64 people in 12 countries for 956 years! Yes, those are the numbers. This weekend we hosted a gathering of people who have served with New Tribes Mission and/or are currently serving. The 64 people who attended represent 956 years of NTM ministry in 12 different countries! Some drove 3 hours or more to join in this fellowship. In some cases people met one another again for the first time in 30 years! Bethlehem Baptist Church in Roebuck SC, graciously allowed us to use their facilities. NTM updates were shared and there was plenty of free time for individuals to interact with one another. The Lord also gave us a look back into NTM history as one attendee shared his experience working with NTM founder Paul Fleming. The overwhelming response of enjoyment and appreciation made our many hours of planning and preparation work worthwhile. It is a privilege to have co-workers in the Gospel as we do in New Tribes.
What should I do when my knees are weak? Recently, I read in the Bible, “…strengthen your…weak knees.” (Heb. 12:12) and it made an impression more than any other time I’ve read that sentence! Since I had knee surgery and am going through the ensuing rehabilitation, I have experienced one kind of “weak knee’. The word-picture drawn for us in Hebrews 12 is of one who is weary from walking a long distance – “feeble arms, weak knees, limping feet”. That’s the picture of us at times as we follow Jesus. Sometimes He leads us through difficult terrain; sometimes our life of following Him is challenging - even rugged! It may mean taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth! We are told to not give up but to help one another in pursuing all that Jesus wants. My “weak knee” experience has required the help of a surgeon, follow-up doctors, and a physical therapist. What kinds of help can we give to people with spiritually weak knees? We can turn our attention to Jesus and encourage others with what we see… “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” (Heb. 12:1b-2a, NIV)
If you watched the Olympics, you probably saw the Jamaican flag a lot—mainly for their medal-winning runners. As the Olympics opened in London, I was in Kingston, Jamaica, within sight of the Usain Bolt Stadium, watching a host of other runners. University students were gathered from 14 Caribbean nations for a mission conference! Yes, they were considering the race that is set before them by our Lord. These young people from across the Caribbean are uniquely poised by God to be used in global missions. From multi-ethnic cultures, they are eager to study God’s Word and learn to follow Him. They are challenged by how the Lord of the harvest can use them in global missions. Thank you for praying for me as I helped represent NTM at the IMPACT 2012 Conference coordinated by the Caribbean Fellowship of Evangelical Students. Continue to pray for these students who were challenged to be ‘running’ with the Gospel.
Mid January found us sharing with a new group of friends on Oak Island, NC. Later in the month we were blessed by a visit from three college students with hearts for the Lord. Then the first few days of February was an encouraging time at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. Please pray for the students who were challenged to give their lives to share Christ internationally. It is a privilege to encourage these young people in their walk with the Lord. We pray their lives will bear eternal fruit.
Our Lord blessed the year 2010 with abundant opportunities to serve and enjoy Him and to watch Him work in peoples lives. Take a brief look with us at the past 12 months.
- January – The first of the year found Ken preparing for sharing with a Perspectives class later in the month. We had a wonderful fruitful time with a group of 50 children at a Word of Life club here in Spartanburg. This was the first of our children’s presentation with grandfather Tubok (Ken). His story is the awesome way God prepared his heart to hear the gospel long before we ever went to teach God’s Word in the Da’an tribe in Indonesia. Let us share Tubok’s story with you sometime. Then came our time in Myrtle Beach at the Perspectives class. God also gave us some family time while at the beach.
- February – Cindy helped co-hostess a weekly Bible study in a local church. It was a blessing to help facilitate some of the discussions. Early in the month found us at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia for their Missions week. February 5 & 6 our Lord gave us the joy of sharing our Chronological Teaching and Storying Seminar in a local church. This was in preparation for their mission trips to Peru. February 14 – 27 found us in Florida attending back to back seminars on caring for missionaries and their families.
- March – The first week we were on hand for World Christian Week at Columbia International University. Any trip to Columbia is also an opportunity to see Ed and our daughter Liz and Eliana. This trip we learned that baby number two was on the way! We finished out the week at a combined Missions weekend for a group of local churches. It was a very special time connecting with missionaries and believers from different churches. March 12-14 was Missions weekend at a local church and God gave us the joy again of presenting grandfather Tubok’s story and giving our own testimonies of coming to Christ and entering missions to over 200 children. March 25 – 31 was a special open door for Ken to participate in a Missions conference in a West Indies country. Our Lord moved among them and a number of believers became more involved in training to share Christ overseas.
- April – This month we made return trips to Toccoa Falls College, North Greenville University and Columbia International University. There was also a wonderful opportunity to meet with a perspective pilot family. They are a dear couple interested in serving the Lord in aviation.
