Graham Will Claire Greg Kim Molly Hudson Elliot Bethany
There have been many developments in our family this year and we are excited to share them with you.
Greg & Kim - definite highlight of 2019 was celebrating our 30th anniversary. In the immortal words of someone . . . "It's a Miracle". I'm so thankful Kim has stuck by my side and loved me unconditionally all this time. I am so grateful to God for His goodness.
Kim is still very involved overseeing the the Eastern half of Oklahoma for Classical Conversations. She continues to impact many families and students in this process. And she will soon be releasing a mentoring site from Moms called "thelifegivingwoman.com".
Bethany - now in her 7th year as a Certified Counselor at Childrens and Family Services in Tulsa, Bethany oversees a couple dozen female felons who are part of a very successful two-year program helping them overcome addictions, poor life choices, and criminal behavior.
However, the biggest news is that Bethany is adopting. Born on July 4 this year, little Lennox is a continual joy to our family. And there is a wonderful grace on Bethany who has suddenly become a Mom. We are incredibly proud of her!
Hudson & Molly - after two years of married life in Tulsa, have moved to Brooklyn NYC. Hudson is working for a tech-related company called Greenhouse.io, and Molly is working for a wonderful Manhattan-based church called EveryNation. Our friends Ron & Lynette Lewis pastor this significant church. In addition, Molly has started a successful floral design gig on the side. You can check out some of her creations on Instagram @flowersbyford
Graham - after graduating ORU, Graham has run the customer service department of a local Tulsa start-up called Plank & Mill. Their products are sold around the country and Graham has helped strengthen numerous aspects of their business. However, the big news happens in 2020.
Graham got engaged a couple of days ago (Dec 20) with plans to marry sometime this summer. Then he and the bride will move to Chicago, so she can finish her Masters degree in Counseling at Wheaton. She is an incredible girl (just like Molly) and Kim and I feel so blessed to add her to our family.
Elliot - having transferred in a number of concurrent academic hours accrued during highschool, Elliot has finished his ORU venture a semester early (this December 2019). Though he has finished his undergrad education, ORU doesn't hold their Graduation services until May 2020. Elliot has completed a Theology degree and has already started a full-time job working as a youth pastor at St. Johns Episcopal Church, Tulsa. It's a wonderful church that a number of ORU students and professors have been part of for years.
Elliot has been dating a wonderful girl (who also finished ORU this December)for several years. Her parents are also ORU grads. I'm not giving anything away, but there may be some additional developments in 2020. . .
Will - just finishing his 1st semester at ORU, having majored in Marketing/Business. It only took one semester for Will to decide that wasn't his real passion and is focusing on Graphic Design 2nd semester. Will still serves at Victory Youth, both on the worship team and helping in additional areas. His true interest is music. Graphic Design provides a good ancillary skill to accompany his music passion. Time will tell.
Claire - just turned 16 and got her Drivers license. The world has opened up for her in a new way now. Claire is deeply involved in dance, with dance classes five days a week, plus periodic dance competitions. A Sophomore in homeschool highschool, Claire keeps a very busy schedule between school, dance, and church activities.
Franklin - Who? Not our new grandson, but our new dog. Through a miracle situation and Claire's "dog faith" we now have a wonderful Golden Doodle who has brightened our lives (most of the time) in many ways. Since he is our first full-time "indoor" dog, he has certainly left his mark on our lives on a regular basis.
NYC Muslims - we are now in our 3rd year of targeting Muslims in NYC.
Vision Statement: Global Quest equips and trains ministry and mission leaders from the US and abroad to establish sustainable, indigenous, reproducible, discipleship communities.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Working with Muslims in the USA has some risk of exposure of our intentions. Please DO NOT share the following information publicly or anywhere on social media!
As the work in NYC has progressed significantly this past year, it has become a larger focus in our ministry. At present, we now have one house fellowship which meets weekly, five new MBBs (MBB - Muslim Background Believer), and about 40 committed Muslims whom we are actively discipling on a weekly basis who want to know more about Isa al Masih. A few are cultural Muslims who haven’t been practicing their faith now that they are in America, but most are active Muslims who still think Islam is the way. And in spite of their being convinced Islam is the way, they are hungry to know more about Isa al Masih (Arabic - Jesus the Messiah). I’ve labeled them as InProcess because I believe they will come to Christ in the future.
