Evangelists' Updates

Evangelists' Updates

Robert Raif Reports

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Robert Raif November 2020 Report

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

NOVEMBER 2020 REPORT ON THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]

Dear Brethren,

281-756-7957

ROBERT RAIF
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351

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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

Robert Raif August 2020 Report

Sunday, August 30, 2020

AUGUST 2020 REPORT ON
THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]

Dear Brethren,

281-756-7957

ROBERT RAIF
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351

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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

Robert Raif June/July 2020 Report

Saturday, July 18, 2020

JUNE/JULY 2020 REPORT ON
THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]

281-756-7957

ROBERT RAIF
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351

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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

Robert Raif May Report

Thursday, June 18, 2020

MAY 2020 REPORT ON
THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS [email protected]

Dear Brethren,

281-756-7957

ROBERT RAIF
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351

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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

Robert Raif April 2020 Report

Monday, May 18, 2020

APRIL 2020 REPORT ON
THE WORK IN CORRIGAN, TEXAS

ROBERT RAIF
171 CALDWELL ST. LIVINGSTON, TX 77351

[email protected].      281-756-7957

 

Dear Brethren,

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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,

Robert

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