Meet Nancy Guthrie – A keynote speaker at the 2011 Peacemaker Conference

When we decided on the theme “Hope in Brokenness” we wanted to find someone who had a story to share that embodied this theme. We didn’t need to look any farther than Nancy Guthrie whose own story told the depth of sorrow that brought about ultimate hope.

In fact Nancy’s story starts with Hope – a baby girl they were expecting. It wasn’t until Hope was born that they found out that there was brokenness, for Hope was diagnosed with Zellweger’s Syndrome which causes infant death. You can read Hope’s complete story in the book Holding Onto Hope.

But David and Nancy Guthrie’s story doesn’t end there for despite the attempt to not have another child they found themselves once again pregnant with another child diagnosed with the same syndrome. Their second son Gabriel followed in the steps of his sister before him.

But despite these tragedies Nancy has used her story to bring hope to people like them even starting a retreat center for families who have lost children. The Lord has also opened many doors for Nancy to point people to the God of Hope who walks with us in our suffering and gives us beautiful promises such as:

…he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6)

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:1-2)

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5: 2b-5)

It is our privilege to have Nancy at our 2011 Peacemaker Conference on September 22nd-25th. Nancy will be sharing her own story as well as leading 2 workshops during our time together. But we wanted to give you a chance to get to know Nancy. Please check out her interview on Tim Challies. We’ll be posting more of Nancy and our other keynote speakers on this blog so keep coming back for more.

By the way, prices increase for the 2011 Peacemaker Conference on Tuesday, June 7th. Register today to save!

REC Giveaway (Part 2)

Resolving Everyday ConflictI know many of you took part in a giveaway that we sponsored last month of the new Resolving Everyday Conflict study. But for those of you who didn’t (or for those of you who did, but didn’t win), you have a second chance!

We’ll be giving away five sets of Resolving Everyday Conflict tomorrow (Friday) through Tim Challies’ blog at www.challies.com. Tim’s giveaways are short term, though, so you have to hurry–signup is only available on Friday  through Saturday morning.

So stop by and sign up for another chance to win a resource with a regular price of $249 … but more importantly, a resource that can change the way conflict looks in your life!

Dying to Produce Many Seeds

When you are weighing your personal interests and responsibilities, be careful not to twist the concept of stewarding to your advantage. I have seen many people who believe that stewardship means preserving everything they have. Thus, they refuse to lay down any rights or sacrifice any property in the interest of peace. Jesus condemns this notion — he does not want us to either stockpile or spend anything for our own pleasure or convenience. Instead, he wants us to invest our resources wisely and gain the maximum return for his kingdom (Matt. 25:24-27). This certainly means protecting our rights and assets from wasteful sacrifices, but it also means expending them willingly on spiritually profitable ventures. Just as seed must be sacrificed to produce a crop, our personal rights and material assets must sometimes be surrendered to sow the gospel and produce a spiritual harvest (John 12:24-26).

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 96.

Food for Thought

Recall the last time giving up something felt like dying.

Those verses from John 12 are full of rich “harvest” imagery — “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Ken warns us against the wasteful sacrifice — something the heart of Christ does not desire; however, this seems to be the minority experience. The majority of the time, we are being asked to expend our rights and assets willingly on spiritually profitable ventures. And Jesus tells us exactly how that is going to feel, each and every time. Like the kernel of wheat, it’s going to feel like dying.

We can appropriately use the word sacrifice, but the word die or dying probably holds more power in our hearts and minds. The expansion of the peaceable kingdom comes alongside the death of our own pleasure or convenience. Jesus willingly demonstrated this and set an example to be followed. Resurrection is a reality that we as believers should cling to with a fierce tenacity; but we must remember that something specific always precedes resurrection — death. But if it dies, it produces many seeds…

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

The brother is a burden to the Christian, precisely because he is a Christian. For the pagan the other person never becomes a burden at all. He simply sidesteps every burden that others may impose upon him.

