permission.


Report: The Ezekiel Project

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land…” – Ezekiel 22:30

He intended to kill himself. As he walked towards the East River in lower Manhattan, he came upon something unexpected – a group of people standing on the sidewalk listening to a man speaking and sketching. Overcome with curiosity, he stopped, listened and heard the words of life – the gospel. Those words made sense to him. He wanted to kill himself, but he didn’t. Those words gave him hope, and as he trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, the thoughts of suicide left him. He made the most important decision he will ever make – a decision for eternity! He now had hope!

The world’s greatest need is to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Who will tell them? Who will reach them? How will we reach them? How to reach people where they work, live and play is key. Most will never set foot in a church.

We need open-air evangelism. We need people who will stand in the gap to meet people where they are. “Standing in the gap!” is not only a motto, it is an action in which a trained Christian skillfully conveys the message of eternal life to individuals who desperately need it.


Sensing the need for more evangelists and more evangelistic training for Christians, The Ezekiel Project (TEP) began in 1992 with a vision to train individuals who desire to “stand in the gap”. The primary desire of The Ezekiel Project is to put the “go” back into the gospel by training individuals on how to reach these precious people where they are. Through the years, our ministry has endeavored to prepare Christians to do the work of an evangelist through two primary ministries: our Evangelism Training Seminars and The Ezekiel Project School of Evangelism (TEPSE).


The Evangelism Training Seminars – “One week for life!”

These training seminars are designed to help disciple those burdened in evangelism. Each seminar includes classroom instruction, workshops and doing open air evangelism.

The Basic Training Seminar (BTS) offers training in the how and why of evangelism. Participants are taught valuable techniques of presenting the gospel to unbelievers using a paint board and a rope trick. Techniques for personal evangelism are also highlighted as part of this training.

The Advanced Training Seminar (ATS) builds on the foundation of the Basic Training Seminar and focuses on the how and why of reaching children. Participants are given tools which will help equip and enhance a ministry in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, kid’s clubs and camp work.

Our seminars will be conducted in June and July this year at these sites: Shawnee Bible Chapel, Kansas City, KS and Grace Chapel, Tenafly, NJ (NYC area). The exact dates will be posted on our website.

The Ezekiel Project School of Evangelism (TEPSE) – “In the heart and on the street, where knowledge and experience meet!”

TEPSE began in 1993 as a pilot program with a vision to provide foundational Bible teaching and practical evangelism experiences in every person that comes through our school. In the fall of 1997, the pilot program gave way to the first full time class. The TEPSE program runs for nine months and classes are scheduled on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesdays, students engage in practical evangelism experiences at nearby college campuses. The following courses are the heart of our program: Bible Survey, Bibliology, Hermeneutics, Systematic Theology, Personal Evangelism, Apologetics, Cults and World Religions, Discipleship and Homiletics. Since our inception, we have had the privilege to graduate 65 individuals.


A New Home

From the beginning, The Ezekiel Project has operated on the property of Chris and Barb Schroeder, the founders of TEP. Last year, through a series of God-ordered events, TEP was able to purchase its own building. TEP had been operating in a 2,400 square foot building in a small rural area. The new facility, an old church building, measures 9,000 square feet and is in a suburb. Currently, we are in the process of renovating this building to suit our purposes. The purposed plan for the building includes an administrative office, two classrooms, a library, a teachers’ office, and a fellowship hall with a kitchen. Progress is being made. The main office is nearly finished. One classroom and the teachers’ office are being constructed. The library has been painted, carpeted, bookshelves set up and books shelved. Believers from various areas have given of their time and resources to help us move along in this huge project. We are excited to see the Lord’s provision through it all.

A New Program

In the midst of renovation, we are also revamping our T1 curriculum and creating a new second year program (T2). The T2 program is being designed for graduates of our T1 program. The program will build upon principles and knowledge gained in T1 through courses such as Bible Introduction, Biblical Geography, the books of Poetry and Wisdom, the Gospel of John, Hermeneutics 2, Advanced Expository Preaching, Introduction to Missions and the Missionary Life, and Church History. Mike Attwood and Steve Price will join our teaching team as adjunct instructors. Each of them will be onsite for one week of intensive class sessions. Mike will cover the Epistle to the Romans and Steve will handle the topic of shepherding.

We are excited to see the Lord working in and through us! We are grateful for the assistance and support of other believers and assemblies throughout the United States and the Bahamas! To continue, we need you! Pray for us, minister with us, be a part of our life changing ministry!

