MAY 2020 REPORT ON
THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351
We offer up prayers to our Creator for you every day. We pray for your health and well being, but more importantly for your standing fast in the Lord. And not just to stand, but “excel still more!” (1 Th 4:10).
It is said that there is on average a 60% recidivism rate across America. This means 60% of the prisoners that are released from prison return there having committed another crime. Some years ago, Texas stopped just warehousing the offenders and started teaching them how to change their thinking and to help prepare them for the outside world through education, because it is a BIG adjustment. In Texas, the recidivism rate has dropped to 37%. Among the “faith-based” groups, it is 10%!
It is such a privilege to help make a difference in the lives of some men. Some in the prison are surely bad to the bone and enjoy just living life they way they want it, and no one is going to tell them what to do. Others have made some bad choices - - some just ONE bad choice. Others got addicted to this or that - - either a pattern of life or to substances.
Since I can’t meet with my classes at the prison, I’ve started sending my sermons and bulletins and offering correspondence courses. WOW! Almost all 36 of my students have responded with letters of appreciation - - and even write “love” as they sign their name. About 13 so far have responded to doing the first lesson of the course. Some are expressing their thanks to me for caring enough for them to teach, and to you brethren who make it possible for me to be there. I thank you too!
One of those men is James Gee. I just love this guy. He about 68 and is so gentle and humble and such a sincere smile always. He is upset when Christians there waste time playing dominoes, and cards, and watching TV. All he does is read his Bible. He wrote that my coming there saved him. He has served 31 years of a 45 years sentence for aggravated kidnapping! I would have never thought.
Most of these guys have a sentence of 40 years are more. Some have a life sentences, or life without parole. Seven are in there for murder, aggravated assault, or organized crime, but you would never think it. Three or four of these probably never will get out. Art Moody went with me several times and was just amazed how nice and polite they are. He taught the class when I couldn’t make it and was impressed with their knowledgeable Bible answers and their kindness.
Six of my students have been released, all but one is doing well. He got involved in drugs again and is back. Two can’t worship with churches because of their crimes, but they are good men following the law. Eric works 50 to 60 hours a week, and the plant manager wants him there every day because he is the most dependable worker and most honest. John got out a month ago and I got him hooked up with a good church in San Antonio and I think he will go far. Right now he is doing baby-steps.
Well, I’m out of space. The Corrigan church has been meeting all month, spacial distancing as much as we can, and things are going well. Thank you brethren so, so much for your support - - financially and your encouraging remarks. Let us keep praying for open doors!
Yours in Him who saves, Robert
SPREADING THE GOSPEL IN PHILADELPHIA,
Dec 29 – Mar 31, 2020
So much has changed since my last report. Up until three or four weeks ago, I was going out twice a week to set up a table at the train station to hand out leaflets and to speak with people about the Lord Jesus. I had Bible studies at coffee shops three times a week. Patti and I met with the saints in our home for a Wednesday evening Bible study and assembled with them each Lord’s Day on the UPenn campus. Now we are discouraged (forbidden?) by the civil authorities from doing any of these things face to face. The exception being assembling on Sunday. We can still do this if we practice social distancing. However, since we have no assembly hall of our own, it must be done in private homes. Because of seasonal illnesses (thankfully, not coronavirus), some concern for venturing out due to pregnancies, pre-existing health concerns, and general concerns for catching the virus, these assemblies have been small but encouraging. Almost all who feel they can’t venture out
“join us” through ZOOM.
Except for my Wednesday morning study with Anne (who postponed the study entirely), I continue to participate in the other studies via ZOOM.
Because I ran a fever for about a week, our primary care physician thought it best that I get tested for the virus. After two weeks, the test came back negative. In the meantime, we canceled Patti’s caregiving service until this state of emergency is over, and because we did not want the caregivers to bring the virus into our home. So far, everything has worked out as well as it can be expected. When the days are lovely, we attempt to take a brief stroll for exercise. But for the most part, we confine ourselves to our apartment.
At the moment, our health remains good, except for Patti’s daily bouts with either extremely high or extremely low blood pressure. But we consider ourselves blessed!
Thank you so much for your prayers and for your support. We know that some of you may not be able to continue your support if this state of emergency continues for months and months, as many predicted. Whatever the future holds, rest assured that we will continue to trust in the Lord while giving thanks to Him for you.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let us hear from you. Hold fast!
Kieran & Patti Murphy
241 S 49th Street, Apt 202
Philadelphia, PA 19139
Home Tel. 215 825-7444 Mobile 267 437-7517
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.)
The efforts continue to sow God’s seed into the hearts of those who are seeking. I’m going to share with you
the stats from our Facebook program “Answers From the Bible” on Wednesdays at 11 ET. This week will be week 8. Each week we have gotten more comfortable with the MANY hurtles we must jump through to keep from being distracting and focus on what God is saying in His word. I won’t list the many items here that need to be done for each program. Call me if you want those details. But each week seems to be gaining momentum. For these first 7 programs, even though a couple of them were train wrecks, here is a summary of results. FB says we have reached 19,000 and 19K have engaged with us. 243 have clicked on our links. I’m not certain these mean much. I continue to populate the website above with more Bible study materials. Feel free to visit and download any of interest to you. If someone would help me understand more about these stats I would love to hear from you. The ones who have clicked for information seem to be from other parts of the country. For example a sibling and niece in my family has
FB says all the stats above have come from GA and around this area. That is confusing to me. One who asked for the Bible course and DVD was from MO. Hopefully we will see such interest locally soon. The FB programs have been viewed for a total of over 12K minutes (200 hours). That seems to me an important stat. Again if I’m thinking wrong in this I would like to understand more, please let me know.
Concerning my recording the gospel message we use in our evangelism meetings, I have recorded all but the last part of the presentation of the gospel. I have agonized over exactly how to finish the series. So I am praying and hopefully will finish the 5th and last of the series soon. I will put them on thumb drives to give out and upload it to the site above when I finish it. So follow the site and you will be alerted to when it is uploaded.
We were able to study with the contact mentioned in last report. They looked so encouraging and we were excited to be studying with them. However they may have ended the study for some unknown reason this week. It really saddens us how the devil never gives up in distracting. I’m going to try one more communication with them to see if they will continue.
However on a good note a couple we studied with last year has contacted us and wants to continue their studies to begin this Saturday. Please pray with us that the devil does not stick his ugly finger in the situation and rip it to pieces.
The flock here has missed each other’s presence so much. GA lifted its “stay at home” order this month and for us to use common sense before gathering. We did meet together and each family stayed a distance from each other. Unfortunately we are small enough in number we could all keep the proper distance. Communion was packed in sealed cups and bags and picked up as they came in and we as a one body were able to partake together. Leading up to the meeting we listed out items of cleaning & sanitizing needing to be address at the building. So the building was in top shape for our gathering. We hope soon to have Bible classes as well. Till then we will continue to have Bible classes through zoom.
The newer in Christ are holding on tight. The devil has tried extra efforts to pull them down with family distresses, to car accidents and that on top of the virus pandemic. Unfortunately our county here in GA is a hot bed of new cases. It is still accelerating and spiking. In response we continue to teach and continue to remind his saints that God is still with us and no matter what may come, we look to Him for our help and in Him for victory. How glorious it will be! Thank you for your wonderful encouragement and prayers.
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.