The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Gentle Giants

In many situations, the best way to resolve a conflict is simply to overlook the personal offenses of others. This approach is highly commended throughout Scripture:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have
against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13; cf. Eph. 4:32).

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 82.

 

Food for Thought

Do people keep their distance from you unless you’re well fed and rested?

If you’ll look at the verses above, you’ll notice a common word — BEAR — bearing with one another in love and bear with each other. As peacemakers, we are called to bear with one another; however, how many times are we a bear to one another? How many days find us just like an old grizzly that has been prematurely awakened from his winter slumber — mad at the world and letting everybody know about it? How many times do we react just like that big brown bear that growls and roars when he finds someone else in his fishing hole?

You see, we can be a bear or we can bear with — and the two are entirely different approaches to people and life. If the issue is protecting your young, then be a bear and don’t back down — guard them well. Beyond that kind of a scenario, most other situations call for us to bear with…and those times can help us remember.

Bear with…

  • The person ahead of you in traffic who’s out for a leisurely Sunday drive while you’re twenty minutes late for church. And remember that it’s your heart God wants, not matching socks.
  • The neighbor who occasionally leaves a porch light shining directly on your spot in the bed. And remember that God often speaks between 2-4 a.m.
  • The pastor who preaches a “less-than” sermon once every couple of months. And remember that your church called a man, not a god.
  • The spouse who has been sick for three weeks while you’ve had to pick up the family slack. And remember that you promised “in sickness and in health.”

That other situation that God is laying on your heart right now. Remember that he is faithful.

Update from Ken Sande in the Middle East (#7)

May 13, 2011

What a trip this has been! Although the news has been full of stories of demonstrations, violence, and burning churches in the Middle East, I have spent three weeks safely getting to know some of the most wonderful Christians I’ve ever met. Believers here in Egypt are certainly concerned about the turmoil that surrounds them, but they are also confident in God’s protection and His plans to use these events to advance his kingdom. The following is an account of what Chip Zimmer, our VP of Global Ministries, and I experienced in Egypt.

Rev. Schmotzer and Fr. Merkurios I arrived in Egypt on Saturday evening, and joined Chip, who had flown in the day before. We were hosted by Dr. Mouneer Anis, the Anglican Bishop of Egypt and Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East. After worshipping at All Saints Cathedral on Sunday, Dr. Mouneer’s chaplain, Rev. Drew Schmotzer, drove us to the beautiful Coptic Orthodox Anafora Retreat Center north of Cairo, stopping on the way to visit St. Macarius Monastery, one of the oldest Orthodox monasteries in Egypt.

We had come to hold a three-day peacemaking conference starting Monday with leaders of the Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic Churches in Egypt. Tragically, Sunday evening turned violent in Cairo. Demonstrations incited by Islamic extremists resulted in the burning of two Orthodox churches, the death of twelve people, and the injury of another 250. (One of those killed was a guard at a church who, with a knife at his throat, refused to renounce Christ.) Fearing that the violence might spread, Dr. Mouneer and many of the other denominational leaders were compelled to stay in Cairo and meet with Muslim leaders to investigate the church burnings and issue a joint declaration condemning the violence. Thankfully, the crowds dispersed and no further demonstrations occurred during our visit.

Dr. MouneerThese events delayed many leaders’ arrival at the meeting and kept some in Cairo all week. Even so, we began our teaching Monday morning with twenty-five Anglican leaders and one Roman Catholic lay woman, and were joined later by Dr. Mouneer, a Roman Catholic priest (who is the communications director for the Catholic Church), and a woman from his church. These brothers and sisters gave Chip and me three of the most stimulating and rewarding days of training I’ve ever experienced.

Three excellent translators took turns converting everything Chip and I taught into Arabic. Wanting to contextualize the material, we had prepared three detailed case studies. All that we taught we applied to these three scenarios. We were delighted with the level of engagement of the entire group. Beginning with the first session, they jumped wholeheartedly into the case studies, freely sharing their thoughts, questions, and wisdom. We learned a great deal from them about conflict resolution in Arabic culture and how we can adapt our resources and training to be of value to the church in this country. Chip and I are deeply grateful to God, and can’t adequately thank our families and friends for praying for us. We are already discussing plans to bring another training team back to build on the work we did this week.

