APRIL 2020 REPORT ON
THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351
[email protected]. 281-756-7957
Some of you may be wondering about the tornado that come roaring through Onalaska killing 3 people and destroying 50 + homes. None of our brethren were in that, but it was just 3 or 4 miles from us.
I guess we are all in the same boat, trying to figure out how best to “get together” and worship God. Our normal has been turned upside down. I wonder, is there anyone out there who will get my report? :-)
I went to the prison Friday March 20. They called me up that afternoon and said they were locking down all the prisons - - no more volunteers. Two weeks later one of the officers at Estelle died of the virus. I believe one of the inmates was sick with it too. Estelle has to be especially careful because they are a medical facility and 75% of those guys are already in weakened conditions due to diabetes, cancer, old age, amputations, organ transplants, kidney dialysis, etc.
Half of my time each week I spend going into the prisons and teaching. I’ve been trying to keep my students anchored and interested by sending them my bulletins and sermon notes about every two weeks and writing personal notes to them. Their response has been great. I send out 33 letters, and I’ve gotten 10 letters back from them so far - - some are brethren, and some growing to that. But they are appreciating the interest I show them and having something different to read to break the monotony. Estelle is keeping them all locked up except to shower. Through their letters, I’m getting to know these guys better, but it is a lot of effort. But then again, I spend about 20 hours a week driving there and teaching and coming home, plus the hours preparing. So I’ve got time on my hands. The saved gas pays for the postage.
Concerning the church in Corrigan, we are using Zoom to worship together, minus the Lord’s Supper and collection. We are using the free version, which means we get cut off after 40 minutes, and then resume the worship when everyone gets back. That works out well for us, a small congregation. I know the larger groups may have a hard time using this method, but I know we are all doing our best with what knowledge we have. It is not ideal to say the least, but it helps keep us close and in contact.
Three years ago I encouraged the members to read their Bibles daily using a planned Bible reading, and I would post the scriptures daily on Face Book and give a few words of summation. It is listed as “Corrigan Bible Reading,” One lady from Florida saw it and asked to join us, and said she needed prayers and didn’t have a Bible. So I sent her a Bible and am going to try and have a study over the internet with her. I’ve already talked to a preacher who lives nearby so that when and if the time comes that she wants more, I know where to turn.
I am so thankful for you brethren who support me with finances, but also support me with prayers and encouraging words. I ask, like Paul did, that you pray for me that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak. And continue praying for open doors - -more opportunities - - it’s working! My support is sufficient.
Yours in Him who saves,
Report from “Ricky” William Shanks in Gainesville GA
4565 Persian Trail; Gainesville, GA 30507; Phones: 843-569-8729-Home; 843-725-9283-Cell Dial A Bible Study: 770-835-4000 (Ext. 3 for Spanish.)
Good news at end…The work preparing a studio is just about finished. I still have a lot to learn and do electronically. We are going to have a couple of practice test runs the next two Sunday afternoons, “Lord Willing.” We will begin our effort to share the gospel via the internet on the 18th. It will focus on Facebook live at first then to include other venues. We will try boosting the local exposure here as much as we can afford. This is to get face to face Bible studies with them, which is our goal. It is scheduled to run on Wednesdays at 11AM. It is my understanding this is prime time for Facebook viewers. The first of the weekly programs will be March 18th. Tune in if you can. I will need guest to join me via their smart phone often. So if there is someone in your local flock who has a working knowledge of God’s word and able to quickly (less than 3 min.) answer questions with book chapter and verse please let me know. They will need to have good bandwidth at that time. I would love to talk with them and we can schedule them to join us in this effort. Look for “Answers From the Bible” (there are more than one) or “Bible Compass” with my name connected to it. The learning curve has been very difficult for me. There are dozens of tasks leading up and after each program. I would much rather be face to face in front of someone teaching God’s word. Hopefully it will all become routine and easier. The desired result will be many other personal studies and rejoicing in heaven.
Studies with the newer saints are still going well. We may have lost one back to the world but the rest are flourishing. We heard from Carrie again and her friend. We did have another study and they are thinking of obeying the gospel. Our society today has been so influenced by the devil that he has gotten more and more in such “a sinful hole” that it takes more extreme efforts to turn away from sin so they can commit their life to serve God in baptism. It is getting less frequent to find someone whom repentance is easy. I’ve seen that pattern in several cultures. Nevertheless, with the right heart it can be done.
Our evangelism meeting will be on the 27th and 28th at end of this month. I will be able to speak about it in our first 2 broadcast which hopefully may bring out more to the effort. The flock has been encouraged passionately to invite their lost friends. They have been asked to have a list of 10 whom they are praying about right now. Then 7 to 10 days before the meeting they are to go in person, face to face and ask them if they will come. For years now there has always been no less than 10% to come. We pray that will remain true for this meeting as well.
