Evangelists' Updates

Evangelists' Updates

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Ricky Shanks July 2020 Report

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Report from “Ricky” William Shanks in Gainesville GA
4565 Persian Trail; Gainesville, GA 30507; Phones: 843-569-8729-Home; 843-725-9283-Cell

Website: AnswersFromTheBible.ORG - Dial A Bible Study: 770-835-4000 (Ext. 3 for Spanish.) Gainesville church of Christ (GCOC.org) 2815 Wallace Rd. Gainesville GA 30507 meeting location

July 2020

The Lord of the Harvest is still at work through His powerful word and our enemy is still at work in the world. You might call this report the best of times and the worst of times. Never the less we focus on the best, Phil. 4:8. Our efforts to broadcast God’s seed on social media seems to be more fluff that fruit. From the one hour programs and the short 3-4 minute one question videos, the stats seemed to be fruitful from Facebook. Examples: We have had over 56,000 minutes viewed and over 105K reached. Our most popular was on 7-4- 20 which had over 10k minutes watched of the 3.5 minute video on the subject of “What is Heaven?” It sounds impressive. However I saw almost no responses of people calling in or visits to our website AnswersFromTheBible.ORG. I’m the first to admit the site needs a lot of redo but it is functional and records activity. So with that many eyes on the video programs surely something good is coming from it. Upon closer inspection I discovered the average length of time watched was 20 seconds. Bubble burst moment. I also noticed we were having more tangible traffic from our banners and business cards than all the efforts put on social media. So back to the basics I go. Virus panic will still be challenging to work through but we march on in spite of it.

Now the good news. You may remember the young lady we meet for Bible study several months ago and it fizzled. After us praying intently about her she renewed the study and again it fizzled. Then a young man was connected with her. We had a couple of new studies and they learned what they needed to do and it fizzled again. Well, they showed up on Sunday for Bible study and worship last week. They were anxious to continue studies. We did so on Sat. and they came to worship the next day and home with us for our first potluck since the madness of virus panics. In those fizzles they had made several cycles of repentance leading up to their return to study with us. They had already learned what they needed to do and they pulled me aside and expressed all they had gone through and that they were ready to make their permanent commitment to the Lord. Thus we all

rejoiced with them in their new birth. Cara Ann McGuire and Sergey Barrs were added to Christ 8-2- 2020. Plans are made for them to marry on the 23 of August.

Earlier last week our family with 10 children, had the blessing of adding one of their children to Christ. Joshua Nave was very excited to place Becca into the hands of our Savior. However a few days later he had a disc blow out in his back and is in the hospital as I write this. So we rally the saints to assist as we can till he is back on his feet. The flock is at peace and it seems for the moment momentum grows toward sharing the good news with the lost. There are still some elderly who have not come out of their quarantine. We try to keep in touch and serve as we have opportunity.

Gratitude abounds in our hearts toward the Lord and you to help us in the work here. All glory belongs to Him both now and forever.

Ricky and Janice Shanks




Robert Raif August 2020 Report

Sunday, August 30, 2020

THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]

Dear Brethren,




We pray for all of you each night, praying that you stay safe and well, and that your souls are prospering. I have found that many have become introspective during this pandemic - - especially the prisoners who are locked up tight in their cells except for one hour a day to get out to shower. They are reading more, studying more, and considering how they want their lives to go in the future. This has been good for most of them. They got out of their cells for one week and to work and ate in the mess hall, but the CoVid spread again and they were all locked down again.

As I reported last time, now that they don’t let me come into the Estelle Unit, I started the men on correspondence courses. These are not simple T or F answers, but more complex. I have 4 different courses going and sometimes the corrected answers and explanations on my part requires a page or two. So every morning I’m in my study from about 6 to noon grading and answering these lessons. It is a challenge, and sometimes they build up on the weekend because that time is taken up by my sermon and class preparation. So Monday is usually a busy day of catching up.

Let me tell you about the men who have been paroled. They will call me occasionally. I always try and get them lined up with a good church before they get out. One man was an elder in a church in the Dallas area. He broke the law, spent time in the prison, and is now back with his wife worshiping with the church and working as he used to. Spike is out and worshiping with a church online worship. He is very sick and has cancer, but has been an encouragement to them. John got out and is worshiping with a church in San Antonio. Billy was never converted, but is worshiping with a church in Comanche. He is doing a study with me through the mail.

We sang Sunday in Corrigan, “Was it for CRIMES that I have done, He groaned upon the tree?” Truly, we have all committed crimes against God, but our crimes didn’t break man’s law so we are not in prison. Any man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery already. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. Covetousness is idolatry. Well, Eric has been out for 4 1⁄2 years. He has visited with the leadership of 6 churches over the last 9 months who then said they would not be comfortable with him worshiping there. Amazing! God can forgive but we can’t? He committed the crime almost 20 years ago, and that is when he was totally in the world. Now he is a new creature, and a brother. Finally, last week he met with the elders at Bay City and they assured him and his wife that they were welcome to worship there. We were so glad to hear that news. You see what a challenge these brethren have coming out of prison, and why several brethren go back to the world when churches reject them.

