Under the Sun—One man’s remarkable commitment to the Bible

A number of common phrases in the English language came into use because of the Bible. “Under the sun,” “signs of the times,” “my brother’s keeper,” “the land of the living,” “the apple of his eye,” and “go the extra mile,” were all first written in Scripture.

The William Tyndale Church in Gloucestershire, England.

Not only are they all from the Bible, but they’re all from William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible. In 1536, Tyndale was executed in Belgium by the Catholic Church. He had fled England in order to translate the Bible, having been denied permission to translate the Bible into English. A law passed in 1408 made it a capital offense to translate anything from the Bible into English. One documentarian compared Tyndale to William Shakespeare, calling him a genius, such was Tyndale’s gift for languages and his astonishing ability as a translator. 

Eighty-three percent of the New Testament and more than 75 percent of the Old Testament in the King James Version of the Bible was taken straight from Tyndale’s work. Tyndale was committed to getting the Bible into the hands of the people, and once said to an opponent, “I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!” His commitment to translating the Bible meant he had to flee England, and he never returned. I’ve visited the spot just outside Brussels, Belgium where Tyndale was executed. It’s easy to forget today that in days past men and women were hunted, exiled, executed for possessing the Scriptures, and it’s easy to take for granted the blessing we have in possessing the Bible. 

Psalm 1:1, 2 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, he meditates day and night.”  Notice that wording. The Bible talks about people who aren’t merely interested in God’s word, who don’t simply acknowledge God’s word, but “delight” in God’s word. So how is it with you? Is God’s word a “delight” to you? You don’t want to take God’s word for granted. If you allow it to do so, it will change your life.

*Bible translator William Tyndale is featured in part three of It Is Written’s upcoming nine-part series on the Reformation, “500,” which debuts in October on television and online.

The Reformation Revived Through Evangelism

It Is Written Celebrates 500 Years of Reformation in Europe

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther walked to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the church door. The 95 Theses, or the list of 95 questions and topics Luther was proposing for debate, would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation.

This October will be 500 years since that iconic day. The Protestant Reformation was a religious and political revolution that would forever alter religion, art, music, and politics. It would also claim many Reformers’ lives as they dared to stand for the Bible. Today, we can thank God that Martin Luther followed His leading and brought Bible truth to light.

It Is Written will share God’s light throughout Europe this year in honor of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  Two parallel series will take place: one in Luther’s Germany with It Is Written Associate Speaker Eric Flickinger; and the other in Rome, Italy, presented by It Is Written Speaker/Director Pastor John Bradshaw.

Sharing the Gospel in Rome

In Rome, from October 25 to 31, Pastor Bradshaw will be preaching an evangelistic series titled Solo Cinque (The Five Solas). Solo Cinque will focus on the five biblical principles that were foundational to the Protestant Reformation. These are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity. Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone); Sola Fide (faith alone); Sola Gratia (grace alone); Solus Christus (Christ alone); and Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone).

“It’s really a special privilege to be able to share the message of the Bible in Rome. So much has happened in Rome that has impacted Christianity and the world. I’m praying God will do something in these meetings that will do the same,” Pastor Bradshaw said.

Mariarosa Cavalieri, It Is Written’s evangelism coordinator in Rome, has trained and organized over 100 members from five churches across Rome. These church members have not only participated in outreach but will assist with the Solo Cinque series, which will climax on October 31, 500 years to the day that Martin Luther nailed his history-changing theses. The short October series will then pave the way for a longer series which will follow in May 2018.

There has been powerful evidence of God at work in Rome. In the meantime, the devil is working to hinder the progress being made. A week ago, the largest participating church was damaged by fire, believed to be the result of arson. Although the building suffered considerable smoke damage, church members are undeterred in their service for the Lord.