A Couple of Terms
Isa al Masih - literally means Jesus the Messiah. Term used in the Koran for Jesus.
MBB - a former Muslim who is now a follower of Jesus. Muslim Background Believer (MBB)
A Few Stories
Though there are additional stories I could share of God moving among Muslims, these are Muslims who have come to Christ recently.
RIHANNA & MOHAMMED
After more than two years of outreach to Muslim in NYC, Rihanna from Dubai was our first salvation. She received Christ in late January of this year. She came to the US for her young son to get treated for cancer at the Children’s Hospital. Over a period of multiple weeks, with regular and consistent outreach to her, she prayed to receive Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) as her Savior. It was a difficult decision for her as she had no prior exposure to Jesus other than at the mosque. She has since returned to Dubai, and we are continuing to followup with her regularly.
Her cancer stricken 10 year old son, Mohammed, passed away, but in a moment of clarity before he passed, prayed sincerely to receive Isa al Masih. The matriarch of the family (Rihanna’s mother in law) had accompanied them to the USA and was strongly opposed to their praying to Isa, but they prayed anyway. Heaven will tell the results.
In late March, Simon received Isa. He had heard some of the message of Isa before, but did not understand though he was hungry for God and for God’s help. As a Muslim, he knew Isa was an important prophet, but did not understand Him as God’s way of salvation. He was excited after praying to Isa, but as can be expected, still has a lot of questions since his background and culture is Islam. Fortunately, he is meeting regularly with Rosy H. who is discipling him.
Tisha is from Bangladesh. She was desperate for something in her life due to marriage and family problems. She is stuck here in the USA. She doesn’t have money to return to her home country and her husband is very mean to her. Even if she had the money, she wouldn’t be accepted by her family at home if she left her husband. She feels trapped and could think of only one way out. She had seriously considered suicide multiple times and was actually on her way to drowning herself on the day she received Isa. Rosy H. had reached out to her several times in the past when they would run into each other at a bodega (small convenience store) in Queens.
In late March, on her way to drowning herself, she felt to stop by the bodega. Rosy H. was there and saw she was crying. Rosy H. reached out to her with God’s love, prayed for her, and told her Isa could help her. Later that day, Tisha committed her life to Isa al Masih.
Was she sincere in her commitment? Two weeks later, she made the decision to be baptized. In God’s unique working, instead of drowning and ending her life, she surrendered, went under, and came up a new creature in Christ. She still has a lot of questions, but when a Muslim makes the decision to be baptized as a Christian, it is a REALLY BIG BIG STEP. Baptism is not viewed lightly in the Muslim world. Typically, baptism is the point at which your Muslim family & friends reject you. She still hasn’t told her husband yet, but she is now part of a discipleship group in Queens.
EHUD & RAZYA
Ehud and Ramzeya, husband and wife, are Muslims from Turkey who immigrated to Queens a few years ago. Though they were able to establish a successful pizzeria that provides for them financially, they were both unhappy. Razya, the wife, was very unhappy and felt that her life was disappointing. One rainy night in November 2018, Rosy H. stepped into the pizzeria to wait for a taxi and struck up a conversation with Razya. Each shared about their families, jobs, and life issues. As Rosy H. shared about her faith in Isa al Masih, Razya was very hungry to hear more. Rosy H. told her “let me show you what Isa says” as she downloaded the Bible app onto Razya’s phone and signed her up for a verse a day text. As it received a Bible verse text, Rosy H. said “look, Isa is texting you”. With plans to return the next day, Rosy H. left. Little did she know that Ehud was also listening to the conversation and was intrigued.
Rosy H. returned the next day, and continued returning daily, due to Razya’s hunger. Razya would tell Rosy H. “I got a text from Isa today”. Each time Rosy H. would leave, she would pray out-loud for Isa to bless them and their business. Ehud didn’t seem interested in Isa, but Muslims put great value on Allah “blessing” their business. After a few weeks, Ehud would come sit with Rosy H. and his wife as Rosy H. would share and read Scripture with them. Ehud liked the words of encouragement and how it made him feel. (Just as we Christians like to know that God cares about us, Muslims feel the same way.) Rosy H. found out that Ehud had been diagnosed with cancer five years earlier and was having health issues from it.
