Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Son...a Missionary to Africa?

"Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people."
(Acts 5:25)

On Wednesday night of our missions conference, our keynote speaker, Dr. David Pittman, shared a heart-wrenching story of how his son Jeremy was mugged and beaten by a group of thugs while serving on the mission field of Africa.  He was bloody, bones were broken, and he couldn't even speak a coherent sentence to his mother on his cell phone because he was so badly injured.  Someone picked him up off the side of the road and, eventually, he made it to the nearest African hospital, several grueling hours away.  Dr. Pittman told how he was "stitched up" with (literally) shoe laces, and then sent back to America for further treatment and recovery.

For several long months, Jeremy and his family were off the field, as he prayed and waited to regain his health and strength once again.

The point of his illustration was not to warn people how dangerous the mission field can be, nor was it to seek sympathy for his son and other missionaries suffering "the hard life."  The point of the illustration became clear when Dr. Pittman shared the words that his son spoke once he was fully recovered:

"Dad, it's time to go back."

The day after Dr. Pittman shared that illustration, I was reading through Acts 5.  There I read how the apostles, much like Jeremy Pittman, courageously went back to preaching the gospel even after they encountered opposition and persecution.  They had been thrown into prison for preaching the gospel, the Lord then sent His angel to miraculously deliver them, and the next thing you know, they are right back in the Temple preaching Christ!  What tenacity!  What courage!  What faith!  What role models to us...and to our young, impressionable children!

Well, Thursday night (late Thursday night) I told my little son, Tommy, that I would tell him a story before he went to bed.  So I told him the story of the missionary named Jeremy, who went to Africa to tell people about Jesus.  I explained that some bad men came and were "hitting him" and "hurting him," and that he had to come back home to his parents so he could get better.  But then I told him, that when Jeremy was all better, he decided to go back to Africa, so that he could continue telling people over there about Jesus, including the bad people that hurt him.

When I was done telling the story, my soon-to-be three-year-old, with childlike innocence and sincerity,  not fully understanding "the cost" that so many missionaries have suffered, said these words:

"Dada, when I'm a 'dult, I be a missionary and tell people about Jesus!"

[Tears in my eyes right now, as I write.]

I don't know if God will call my son Tommy to be a missionary.  But if He does, I will be so honored!

I don't know if my son will have the faith and courage to follow God's calling on his life.  But if he does, I will be so proud!

I don't know if my son, my wife, or I will have to suffer great persecution for Christ.  But if we do, I pray God will use it to bring glory to Himself and salvation to many multitudes!


Thank you, Jeremy, for loving God and loving people enough to go back to Africa.

Thank you, Dr. Pittman, for loving God and loving people enough to encourage and send your son to the mission field...and then back again!

Thank you, mom and dad, for always praying for me, modeling for me, and encouraging me to trust God, obey God, and follow God's calling, regardless of "the cost."

Thank You, Lord, for using me in a small way to accomplish the mission of reaching lost souls for Christ.  

Would You please use my son like You're using Dr. Pittman's son, Jeremy?

Would You please use my son like You used Your own Son, Jesus?

"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry."
(I Timothy 1:12)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Time Flies When... 10 Years at Greater RI Baptist Temple

"Thou hast given him his heart's desire,
and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah"
(Psalm 21:2)

Today is Tuesday, October 15, 2013.  It was exactly 10 year ago today that Christy and I began serving at Greater RI Baptist Temple.

It's marvelous to look back and see how God has led us, taught us, grown us, and blessed us over this past decade.  So many changes, so many experiences, so many memories!

My, how time flies!

1. Time flies're busy for the Lord.

It's hard to answer the question that is all-too-often asked of me, "What exactly do you do?"

"Well," I have often replied, "I oversee the youth and music ministries of our church."

Then I begin to think through all that I did that day, most of which had very little to do with youth or music.

If not youth and music, then what?  Was it Angry Birds or Words With Friends?  [Proudly, an assuring "No!" can be inserted here.]

Planning activities, phone calls, answering emails, discipling new converts, studying for sermons, counseling troubled teens (or, more often, their parents), putting up the sign on Greenville Avenue, setting up cones in the ball field for a made-up teen activity later that day, reading books on theology and practical ministry, trying to figure out which comes first, faith or repentance, witnessing to a group of young men on the basketball court, pulling weeds by the flagpoles out front, praying, planning upcoming activities and sermon series, playing Wallyball, paintball, or kickball, making an emergency run to BJ's for big bags of candy, and so on...

What do I do, you ask?  I'm not really sure; but what I am sure of, is that over the past 10 years, my life has been busy, to say the least!  And thankfully so!