On Thursday, Chip and I visited the Great Pyramids of Egypt, which are the only remaining members of the “Seven Wonders of the World.” Incredible structures!  Our guide told us that the revolution has drastically cut tourism to Egypt. The pyramids are normally surrounded by thousands of tourists. When we were there, we saw no more than 30 or 40 at a time. My heart went out to the dozens of guides, vendors, and camel drivers who approached us hoping to earn a little income to take home to their families. It grieved me to think the great toll recent events have taken on thousands of innocent people who just want to live normal lives.

Ken and Chip keep the pyramids from growing any tallerWe drove back through Tahrir Square in Cairo, which was peaceful, filled with normal traffic. Nearby, we saw the burned-out high rise building owned by one of the former president’s sons. Anger against the president and his family has been building for 30 years, and I suspect that it has not yet been fully vented.

We then went to the Evangelical Theological Seminary (ETSC) and enjoyed a lunch with its president, Dr. Atef Gendy, who shared his insights on the challenges and opportunities Christians face in Egypt. Egypt has the largest percentage and total number of Christians of any Muslim country in the world. Up to 15% of the population is Christian; of Egyptian Christians, 90% are Coptic Orthodox. Although Egypt is rated as one of the twelve worst countries in the world in terms of religious violence, the believers I talked with are hopeful that God will work through recent events to bring them relief. Among other things, they are praying that the recent violence will show the general population what will happen if Islamic extremists gain power in the new government, and will convince Egypt’s citizens to support moderate leaders.

After lunch, I was invited to present a one-hour introduction to biblical peacemaking to the school’s staff and faculty. Even though they live in the context of major religious and political conflicts, they realize that the most frequent conflicts they encounter are in their families, churches, and workplaces. As a result, they responded enthusiastically to my talk, and we finished our time together exploring ways we could work together to provide peacemaking training to the seminary’s student body and the leaders of the 340 churches connected to the school.

Today (Friday morning) Chip and I woke early and walked the streets of Cairo for awhile. Throughout our visit every person we’ve met has been friendly, even when they learned we are Americans. Some of them have gently asked, “Why won’t America be more supportive of Arabs? We want to be your friends. We know that your influence can do much to bring peace and justice in our land.” This is not the picture most of us get from the nightly news. I have much to think about and many more people to talk with before I come back to the region again next March to teach at major peacemaking conference in Bethlehem. I would appreciate your prayers for me in my need for greater understanding.

Lord willing, I’ll be on a plane headed home when you receive this message. After reflecting on all we experienced during the last three weeks, I hope to send one more letter to you in a week or two, summarizing the lessons we learned on this trip and the ways we hope to continue to serve the body of Christ in the Middle East.

Warmly in Christ,

Ken

The Power of Words

“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Words play a key role in almost every conflict. When used properly, words promote understanding and encourage agreement. When misused, they usually aggravate conflicts and drive people further apart. If your words seem to do more harm than good when you try to resolve a disagreement, don’t give up. With God’s help you can improve your ability to communicate constructively.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 162

Food for Thought

Have you felt like your words have “aggravated conflict” lately?

Maybe your words were careless–you just didn’t think them through. Or maybe they weren’t loving, true as they might have been. Remember, our words can either be powerful vessels of God’s grace or can be the spark that sets the forest afire (see James 3:2-12). Reflect on your words during your last conflict. How would you characterize them? Pray that when you are “speaking the truth” today, it would be “speaking the truth in love.”

Update from Ken Sande in the Middle East (#6)

May 10, 2011

Dear Friends,

After my talk at the college on Thursday, we headed east into the Judean Wilderness on a new highway designed to link Amman with Tel Aviv, giving Jordan access to the Mediterranean Sea (fruit of the good relationship between Israel and Jordan). When they say “wilderness” they mean “wilderness.” Miles and miles of sweltering dessert without a bush or blade of grass. This was where our Lord fasted for forty days and was tempted by Satan. Unlike the first Adam, whose every need was met in the garden, Jesus, who was lonely, starved, and thirsty, withstood the test, perfecting an obedience that has been credited to all who trust in him.

