January, February, March 2001 Newsletter

A Brief Journal


So, this is the January-March issue and you received yours in March! Sounds like the Post Office is really slow, eh? Well, without letting them off the hook, I must confess that the major cause of lateness boils down to me. The dates on the top of this page are for keeping track, not for indicating when you receive this. This remains an "occasional" and still free publication. Enjoy.


Because of the events reported on TV and newspapers, our tour to Israel in December, 2000 dropped from 105 registered to 44. That one bus experienced our best tour. The violence reported does not occur in tourist areas and we virtually owned the country. Our tour this year will leave either the Sunday or Monday after Thanksgiving returning about December 7. If you are interested, call us at 1-888-321-0077 or monitor our Web site for the latest news and application forms.

The Jesus Style

By the time you receive this, we will have in hand the 43rd printing of The Jesus Style. It is now in 31 languages. Unbelievable stories come from some of those languages.

For example: One of the languages is Hindi, the largest native language of India. Gospel for Asia, the group responsible for its translation and distribution there sent a team of workers into the state of Bihar, known as the graveyard of missionaries because of the lack of success there. As they preached on the street of one village, the leader of the village came out with his guards, beat them up, burned their literature and sent them away.

A few weeks later, the workers strongly felt that they should return to the village. When they arrived, the people ushered them straight to the village leader who treated them like kings. Perplexed, the GFA workers asked why they were treated so well. The village leader replied, "When you were here before, I beat you up and burned your literature, all of it except one book. I decided to read it and see what you are all about. If your God is like that book, I want to know him."

The book unburned was The Jesus Style. Since this, a church has been established in that village with the village leader being the first convert.

A Bible college here in the USA ran a survey of its professors to find out which book other than the Bible had most influenced their lives. The Jesus Style was mentioned so frequently that they have added a large number to their bookstore.

At a conference of 1200 GFA workers in Northeastern India, one worker told me that he was doing the translation of The Jesus Style into his language and that when he finished it would be only the second Christian book in his language; the first one being The New Testament.

Years ago, a Church of Christ leader and author wrote me and stated that The Jesus Style was the most undenominational book he had ever read.

One brother, just last weekend, informed me after a church service that The Jesus Style and The Father Style had transformed his life while he was in prison. If you haven't read it yet, or given it to someone you care about, you can order it at 1-888-321-0077.

Some dear friends write items I wish to share with you and often can't because of their length. Here are two I can include for your use:

Say Uncle

by Gordy McDonald

His real name was Bruce but somehow the only name I can ever remember calling him since the day he first arrived at our house was Booey. For the next several years, Booey and I were inseparable buddies. Together, we did all the things that little boys do-climbed trees, played baseball, army, and "kick the can."

No matter what the game, we always seemed to wrap things up with a good old-fashioned wrestling match to see who was the strongest. Being somewhat even in size, about half the time I recall being the victor while the other half found Booey wearing the winner's crown. The important point, however, is the way in which the winner was always decided. The defeatged party had to concede his loss by saying "Uncle!"

Now, "Uncle" is simply the gentleman's way of allowing your opponent to ask for mercy without actually having to say, "Mercy!" Even at such an early age, that word seems to stick in our throats. I suspect it is because we hate to admit to ourselves, and certainly to anyone else that we might be helpless. We much prefer the idea that we are strong, in control and still on top.

When it comes to ministry, however, Paul is clear about what we need if we ever hope to be successful in God's eyes when it comes to doing His work: "Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart." (2 Cor. 4:1)

Without His initiating and sustaining mercy, the very best we could hope for would be to eventually lose heart. The worst case would be to end up like the Laodiceans in Rev. 3:17: "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

When it comes to God, may it never be said that in our pride we cried, "Uncle" when what we really needed to cry out for was "Mercy." The Scripture declares that God's "mercies are new every morning." I suspect that is exactly how often we need them. So, today I will ask God for what I most desperately need, His mercy.

Gordy McDonald is director of the YWAM base in Lakeview, MT.



Having Fun Loving God

by John and Sylvia Ronsvalle

"I am so glad that we're not saved by works!"

Our good friend and coworker was laughing amidst her frustration when she said this. And we laughed when we heard her say it.

She was having one of those days like we all have. It almost gets to the point that you feel like things would go better if you went into a room, closed the door, and just got out of the way.

But we are always telling people to do more for people in need, both locally and around the world. Is there some contradiction here? Well, stay with us on this one, because we've been giving it some thought.