Paul wanted to share with Corinth what had happened with the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord for the poor saints (2 Cor 8:2-3). I mentioned the brethren in Zimbabwe and the Philippines last month, and several responded . That is so good to see. Thousands of dollars have been sent to our brethren overseas who are starving. There are many thousands of good brethren in the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and India. I sent these funds to brethren I know who could be trusted there, and money was delivered to congregations who were in need. They reported back with receipts and I forwarded that to those who gave. Brethren, this virus is not going away any time soon, so I can just say as did the Jerusalem elders to Paul, “remember the poor.”

Yours in Him who saves, Robert Raif

Ricky Shanks August Report

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Report from “Ricky” William Shanks in Gainesville GA
4565 Persian Trail; Gainesville, GA 30507; Phones: 843-569-8729-Home; 843-725-9283-Cell

Website: AnswersFromTheBible.ORG - Dial A Bible Study: 770-835-4000 (Ext. 3 for Spanish.) Gainesville church of Christ (GCOC.org) 2815 Wallace Rd. Gainesville GA 30507 meeting location

August 2020

With freedoms returning to us from problems cause by the China virus, so are blessings coming as well. Last month you saw Sergey and Cara Ann surrender their lives into service of the Lord. Also we rejoice in their marriage to each other this month as well. Their excitement is infectious to the local saints and good things are happening. We weekly meet with them for Bible study in addition to our assemblies and they are eager to share their hope with others. Their hearts are eager to share God’s blessing with others. They are being nurtured and I hope the momentum will continue both with them and their influence with the flock. Their faith deepens on a daily basis. Another study has happened because of their example and a new study begins tomorrow evening.

Tammy also remains eager to grow and is diligently learning God’s way to be a mother and also how to share God’s blessing with family and friends. She desires so deeply to help her estranged parents to seek after God.

We have reason to rejoice again when Del and Valarie opened their home to their neighborhood for Thursday night Bible study which Brownie teaches. Their neighbor (Margaret Hart) came and learned the truth and with more discussion the next day over the phone with Brownie, she was also baptized that night. She came to worship the following Sunday. Hopefully her husband will also seek God’s mercy soon.

We had plans to have booth again at the local festival in October but we heard
the city council would not give them a permit because of the virus danger. May
the Lord of the harvest direct us to good and honest seekers in another way. I found out that the local state college is having 50% students attend in person classes, so will try our free speech effort again soon. The local flock was prepared for our gospel meeting to be this last March but virus shut that down. I will see if we can get the flock to invite lost friends if we have it this fall. This paranoia and fear that has spread across the land has been far more injurious than the virus. If the flock is willing they know how it works now and are a lot more prepared to nurture and build them up. I’ve seen evangelistic efforts come to a standstill in flocks for many years simply by the reason “there is no interested in the area.” Personally in 40 years I have never found that area. Once in middle GA I was told by a “seasoned” preacher not to move to middle GA expecting success in evangelism. One year later the Lord of the harvest had given us over 1200 Bible students on courses (avg. of 100 per month) and more personal Bible studies than several could handle. The Lord also started bringing the increase from sowing so much seed. So even in this fear pandemic the Lord still gives the increase. It all is determined by how much we teach the gospel and so His seed.

Your love and fellowship are deeply appreciated. I pray the Lord is blessing you with growth and increase as we labor together in the work in our mission. To His glory both now and forever,


Joe Hamm June 2020 Report

Saturday, July 18, 2020

~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~

July 12, 2020

My Family Needs Us

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” - 1 Timothy 5:8

These words have been echoing in my mind for a long time. As I mentioned in my past reports, there have been a lot of changes in my family recently. Two of my grandparents passed away last year and my father passed away two months ago. I’m the only child of my aging mother who continues to have many health problems. I’m also the only surviving descendant of my 91 year old grandfather (pictured below).

My family and I have spent the last two weeks visiting them in Alabama. It quickly became apparent to me that my mother and grandfather are no longer able to live on their own and handle their own affairs. I had considered moving them to live with us in Philadelphia, but I no longer think this is practical or beneficial for them. It is very difficult to find handicap accessible housing. The cost of living is expensive. And they would not be happy or feel safe living in such a large city. For this reason, I’ve made the decision to move my family to Alabama to care for them. This decision has been made with much prayer and it has not been an easy one to make. I thought I would continue serving in Philly as long as I was needed, or I was needed more somewhere else. That time has come, but in a surprising and unexpected way. I’m needed back home.

Leaving Philadelphia

Fortunately, through God’s blessing and providence, I believe we will be leaving the church in Philadelphia in good hands. Although the church has experienced some challenges over the past several months due to the COVID pandemic, it continues to be blessed with numerical growth. Several new families have recently moved to the area. David Raif and Kieran Murphy will continue preaching and teaching and the newer men of the congregation will continue to grow in their leadership abilities. It was always my intention to one day “work my way out of a job.” While we had not intended to leave this soon, I’m still confident that the work will continue to flourish.