We passed through Jericho, a green oasis in the dessert, thanks to a spring flowing from the nearby mountains. Looking to the east, we saw Mount Nebo, where we stood just a few days ago looking down on the Jordan Valley just as Moses did centuries ago.

Within the hour, we arrived at Qumran, where 972 texts from the Bible and other extra-biblical documents were found in eleven different caves between 1947 and 1956. Forty percent of the scrolls are copies of texts from the Bible, and date from 150 to 70 B.C. They confirm how God has maintained the accuracy of Holy Scripture for century upon century.

We then drove further south and took a cable car to the top of Masada, a 1,300-foot high plateau next to the Dead Sea that housed one of the many palaces built by Herod the Great. During the first Jewish-Roman War (66-73 A.D), the last of the Jewish rebels fled to this fortress to avoid Roman capture. They were besieged for months by the Tenth Roman Legion, which built a dirt ramp up to the western wall (300 feet above the adjacent hills), which they assaulted with a tower and battering ram. Realizing that they would be overcome in the morning, the 960 Jewish rebels in the fortress killed themselves (with the men killing their own wives and children) rather than come under the torture and slavery of the Romans. In memory of their bravery, all members of the Israel Defense Forces are sworn in on the top of Masada, repeating the declaration, “Masada shall not fall again.” I prayed that God would help me to understand a people whose lives have been shaped by so many centuries of oppression and adversity.

Our last planned stop on our tour was the Dead Sea, a popular resort area at the south end of the Jordan Valley. Donning our swimsuits, we waded out into the opaque waters, where dozens of people where covering themselves in the mud that is supposed to have medicinal benefits (some people stay at local spas, covered daily in mud, for three or four weeks). I passed on the mud, but enjoyed floating around, high in the water due to its density.

Friday was a day to relax, catch up on email, do laundry, and wander the shops in Bethlehem. Jeannine and Ken Krushas, a delightful couple in our group who run a bed-and-breakfast near Boston, MA (which has been commended by Martha Stewart, www.OnCranberryPond.com), joined me and our new friend from the college, Samar, in searching out bargains we could take home to friends and family. Jeannine and I kidded each other mercilessly throughout our ten days together … and it took me that long to realize that “Yea, Yea” is simply a Massachusetts version of “Verily, I say unto you.” When we part ways, I’ll miss her and her teddy-bear-friendly husband, Ken, as well as Pastor Ray, Barbara, and our unflappable tour guide, Manfred, at least until our next adventure.

I have a lot to sort through, digest, and ponder in the days ahead. So many preconceptions have been toppled, so many mental pictures have been repainted in far more vivid colors. I pray all of this will lead to a deeper walk with my Lord and a great passion to be an instrument of his peace wherever he chooses to send me.

Lord willing, my next report will come to you from Egypt, where Chip Zimmer and I are scheduled to spend three days speaking at a conference of leaders from the Anglican, Coptic Orthodox, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic Churches. May God give us wisdom and creativity to advance his kingdom in the “Land of the Pharaohs.”

Warmly in Christ,

Ken

Update from Ken Sande in the Middle East (#5)

May 9, 2011

We arrived in Bethlehem on Tuesday, May 3, and stayed in the guest house at Bethlehem Bible College for four nights. On Wednesday morning we visited Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, reportedly the site of the cave where Jesus was born. We then spent time at the Shepherd’s Field, contemplating what the shepherds (most of whom were probably just boys) must have felt as the angel appeared before them declaring, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people! Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

That afternoon we drove into Jerusalem and visited several historical sites. We started at the Western Wall, the remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the courtyard of the Jewish Temple. Hundreds of people crowded the square, some wearing Orthodox caps and shawls, others in western shorts, and still others in Israeli military uniforms. We moved on to the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord agonized in prayer before his ordeal on our behalf. We then walked the narrow alleys of the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus carried his cross, finally aided by Simon of Cyrene (the exact course is disputed).