The flock overall seems a little more healthy. But the rains keep coming just about every day. Wettest 2 months here in decades. This has not helped their recovery. Luckily no extreme cold temps to go with it. Hopefully I will be able to get the rest of the banners replaced before long.
We rejoice that the kingdom of God grew by 2 being added by our Lord. Del and Valeria Santos came by our booth last year at Mule camp. Brownie reached out to them with studies in their home and over past few months. They decided to die with Christ in February. With no religious background they are refreshing to help them grow in Christ without having to undo the religious confusion that many have. The first light from God reached his heart when he started reading the Bible but did not get much from it, so he stopped and started writing the Bible by hand. He is now up to Ecclesiastes so far. They expressed interest in our efforts at the festival which led to the studies. They have a long way to grow but so far they seem very steady. We hope there will be many more.
To God be the glory.
REPORT ON THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS
[email protected] ROBERT RAIF 171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351
Dear Brethren, I’m starting to sound like a broken record. This report will cover two months. I kept waiting for something to pan out, and it finally did just this last Sunday. We have been meeting at the prison on Sunday nights at 7, right before they rack the guys up at 8. It has been a bad spot and only some were allowed by the officers to come. We recently got the option of meeting at 10:30 Sunday morning. We asked if we could have that spot and we got it. So this Sunday we met at 10:30 and had about 1 ½ hours to worship. It was great! We weren’t rushed. The numbers should pick up as more realize the option of worshipping the New Testament way. Please pray for us to be able to keep this spot. Satan has his workers there who have kicked us out before. It is always a fight to keep a spot for the truth.
My going to the prison Sunday morning means I drive to Corrigan, drop Nancy off at 9.30 when the Bible class starts, and my heading to the prison. I get back to the building at 1pm and pick up my wife and travel home. I miss the morning worship in Corrigan, and worship with the church at Estelle. I told the men that this opportunity was too great to pass up, and that they had the options of meeting at another time when they could use me in the services, or get someone to come from Lufkin and help, or to do the teaching themselves. They chose the latter.
We had brethren there participate is leading the congregation. Sam only will get those to help who are “walking the walk.” Sam directed the singing. Keith read a Psalm. Kenneth directed us in prayer. Robert and Raymond passed out the elements for the Lord’s Supper.
Concerning the prison work, the Thursday class for the brethren concludes David Holder’s book on the Christian’s relationship with God. This week we start a study in Revelation. After those two hours I do some “free” phone calling for the chaplain for the indigent to call home for free. This has been a good experience of meeting new men and encouraging them to come to our studies. It has also endeared me to the Chaplain and is one reason we got the new time slot on Sunday. It also will allow me to become an official “assistant” and be able to go anywhere in the prison to find men that someone asked me to contact.
On Friday, the auditorium class is starting a study on how to become a Christian and what is the New Testament church. It’s an excellent video with 6 lessons presented very clear and all true to the Book. We studied 3 years ago, but 25 of the 30 in this class are new. After these two hours, I go to the High Security unit and we are studying 1 John with about 25 men with video via computer.
At present, I preach Sunday night at Corrigan and we are studying Revelation on Wednesday night. I’ll let you know if that changes.
I am so very thankful to all of you who have fellowship with me in spreading the truth. Together we are making a difference in the lives of many. My support is sufficient.
Yours in Him who saves,
I pray all is well with you, the family and I are all doing well as I continue to work in the Lord's harvest we feel blessed and loved doing his work and being in fellowship with all you brethren.
I must first apologise for the delay in my reports, this has been due to a number of reasons. We are experiencing a frequent amount of load shedding In our country. What that means is for at least 3-4 hours every day the electricity supply is turned off as our electricity supply is monopolised and only supplied by the state, unfortunately like all our state-owned entities in our country, it has been riddled with corruption and looting and as a result, it is now collapsing, this is having a huge impact on our economy. When power is off my service provider cannot run the internet service, and many times when power is restored, all the settings and connections give problems which takes time to correct and then not long after that, the power goes off again, I have only managed to send out LMT emails via my cell phone, but cannot send long or big files.
I am happy to report that Zimbabwe has received good rains, the Lord has answered all our prayers and it brings such relief to the country and the people. Our brethren have planted their crops and in most villages the crops are knee-high our GOD is good . We all need to continue to please pray for follow up rains over the next 3 months so their crops can reach maturity and brethren can harvest for the first time in many years.
If we receive the follow-up rains we anticipate harvest will be around early May , but only if they receive the follow-up rains needed .I am also very happy to report that I have secured enough funds to feed all our brethren in need up to the end of April , so if we do get to harvest in May,our brethren will be self-sufficient and managing to rebuild.