“It Is Written is excited to be responding to God’s call and share the gospel with the people of Rome this year,” It Is Written Evangelism Director Yves Monnier said. “Imagine, going to the place where thousands of Christians died as martyrs during Nero’s persecution and where centuries later Martin Luther’s eyes were opened regarding the false teachings of the church as he climbed Pilate’s staircase. We pray that we will exhibit the faithfulness of the early Christians and the courage of Luther as we boldly proclaim the love of Jesus in a city that over time has become very spiritually dark.”

Evangelism in Germany

In Stuttgart, Germany, Associate Speaker Eric Flickinger will present an evangelistic series titled Hier Stehe Ich: Was Luther Heute Sagen Würde (Here I Stand: What Luther Would Say Today). The series will run for three weekends from October 13 to 29. Pastor Flickinger will look at the origins of the Reformation and the similarities between Luther’s time and our world today.

This series is the culmination of months of work, prayer, and diligent preparation. Under the faithful leadership of Hartmut Winschaft, It Is Written’s evangelism coordinator in Stuttgart, there has been a flurry of evangelism activity on the eastern side of the city. A broad advertising campaign will invite the entire city to Liederhalle, a modern convention center in the heart of the city, to hear God’s word resonate as it did 500 years ago.

“Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther kindled the fires of a reformation that has impacted nearly every area of life in the Western World,” Eric Flickinger said. “In October we have the privilege of carrying his torch forward in Germany, the very birthplace of the Reformation.”

Please pray for these historic series and the people of Germany and Italy.

Your support for this evangelism outreach is needed and would be greatly appreciated. To donate, visit itiswritten.com/give

SALT Update—Called

God works in remarkable ways.  When we take the time to listen to His voice, He lets us work alongside Him.

Nathan is a student at SALT, It Is Written’s evangelism training school. A few night’s ago he had an experience worth sharing:

“Before going to bed I went for a short walk. Suddenly, out of the shadows of the street lights, a young man emerged. We began talking, and it turned out Danny was trying to contact his mother. I offered him the use of my phone, but even though he called several times his mother never answered.

I was about to say goodbye when I felt impressed to offer him a ride home. I argued with my conscience. “I couldn’t do that!” I told myself, but the voice persisted.

“I have a car,” I told him. “Why don’t I take you home.” He couldn’t believe it. “Wow,” he answered. “I’d appreciate that a lot!”

When I got back to my room and reached out to grab my car keys, I noticed the red and white box of It Is Written Bible Studies on my shelf. It was then the thought hit me. “Nathan, this could be your first Bible study!”

I grabbed the first study about the character and trustworthiness of God, and ran to my car. Danny and I got in and drove off.

Not quite certain how to broach the subject of Bible studies, I simply came right out and said, “Danny, have you ever been interested in studying the Bible?”

His reply surprised me. “I’m actually working on reading my Bible through, but I got sort of bogged down in the Old Testament.”

I told him about SALT, and that I was looking for people to study the Bible with. I asked him if he’d like to study with me, and he said yes! I was overjoyed!

When we pulled into Danny’s driveway, his mother was waiting and I struck up a conversation with her. “I’ve been hoping Danny would find some good friends,” she told me. “Would you mind taking him to church with you?”

Surprised, I turned to Danny. “Would you like to go to church? I’d be willing to take you.” He said he’d love to.

If you think a roller coaster gets you excited, try witnessing. It will redefine your idea of joy and excitement. The English language can’t describe the happiness and joy I felt as I reflected on this crazy, amazing, and unforeseen interaction, and I’m feeling that joy again as I type these words now. 

No qualifications are needed for service to God, just a willing heart. As has often been said, ”God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”

And we’ve all been called.

To learn more about SALT, visit saltevangelism.com

SALT Update—Another Miracle

At our Gatlinburg, Tennessee Partnership event in early September, we were blessed to have our SALT class share testimonies about how God has been blessing this year’s fall program.

SALT gives students the opportunity to learn how to share their faith with others. SALT teaches students to be effective soul-winners while expanding their understanding of the Bible and providing them with a deep experience with God. SALT has proven to be transformational, not only for young people but for people of all ages.