After 8 months of frequent visits and the study of specific Bible verses, Ehud and Razya prayed to Isa al Masih and gave their lives to Him. It was an exciting moment for them to make such a big decision for Isa, leaving behind their belief in Islam. When they prayed to Isa, Rosy H. laid her hands on Ehud and had Razya do the same as they prayed for Isa to heal Ehud’s cancer. Razya later said she felt an unusual tingling in her hands as she prayed for Ehud.
In the immediate weeks that followed, Ehud’s new found faith was attacked by circumstances and other fellow Muslims. He was struggling in his faith with the correctness of his decision to follow Isa. It’s very common for MBB’s (Muslim Background Believers) to have lots of doubts, questions, and challenges in their newly made decision to follow Isa. Ehud was deeply struggling with this.
But on July 28, 2019 something miraculous happened. Ehud got a personal call from his cancer doctor whom he had visited two days before and the doctor told him “Ehud you are free from cancer. Praise the Lord.”
I don’t know if Ehud’s doctor is a Christian or not, but all of us were shocked that the doctor would call on a Sunday, tell him he was free from cancer, and then say “Praise the Lord”. As you might guess, this was a tremendous boost to Ehud’s new faith in Isa, and Razya’s knowledge that God had used her when she prayed for Ehud. Isa saves! Isa heals!
Out of Ehud and Razya’s new faith & their hunger for more of Isa, they have opened their home to a weekly Bible study for other Turks and MBBs.
Thoughts for those Muslims "InProcess"
I have stated this in previous years but it is worth stating again:
"Outreach to peoples who are familiar with the Gospel versus outreach to peoples who have had no meaningful exposure to the Gospel is very different."
The baseline at which you begin the evangelism process is significantly lower for those who are new to Christian thought, concepts, and understanding. Additionally, expecting a life-changing decision from someone who is newly exposed to the claims of Christ and has a historical & cultural upbringing in Islam is a slower process. Typically, it is a multi-year process for a committed Muslim to come to Christ, and they frequently increase their commitment to Islam in that process before finally accepting the claims of Christ.
As in previous years, most of our InProcess Muslims are at the stage where they have increased their commitment to Islam, yet they are still interested in learning more about Isa.
House Church Model
Local workers from partnered churches and interns coordinate the discipleship process as we train the new MBBs (Muslim Background Believers) to reach others within their community, finally resulting in a Muslim church plant. Unlike most church plants in the USA, this Muslim church plant is designed to stay monocultural. In other words, it should never look like a typical American church.
It needs to stay “culturally Muslim” so that it can effectively reach other Muslims and reach into their communities in their home countries. Most of the targeted Muslims we are reaching maintain a high degree of connectedness with their extended family, friends, and associates in their Muslim country of origin.
Note: Finding a church home for MBBs is difficult. Typically, due to long-term tensions in their home countries between Muslims and Christians, congregations of their same ethnicity that are historically Christian are not particularly welcoming of these new former Muslims, now Christians in NYC.
Most MBBs feel most comfortable with other MBBs due to similar cultural backgrounds, challenges, and common “new believer” transition issues that historic Christians from their own country don’t relate to or understand.
Example: many historic Christian believers living in Muslim countries hold the eating of pork as proof you are no longer Muslim, yet many former Muslims who are now believers still don’t eat pork due to their cultural upbringing. They don’t eat pork for cultural reasons, not religious reasons, but their fellow historic Christian brothers tell them they are not really saved since they don’t eat pork!
I realize it is doesn’t seem significant, but we feel we are exploding in Queens.
For 2 1/2 years no conversions or significant break-throughs, then 5 salvations in the first 7 months of 2019, 1 class of English as Second Language (ESL) with 20+ Muslim women, 40 Muslims who are InProcess to know Isa al Masih, 1 newly planted house church, and 1 trained Full-Time evangelist worker in NYC!
NOTE: Please do not publicly share the names or any information that might put our work at risk due the sensitive nature of working with Muslims in NYC.
FINAL NOTE: We are so grateful for those who have partnered with us financially in our work overseas and in NYC. If you would like to sow a financial gift towards this work, you can give online at this GIVING LINK.