Evangelists' Updates

Evangelists' Updates

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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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Robert Raif June/July 2020 Report

Saturday, July 18, 2020

THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]




Dear Brethren,
I find it just as hard, if not harder, to find time to write this report as when I was actually going to the prison. Going to the prison occupied two whole days basically. Now I find myself, every day, grading their lessons and sending them my sermons that I believe will help them and writing personal notes. Sometimes I get tired of the constant flow, getting lessons in the mail as I am sending more out. But I know it is opening their eyes as I am actually personally studying with each one. It is so encouraging to get to know them this way. I sent off five envelopes today and each one was about 1/4 inch thick. I went and bought $140 worth of stamps and a bunch of printer cartridges and 10 reams of paper and 1000 envelopes. Some write a lot and do perfect on the lessons, some are slower, some haven’t done any lessons yet - - but they write (There are 5 or 6 who are almost blind and it is difficult for them). I’ve heard from them all. And there is no telling if they will open up Estelle before the year ends.

Most of the prisons didn’t lock down like Estelle. Estelle is the medical unit for this region, so they get the sickest to come there. And if an individual needs a real hospital, then they are all sent to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. Estelle had about 1000 tested positive out of 3000, and they were juggling them to keep the positives form the negatives. But Estelle is starting to open up a little. The men have been eating sandwiches three times a day in their cells. The same o' same o' for 70 day! And their sandwiches have no nice things in them. They were really happy this week to get out and go to the dining room - - no one complained about the food. And they got to go out and see the sun and breathe fresh air. Two of my guys were pretty sick, but they both pulled through. The work goes well.

Switching gears. The Christians in Jerusalem needed financial help from the get-go. And Paul was still helping brethren send contributions to those same brethren 30 years later on his third journey (Rom 15:26- 27)! He URGED brethren to help these “foreigners” because they were all in the same family - - the family of Christ. When Paul met with the church in Jerusalem, they only asked Paul to remember the poor there (Gal 2:10). Almost always the contribution is designated for the “poor saints” among us (I Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 8:5; 9:1, 12). We say “Amen” to all of this.

Our Filipino brethren barely make a living in harsh conditions, and many hundreds have been actually living in tattered tents even in winter the last year because the 2019 typhoons wiped out entire cities. And now the CoVid has hit. They are living in a nightmare - - no food, no shelter, and now sickness. Please consider them. I have been helping receive and send money to one particular preacher, Jimmy Domingo and his congregation over the years. He is a good and faithful worker, spoken of highly by good brethren like Ron Halbrook and others. He appealed for help for one special sister, Dalores Mabborang. She fell last weekend and broke her femur. The doctor said he could do a hip replacement for $1000, but that there would be another $1100 to pay the hospital etc. She got the hip replacement and is up and walking with an aid, but needs to pay off the rest. She is a good and active sister in the Tuguegarao City congregation where Jimmy preaches. Jimmy verified her situation by sending X-rays, and copies of the medical bills. If there are any who could help her, it would be greatly appreciated. If the hip were not fixed, she would die a slow painful death as she would waste away to nothing since she couldn’t move. The church there doesn’t have the money. They can hardly buy enough rice to eat. If you want to help, I can send money directly and Paypal charges just $4. It is not tax deductible. But if you want to send a large amount and want it to be a tax deduction, you can send it to Ron Halbrook who is constantly going down there and knows all these brethren personally. He has set up an account just for helping the poor and he can send it directly to them. If you want that information, write to me and I can give it to you.
Yours in Him who saves, Robert

