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2bobcraft2News and Views

We have our fingers on the pulse of modern missions. Mission work is changing rapidly as the world's cultures and global conditions are changing. Ease of travel and communication impact how the Gospel is spread. But at the heart of missions, there is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the obedience of the Church to carry out Jesus' command to go into all the earth.

We want to present challenging biblical truths, insights into today's missions environment, and progress reports on reaching the entire world with the Gospel. Please keep checking our blog regularly for updates, stories and challenging thoughts from Scripture!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

I am blessed to work with incredibly dedicated ministry partners around the world, and the harvest taking place is remarkable. Just recently, I learned about Alina, a woman ministering in rural Russia who faces tremendous persecution. She's shunned from her family, local shamans pressure her to leave, and she even receives threats on her life. Despite so many obstacles, she recently baptized 36 people! Alina remains in the area while many recent converts move due to the pressure.

We praise God for other dedicated partners like Pastora Olive, who at first was nervous to teach Filipino schoolchildren. Yet, after prompting from the Lord, she soon found out one of the reasons she was called. During the first week of teaching, she learned one of her students wanted to commit suicide. That student called her, and Olive talked to her at length. The teenage girl gave her life to Christ. Olive then realized that the Lord had called her there to help save a life!

In rural Cambodia, Brother Sok has established five churches! Sok is a former military member, and finding Christ brought new joy, hope and meaning to his life. He has an active children’s ministry, led his own brother to Christ, and nurtured the growth of two new pastors. His vision is to see every village in his province reached with the Gospel!

I am humbled and deeply thankful that we can partner with these wonderful brothers and sisters. I, too, want to thank you for your partnership, prayers and support. As we all partner together, an enormous harvest is taking place to the glory of our God.

As you gather to celebrate the bountiful harvest of the Lord in your life, I hope you take a moment to remember the great harvest that you are part of around the world!

Blessings to you as you celebrate God’s goodness!

Bob Craft

"I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, prepare a straight pathway for the Lord’s coming!” (John 1:23)

John the Baptist was sent by God to spread the news that the Messiah was coming. In fact, the Lord powerfully revealed to him that Jesus was the foretold Messiah. Jesus Himself said that no prophet is greater than John the Baptist.

Yet, John the Baptist doubted that Jesus was the Messiah while in prison. He heard about the things Jesus was doing, and sent his disciples ask Him: Are you the Messiah we’ve been waiting for, or should we look for someone else?

How is it possible that John the Baptist, who was sent by God to tell people that Jesus was the one they were looking for - the same John who was told by God Himself that Jesus is the one - is now wondering about the authenticity of Jesus?

It seemed that prison clouded his vision. Prisons, whether physical, mental or emotional, are part of life. A prison can restrict and limit our sight, vision, mobility, ability and life.The solution is - keeping Jesus in sight.

We get used to seeing Jesus do great things, but when things don’t go as planned, when things don’t work out as we hoped for, when we don’t see Jesus come to the rescue, or when He delays - we are prone to wonder like John the Baptist did. Whatever our struggles are, sometimes our faith can take a hit and we wonder if Jesus is real. In response to John's question, Jesus reminds them of His numerous miracles, a confirmation that He is the Messiah.

When we lose sight of Jesus, we can feel imprisoned. But when we see Jesus, we are released!

During this Christmas season, we pray that you feel the hope, love, joy and peace that comes only through the one Messiah - Jesus Christ. No matter the prison that may be in your life, know that Jesus is the all powerful Messiah. Jesus did miracles during His time on earth, and He still does them today. We may not understand Jesus at work in our life, but we know that He is always with us.

We also want to thank you for your partnership. As the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed around the world, people are released from the prisons that are hurting their lives. Many are celebrating their first Christmas this year because they now have a personal relationship with the Messiah!

We wish you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas season. As we ponder His miraculous birth, life, and even the resurrection of death, we hope you remember that you were instrumental in sharing about the Messiah with people living in darkness around the world.

On this United Nations International Day of Peace, it is clear to me that we are taking so many things in life for granted – until we lose them, and often only then do we realize their real value to us.

For 69 years Ukrainians lived in peace, taking it for granted until war broke out in the spring of 2014 between pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian government. In the midst of fierce fighting, when people were asked what they wished for, most of them said they wished for peaceful skies over their heads.

Peaceful skies are a great and wonderful thing to enjoy, and it is hard to imagine that there is anything that possibly supersedes this. But yes, there is something. It is peace in your heart. Many Christians from Ukraine reported that, despite the shooting and bombing that was happening around them, they had peace in their hearts. Today the shooting has not stopped completely, but there is a ceasefire agreement that is being kept to some degree.

