Evangelists' Updates

Evangelists' Updates

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Robert Raif November 2020 Report

Tuesday, December 08, 2020


Dear Brethren,




It is with sadness that I tell you of the deaths of two brethren who were converted at the Estelle Unit. Spike (Kenneth Bourland) had been released a few years ago. He was 77 and had a brain tumor and he died in October. I got to talk to him and his wife on the phone in his last days, and all he could say is how thankful he was that he got to know the Lord in prison before they released him. He attended a faithful church when he could. John Martinez was out about 6 months and was worshipping with a faithful church. He lived with his family and was trying to teach them and others. He was hit by a car when he was walking home one day. He would call me once a week and "check-in." I was proud of both of these men for the changes they had made, and I am happy they died in the Lord.

Volunteers are still not allowed to enter the prisons. I am busy every day grading the lessons the prisoners send to me, explaining what they missed and why, sending new lessons, and writing to each one a personal note, and sending my sermon notes. This uses a lot more time than just grading the lessons, but I have grown to know these men and they have grown in their trust in me that I am not just a teacher when there, but their friend (and to some a brother) for life. One of the men got out 4 years ago and he is Catholic, but he called me this week about marriage advice. He is fierce-looking and big and strong and tattooed, but he said he is a different man than when he went in. He loves his wife and would do anything for his little son of a few months.

The work in Corrigan goes well. We finished Colossians and we have started Isaiah - - the Messianic prophet! I am preaching through Hebrews on Sunday nights.

Brethren, if you watch the news you are probably aware of what is going on in the Philippines. They have been devastated by two major typhoons recently. Many were already living in hunger, having no food, and living in tents in the southern part because their homes were wiped out last year from earthquakes. Now in the northern area, their homes have been swamped by overflowing rivers. Many have lost their homes and those who have not lost their homes have lost everything in them as the water came up so fast. They have strung ropes between trees and put those blue tarps over that - - sleeping in makeshift tents. They were needing money to buy food before the typhoon, now they are DESPERATELY in need. Entire congregations have no food to share now. Many of the crops have been wiped out.

There are something like 400 faithful churches in the islands. I get reports from three loyal Filipino preachers, and there are conversions every week among them. Perhaps hundreds every month in the islands. The church is on fire there and souls are being saved. Philippines is about the size of half the state of Texas, with a population of about 1/3 of the USA.

Whether our brethren are in Alabama, Alaska, or the Phillippines, we need to “Remember the poor.” The Jerusalem church needed help for years - - perhaps from the beginning in Acts 2 until 70AD, but brethren were always taking up contributions and sending to the poor. Almost every time the contribution was mentioned in the New Testament, it was for “the needy saints.” I know many of us are having a tough time now, but nothing like what is going on there. They are living on the streets and in the fields with no food and very little clothing.

This is our family, the family of God, and we want to respond with love, wisdom, and compassion as quickly as possible. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet. 1:22).

If you want to send money directly with MoneyGram or Western Union, I can put you in touch with men I know personally there. I can advise you about sending it. If you want to send it to me for me to send as a messenger, just let me know. I have a bank account just for that purpose as I am always sending funds given to me for that purpose and will give you an accounting of where your money goes.

Ron Halbrook has been going to the Philippines several times a year for many years. He knows hundreds of preachers there. He writes, “I know faithful and trustworthy men across northern and central Luzon who personally know the conditions or who can depend on eyewitnesses from various rural and remote places. We will ask these faithful and reliable Filipinos to serve as messengers to deliver emergency benevolence to the saints in keeping with Bible principles. Paul wrote, ‘Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men’ (2 Cor. 8:20-21). These men know well how to properly document the delivery of benevolence.

Individuals who want to donate $250 or more and want it to be tax-deductible can make checks to Help A Neighbor (approved under section 501 (C) 3 of the IRS Code). Churches asking me to relay funds should write the checks to Ron Halbrook. In either case, send the checks to my home address at 3505 Horse Run Ct., Shepherdsville, KY 40165-6954. H.A.N. is a labor of love. No one takes compensation for this service. Every penny donated goes to needs we have identified in some way as reflected in this report. Thank you to all who make it possible. Visit www.HelpANeighbor.net to learn more (thanks to Thomas and Jacob Keese).”

There you have it - - several ways to help your starving brethren. So often brethren ask me what is the best charity to give to that helps real people and doesn’t take half the money for “administrative costs.” Next time you want to give to a charity, think of giving to your brethren - - some who have no homes and have no money to rebuild but are honest hard-working souls living in a third world country. They are dealing with a lot of what the USA dealt with in the great depression 100 years ago. The government has mandated shutdowns there unlike what we have. And if they had not, the deaths from the Covid would be unbelievable. Once this pandemic is over, they will be able to more easily get back on their feet.

We often use James for our denominational friends, but James was writing to the church of Christ! “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself (Jas 2:14-17).

Thank you so much brethren for the fellowship we have together in spreading the truth. My support is sufficient. Pray for more open doors - - the Lord keeps opening them. Pray for our Filipino brethren.

Yours in Him who saves, Robert Raif

Murphy October Report

Tuesday, October 20, 2020



April 1 – Oct 13, 2020


Hello, Brethren.

