September 2013

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Newsletters | 0 comments

Dear Family and Friends,

Another sign that I’m getting older:  I remember when the pastor would say, “Turn in your Bibles to …”, hearing the sound of pages rustling.  Now, more often than not, I see cell phones light up.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  People today have more options for accessing and reading the Bible than ever before — and that’s a good thing!  While I’m still “old school” in preferring the page-turning option, the American Bible Society found in a recent survey that 41 percent of Americans read Scripture on the internet.  Twenty-nine percent say they look up Bible verses on their cell phones, and 17 percent say they use their Kindle or iPad.

Yet despite the ease and convenience of such instant access to the Word of God in this age of amazingly “smart” and affordable technology, pollster George Gallup describes the United States as “a nation of biblical illiterates.”  Time magazine concurs:  “Only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel.  Most can’t name the Bible’s first book.  The trend extends even to Evangelicals.”

If the current generation of adults constitutes “a nation of biblical illiterates,” that does not bode very well for the next generation.  The Israelites were instructed to “hear” the commandments of the LORD, “impress them” on their children, “talk about them” throughout the day as they went about their activities.  The principles of God’s Word were to be such an integral, ever-present part of their lives that they were told to “bind them as symbols” to their bodies and “write them” on their houses and gates (Deut. 6:4-9).  Under the New Covenant, this mandate to pass on a legacy of biblical literacy to the next generation is no less essential, as parents are to “bring up” their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).  Many parents do this very thing, faithfully and lovingly teaching their children the things of God and, in so doing, providing them with a firm foundation upon which to build their lives (Matt. 7:24-25).

But what about the boys and girls who are growing up malnourished, spiritually-speaking?  Statistics indicate that 92% of public school students in the U.S. receive no Bible instruction at all, and half of these have never heard an adult personally read a single verse of Scripture to them.  Released Time helps fill that void. Last week I had the opportunity to visit the tiny community of Kildare, OK, just north of Ponca City, where Released Time has been going strong for more than 15 years.  Seventeen boys and girls from grades 1-6 made the two-block walk from school to Kildare Baptist Church and were taught a wonderful lesson on the Bible by Ann Gardner.  Using lively songs and colorful visuals, Ann showed her students how the Bible is like a light and a map (revealing truth and directing our way, Ps. 119:105), a letter (telling us how much God loves us, John 3:16), milk (our “spiritual food” that enables us to grow and be healthy, 1 Pet. 2:2), a mirror (revealing our sin, James 1:23-25) and soap (enabling us to live holy lives, Ps. 119:9).  Most of the students present have been attending Released Time for a while, and most have made a public profession of Christ as their personal Savior through Released Time.  Harold Ball, our area coordinator there, told me that the church has nearly closed itsdoors in the past due to small numbers, but the congregation has voted repeatedly to continue to stay together mainly because of Released Time and its positive impact in the community.  Many families have been reached with the gospel over the years as a direct result of this vital outreach ministry of the church, for which we give praise and thanks to our great God!

In Hodgen, OK, Laura Krupa reports that all 104 students enrolled in Released Time attended class this month!  Her husband, Ron, teaches the class and started off the new school year with a lesson on heaven and hell.  “We were so impressed by how much the students already knew,” Laura said.  “We had some great discussion and were blessed to pray with a boy named Daniel for salvation.  God is good!  What a blessing it is to share the Word with these little ones.  We feel such an urgency this year and are so glad to be able to minister in this way.”

Brenda and I had a wonderful time in Spring City, TN, over Labor Day weekend attending the annual CBM National Conference.  There were several helpful workshops on starting and promoting Released Time classes in addition to the great worship and fellowship with fellow CBMers.  During the conference the National Board and Cabinet voted to call Lincoln Simmons as our new National Director.  Lincoln and his wife Jamie have been on staff at Camp Gilead in Florida for several years and will move to Townsend, TN, around the first of the year to assume their new duties.  They bring a wealth of experience, giftedness and energy to their new role, and we’re looking forward to working with them as they help us in maintaining and expanding the work here in Oklahoma.

Please join with us in praying for God’s leading regarding a possible association with Camp Joy in Guthrie, OK.  Camp Joy, which has been in existence for about 50 years, originally began as a ministry of the American Sunday School Union.  The camp’s directors, Dan and Kay Curtis, both went to be with the Lord recently after many years of faithful service, Dan in 2011 and Kay this past July.  We have contacted the board to inquire about a meeting to determine if we might be able to partner with them in some way as they plan for the future.  We are excited about the possibility that this could afford us in reaching more boys and girls with the gospel!

It seems the poor economy has affected everyone to some degree, and our ministry is no exception.  Giving to our general operating fund as well as my personal support is down about 20% over the past year.  I know that many of you give faithfully and sacrificially as you’re able to do so, and even when it’s not particularly easy or convenient to do so.  Know that we are deeply grateful for your past, present and, hopefully, future support!  I’d like to appeal to those of you who aren’t currently giving, or who may not have given in a while, to pray about how God might desire to use you to help us continue our work of reaching boys and girls for Christ, both here at home as well as in Kenya.  Your gift of $50 or even $20 a month would enable us to meet current ministry expenses as well as help provide for needed improvements to our mission home in Del City where one of our part-time volunteers is currently living.  Thank you so much for praying and giving as the Lord directs and provides.

                                                                             To the Praise of His Glory,         Scott

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