Kyle and Daniel shared a powerful story showing that when people make themselves available for God to use, He brings them in contact with people who are looking for Jesus.

Andy was raised in a Christian church but had drifted far away from God. Several rough experiences because of his life of selling drugs led him to begin thinking about his future.

“I decided to end my life, but the revolver jammed when I pulled the trigger,” Andy told Kyle and Daniel. “Another time I was shot in the back, but I had a Bible in my backpack and the Bible stopped the bullet from hitting me.” When the students met Andy, his arm was in a cast. “A car hit me while I was riding my motorbike,” he told them. “It’s a miracle I wasn’t killed.”

Another miracle might be more accurate. After getting to know Andy a little, Daniel and Kyle asked if he’d be interested in studying the Bible together. They’ve begun meeting regularly to open up God’s word.

Only God knows where this will lead. But for now, Daniel and Kyle—and the rest of the SALT students—are praying God will touch Andy’s heart and draw him back to Him.

Daniel and Kyle sharing their experience.

Pastor Douglas Na’a, SALT program director.

Mission to Bulgaria

Starting this weekend, It Is Written Associate Speaker Eric Flickinger will be leading a major outreach effort in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, a socialist country for almost 50 years in the twentieth century, is bordered by Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania, while to the east it is bordered by the Black Sea. It is known for its winemaking, roses, and world-renowned yogurt.  More than three-quarters of Bulgarians describe themselves as Eastern Orthodox, with another 10 percent being Sunni Muslim. While Protestants are a minority in Bulgaria, the gospel has been moving with power since the fall of communism.

Pastor Flickinger will be partnering with a group of 12 pastors and administrators from Maryland as part of the Total Member Involvement initiative, designed to encourage all church members to use their God-given talents for the glory of God. “The purpose of TMI is—as the name suggests—to get every church member engaged in sharing his or her faith,” Pastor Flickinger said. “A concerted outreach program has been in place for many months, and along with an outstanding team I’ll be preaching the message of Christ and calling people to make a decision for the Lord.”

Evangelists will be speaking throughout western Bulgaria, while Pastor Flickinger will be holding meetings in Kyustendil, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. Kyustendil is largely populated by Romani (Gypsies). “I’ll be working with a group of 12 pastors, providing training and evangelism mentorship during the day. Then, in the evening, we will each be preaching meetings in different cities across western Bulgaria. This is another way It Is Written invests in the work of the gospel around the world. On the one hand, we proclaim the message, while at the same time providing training for gospel ministers in the area of evangelistic outreach.”    

Bulgaria is a historic country, and this work of gospel ministry will make a historic contribution to the forward momentum of the gospel.

Pastor Flickinger has conducted outreach events in numerous countries and is encouraged with how church members and leaders in Bulgaria have prepared for this initiative. “Please keep this important outreach effort in your prayers as our team seeks to bring the gospel to the wonderful people of Bulgaria.”

Mission: Mongolia — Miracles

When It Is Written brought a medical missionary team to Mongolia in 2016, a woman came to one of our clinics. At that clinic, she interacted with Christians for the first time in her life. She was so encouraged by the missionary team and what she learned about the Bible, that she began attending church. Before long, she and others in her family had given their hearts to Jesus and were baptized.

However, for the past 12 years, her son’s tongue has been attached to the bottom of his mouth. This means he cannot speak and has difficulty with the sorts of things most people take for granted. Yesterday, an oral surgeon on our team corrected the issue, ending more than a decade of difficulty. No longer tongue-tied, he will now undergo speech therapy on his way to a full recovery. He and his family are overwhelmed by the goodness of God.

Every day our Mission: Mongolia team sees God doing great things. Very often, in the simplest of ways.

One of our team members decided only at the last minute to bring a pair of compression stockings to Mongolia. They were too small for her to wear, but she brought them along anyway. Why? She had no idea.

God knew. A lady came to one of our clinics with a leg problem that couldn’t be treated by surgery, but it could be helped by… pressure! The husband of the woman who brought the compression stockings had made a last-minute switch and was at the site the woman was visiting. He knew his wife had just what the lady needed.