What a blessing to give your time to people!  Life is all about God first, and family second...but then comes people.  And I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity over the past ten years to give my life to ministering to people.

Christy and I lead busy lives--but that's on purpose!  We wouldn't have it any other way.

2. Time flies're seeing fruit in your ministry.

If only we could count up the number of teenagers who have been saved through our ministry, both in and out of the pulpit...

If only we could know how many times a choir anthem touched the heart of a downcast saint...

If only we could see the rippling effect that one piece of Biblical counsel had on a particular family...

Well, we can't see and know all that God has done through us as His instruments.  But we can read (and re-read) the notes of gratitude we've received.  We can see teenagers who are now living for the Lord as young adults.  We can hear spoken words of thanks from time to time.  And thus we can know that God is changing and salvaging lives through feeble, overrated, "earthen vessels".

And to think that God uses us--we who are mere worms--it makes the fruit of our labor seem so incomparably sweet!

We are grateful to be used of the Lord.  We are nothing.  We have nothing.  We contribute nothing, except a desire and willingness to be used by the Potter.  Despite our many failures, our lack of faithfulness to God and man, our inconsistencies and human frailties...God still blesses those who heart seeks after Him.  And that makes 10 years of ministry seem like a blink of an eye!

3. Time flies're part of a wonderful church family.

We love Greater RI Baptist Temple.  We love the building, the location, the philosophy and demeanor of its spirit...but most of all, we love the people.

We have been treated with kindness, generosity, and love...from Day One!  And to Pastor Crichton, Pastor Amsbaugh, and our entire church family, we say thank you for embracing us, helping us, loving us, giving to us, befriending us, and praying for us!

I'm not sure if our church loves us because we love them, or if we love them because they love us--probably the latter.  But in either case, we are blessed to be a part of Greater RI Baptist Temple.

4. Time flies're [finally] a parent.

The greatest blessing God has ever bestowed upon us happened on January 2, 2011.  ["Oh," one might ask, "Was it some special gift for your birthday?"  Well, it was a special gift, and we did receive it on my birthday, and it certainly did have something to do with someone's birthday...but this special blessing had nothing really to do with my birthday.

Thomas William Krampert, III was born on my birthday, nearly 3 years ago.  While we gave him my name, God gave him my complexion (red hair and blue eyes) and my birthday, marking His Personal signet on Tommy's life.

"But didn't you have to wait for many years before you could ever have a child?"

Yes, we prayed, wept, and tried to have a child for 7 years.  We went from expectant, to assuming, to hopeful, to prayerful, to doubtful, to despair--and just then, at the eleventh hour, in His perfect time, God stepped in!

"Was it worth the wait?"

What wait?

"...but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." (John 16:21)

The "unspeakable gift" of II Corinthians 9:15 is none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for whom we are "unspeakably" thankful.

But, with similar sentiment, words cannot adequately express the depth of gratitude we have towards our Heavenly Father for hearing our prayers and giving us, upon our asking, not a stone or a serpent, but the "good gift" of our son, Tommy.

5. Time flies're loving what you do!

As a boy, I always dreamed of being a professional baseball player.  I wanted to play for the New York Mets. (Of course, looking back, I can't, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to play for the Mets, but that's a separate subject!)

I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing something that I loved!

Well, 10 years later, I can honestly say that God has allowed me to do what I love.

I love the ministry.
I love studying the Word.
I love preaching and teaching.
I love listening and counseling.
I love making a difference.

Closing thoughts:

King David said in Psalm 21:2, referring to the Lord's bountiful blessings upon his life,

"Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah."




"Thank You, Lord, for giving me my heart's desire, and for not withholding the request of my lips."

They say, "Time flies when you're having fun."  Well, they're right!

God is faithful.  His way is perfect.  He knows best.

Have there been difficulties, afflictions, sufferings, and trials over the past 10 years?  Of course.

But, strangely, I don't seem to remember them all that well.  

Time has gone by so fast.  But in this whirlwind of life, I'm so glad that God has, by the hand, led me all the way.

    Some day life's journey will be o'er.
    And I shall reach that distant shore;
    I'll sing while ent'ring heaven's door,
    "Jesus led me all the way."

    If God should let me there review
    The winding paths of earth I knew,
    It would be proven clear and true -
    "Jesus led me all the way."

    And hither to my Lord hath led,
    Today He guides each step I tread;
    And soon in heav'n it will be said,
    "Jesus led me all the way."
    Jesus led me all the way,
    Led me step by step each day;
    I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,
    "Jesus led me all the way."