Just as the Bible says in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe,” the Christians in the warzone in Ukraine trusted God in the midst of war and experienced peace in their hearts. They know Jesus as the Prince of Peace and trust him with their lives. Jesus came to make peace between God and mankind. He is the one who makes peace in the hearts of people possible.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is trying to create a culture of peace among people, but without deep-reaching peace from God in our hearts, peace among people is hard or impossible to achieve. Peace between nations and people starts with peace between men and God. Peace in the hearts of men comes as a result of peace with God.

Many millions of people in hundreds of thousands of villages have not yet heard of this Prince of Peace, Jesus, and they thirst and long to be freed from their fears and to experience peace in their hearts. They wish so much to be able to lie down and sleep in peace, but they don’t know of the God they can trust.

That’s why the Bible says that to bring good news of peace and salvation to people is a great and beautiful thing (Isaiah 52:7). And that’s why Reach A Village is working hard to bring this message of peace to the unreached villages of our world, including war-torn areas like Ukraine.

May the IDP (International Day of Peace) become a DIP (Day of Internal Peace) for many! A true international peace will result from real internal peace. May the peace of God fill our hearts so that we may become agents of peace internationally.

Matthew 24:6 (NLT)
"And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don't panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won't follow immediately."

I was in high school at the height of Vietnam War. I watched the news reports of massive bombings and airstrikes that left deep scars on the face of the earth in the countries of SE Asia. When I turned 18, I was required by law to register for the draft so my name could be placed with tens of thousands of others to face the possibility of being chosen to fight in Vietnam.  It was my generation's war. I felt the responsibility to do something! 

Almost exactly one year before my 18th birthday, my life was totally changed when I attended a youth revival near my home.  I had been a carefree teenager involved with sports, cars and girls. Vietnam was a world away and was none of my immediate concern.

Compassion has truly gone to the dogs. Recently, every national news network broadcast covered the Chicago "Doggy Daycare" drama where 7 dogs were taken in a carjacking.  For 24 hours the focus of news casts and social media was these snatched, lost dogs. There was a great outpouring of compassion about the dogs who might freeze to death in record cold temperatures. Thankfully, the dogs were found, safe and sound, in the abandoned minivan and are back with their anxious owners. Animal lovers everywhere could identify with the tearful reunion of owners and animals.

Jesus told the papable of a lost animal in Luke 15. He knew that this would get the attention of those listening. His audience could easily identify with their inclination to save an endangered animal. But it becomes clear very quickly that Jesus was talking about much more than an animal rescue.

The introduction to His set of parables begins with the words, "Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear Him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." The crowd listening to Jesus that day had a problem with their compassion, or should I say, lack of it.

In fact they had more compassion on a lost sheep than they did on the people around them who desperately needed Christ's love and transforming power.  They even put Jesus down for having anything to do with "tax collectors and sinners." Jesus had come to lay down His life for everyone, including the most unlovable or most inaccessible people on earth. 

It is time for us to take a compassion check up. How much do we care for those people around us, especially people who are not in "our circle" of friends or outside our "comfort zone"? At Reach A Village we are on the greatest rescue mission in history.  We are seeking to reach those people in remote villages and communities in 20 countries who have never yet heard about Jesus.

Jesus' story talks about leaving the 99 sheep to rescue the 1 lost sheep.  In many of the countries where we serve, there is only 1 sheep that is safe in Jesus' fold. There is only 1 sheep that is not lost and we are out attempting to rescue the 99 who are lost. That answers the question, "What would Jesus do?" Luke 19:10 (NLT)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."

Bob Craft

*A special thanks to Katie and her dog, "Duncan" who loves to be near her when she reads the Bible.

 

 

"The heavens declare the glory of God." These words echoed in my mind as we drove up and up the mountain.

In November, my first international trip with Reach A Village took me to new heights, literally. As we climbed several thousand feet in the air, this woman from the Great Plains thought to herself, "We're only a few feet from going over the cliff." I was also told about the real threat of mudslides slipping down the mountain, washing away roads, cars, houses, and even people.

People in this area can even pose a safety risk, as it's considered the 'Wild West' of the Philippines with outlaws, revenge, and people living by their own rules.

As we traveled while visiting public schools, I was struck by the danger the volunteer teachers face and the complete remoteness of these children. Looking at individual houses dotting the side of massive mountains, I thought, "How will these families be reached with the Gospel?"

But God already provided the answer. In 2007, He appeared in a vision to the founder of the program, Ruth, and she pondered that same question in her quiet time. Ruth had no resources, but miracle after miracle, He supplied every need to reach the most isolated people in this country of 100 million.

Now, this thriving program operates in hundreds of public schools reaching 60,000 children for Christ. Kids are learning Bible stories and how to build character with lessons like patience, obedience, and humility. These children are changing, and even their families are being reached. Dozens of churches are starting, just by reaching kids first. Now, many schools are requesting to start the program because of the great impact!