- May – May 2nd Ken was asked to speak to an Indonesian congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. Later that week we had an opportunity to share with a World Geography class in a public school in Atlanta as well. The end of the month our Lord gave us a refreshing retreat in the NC mountains celebrating our 36th anniversary. While there we continued the work on the books we are writing.
- June – Early in June Dave and Nita Zelenak, friends from Florida paid us a visit. It was good to reconnect and renew our friendship. We were blessed with a visit from Barry and Candy Wingo and Ted and Sharon Wingo, friends who work in Mexico that attended some of the same Bible studies Ken attended while in High School. Other friends from those days joined us for a wonderful reunion that day.
- July – July 1 – 10 God gave us the joy and privilege of staying with Eliana in Columbia while Ed and Liz went on a mission trip to Peru. This was a time of receiving strength and grace from the Lord. In the midst of this time baby Naia was born in Greenville, SC on July 8. What a blessing, despite some complications for Anna before her birth and later that month. We were thankful to be on hand to help while Anna was recovering.
- August – The first of August the Lord blessed us with a working break in the mountains after our time of serving our family in July. This was our opportunity to prepare for future ministry opportunities and continue working on our manuscripts. We had a special visit from one of our Bible School teachers and wife. Vern and Joyce Bartlett were a great encouragement to us during our days in mission training. August 26-29 was a good opportunity to meet believers and share missions at a local mission conference.
- September – This month the Lord gave us some great fellowship with my brother Gary and wife Karen and a group of good friends from Gary’s home church in Pennsylvania. We met them at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It is always a reminder of God’s glory and majesty seen from the seashore. September 20-22 the Lord moved on the campus of North Greenville University during their mission conference. There was good interest on the part of the students and the Lord blessed our time there. Later that week Ken shared a presentation at the JAARS center in North Carolina. The end of the month we had a very special visit with a young lady sharing the chronological Bible studies with students on her campus. It was such an encouragement to meet her.
- October – Our Lord gave us another opportunity to share grandfather Tubok’s story with another group of about 30 children and young people. He only speaks the Da’an language and the children are taught how to ask him the name of different items. Everyone comes away knowing how a person feels trying to learn another language. Then we made another visit to Toccoa Falls College and Columbia International University where we found young people interested in serving the Lord in unreached people groups. God gave us another working break in the mountains for Ken to prepare for his upcoming trip to Indonesia. Little Nathaniel Kenneth Stuart was born October 24. How thankful we are for his safe arrival. Just before Opa left for his travels on Oct. 26.
- November – This was a month of great joy for both of us even though apart. Ken had the wonderful blessing of visiting the Da’an people group. He enjoyed meeting the believers there and seeing our dear grandfather Tubok, now mostly deaf but still loves the Lord. Cindy had the joy of serving Ed and Liz and bonding with our grandchildren Eliana and baby Nate. Liz had a slow recovery and it was providential that Cindy could be with her most of the month.
- December – This is usually our month to regroup after a busy year and this time we had the blessing of Ken being invited to speak to the Indonesian congregation in Atlanta again. Cindy also sang with her autoharp which was a surprise to the folks there. Before we knew it Christmas was upon us. A wonderful finish to a blessed year. All praise and glory to God!
God blessed the Stuart family (Ed and our daughter, Liz) with little Nathaniel Kenneth Stuart Sunday October 24th 2010. Opa and Oma West were so happy little Nate arrived before Opa’s trip to Indonesia. We were all very grateful for a safe arrival. Liz had a difficult recovery and it was providential that Oma could be on hand for the next month while Opa was traveling. Baby Nate is growing and brings delight to his parents and grandparents. He is starting to smile and coo making everyone laugh!
In October and November 2010, Ken visited Indonesia once again. There were several ministry opportunities, including speaking at an international church in Jakarta. Of course, the highlight of his trip was the visit to the Da-an church and translation team. Though faced with some challenging personal concerns and with some ministry challenges in the church, the leaders continue to trust the Lord in caring for the church body. Continue to pray for the spiritual health and growth of Da-an believers, their relationships both within and outside of the body of Christ, and the outreach opportunities.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy…Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. – Psalm 33:18 & 22
Much has happened in our family during the past few weeks so we wanted to give a brief family update. There have been many opportunities in the past couple of weeks for each of us to put our hope in the Lord and His tender mercies…
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Thank you for praying for our time with the children at Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church during their Missions weekend. The children were very attentive and appreciated the time. Cindy told about the need of unreached tribal groups, then told the story of a tribal believer and taught the children a phrase for learning language. Then they met Ken, dressed as the tribal man Cindy told about. He was in a different room decorated as a tribal village. When they met the tribal man, the children tried to use their language phrase to learn a few more words. Pray our Lord will use the challenge of the unreached to move their hearts and lives for future service for the Lord.