Please join us by praying for these specific requests:

  • for our staff – that the Lord would give us the spiritual direction, physical strength and health as we minister for the Lord.
  • for the progress of the building renovation – that the Lord would provide everything needed!
  • for the development of our new T2 program.
  • for our upcoming seminars – that the Lord would bring people to attend.
  • for our TEPSE program – that the Lord would direct students to attend.

You can follow us on our Facebook page and our website. You can contact us: tep@tepse.org, P.O. Box 393 Richmond, MI 48062, or call us at (586) 784-4143.


Report: ESL Gospel Outreach: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Sixteenth Avenue Gospel Chapel in Vancouver first opened its doors in 1947. It was located on the edge of a large development of new homes occupied mainly by families with young children. A large Sunday School was started and was blessed by the Lord with the conversion of many children.

Over the years the demographics changed. Children grew older and the housing stock began to sell, often to recent immigrants to Canada. By the 1980s, a very large number of our neighbors were immigrants, mainly from south-east Asia. The assembly felt that this presented an opportunity for gospel outreach.

The Beginning of the ESL Work

By 1992, two missionary sisters returned to our assembly from their former fields of service—Barbara Cummings, from service as a school teacher and administrator at Faith Academy in the Philippines, and Margaret Roberts, a Mandarin speaker from youth work in Taiwan. The assembly felt that their complementary gifts and experience would be combined with the help of other believers for an outreach, teaching English as a second language (ESL) and introducing the students to the gospel. This would help us fulfill the great commission of taking the gospel unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8), as well as our responsibility to the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

In the context of much prayer, we began. Our program is both simple and flexible. Classes run from 10:00 am till noon on Wednesday and Fridays. Students are grouped according to their abilities in English language. Instruction, with emphasis on conversation, continues for an hour. After a coffee break, classes resume with more instruction, and a consideration of a Bible passage.

The interest from the community was very strong. The numbers attending have grown steadily, largely without advertising, and over the years continued to rise toward one hundred. Most of our students are parents (usually mothers) of school age children or university students. We have been humbled and encouraged to be used to reach so many with the gospel.

Developments in the ESL Outreach

There are several reasons for their interest. First is a genuine desire to learn the language of their chosen country. This is often encouraged by the requirements of immigration boards. The second is a desire for friends with whom they have things in common. These classes enable them to meet others with similar interests and problems, as well as to meet Christian teachers and helpers who seek to befriend them. A third is that they have time! Those new to a country are not yet booked up by the cares of this world, which so often keep people from believing the gospel. In addition, they usually have a great respect for the country they have chosen and the culture that comes along with it. Many realize that the Bible is a major foundation of our culture.

It soon became apparent that many were eager for more Bible instruction. Learning from regular sermons at the chapel was beyond the comprehension of most of these students so we introduced them to ESL Bible studies. These are conducted on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday evenings and, at the same time, we have Sunday School classes for children. The topics covered are the gospel, basic Christian living, and basic Bible knowledge. The response has been as expected. Some have mocked and gone away, others have returned to hear more, and still others, by the grace of God, have believed, as was the case in Athens (Acts 17:32:34).

It is common for new immigrants to move about, and so we find many of our contacts relocating to other parts of Canada and the world. This gives us a greater turnover than we would like, but the Lord is able to take and to use the word sown.


The interest was great in 1992 when we began this outreach, but it appears to be greater today. Immigration is increasing, and the Syrian refugee crisis is but one illustration. We recently prepared a flyer for distribution to our neighborhood, looking mainly to increase attendance at our Sunday School but also listing our ESL programs. This was posted on social media by one of our sisters (who was recently saved as a result of this ESL outreach) to encourage some of her friends to attend. The result was overwhelming. There were so many wanting to attend Wednesday and Friday morning classes that our building could not contain them. Rather than “send them away” we have started similar classes on Tuesday mornings. There appears to be “an open door” and the Lord has promised that “the harvest is plenteous.” Please pray for the Lord’s blessing.

The Sixteenth Avenue Gospel Chapel is located in the Kitsilano section of Vancouver, at 2756 West Sixteenth Avenue, a few miles from the University of British Columbia. The elders are Harold Summers and Eric Peterson. The believers meet for the Lord’s supper at 9:30am Sunday mornings and gather for Bible study and prayer on Tuesday evening at 7:00pm. The correspondent is Harold Summers and his telephone number is (604) 789-7938 and his email address is hacsummers@gmail.com. There is a warm welcome awaiting you at Sixteenth Avenue Gospel Chapel!


