January 2016 Open Letter to My Faithful Contributors

DTTFL

I thank God I am still writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Dear Friends,

I want to thank everyone who has been contributing and/or praying for my ministry. It has been a wonderful year! I have kept all my old friends and Bible study students in the Tampa area, while making new friends and contacts in Plant City and beyond. I am enjoying the best of both worlds! Here is just a little of what’s been going on.

In Plant City: We recently did a mass mailing which brought in way more Bible study requests than I was imagining! This brought me to the door of an elderly lady who invited me in. I studied the plan of salvation with her. She asked what church I belonged to. I told her, “Seventh-day Adventist.” She told me her doctor years ago in Tampa was a Seventh-day Adventist. Dr. Guest. She told me how wonderful he was to her, even delivering medications personally to her home when she could not get out. Since he was such a wonderful SDA Christian she decided I should all right to study with too. I thought how cool that Dr. Guest helped me clinch a Bible study while resting in his grave. I hope to live such a life. I took Dr. Guest’s daughter with me on my next study and she was very glad to meet her! She told us she was looking for a church family. I invited her to our Christmas program at the Plant City SDA church, and she has been coming pretty regularly ever since. Last week she accepted the Sabbath!

Destiny is a young lady who attends the Emanuel SDA church across town in Plant City. She recently attended a Bible Worker school in Boston. She is on fire for the Lord, and has been enthusiastically helping me with all the leads we have. We have been working together on Wednesdays and Sabbaths both learning from each other and enjoying our teamwork. Destiny has lived in Plant City all her life, and is helping me find my way around, and she knows a lot of the people who sent in the Bible study request cards. She is a Godsend.

Our Acts 29, Wednesday night youth study continues to attract people from the community. Now, we have been invited to team up with the Spanish SDA Church, meeting in their church as well, to grow our group even more.

In Tampa: Last Sabbath I baptized two people at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Frank Certificate

During the holidays, Pastor Brad Cassell asked me to call Frank, who had completed the Amazing Facts Bible Study course. Frank joined my New Believer’s Sabbath School class and fit right in. This was the first time he was ever baptized and he is very excited about being a member at Tampa First.

Janea Baptism

Janea is the granddaughter of Larry and Janice Green, who were members of my class, and I have already studied with and baptized one of their granddaughters. Janea recently moved to Tampa in search of a new life with Jesus! Its been a pleasure and honor working with Larry and Janice’s family.  Earlier in October I had the pleasure of baptizing Dekontee after our Bible studies, just like her sisters years before.

Tampa Adventist Academy: Every year I teach the 5th and 6th grade how to chain reference their Bibles to give Bible studies and get decisions for Jesus. This year I gave them a new assignment. They provided videos of them giving an actual Bible study to a friend or family member. The videos were sensational.

Naomi

After one class, where we chain referenced the Plan of Salvation, Naomi was giving the presentation to her family for family worship before I even gave the assignment to share the studies with others!

Earlier in the year I held my annual baptism class at TAA, which led to four baptisms last fall.

Beyond Tampa Bay: Last October I celebrated my 50th birthday by going to Hugo, Oklahoma where I preached at the Hugo Seventh-day Adventist Church, and used Sabbath School time for a how to give Bible studies workshop. I also spoke that evening at their fall festival. I am available this year for more engagements so I would love to hear from you.

Again I want to thank everyone for keeping my dream alive to be sharing Jesus each and every day. The Plant City SDA Church is currently putting together a new website and hope to make online giving easier. In the meantime I appreciate your systematic contributions to the Plant City SDA Church, PO Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Thank you for marking it for the “Bible Worker Fund.” Thank you for your contributions and for also sharing this opportunity with your friends and asking them to give and/or pray for this ministry. God bless you and happy 2016!

Your Christian Servant,

William

PS Please follow me on Facebook or my blog inlightofthecross.com to see even more exciting things God is doing in Plant City, Tampa and beyond!

Garments of Grace; A Brand Plucked From The Fire

I am writing today from beautiful Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

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On my current vacation to my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a couple of things made me think of this week’s SS lesson  memory verse. “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (Zechariah 3:4

When I fly I love to have the window seat. I have flown a hundred times, and each time we taxi down the runway and takeoff, while other seasoned passengers read their magazines or lull off to sleep, I am looking out the window thinking “man this is cool!” I never cease to be amazed by the wonders of aviation. Each flight is as exciting to me as my very first one. I love looking down from above and recognizing places and streets on the ground. Sometimes though when we are coming into a city to land, even a city I am very familiar with, it takes a while for me to recognize the highways and streets, especially if I don’t know which direction we are entering the city from.  I do remember my first flight over Chicago, I saw Wrigley Field, and was so moved by the historical masterpiece that when I got home, I planned a road trip with my friend Tom, to go back and see it. So I don’t think the lady really understood what a sacrifice she was asking me to make, when she asked  if her little boy could have my window seat. I boarded the American Airlines jet in DFW to make the final leg of my journey to Tulsa. I headed to seat 30F. A window seat I had reserved months in advance. When I got to my seat, the young mother in the isle seat, asked if her little boy, about 5 could have the window seat. I complied. After all, I have flown a hundred times before, but I was looking forward to seeing my favorite city of Dallas from the sky again. Who can say “no” to a cute little kid? So the mother moved over a seat, letting her son take the window seat, and I took the isle seat.

Not long after take- off, the little boy closes the window and falls asleep! I started to ask the mother if we could change seats since the boy was not looking out the window any way. I did not. I just sat there and thought, how could the mother ask me to give up something the boy did not even really appreciate or was not using. She obviously did not appreciate my sacrifice. Then I thought of all the sacrifices God has made for me. Do I appreciate them all? Do I use all the gifts God has given me? God has given me some wonderful experiences that should strengthen my faith, but do I sometimes doubt? Then I am just casting those experiences aside, like the boy seemed to be casting my window seat aside. God has promised me strength in time of temptation. Do I sometimes cast those promises aside for the sake of sin? God has given His life for millions to be saved, but will they accept and appreciate that sacrifice? This made my little sacrifice seem so tiny. After all, I would not have seen anything I had not seen before.

 

Soon we landed in Tulsa. I walked outside of the Tulsa International airport, into the city of Tulsa, and suddenly it was like I had never been gone. I have always found that amazing. I have not lived in my hometown for about 18 years now. I visit about once a year. This last time, though it has been more like a year and a half. Still, when I get back home everything is familiar again. It is like I have never been gone. My favorite restaurant, Chimis, is right there at 15th and Peoria where it has always been. My school has changed since I attended 27 years ago but the neighborhood looks the same. So does my old church, though the sanctuary has been remodeled over the last 45 years, and there are a few new smiling faces. Still, its home. It is familiar, and no matter how far I have travelled, and no matter how long I have been gone, the moment I get back, and see my family and friends, it is like I never left. I wonder, when I sin, and ask Jesus’ forgiveness, and He wipes away my sin, and gives me that robe of righteousness that He sacrificed so much to give me, does He look at me as if I had never sinned? Even after I have wandered away so far and for so long, when He welcomes me home, is it as though I had never been gone? Yes. I think so!