The work is doing well and we have baptized 7 people over the last period , the brethren are upbeat and so great full to receive the help with food and now that is has rained are excited for the next few months .In Conjane village we baptized a sister in the river, at the very same place we baptized her 2 days later a crocodile grabbed the young nephew on one of our sisters in that congregation when he was drawing water from the river, there were people around and they managed to help him get fee, he has suffered numerous bites and wounds and is in hospital so please keep him in our prayers.
We also had a child that drown in the river after the rains the river came down strong and swept the child away , so some tragic events over the last period.
I still continue to collect and deliver maize to every congregation every month in the bush villages, and as said above I do have the funds to continue with this until the end of April, a very big thank you to all the congregations and individuals the has helped with this need, I know at times it may seem never-ending, our brethren are always asking me to please send on their eternal gratitude and love to all you good brethren.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe is still totally collapsed, very difficult to find gas and things are very expensive if you can find them, my trips in have been relatively easy, there are still the roadblocks that slow me down, and especially when you are carrying maize which is so sort after. The roads are breaking up and there is no money in the government to fix them, so my vehicle plus suspension and tyres are taking beating especially with the heavy loads.
Botswana has also received the rains and there too crops are growing , the brethren are all well and the work is consistent. I continue to teach and preach at all three congregations and brethren are growing, it is slow and there is still a very big lack of faithful men. The children are all ways a treat and so excited to see us when we teach in the villages. My translator continues to get better each time, I pray this man will be baptized and be able to help in these works going forward.
It is still challenging worshiping out in the open in Botswana as, the weather conditions can change very rapidly and with the desert sands , it blows so bad some days you cannot keep your bible pages open .Our brethren remain faithful, I am currently working on a new contact in a new village and pray that that develops over time that I may be able to start a new work in that area .
The work at Mabalabala is doing well , we have managed to save enough funds to finally put down floor tiles in our building, the brethren are strong and faithful. The men continue to help in the worship taking active roles in the leadership, song leading , reading and preaching, It is encouraging to see them grow in confidence and knowledge.
We had a visitor over December from the JHB area , who decided to be baptized , she will be attending worship with the local congregation in JHB .We too have received rains in our farming area which is a big relief for the animals and bushveld.
Thank you brethren all for your love and fellowship along with your support , the Lords work here in Africa is strong and would not be possible without your continued love, please continue to pray for follow up rain for our brethren and for us here on the farm in South Africa .
In Christ we serve,
My family and I had the opportunity to visit several churches that support me in my work here in Philadelphia. First, we travelled to Alabama where we visited the Riverbend congregation in Florence, AL. The brethren there also organized a wonderful potluck after worship which gave us an opportunity to better acquaint ourselves with each other. I was also reminded how much I miss southern cooking!
Second, we traveled to Red Bay, Al and were very encouraged to visit the brethren there and we were met with great hospitality. It was also a joy to visit some of my relatives while staying in Alabama. The last year was especially difficult for my family due to the death of two grandparents.
Our third stop was in Atlanta to visit the brethren at Embry Hills. Our visit with them was so refreshing and although we moved away from there in 2011, it felt like a real homecoming. It was so good to see the congregation flourishing. As always, we were met with such warm hospitality.
Finally, our fourth stop was in Gettysburg, PA. Our plan was to stay the weekend with brethren and worship with them on Sunday. However, the Lord had other plans. Unfortunately, my whole family contracted a violent stomach virus! Not only was I unable to preach, my whole family was unable to attend worship, and we didn’t get to see the brethren. We even had to delay our return home. Craig & Natalie Bishop were so gracious to host us and care for my family while we were sick. May God return a blessing to them for all that they suffered.
Growing in Number
We’ve had many new brethren and visitors attending our worship assemblies to the point that we will soon need to add more chairs in our meeting space. Kayla, a young sister from Ithaca, NY is now worshipping with us for several months. Rebecca, a sister from Liberia, has recently moved to the U.S. and plans to worship with us as well. Judy, a sister from NJ has also recently committed to worshipping with us. In addition, we have received news that three families are transferring to the area in the coming months. We are all very encouraged by the recent numerical growth, but we ask for your prayers that we may remain unified in God’s truth.
As I mentioned, there have been many health problems in our extended family over the past year. Things are looking better for the moment, but I anticipate that I will need to begin traveling to Alabama more often in the coming years. Fiona’s mother continues to need more and more care. It has been a great blessing to have them nearby. I’ve included a recent picture of them as well as some other recent pictures on the next page.
5232 Spruce St. Philadelphia, PA 19139 267-831-4019 [email protected]
January 20, 2020
~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~
Kieran & Patti Murphy (in-laws)
Midweek Bible Study
~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~