Moving Christians from the pew to the harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38
December 19, 2022
Judy and I want to take a moment to wish you and yours a Merry and Peaceful Christmas and a Prosperous 2023. I have run through all the platitudes about Christmas, Advent, and Incarnation that I could bring to mind. The challenge of being original is too much for me this time of year. Let me just say that it has been a remarkable year, thanks in large part to the faithfulness of people like you. For this, we are ever grateful.
One of my annual obsessions at Christmas is the overwhelming sense of gratitude that God would come as one of us, even as the least of us, in order to take our place in His own judgment. It’s just too wild to be untrue. When I think of the stable, the stench and the cold it convinces me that He truly does enter into my circumstances with me. He knows how I feel. He even knows why I fail, yet He comes anyway. What a Savior, what a deal, what a joy to carry the news.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.(Philippians 2:5-8 BSB)
News from the front:
Recovery from Addiction. Do you ever get the feeling God is trying to tell you something? For me that usually entails stumbling over opportunities, running into people, and reading random materials that all seem to draw my attention in the same direction. For about the last 2 months, He has been showering me with opportunities to help those with addictions.
It started in Mexico when I taught our second level course called “Victoria sobre las Adicciones.” The first 4 hours were September 29 and 30. The response was very emotional as people recognized the impact of addiction on their own lives. As I painted the portrait of addiction, most people had someone in mind. Many realized that their churches were not addressing the subject in an effective way. I am something of a skeptic when people are emotionally moved by a subject. I’ve seen a lot of tears that are never connected to actions. In this instance, I got a pleasant surprise.
On December 1, I took a team to Hermosillo to teach the last 4 hours of the course. Again, the material was received with great interest and emotion. I shared some of my own experience with churches that are in denial of the subject. Joshua Taylor shared from his experience with recovery and church. The testimonies from the students triggered hope in my heart. After the September classes, some had attended open AA and Alanon meetings to learn more about recovery. These pastors were blessed and intend to keep going! Another pastor and one of her leaders informed me they are doing services in six different rehabs in the city. One of these is for kids 12-17. They asked if they could use our little study guide “Grupos de Apoyo para el Alcohólico y su Familia.” They are teaching teenagers how to follow God in their recovery. We gave them all the booklets we had and will provide as many as they need going forward.
Meanwhile, things are happening here in Arizona. After ministering at Faith Family Church in Chandler, two people came and thanked me for having come there to teach a seminar on the subject nearly 20 years ago. They still feel the impact. Back in Tucson, doors of opportunity are opening. As the result of seemingly casual conversations, I have the opportunity to do services at a local treatment facility. It’s not a Christian place, but they want to provide spiritual input for those who choose to attend. For reasons of confidentiality, I won’t share the name, but it’s a great chance to touch the lives of people at their lowest moments. Pray that we can find ways to be effective.
P.S. If you haven’t done so lately, maybe it’s time to address this subject with your congregation. Most of them are affected in some way. The people in your community are being hammered with it. If you’ve been living in a cave, you might not know that drug overdoses and alcohol related problems kill about 100,000 people every year. It’s going up. Help is available. Please contact me if you need help in dealing with the issue.
Pastor’s Breakfast: After our classes in Hermosillo, we met with pastors for breakfast on Saturday. Several great things happened that morning. First, Pastor Randy Winkles brought a powerful message on several keys to effective leadership. Pastors were powerfully touched. Our newest team member, Gabe Rascón, interpreted and did a fine job. And the icing on the cake, we managed to stream and record the message! God is good.
Disconnecting to Connect: Many years ago, before the cell phone, it was fairly easy to get some time away to pray and get my mind quiet. These days it takes a very intentional commitment. Life has kept me so busy that I have yet to take my “mountain time” this year. I will be doing that shortly. If you reach out and get voice mail or Judy, just know that I will be back with a fresh attitude and refined direction.
Upcoming Event: January 26-28 Hermosillo. Sonora. Congreso 2023
Help Wanted Progress: God has been good. We have new helpers in many areas. I have a volunteer to sort through old “Out of the Abundance of the Heart” emails to put the best ones together in the form of a devotional. I’m still looking for some help in updating our books for Kindle publication. It’s relatively easy and can be done by anyone with a computer and internet connection. Any volunteers?
Thank you for your prayers and support. Let me once again say, “Thank you” for your confidence and support. As we each do our part, God seems to be doing His. Lives are being touched. May you each enjoy a peaceful and joyous Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Financial support can be sent to Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson at the address below or given online at www.fcftucson.org. Make checks payable to FCFT, you can designate for missions or pastorvirgil and it will get where it needs to go. We pray consistently that God bless you as you obey Him in giving. He is faithful.
Visit us at www.pastorvirgil.com. There’s new stuff every week. You don’t want to miss it. Share it with your friends. You can help by looking at the Pastorvirgil.com Facebook page and hitting “Follow.” Whenever you see a post, share it. This will help us reach more people. We also maintain a Facebook page in Spanish @IEMFeonline.
We are yours in His service,
Virgil and Judy Stokes
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson AZ, 85745