Preaching in Alabama


The brethren at the church in my hometown of Hamilton, AL has expressed their desire for me to work with them if possible (building pictured below). However, they are not in a position to fully support a preacher, so outside support will be needed. Hamilton, AL is a small but growing city located on the recently completed Interstate 22 connecting Birmingham, AL and Memphis, TN. It is the largest town in the county and also serves as the county seat.  There are very few faithful churches in this area of Alabama. I’m also hopeful for other opportunities to preach and teach as needed3. If you know any churches in Northwest Alabama that could use some help, please let me know.

Your Support Needed

First, I want to thank all of the brethren who have supported my work in Philadelphia. I have been so humbled and thankful to God by your love, concern, and generosity. While we will be moving to a smaller city, I still believe that the Lord has work for me to do in preaching the Gospel. While I cannot fully see God’s plans, I am following Him in faith. For that reason, I’m asking you to continue supporting my work. Some congregations support faithful preachers wherever they are working while others support preachers in specific places. The apostle Paul developed trusted relationships with brethren who supported him wherever he went. My desire is to continue preaching the Gospel and it would be my greatest joy to continue partnering with you in that effort.

Prayer Requests

This move is a big leap of faith for my family and we need your prayers now more than ever. Please pray for the congregation in Philly as we leave. Pray for our family as we begin serving the Lord in new ways and new locations. Pray for us as we look for housing in Alabama. Pray for my wife, five girls, and unborn baby. And most of all, pray that the Lord will open up doors for His Word to be preached to the lost. May God continue to use us for His glory!

Joe Hamm

Joe Hamm
5232 Spruce St. Philadelphia, PA 19139 267-831-4019 [email protected]


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Southern ~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~ Hospitality

Ricky Shanks June 2020 Report

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Report from “Ricky” William Shanks in Gainesville GA
4565 Persian Trail; Gainesville, GA 30507; Phones: 843-569-8729-Home; 843-725-9283-Cell

Website: AnswersFromTheBible.ORG - Dial A Bible Study: 770-835-4000 (Ext. 3 for Spanish.) Gainesville church of Christ (GCOC.org) 2815 Wallace Rd. Gainesville GA 30507 meeting location

June 2020

The work here continues to inch in a positive way. The flock now is meeting for both worship and Bible classes. All are in good health. The most vulnerable have not yet returned but wait on medical news to improve in our area. Georgia numbers are back up because of the riots, so the darkness continues to hover in our state. It is so good to see our brethren in person again. Greg Perkins came with his young people to go door to door and seems to have some wanting to obey the gospel soon. We are gearing up to accommodate a bible class in Spanish if that happens. He found a couple of English language contacts which I am following up on. We pray the Lord of the Harvest will give the increase to those seeking.

This last week we had a lot of visitors as result of splintering congregations of the Lord’s church. As mentioned a couple of years ago in my report, flocks of God’s people have not been immune to the world’s chronic “me isms.” God calls us to serve Him as Lord and King yet too often His people end up being more influenced by the world.

  •   We as His people serve at the pleasure of our King.

  •   As a flock of His people we are to be representatives of His character and His spokesmen.
    Yet as we have witnessed the “me, me” generation’s behavior in the world and how it has infected many brethren. Result, where once was a good fruitful flock in the past with godly elders, over time the behavior results in flock splintering and eventually closing their doors. Where are the humble saints who put God’s cause above all else? We have always been at war with darkness but it is sad to see the carnage created when a so few personalities can create such damage among God’s people. May the “King of Salem” (peace) reign.

    The Facebook (FB) efforts we make have now been changed. Out of 14 programs FB prevented us from going live 3 times. Thus we had to record it and post later. FB continuously changes how it works almost weekly. What works one week would not work the next. Because of the lack of consistent reliability for live broadcast we decided that short 3 minute prerecorded efforts would be more fruitful. They become more consistent with less interruptions and the finished product will focused on one subject at a time and titled with the subject. In addition to that, I noticed the demographics of FB heavily leaned toward older watchers (45 and above). These short videos are also being posted on Instagram (IG) which leans toward a much younger viewership. The first 3 are running already. We are using “googles most asked religious questions” as themes for now. These may not help mature saints much but will hopefully find those who are lost and seeking God’s salvation. IG does not have the statistics tracked like FB but we looking for connections locally that we can help study with in person. I can’t wait till the “fears” of virus will totally subside where we can mobilize our local saints in an evangelistic meetings and meet people in person with festivals, free speech areas in colleges.

    Stats from FB: 44K people reached. 35K minutes (583 hours) viewed from beginning of effort total of which the highest amount was last week. We now have 663 who follow the page. 13K post reached and 9K viewed video this week.

    My goal is that we find local good and honest seekers who will show initiative to ask and knock (Matt 7:7) with reaching out via TEXT or downloads from website above. Pray with us that the Lord of the Harvest will show us those in this area who seek Him. Thank you for your encouragements and we all serve Him to His glory!

    Honored to serve, Ricky Shanks

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