But how to get them to her? Perhaps they could meet at the evangelistic meeting that night? They met, she received the compassion stockings, stayed for the meeting, and committed to attend every one of the meetings.  “I’ve never heard anything like this,” she said. “I want to learn more about God!”

God continues to pour out His Holy Spirit on our nightly meetings. It’s a challenge to present the gospel when many of the people in the congregation have absolutely no background in the Bible. Noah’s ark? Many people coming to the meetings have never heard of it. The same is true for Adam and Eve, the story of Abraham, and Bible stories such as Daniel in the lions’ den.

Yet that hasn’t stopped people from being enthusiastic. My translator (who is doing a magnificent job), remarked about the way the audience applauded at times during each presentation, and after my final remarks every night. “People never applaud here,” he said. “Not for Bible meetings. This is unprecedented. They are definitely enjoying what they are hearing.”

One physician told me as we were leaving the evangelistic meeting that many of her patients are attending the nightly gospel meetings—which is why we are here in Mongolia. We are here to encourage people to know more about God and surrender their lives to him.

A Mongolian pastor told me, “In many of our communities it is difficult to get people to visit the church. This It Is Written health emphasis has been enormously successful in helping us engage with our community.”

We now have only one day left of our Mission: Mongolia health clinics, and then another day of preaching and baptizing. Our time has flown by. Soon we will be leaving Mongolia, with its fascinating language and gracious people.  Please join us in praying that as we depart this country the Spirit of God will continue to do a miraculous work.

Mission: Mongolia — Prayers

God continues to bless the work of our mission team here in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We are becoming accustomed to seeing the improbable take place, and hearing stories of God’s miraculous providence opening doors for the sharing of His love and grace.

A 12-year-old boy living in an orphanage heard about the free health care being provided by the It Is Witten Mission: Mongolia team. He was so intent on getting treatment that he rode a bus to one of our clinics. When examined, the doctors discovered that he had a perforated right ear drum, something he had been living with for four years. 

When he was asked why it hadn’t been fixed, his answer was telling—and sad.

“The doctors told me my immune system is not strong enough,” he answered. Doctor Marty Kelly, an emergency room physician from San Antonio, saw this young man. “Of course, that was just an excuse to not have to deal with this poor child because of his standing in society. Often, children in orphanages are considered to be just above the city dump as far as their status in society goes.”

“My heart went out to him,” Dr. Kelly told me. “He’s never going to have hearing in that ear again because it wasn’t fixed when it could have been. I literally prayed to the Lord and asked Him to perform a miracle.”  Tears came to Dr. Kelly’s eyes as he related this experience. 

“As I was treating him I sat there wracking my brain, asking myself, ‘Is there anything else I can do for this child?’ He reminded me of my grandson. Sweetest, nicest boy you could ever meet. He said thank you for everything, always smiling, not an angry bone in his body… Please pray for this kid.” 

Our mission team received an unexpected blessing yesterday. Some of our much-needed supplies were being held in customs at the airport. Although the necessary permissions had been obtained ahead of time, it seemed impossible that these supplies would be released for our team members to use. We had been told that the only way we could get the supplies was by picking them up on our way back out of Mongolia.

But the God of heaven had different ideas! He arranged for members of our team to treat the family members of a high-ranking judge in this city. The judge was extremely grateful for what our team had done, and in the course of conversation learned of the challenges we were having in getting ahold of our supplies. “Let me take care of this for you,” he said. “I’ll get in touch with the people involved and see to it that you have your supplies.”

Before long our supplies had been collected from the airport and were being put to use in treating people who need vital medical help. We’re thanking God for his goodness. Another miracle was worked!

Mission: Mongolia — Healing

Our 120-strong team of medical missionaries has so far touched the lives of hundreds of people. Offering dental, vision, surgical, OBGYN, and numerous other services entirely free of charge, Ulaanbaatar has become a place of healing for many.