Joe Hamm June Report

Friday, July 10, 2020


Lights in A Sinful World

Thanks be to God we made it safely through the night. As I write this letter, our community is picking up the pieces from vandalism, looting and violence against the police. We have seen so much hatred and frustration, often being directed at those who are simply trying to help. And we have seen so much greed by those taking advantage of the civil unrest. We have seen the media spinning narratives from the air that don’t always match the reality of the situation on the ground. This community has torn itself apart. We live in a minority community and so many minority-owned businesses were destroyed. As the looters were systematically working their way toward our house, as police fired tear gas canisters down our block, as we closed our windows and rushed the children to the back bedroom for safety, I actually considered leaving this place. We have experienced so much sin and lawlessness since moving to Philly. It seems that few people value human life, so few have regard for the law, and so many have disdain for authority. Men shooting men, children shooting children, men beating women, and citizens shooting police officers who are sent into our community to restore order. People are so quick to blame others, yet so few are willing to accept responsibility for their own actions. We all want justice as long as it’s not against ourselves. When we sin, we hide from God’s judgment. That is true regardless of the color of our skin. It is true regardless of where we live. There are many people on both sides of the political debate proposing false solutions to our problems. I’m very concerned when Christians begin taking sides and adopting these false solutions. The only solution for peace and unity

is Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not a theoretical solution, it is a very practical one. It speaks to every area of our lives. Every sector of society, every discipline of study, every area of our public & private life should presuppose and be informed by God’s Word.

We must not only allow preachers to speak truth in the pulpit, but also in the statehouse, the laboratory, and the classroom. Why? Because the Bible should inform how we think about everything.

Someone asked my wife today, “At what point do you leave Sodom?” I’m not sure I know the answer. However, I do know that Jesus suffered to save lost sinners. We should be willing to suffer too.

My Father’s Death

In late December or January, my father contracted a flu virus which turned into pneumonia. The virus attacked his liver and he was admitted to the UAB hospital in Birmingham, AL so that he might receive a liver transplant. However, due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the surgery was delayed and he did not survive. Because he contracted the virus before the official COVID-19 outbreak, the doctors do not believe it was related. I’m thankful that I was able to attend his funeral service in Alabama on May 8.

Family Sickness

The first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in this area on March 6. However, in late January, I came down with what I thought was a really severe flu which matched the symptoms of those being reported in China. Testing was

~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~

June 1, 2020

not widely available at that time, but I was taking Hebrew classes with many students from Asian countries who had recently returned after the holidays. Perhaps I was exposed, but we will never know. This flu-like disease quickly turned into pneumonia and I was in the bed for several weeks. Following my sickness, each member of our family experienced two days of sickness followed by three weeks of low-grade fever. We isolated our family even before the official lockdown. We were advised by Fiona’s doctor to stay home and we all recovered. Thankfully, no one else in the church has experienced the severe symptoms of this disease.

Worshipping During The Shutdown

The church here normally meets on the campus of UPenn in downtown Philly. However, because the campus has been closed, we’ve been unable to meet there. The Raif family has continued to open their home for the brethren to worship together on Sundays. We even had three visitors worship with us yesterday. Those who have not felt safe coming continue to listen to the service over the internet. We hope that the city will re-open soon and that the whole church can gather together once again.

Growing In Number

Despite the shutdown, the Lord continues to bless the church with growth. Matt & Meagan Smith recently moved here from Birmingham for work. Nick & Tifanee Lane just moved here from Kentucky for the same reason. As I mentioned in my last report, several other brethren are planning to move here after things return to “normal.”

And Growing (More Babies)

We are also growing in other ways. Four of the ladies in our small group, including my wife Fiona, are expecting babies. Please pray for the Lord’s protection upon them.

A Special Need

With the expected birth of our sixth child in December, we will need to purchase a larger van. A family of eight will no longer fit into a seven passenger van. For some time now, it has been difficult to give other people rides to church because of our limited seating. We are hoping to purchase a used 15 passenger van so that we can transport our own family and also have plenty of room for others. I do believe that a large van will not only be helpful to us, but will also be a blessing to others we are seeking to serve. I anticipate the cost to be $20k. If you are in a position to help, we would appreciate your consideration.

A Final Word of Exhortation

During these evil days, let’s commit to loving one another more fervently. Let’s be willing to listen to our brethren who have experiences different than our own. Let’s determine that we’re not going to allow this world to divide us. Let’s compare everything being said with God’s Word. Read the Scriptures daily with your family so they will know how to properly view the world.

“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
- Numbers 6:24-26

Love in Christ,

Joe Hamm

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


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Southern ~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~ Hospitality

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~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~

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~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~

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~ Joe Hamm - Philadelphia ~

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