Good News Club meeting…

Friday afternoon, February 10th, there will be an informational meeting at Millhopper Public Library. At this meeting you will get the answers to questions like:

  • What is a Good News Club?
  • What does it look like?
  • What do you mean by “evangelism”?
  • Will my child be called a sinner?
  • Who teaches the children?
  • What qualifies them?
  • What does it cost?

This meeting is held at this time because this is the time when a Good News Club is usually being held, so a person who could not come to this meeting could not volunteer in a club, either.

Please join our Meetup group if you are interested in reaching children for Christ!

The past two years in review

In August of 2014 Cindi and I moved to Homosassa. We knew a handful of people in the area, and we had come by faith, with no guarantee of an income. There was no chapter, and no local organizing body. We were tasked with forming one, and we had much favor with God as we found many hidden treasures who took up the cause with us; the cause of reaching this generation of children with the Gospel.

We were never really on our own, though, as we came with a fresh education from Children’s Ministries Institute. We also had a copy of “The Plan,” a CD with a vast digital resource of knowledge and documents from Child Evangelism Fellowship, as we followed the instructions for how to start Good News Clubs®. We had never done it before, but we could read and we could pray, and before long we discovered that many other people were praying and believing that we could get this ministry into the public schools in Citrus and Hernando counties.

The next two years truly tried our souls. I have never before been more aware of the malevolent power of Satan as I have since we moved to Homosassa and had essentially called him out by pursuing the souls of children. So much has been accomplished in spite of the opposition we received that it could only be by the power of God that we have had such success. We do have an enemy, but the Bible reminds us that, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds,” 2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV. Yes, we have weapons, but they do not wield themselves. We must take them up and use them, and we ignore that at our peril.

I learned a great deal about prayer, but even more about how important it is to have others praying for you. Because I am a frail human being, there are times when I need you to pray because I am weary. And I thank you, whoever you are, for taking up the fight on our behalf when we were not able. Great will be your reward.

I know what you were expecting here was a litany of facts: 9 new Good News Clubs started in public schools, total ministry enrollment going from 300 to over 900 the first year, and this year is still counting; and about 60 trained volunteers to 182. But those things happened because of the spiritual battles that were won, and it has to be spiritual. How else can we explain the blindness that adults must overcome to realize these children are in peril? When the light comes on, it changes their lives and gives them divine purpose: obedience to Christ’s commission to His people to bring the Gospel to the lost.

We are coming back home, and we will face the same enemy. The same apathy and blindness that afflicts the comfortable, who watch the young perish without lifting a finger, is a stronghold that must be torn down. I will continue to need your prayers to help us achieve the goals God has given us…all of us. Jesus said, “So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish,” Matthew 18:14 ESV. How many are we willing to let perish? What do we seek first, instead of the Kingdom of God?

It is my hope that you have heard my plea for your prayers. Hear this also: this ministry needs the financial resources of faithful people to reach the lost sheep who have nothing to give. Please pray about what you can do to help relieve this burden. Monthly support keeps us at work in the field instead of organizing fundraising events. A gift of $25 per month is less than a dollar a day to train and equip volunteers who evangelize and disciple the children who are tomorrow’s teenagers and adults. Please use the donation link on the sidebar, or send your checks to the address between the donation buttons.

Thank you again for all you have already done,

Don Marsh

The Battle for Nine-year-olds

avery-nat-geoWhen I first saw the cover of National Geographic, featuring a nine-year-old transgender activist, my knee-jerk reaction was to post it on Facebook and talk about how our culture-makers are luring children into  gender confusion. But, then I thought I should do something radical and read the article first. I have done so, and I must admit that my knee had it right the first time.

I have worked  as a volunteer in church children’s ministries since the 80’s, and now work in an evangelistic children’s ministry by vocation, so my snap judgments are formed by experience, training, and research. I am not merely informed by the latest kerfuffle on the Internet. So, the sight of a nine-year-old being given a forum on the cover of a magazine like National Geographic (as opposed to the National Enquirer) causes me to wonder what the agenda is here. Stay with me. This may require some critical thinking.