This is a remarkable program. Even though the isolated people in the mountain are easy to forget, God loves them and wants them to come into the Kingdom. I thank God for those declaring the Good News so that Filipino children can learn about their Savior.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good new that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:8-11

Of all the people waiting for the coming of Christ, why did the Lord God first send the angelic messengers to simple shepherds? I have a theory that is based on my experience and the nature of God revealed throughout Scripture.

As a former missionary and founder of Reach A Village, I have felt the call of God to focus on ministry to forgotten people, often in remote areas, who most desperately need the Savior. The Christmas story is full of examples of God's reaching out to those in society who have neither wealth nor fame.

Joseph and Mary, were ordinary people from an obscure village who could hardly afford the journey to Bethlehem. They had to rely on the kindness of a stranger to allow them a place to sleep and for their child to be born. The birth was not amidst the smells of a disinfected hospital or the burning incense of a temple or palace. The birth of Jesus was surrounded by the smell of hay and manure. Not unlike the familiar smells of the areas we serve.

The glorious announcement of Christ's birth came by angel messenger to ordinary people who roamed the Judean countryside to find food for their animals. They are hardworking and rugged people who toil in a thankless occupation. In God's will and plan, they were not forgotten.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support to reach the forgotten people of the world. Though we don't know their names or faces, the Lord does. There is much rejoicing in heaven that the least of these are hearing and responding to the Gospel.

Thank you for helping thousands of people celebrate their first Christmas this year.

Bob Craft

2 Corinthians 4:15 (NLT)   As God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 

This verse expresses exactly what I feel each day as I wake up involved in the ministry of Reach A Village. I am so blessed and so thankful to be part of the process of reaching "more and more people" through equipping, training and mobilizing local "missionaries" into the remaining unreached villages of their areas.

This little girl in the Philippines received her first bible from our ministry last week.  It brought tears to my eyes when she asked for my autograph! She was so proud of that bible and so thankful to us for bringing it to her along with the bible study classes in her school.

I have the joy of reading a constant stream of stories and testimonies of lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. The vast majority of these stories come from people who previously had never heard the Gospel, owned a Bible or had even known a follower of Christ. These new believers now glorify and praise God for His saving Grace that has finally reached their village and their family.

I want to thank those of you who have faithfully prayed for this ministry, read the stories on our website and been an encouragement to us. We want to also thank those of you who have included this ministry in your financial giving. You have helped thousands of people hear the gospel for the first time and provided them the opportunity to study God's word with a believer who speaks their language and knows their needs.

Bob Craft

To help share God's word with special children like these please click here.

 

 

 

Reflecting on Vietnam b

Ramona and I were in Washington D.C. for the 4th of July. While we were there to celebrate, it was an unavoidable time to reflect on the war that changed my own life and the lives of many from our generation. Vietnam was a costly war.  That cost was evident as I stood before a wall etched with the names of more than 58,000 men and women who fought and died in the Vietnam War.

Jesus said, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13 (NLT)

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

biblesmileThere are many in our world who will admire Jesus during the Easter season as they reflect on the stories of His compassionate miracles and His selfless sacrifice. These are attributes to which many in this world would aspire. In fact, I have been to places in our world where people gladly place an image or picture of "Jesus" alongside the other gods they worship. His life and death story is inspirational and certainly warrants attention and respect. But for those who have had a personal spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ there is a far deeper dimension to Him. His story and the words He has spoken in the gospels, become life changing.

In Christ, there is a personal transformation from fear to faith. I work in cultures where people often serve the "gods of nature". These gods demand daily sacrifices and capriciously punish people with illness and misfortune. When people in such environments discover that there is a Creator God who loves them and sent His Son to die for them, they are set free from fear and they place their faith in this loving God. This is an eternal truth that transforms.

For those who put their faith in Christ there is also a transformation from perplexity to peace. Around the world people are perplexed by the problems of broken relationships, addictions, hurtful actions against friends, family and even strangers. These problems are universal, but the solution found in forgiveness through Christ on the cross, is truly cross cultural. Listen to these words of a former prostitute in Myanmar, "Jesus has worked major changes in my life. Since I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, I have received true forgiveness, love, satisfaction, fulfillment, joy and peace. I no longer live in my old habits of fear. Christ is the lover of my soul, my friend; He is my Life and Living water."

For those who have placed their faith in Christ, there is an experience of transformation from fear to faith, from perplexity to peace and from guilt to glory. "We are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory." "Glory" is an interesting word. We rarely use it in ordinary conversation about ordinary people. It is usually reserved for soldiers and athletes, those who perform noble feats or achieve physical excellence. But in Christ, He shares His blessing with us, ordinary people, allowing us to experience a radical transformation of life through His Spirit. The Bible reveals the Word of God and Jesus said, "The words I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life." (John 6:63)

His Word brings transformation.

ERC