The highest aim for our medical missionaries is to share the love of Jesus—and that often happens in difficult circumstances.

Last night, several of our team were asked to make a house call. A 29-year-old mother was terminally ill with neck cancer. Arriving at the lady’s home, it quickly became obvious there was nothing our team could offer in the way of physical healing. Yet they were able to offer something even better.

Dr. Gordon Guild tells the story.

“The woman’s Christian family members wanted us to pray for her and show her Jesus. So I spoke to her of a loving Creator God who made the world so we could come to know Him and live with Him forever.  I shared with her how the disobedience of Adam and Eve plunged the world into sin, but that God sent His son to forgive us of our sins and provide for us an eternal home.  I told her that just as He forgave the thief on the cross, He would also forgive her of her sins. I read John 3:16 and gave her a new testament we had all signed.  I reassured her of Jesus’ love for her and asked her if she would like to accept Jesus into her heart. She replied in English, ‘I would like to accept Jesus into my heart.’ I assured her Jesus was with her.”

“The family gathered around and we all prayed,” Dr. Guild continued. “The woman’s three-year-old daughter thanked me for praying for her mom!  That was special.  I never expected to make a hospice call on this trip, but to have a woman accept Jesus on her death bed and know she will soon sleep awaiting Jesus’ return was more than payment in full for making this trip. God’s blessings on these It Is Written mission trips just keep pouring in!”

Our hope and prayer is that everyone we reach would experience healing. But while physical healing, in this lady’s case, can only come as a result of a mighty miracle of God, the greatest healing has already occurred.

On the front lines in mission situations, the reality of the great controversy between Christ and Satan becomes obvious.

At one of our sites, a 19-year-old Mongolian man is assisting our team of medical missionaries as a translator. Our translators do an incredible work! His experience demonstrates how difficult it can be to be a Christian in Mongolia.

His father, a shaman (witch doctor) was training him to follow in his footsteps. As a boy, this young man did not want to emulate his father. At only 40 years of age, the father was white haired and old-looking, because—as the young man explained—shamans give their youth to to the evil spirits in exchange for power. Being a shaman was stressful for his dad because the neighbors would frequently come to him, asking him to curse and even cause the death of other people. Because his father was continually dealing with trouble, the boy wanted nothing to do with the shaman lifestyle. His father would often beat his mother and siblings, and was an alcoholic. When the father left the family, the young man’s life became much happier. 

As the only Christian in his family, he lives apart from his brothers and doesn’t want them to know where he is. “They don’t know I’m doing this work for the church,” he told a member of our team. “If they did, I don’t know what would happen to me.”

He was baptized four years ago. When asked how he came to faith in Christ, he answered, “Guitar!” The church offered guitar lessons to neighborhood children and he and several others came into contact with the church through these lessons. “I was attracted to the church because Christians were happy, and they didn’t drink. I had seen the damage done by alcohol and didn’t want anything to do with it. Then I learned about God’s love for me.” Now he serves his church, and his life is heading in a positive direction.

Our team was interested to know how he learned English so well that he could act as a translator. “Cartoons!” he replied. “I watched a lot of cartoons!”

There’s much more to share with you from this city of bad traffic, terrible (terrible!) drivers, and miracles of God’s grace. Check back soon for another update from Mission: Mongolia.

Mission: Mongolia Update

Mission: Mongolia is now in full swing.

Our team of more than 120—including around 80 medical professionals from at least five countries—are conducting clinics at numerous sites around Ulaanbaatar. At hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and churches, teams offering dental, vision, surgical, and multiple other services are touching lives. They are providing medical services that in many cases people here would not otherwise be able to receive.

Hundreds of people were seen at the clinics on our first day. The reports from the teams have been incredibly positive. Several of our team members are back in Mongolia for the second time, having come here in 2016 with our last Mission: Mongolia trip. It’s not always that a medical missionary gets to see the results of his or her labors in a short period of time. However, one story that has emerged over the last few days is especially encouraging.