First, the article informs us that, “National Geographic photographer Robin Hammond interviewed nine-year-olds in four continents. From China to Brazil, Hammond met with kids in their very different homes to talk about their very different expectations for the future and what it means to be a boy or a girl today.” This is pretty tame, straightforward stuff. It should produce fairly predictable information, which it does. One example follows another, how boys get some preferential treatment:

If they were boys, Pooja Pawara from outside Mumbai would ride a scooter, while Yan Zhu from China’s Yaqueshui village would swim in a river that her grandmother insists is too cold for girls. Because she’s not a boy, Luandra Montovani isn’t allowed to play in her Rio favela’s streets, where she says the dangers include “violence and stray bullets.”

I have to admit that I thought it strange that there was an upside to dodging stray bullets. But that is a part of their culture, which is really the point of the article. Culture informs your experience. It gives you norms of behavior. Parents have understood this as long as anyone remembers. It’s the reason you were not allowed to play with certain children because it was deemed as not safe, with no mitigating racial or socioeconomic factors. Even television networks knew there was a time for “family television.”

To cut to the chase, this article was not about transgender children or transgenderism in general. Avery, the nine-year-old transgender (no description of where he/she is in the process), gets two paragraphs and a two quotes and exits the stage, but not without getting on the cover of the magazine. It is as if this ordinary story, telling common knowledge as if it were sage wisdom, was merely an excuse to use the photo that is worth a thousand words. Another quote from the article begs a question of my own:

What is something that makes you sad?
For Tomee War Bonnet, an Oglala Lakota, it’s “seeing people kill themselves.” What plants such thoughts in a nine-year-old’s head? Her reservation’s history of suicides, by kids as young as 12.

Yes, what plants thoughts of gender identity in the heads of attention-seeking nine-year-olds? Being transgender is the new shiny object. It once got you ostracized, but now it gets you something entirely different. You can get a lot of attention, a lot of strokes. A magazine cover is a pretty big prize. There are sex education videos being used to reach out to ten-year-olds that celebrate how special you are, and how happy your parents will be that you are happy with your sparkly new gender identity! I have seen the videos. I will not link them here.

There is a great deal of indoctrination that goes on in our culture, and it reaches down further and further in its age range before our eyes. And it does plant ideas in the heads of children. They are very receptive to these ideas, which is why it is important to know which ideas we should expose them to.

I believe the evangelical church in America has been dropping the ball for years. It is not enough to teach children rote verses and Bible stories about Noah’s Ark and King David and the Lord Jesus without life applications. And some of those applications pertain to living in a culture that is openly hostile to Biblical values like moral excellence and faith in a God you cannot see. There are many forces at work that beat us to the minds of children that have been uninformed about the Bible and what it teaches, as well as those who are actively undermining  those who have been taught. Do we recognize them? Do we know how to deal with changing cultural norms that demand your child’s participation or agreement?

It is no longer good enough to try to shield our children from aberrant information. Like good anti-virus software, you also have to know how to quarantine and disinfect the bugs that get in. And they will get in. To think they won’t is self-deceiving and lazy. It also insures that you will not be changing the world you live in for the better.

There was a time when most Americans had a Biblical worldview. Even the wicked needed the Bible to effectively twist the truth. But today we live in an America that has seen very little evangelistic effort. We are paying for it by losing ground to a worldview that is very evangelistic. The humanistic worldview that eliminates God from its equations and its social mores is on offense. We cannot continue to backpedal and hide in our sanctuaries. We must take back the opportunities God has given us. And every new generation of children is an opportunity for us to get it right. And we are obligated by the Great Commission to do so.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

 

 

On being focused

church-in-louisianna-by-rick-galvan-on-flickrI just recently made changes to this website…again. I thought I’d use my own personal domain and site to promote my side business, so I could augment the income I was getting from the ministry. Well, the ministry business is definitely picking up, so the window cleaning has to go. And this is a good thing.

Likewise, this site should be a place where I can talk about life on my own terms, instead of doing it as the local director of an evangelistic ministry to children. After all, what I say on the ministry’s website represents the goals and obligations of the ministry, and I have people to answer to. What I say here is what I have to say as a Christian man living in a world that is continually diminishing the importance of God in its own eyes. And what I say here may offend people. And when I say people, I mean the people of God. After all, the Bible does not tell us to criticize and accuse the world of wrongdoing. It tells us that we are to bring the Good News that God is not holding their sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). Actually, the Bible explicitly tells us that we are to judge those within the church (1 Corinthians 5:12), holding one another accountable.