Instead of going to the churches built near the traditionally accepted site of Calvary, we went to the more recently discovered (1883) Garden Tomb. This area lies just outside the city wall and includes a rocky cliff that looks like a skull, an enormous underground cistern (needed to water a garden), and a tomb that matches the description given in Scripture. No one can prove which of the various sites is the place of our Lord’s death and burial. Nonetheless, this particular location gives one a sense of what our Lord’s surroundings were at that time, and provided a place of sober meditation on his supreme act of love and sacrifice for us. Our group was given a small alcove for a time of devotions, during which Ray Cureton, the pastor in our group, gave a dramatic reenactment of how Peter might have described his betrayal of Christ, and his gracious restoration. We concluded our time in the garden with another meaningful communion service.

As I reflected on the many historic sites we had visited in the last few days, and the ongoing struggle by three world religions to retain access to these locations, I gained a new perspective on what makes this place “holy.” As special as this land is because of its place in the unfolding of God’s redemption plan, to me it is not so much the “Holy Land” as it is “the Land where the Holy One walked.” And as special as that is, I find greater joy in knowing that he is now living and working and advancing his kingdom through millions of people who call on his name, whether they walk the mountainous lands of Peru, the hot jungles of the Congo, or the crowded streets of Beijing. He is alive! And his kingdom covers the whole earth, encompassing people from every tribe and tongue. Praise be to his name!

Thursday morning I had the privilege of a giving a message on biblical peacemaking to the faculty, staff, and students of Bethlehem Bible College. Although we come from very different cultures and experiences, their smiles and laughter told me they related to the everyday conflict examples I used from my personal life and my experience as a mediator. I had many delightful talks with various individuals during the four days we stayed at the college’s guest house. They taught me much about the history, struggles, and hopes of the Palestinians in the West Bank (which includes Bethlehem). Although the city is surrounded by a 30′ wall and struggling to survive economically, all of the people I met at the college, in restaurants, and on the street were gracious and friendly. During each of the four evenings, I walked around town getting a sense of the community, sometimes talking with young men from the local refugee camps, whose demeanor did not change a bit even when they learned I’m an American. I felt safe no matter where I was.

My heart aches over the tensions and divisions that plague this country, and I am looking forward to returning next March to speak at the second “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference. The sponsors’ hope is to bring together many different speakers and perspectives on the historical, religious, and political conflicts that need to be resolved in order to restore God’s shalom to this unique land. I have a lot of studying, praying, and thinking to do in order to contribute in a meaningful way. Please pray for me and this conference. I am eager to expand my understanding and love for the people who live here.

Next report: Into the Judean Wilderness, to Jericho, Qumran, Masada, and the Dead Sea!

Warmly in Christ,

Ken

Update from Ken Sande in the Middle East (#4)

May 6, 2011

Dear Friends, 

Web access has been limited the last few days, so I’ve not been able to get my reports out as quickly as before. I’ll divide our time in Israel into two reports.

We crossed the Jordan on Saturday, April 30, and drove through miles of well-irrigated fields to Tiberius. This beautiful town rests on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. As I stood on my balcony looking over the lake at the Golan Heights that evening, I was moved by the realization that Jesus looked up the same waters and green hillsides as he traveled this region during the early days of his ministry. Chilly as the waters were, I had to take a swim in the lake that was so much a part our Lord’s life.

Sunday morning we drove a mere 15 minutes to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered his “Sermon on the Mount.” Sitting in the shade of a large tree on the top of the hill (Jesus probably spoke from the foot of the hill, which is shaped like an amphitheater), I read Matthew 5, 6, and 7 as though for the first time. Inside the chapel, I took special note of the stained glass window that read, “Beati Pacifici” (Blessed are the peacemakers). “May this be true,” I prayed, “especially in this troubled land.” Our group of six then gathered in a cool garden for devotions and a communion service that I will remember for the rest of my life, for this was a place walked by the very One who gave his body and blood for me.