Last year, a non-Christian woman came to one of our clinics for some desperately-needed medical help.  Not only did she get the medical help she was looking for, she also heard for the first time about someone named Jesus. She was prayed for and expressed a desire to know more about the kind of God who would motivate a medical professional to travel all the way to Mongolia from the United States—at their own expense—to minister to people they had never met.

She began to study the Bible and then started to attend church. Before long she was baptized, and this week in Ulaanbaatar she is a part of our missionary team, working as a volunteer alongside the very physician who ministered to her and led her to faith in Christ!

One of our team members here in Ulaanbaatar is a nurse who lives and works in Central London, in the United Kingdom. I asked Millie how she came to be a part of Mission: Mongolia.

“I’ve watched and enjoyed It Is Written for several years. I saw the program you filmed in Mongolia and thought at the time it would be a blessing to do something to help with God’s work there. When I read an It Is Written update saying that a mission trip was going to Mongolia, I felt like I had to be part of it. I’ve taken my holidays to be on this mission trip. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”

While people here in Ulaanbaatar are benefiting from the medical services being offered, it’s interesting to know that it’s not always the patients who are most blessed.

A physician on our team shared the following story with me.

“My family and I agreed to be part of a mission trip to Cuba. Just before we left the United States we found out that our family was going to make up an entire team! We weren’t expecting that. So I would be preaching 11 sermons, and we would be holding a vacation Bible school and doing other mission projects. We had never done anything quite like that before.”

So how did it go?

“During the meetings, I found out that the wife of my translator was in the hospital several hours away, seriously ill. Yet my translator—rather than being home—was at the meetings with me each night. I urged him to go and be with his wife. His response really got to me. ‘I need to be here,’ he said. ‘The gospel must be preached. People need to hear about Jesus.’ I thought to myself, ‘How many times have I missed meetings because I didn’t want to miss a game on tv or for some other similarly weak reason.

After much urging, the translator did go to visit his wife. Leaving early in the morning, he traveled several hours to visit his wife and then return in time to translate the evening meeting. “I rethought a whole lot of things,” my physician friend told me. “That mission trip changed me, and it changed my family.”

The patients here in Ulaanbaatar are definitely being blessed and helped and encouraged— and our missionary team members are being blessed also.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Patients receiving treatment at a dental clinic.

Mission: Mongolia Continues!

After years of planning and ministry, the culmination of Mission: Mongolia, a major outreach in the nation of Mongolia, is upon us.  Most of the 120 members of our medical missionary team have arrived in Mongolia and are now preparing to begin a major health emphasis in  Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia is a fascinating country.  Almost the size of Alaska and with the population of Mississippi, Mongolia was once the seat of the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world.  The legendary Genghis Khan is still revered in Mongolia, a land which has recently begun to stake its claim as a significant player on the global stage.

For almost seventy years, Mongolia was a communist country.  In the early 1990s, a transition to democracy took place.  Today, about half – perhaps more than half – of Mongolia’s inhabitants live in Ulaanbataar.

Less than 3% of Mongolia’s population is Christian.  With the exception of Buddhism, the majority of Mongolians identify as having no religious faith.  While the challenges of sharing the gospel in a secular country like this are significant, the enormous need in Mongolia has driven our team to travel to this remote country to lift up the cross and proclaim the name of Jesus.

Starting Sunday, June 4, It Is Written begins a major health project in Ulaanbataar.  At several locations around the city, our team of medical missionaries will be providing a wide range of free health services.  In cooperation with city government, physicians, ophthalmologists, dentists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and many others will be ministering to thousands of people.  At the same time, evangelistic meetings will be held in the center of Ulaanbataar each night, giving people the opportunity to know Jesus as not only Healer, but as Lord and Savior.

Please pray for Mission: Mongolia, as our team settles in and prepares for a major initiative that will touch and change lives for the honor and glory of God.

To watch Mission: Mongolia, an It Is Written program on the situation in Mongolia, click here.