Worker Spotlight: Robert & Julie Steiner

I, Robert, was born in 1938 near Algoma, Wisconsin, to dairy-farming parents. Both of my parents were practicing Roman Catholics; so, of course, I was baptized as an infant, and grew up in Catholic church.

Before Christ

When I was old enough to understand, something of the world around me, I realized that the World War II was over and the great depression that preceded it was over as well. Many transitions were taking place during this era. Early on, my father did some of the field work with horses; but as time went on, tractors and mechanization took over. I went to grade school in a one-room schoolhouse located on the edge of our farm; consequently, high school was a bit of a shock. When I began attending high school I joined the Future Farmers’ organization and soon grew determined to follow in my father’s footsteps. After high school I attended a fifteen-week Farm Short Course at the UW College of Agriculture. At age 22, I enlisted in the U. S. Army and served 6 years of active duty/active reserves.

Julie was born in the same county to Roman Catholic parents as well. Her father was employed at one of the major meat packers in Green Bay. Midway through high school her family moved near Green Bay, where she graduated from high school. Following graduation, Julie worked in retail sales in a large department store.

We met in late 1961 at a wedding dance that neither of us was invited to. We began to date and were engaged a year later. Following our marriage, in August of 1963, we farmed together with my parents for a number of years, until taking the farm over in 1974. Dairy farming is time and labor intensive, so much of our time was dedicated to that endeavor, as well as involvement in farm organizations and cooperatives. During those years, the Lord blessed us with two daughters and then a son.

We were very involved in our local Roman Catholic church as well. I was president of the parish council, at one point and Julie served on the school board. The teachings of that church were all that we knew. The Bible was just a big book turned open on a stand in our living room—sort of an ornament.

Time of Searching

In the late seventies with the stresses of the farm, and raising a family, Julie became a bit disillusioned with her circumstances, in comparison to what her expectations had been. In God’s providence, the “Jesus Movement” and the charismatic movement in the Catholic church began manifesting themselves in our area. Some of her friends became involved in the Bible studies and luncheons that were held, and they invited Julie to attend. She began to hear things from the Bible, things previously unknown to us. At first I wasn’t too interested because, after all, we were in the true church. But as time went on, we began to discuss some of the things she heard. Our veterinarian, an elder in the assembly with which we would eventually fellowship, gave us Bibles. As president of a local Christian radio station, he encouraged us to listen to the programs, soon we were hearing good Bible-based preaching.

Eventually, we began to notice differences, radical ones, between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Bible’s teachings—namely salvation by faith alone, the Lord’s Supper, and absence of praying to Mary. We encountered some difficulty understanding what exactly “the new birth” was and how it came about. Eventually, in December of 1980, we both trusted Jesus Christ alone to be our Savior and Lord and experienced that new birth. In May of 1981 we started attending the assembly that has since become Country Bible Church.

A New Relationship

Before we were saved, we probably saw each other as the most important person in our lives. All of that changed now. There was a new person, One more important than our spouse, in each of our lives—the Man Christ Jesus, who, of course, was the eternal Son of God as well. We were saved in middle age and soon found out that there was much we didn’t know about our God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. We were biblically illiterate! We did know that we were saved beyond any doubt (1 John 5:13), an assurance we never had before. No more kneeling in the confessional before a priest, because now we could confess directly to our High Priest (1 John 1:9).

Though the dairy farm still consumed much of our time, little by little we learned biblical truth. Our assembly had one brother who had attended Emmaus Bible College, but the other men who taught had no Bible college education. Some coming from outside might have said that they were “uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13). But all the brothers who taught knew Jesus and loved His Word, the Bible. Christian radio was another venue that aided us in our Christian growth and walk.

One of the blessings and privileges of fellowship in a New Testament assembly is the opportunity to use spiritual gifts. At some point in time, I was asked to speak at our Sunday evening meetings, and eventually at our Family Bible Hour on Sunday morning. There came a time when the elders saw leadership ability in me and asked me to join them in the oversight of the assembly.