Last week, Panera Bread in University City reopened with certain restrictions, none of which should affect us when we begin face to face studies. Later this week, I will check out the Panera in the city center to see its situation.1 In both cases, we will need to see if their

internet connection will broadcast Zoom studies.

About two weeks ago, I went to the 69th Street Station to see about setting up my table. A policeman told me that if there is no complaint from "the establishment," they would leave me alone. When I went to see "the establishment" at the station, they gave me a number to call. I called the number, got a recording, and left a message. I have yet to hear back from them. And so, the Lord willing, I will soon take the table to the station to see what will happen when I set it up. In the meantime, we will continue to evangelize via Zoom, Facebook, and Google Ads.

My Monday evening study began a month or so after moving to Philly four years ago. Todd and Connie Moody were the first to join the class. Throughout that time, we've studied Luke and Acts, the gospel of John and the Revelation, Jeremiah and Lamentations, and Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians. At the moment, we're reading through his first letter to the Corinthians.

For the most part, politics has never been a part of our meetings. Sure, from time to time, especially when we were meeting in Panera, someone would make their political persuasion clear by mentioning their disdain or approval for the President. On such occasions, I usually let such comments pass unless the individual persisted. I would then remind them that this is a Bible study, not a political gathering. However, since we are in the heat of a vicious political battle for the White House, the control of the Congress, and an appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice, I have had to be more diligent. Sadly, something was said a few weeks ago by one of the participants that proved too much for Connie. As a result, she and Todd have dropped out of the study. Since the pandemic, they are the second to drop out, as we haven't seen or heard from Melissa for about ten weeks. With the Moodys departure, we now have three regulars to this study: Chris and Mike from New Jersey and Annette from W. Philly.

I'm also involved in a Thursday morning study lead by David through the book of Deuteronomy. We have four regulars in this study: Juliana, Annette (from Monday's class), Matt, and Lee.

1 I went to the city center Panera this morning and learned that they close at 7 p.m. Thus, this establishment is not suitable at this moment for evening studies.

Kieran & Patti Murphy 241 S 49th Street, Apt 202 Philadelphia, PA 19139

Home Tel. 215 825-7444 Mobile 267 437-7517


Murphy Report: April 1 – Oct 13, 2020 Page 2 of 2

I have been posting short and shorter talks on Facebook. When we advertise these talks on Google Ads, we do so in a fifteen to a twenty-mile radius around Philadelphia. David also advertizes our online studies to this same population. As a result, we are seeing more activity on our web site, but our hope is to have more visitors to our online Bible studies.

Part of the congregation continues to meet face to face at the Raif house each Sunday, while the rest join us via Zoom. For most of the summer, we have been meeting in their back garden. Last Sunday, near the end of the assembly, a few raindrops began to fall. It wasn't much, and it stopped quickly. However, it was a reminder that we need to find a suitable place before winter to allow the whole church to meet together. At the moment, our plans in case of rain or cold are to meet inside the Raif house. They are great hosts, and we are grateful for their hospitality.

Since the last report, Patti and I have traveled to Barnesville once a month to visit her dad. Though he is still on his feet, his condition continues to deteriorate. Those who wish to write him can send their letters to 254 E Main St, Barnesville, OH 43713. Though he cannot write you back, He would appreciate hearing from those who know him.

Thanks again for your prayers, your support, and words of encouragement. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me hear from you.

Hold fast! Kieran

Ricky Shanks September Report

Sunday, September 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

September 2020

As mentioned last month our efforts have resumed at finding seekers at the local college. This has been very encouraging so far. With dozens of short “bookmark” Bible study cards given out to those interested and nine to enroll in a Bible correspondence course as resulted in personal studies with 2 students each week. With a short pause due to severe cold and fear they will think I have covid, I will continue their study next week. They both seem very interested so far. We look forward to God using His word to move and motivate them as we teach His word.

The new in Christ has continued to grow with excitement. Sergey and CaraAnn get with us weekly. Tammy is growing daily and becoming more mature in Christ each week. Her prayerful passion is to be a godly mother and to lead her estranged parents to seek after God as well. The first part is much easier in that she is so eager to serve God. The second depends on their hearts. Nevertheless she passionately tries.

I’m slowly getting the flock involved with nurturing them too. It is a little difficult to motivate saints to open up to new efforts in middle of pandemic. But still we are moving in the right direction. As soon as the paranoia of it all subsides we will schedule our gospel meeting to reach our lost friends locally that we had to postpone this year. Till then I will “shake the limbs” of students in college and see what fruit falls into our laps.

The flock remains at peace. As shepherds, we had to deal with another troubling devising situation which “praise be to God” resulted in a heart moved to repentance. We rejoice in this. I think brethren are being influenced more recently by how public figures are behaving in this election year. We must be quick to stop those who may try to mirrow such unloving attitudes. God calls us sheep for a reason and we must stop the mouths of wolves who come in to scatter the sheep. And it must be done as God instructs us to do it. His plan is perfect. And in His service we seek to honor Him and edify His saints in our trust. Thank you for your encouagement as always.

To His glory, Ricky

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

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