We decided that the best place to go to explore the issue, in addition to the Bible would be a couple of folks who dug into that topic. So we reviewed the writings of Martin Luther and John Calvin. You won't be surprised to learn that they concluded that we are saved by grace.

But what hasn't been widely reported is that they both wrote about the value of works as a follow-up action. They both use the image of a tree in their writings: You can tell if the tree is healthy by the fruit it bears.

You also won't be surprised that both of these gentlemen were what might politely be called "plain spoken." Luther says that God "is not deceived by hypocrisy" but works are necessary for people to know "where faith is and where it is not."

Calvin talks about hypocrisy in the church I terms of those who while they "pretend to kiss the feet of God, proudly spit in his face."

We looked into what might be God's system for the church. A lot of verses could be quoted, but just a couple do very well. Jesus describes God's system in Mark 12:29-31. God's system for the church is -to love God. We are saved by grace to love God.

And how does God want to be loved?

Does God need after-shave lotion? Or mittens for Christmas? (Or, as our nephew stated seriously when he was three, would Baby Jesus really rather have had a red fire truck than gold, frankincense and myrrh?)

God, the Creator of the universe, can pretty much make anything God wants. What God wants from us is something that won't be manufactured: God wants us to love God.

So what does that mean? Jesus goes on to give us the complete picture. The first thing is to love God. "The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

We care for people in need not because it is the right thing to do. We care for people in need because we love God. And God says that, in order to act on our love for God, we should extend ourselves to love other people.

This idea has some interesting implications. For example, we don't pursue justice out of some abstract commitment to an idea. We don't tell people the Good News because we have to. Justice and evangelism result because the church is being faithful to its calling to love God.

Because we love God, we use everything we've got to love others by using a very practical standard-we should love others in the same way we love ourselves.

Those in need, whether physically or spiritually, would have all our creativity and great resources to help them if we follow this approach to any great degree. Going further, there is a disturbing question that arises. If people are hurting, to what degree are their problems due to how much-or how little-we love God? Hmmmm.

Moving right along…The whole arrangement turns out to be a pretty simple system. We can't be "good enough." We are saved by grace. Then in response we love God. And we show God our love by loving others.

John and Sylvia Ronsvalle direct a ministry of sharing in Urbana, IL called Empty Tomb.

Just for the Fun of It

Since the earlier article by Gordy McDonald featured wrestling, this picture seems appropriate. Perhaps you have faced such impossible tasks in your life; however, with this kid's bravery and determination, time is on his side. I do recall one of my professors from waaay back, as we considered a very deep problem that faced our society and how we could attack it, tell the following story:

A billy-goat had become the best "butter" in the barnyard. No thing or animal dared challenge him anymore. This went to the billy-goat's head (pardon the pun) and he began to seek higher challenges.

Only one thing seemed to ignore his mastery. A freight train emerged from a tunnel and rumbled past the barnyard every day without so much as a whistle. Feeling the strength of his barnyard mastery, the goat positioned himself on the railroad track at the opening of the tunnel determined as he waited to show the train a thing or two.

The moral? You admire his courage but question his judgment.

The common element in the picture and the story is the belief in self-strength and in personal mastery. Both are vanity.

Doesn't David come to mind as he faced Goliath? In his own strength, he couldn't even wear Saul's armor; however, since David came in the "Name of the Lord," just a simple slingshot accomplished the impossible.

If you feel like you are facing such impossible odds, perhaps the slingshot of prayer and faith will set you on an adventure worth writing about.

May your days be blessed!

— Gayle Erwin


My grandmother was diagnosed with brain cancer and given only a couple of months with us on earth. She hasn't been able to attend church which she loves so much, so your video tapes have brought church to her.

It is so good to hear her laugh again. After she has gone to be with Jesus, memories of her laughter will be with my family.

Gail Brassfield
Buckeye, AZ

I used your lists on "The Nature of Jesus, The Nature of the Father, The Fruit of the Spirit, The Anointing," and "The Prophecies of Jesus on the Holy Spirit" in our study of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. What a blessing! Those attending were encouraged to, as you put it, "dig where the treasure is buried."

Some even made the connection that the full armor of God mentioned in the sixth chapter is the very nature of The Father and Spirit. As a result of the dig, we came up with another list. Check it out:

Good News/The Gospel of Peace
The Word of God

Conclusion: To put on the full armor of God is equal to putting on Christ.

Keep plucking that one string on your guitar. It has sent vibrations all the way to a little chapel in Plainfield, Wisconsin. We're not the ends of the earth, but you can see it from here.

Wil Waters
Plainfield, W