Returning to our van, we drove to Capernaum within 5 minutes (everything was so close!). There is little certainty about the exact location of many biblical sites, but this a place where scholars and archeologists generally agree that they have located the actual foundation stones of Peter’s home and the local synagogue. Rivers of grace flowed through our Lord in this community. He called Peter, James and John out of their boats to become fishers of men. He healed the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and the paralytic who was lowered through the ceiling. He called Matthew out of his tax collector’s booth into apostolic ministry. And he traveled and taught in all of the towns surrounded the lake. I sat alone on the edge of the lake, where Jesus may have stood when he called Peter to beach his boat, and read Matthew 8 and 9 with a whole new appreciation.

On Monday, we drove to Mount Tabor, where Jesus was transfigured before his apostles, giving them a foretaste of what we can look forward to on the day of our own resurrection. Looking out from the crest of the mountain, we could see the fertile Jezreel valley, rich with crops and memories of many Old Testament events, including Elijah’s race with the chariot of Ahab, the stealing of Naboth’s vineyard, and Jezebel being devoured by dogs.

A few miles away, we entered Nazareth, where Mary was told she would give birth to Immanuel, and Jesus learned to be a carpenter. As in all of the holy sites in this land, a grand church has been built over the supposed site of the annunciation. Its walls are decorated with dozens of beautiful mosaic and painted pictures of Mary and the baby Jesus. As much as I respect the significance of this stone building and the labor of love that went into its adornments, I found something even more wondrous in Nazareth: living stones. I spent most of the afternoon with an old friend, Botrus Monsour, Director of the Nazareth Baptist School, his brother Badir, a local businessman and prominent church leader, and Badir’s remarkable wife, Rula. Their family roots go back many generations in this land, and in spite of the pressures that come from being a “minority within a minority” (Christian Arabs), they are passionate about giving witness to our Lord Jesus Christ. In doing so, they are fulfilling the promise given in 1 Peter 2:4-5:

 As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him–you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

All three of these people impressed me, but I especially admired Rula. A petite and soft-spoken woman, she earned a law degree before marriage, and then earned a master’s degree in conflict resolution and mediation at Tel Aviv University while serving her husband, raising three small sons, and working as a public prosecutor for 13 years (the first Arab female in Israel to hold such a post). She recently quit her prosecutor’s position to pursue a vision God has laid on her heart to promote biblical mediation and peacemaking. She will begin by teaching a course on biblical mediation at a local seminary and is gearing up to pursue a doctorate in this field as well. I see in her a humility and faith that reminds me of the Canaanite woman mentioned in Matthew 15:21-28. Like this woman Jesus highly commended 2,000 years ago, Rula is pressing through numerous social barriers and boldly seeking Jesus’ blessing on her vision to bring healing to her land through gospel-centered peacemaking. Please join me in praying that God would strengthen and guide her in pursuing this vision, and show me how Peacemaker Ministries can assist her. 

On Tuesday we drove across the country to the scenic Mediterranean city of Caesarea. This was where God commanded Peter to extend the gospel to the Gentiles (Cornelius, Acts 10), and where Paul later spent two years in prison waiting for Jewish/Roman justice to run its course (Acts 24 and 25). Much of the ruins of ancient city are still visible, hinting at a magnificent palace, full-sized hippodrome (for games and chariot races), and a theatre that could accommodate 4,000 people. The world-conquering grandeur and power of Rome was on full display in this city as Paul was brought through its gate in chains. And yet he was not the least bit intimidated. When he stood before the Jewish high priest, Roman governors Felix and Festus, and Jewish King Agrippa and Bernice, with his life literally on the line, Paul never softened his message. He consistently and boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord of the world. May God grant the Christians in this region and us grace to be as bold as Paul whenever God grants us the opportunity to speak of the love of Christ.

Warmly in Christ,

Ken