Mid-Life Changes

Not long after being saved, I had a desire to be involved in ministry to a greater degree—perhaps attending a Bible college or seminary would better equip me. So we put our dairy farm up for sale—and it was up for sale for many, many years. (The Lord has His timetable for His own.) Finally, in 1997, part of the farm sold. Our son owns the remainder of the farm; he and his family are in fellowship in our assembly. But did I want to enroll in a Bible college at sixty years of age? The Lord, in His providence, helped with that dilemma. In February of 1998, Country Bible Church commended me as a local worker. I have appreciated so much the opportunity they gave me. I do some of our teaching and lead Bible studies as well. I write an article for our weekly bulletin, and visit our elderly and shut-ins at home, hospitals, or residential facilities. Julie helps me with the visitation and provides hospitality for visiting speakers.

Filling A Need

Even before I was commended, Julie and I had begun to take training in biblical counseling at Faith Baptist in Lafayette, Indiana, because we realized there was a need for that ministry in our local assembly. After our commendation, I earned an undergraduate degree in biblical counseling from Trinity Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, in addition to training received at various seminars and conferences. I want to emphasize that our counseling is truly biblical, rather than integrational. Julie has been very helpful in this ministry, especially when counseling women. The counseling ministry that Country Bible Church has provided has been a benefit for our assembly, as well as for men and women from outside the assembly.


Salvation Stories: Tony Celota

As told to Jabe Nicholson.

Anthony, son of Guiseppe Cetola, was born November 24, 1912 in Foggia, Italy, and raised in the hill country south of Rome. As a young man he worked as a shepherd there, but hearing of America, the land of possibilities, he saved his lire until he could afford the least expensive one-way passage to New York. After an arduous journey, Tony settled in New Jersey. Life was hard in his new country. Tony found a bed at the YMCA and a job working the graveyard shift, from 11 to 7.

One morning, as he wearily headed for his bed, someone offered him a small pamphlet. Its title read simply, “The Bread of Life.” Now Tony Cetola had been warned before he left Italy about people like this who wanted to brainwash good Catholics. He didn’t want to take any chances, but he had also been taught to be polite. What should he do?

He took the tract, but when he had a moment of privacy on the bus, he surreptitiously tore the tract into small pieces and slipped it back into his pocket. He would have to wait for a later time to dispose of it. But with his bed waiting, he completely forgot about the torn pieces in his pocket.

One morning some days later, Tony stood waiting for his bus. He was tired and cold. Rain began to fall. He moved to stand under the awning of a nearby bakery. The smell of fresh baked goods wafted to his nostrils. Tony’s stomach reminded him that he was very hungry, but he had no money to spare. To warm his hands he shoved them deep into his pockets.

And felt the gospel tract. He remembered the title: “The Bread of Life,” and couldn’t help a hint of a smile from sitting across his face. He knew God was speaking to him. The rain from heaven had moved him to stand near enough to the bakery to enjoy its smells. The chill wind from heaven had caused him to push his hands into his pocket at that moment. And the message from heaven was waiting, though torn in pieces, there in his grasp.

As soon as Tony arrived at his room, he began to reassemble the tract pieces until he could, although with some difficulty, read the message he now believed was sent from God Himself. On that cold, drizzly New Jersey morning, after a long night of manual labor, Tony Cetola realized his true hunger was in his heart, a hunger for God’s Bread, the Lord Jesus, and salvation through His name.

There in the YMCA, at the age of 22, he heard the words of the Savior as if they were directly to him, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51). He received Him, and his soul was satisfied. He found a group of believers, and for the next 67 years, Tony Cetola quietly and humbly served the One who had redeemed him. It could well be given as his testimony the words of 1 Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

On his deathbed, the one-time shepherd boy from the Southern Apennines looked up at his son. Barely able to speak, he asked if they could sing one of his favorite songs:

I have a Shepherd, One I love so well,
How He has blessed me tongue can never tell,
On the cross he suffered, shed His blood and died,
That I might ever in His love confide.
Following Jesus, ever day by day,
Nothing can harm me when He leads the way;
Darkness or sunshine, whate’er befall,
Jesus, the Shepherd, is my All in All.
Pastures abundant doth His hand provide,
Still waters owing ever at my side,
Goodness and mercy follow on my track,
With such a Shepherd nothing can I lack.
When I would wander from the path astray,
Then He will draw me back into the way;
In the darkest valley I need fear no ill,
For He, my Shepherd, will be with me still.
When labors ended and the journey done,
Then He will lead me safely to my home;
There I shall dwell in rapture sure and sweet,
with all the loved ones gathered round His feet.
(Lyrics by Leonard Weaver)

This article originally appreared in Uplook magazine – as retold by Jabe Nicholson