If you are an ordinary believer who is confused or disappointed in how the world is going and you wonder what you can do about it, I can tell you from my own experience that the answer can usually be found by looking at yourself. After all, we have been given the command to GO share the Gospel that changes people’s lives, and the power to DO that. If that isn’t happening, it may be that we are simply not going and doing. And we often fail to do those things because we are not focused on obeying God. And when we are unfocused, things are blurry and hard to distinguish.

When I was first saved, I was very focused on obeying God. I put away the evil things I had been doing, like stealing for my boss and flirting my brains out with the woman who managed a restaurant I served. I began to pray for the people I was mad at. And I shared the salvation message  with sinners. After I lost my job because I wouldn’t steal for them any more, I started a small business and started doing prison ministry with my wife. We brought homeless people to our house, fed them, and shared our faith. I went house to house with a friend, asking people if they knew Jesus. Even though I had a wife and child and two businesses (we’d opened a Christian book store), we were very focused on obeying God and seeking first the kingdom of God.

But something happened over time. We started serving in the church instead of going out. Our focus was on inside ministries, like teaching Sunday school and in children’s church, going to Bible studies and small group meetings. It filled our evenings and weekends and we forgot the command of Jesus to go out and preach the Gospel.

As my business grew and prospered I still tithed, but I did not increase my giving to support evangelistic ministries that went out. We weren’t ministry partners with any missionaries. Our focus was on making a living, but obedience to God was more on the edges. Yes, I ran my business in a way that honored God. But the focus was on making enough money  to pay for a standard of living that was getting more expensive.

I got involved in local politics as a way to bring a Christian influence on my community, but it was an indirect way, on the edges. I was still being obedient in a blurry, off-center way. I was doing it my way instead of just doing what I was told.

It is interesting that no one ever tried to correct me. It wasn’t until I was finished with being a political candidate that my wife and I read John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life,” and we began to wonder what God wanted us to do with our lives. We sold our house and most of our possessions and moved into a small apartment and took some time to focus on what God wanted.

It turns out He wanted us to do like He told the Ephesian church in Revelation: “You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5. We needed to regain our focus, which we had lost over time.

In 2012 we discovered Child Evangelism Fellowship, a ministry that gave us the exciting opportunity to evangelize children, the most open-minded and neglected people group in the world! And not only that, because their methods could be taught, we could train others to be more than converts; they could be disciples, bearing much fruit!  “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.

Today it is our vocation to raise up disciples who bear fruit, serving in Good News Clubs that teach children the meaning of the Gospel, and how to apply it to their lives. In the past 2 years, we have added over 110 new volunteers who serve our God by reaching the children for Jesus!

It is unfortunate that I meet so many believers who are too busy to obey God. They would rather while away their lives fishing or playing golf or watching football on television. They go to church, but they do not serve. They complain about the state of the world while not lifting a finger to change it. If this sounds like you, it is not too late to change. If you are still drawing breath, there is still time for you to refocus, return to your first love, and do the first works.

Bigger Than Orlando

flowersfororlando

I was driving home from a Lutheran church yesterday when I finally turned on the radio and let in the outside world. That’s when I heard about the Orlando massacre, and got the first inkling that it was probably Islamic terrorism. Since then, I have watched the reactions of many friends and acquaintances on social media, as well as how various politicians and talking heads have weighed in on this horrible tragedy.

It seems like almost every argument and point of view has been covered as some people look to fix blame or position themselves in the best light. And there have been many expressions of sorrow and grief and anger that are all easy to understand. So I have been in no hurry to rush to make a statement, or be a part of any particular camp. It’s not because I am heartless or do not care, but I do have what seems to be an unusual perspective. I hope you will take time to consider it.

Every day in America between 6,000 and 7,000 people die of various causes. Around the world, it’s over 150,000 deaths per day. Although many of them are untimely or tragic, they all have one thing in common: they are inevitable. And from there, the go to spend eternity in the presence of their Savior, or they go to Hell. And very little is said about this, the ultimate tragedy.

Perhaps you do not believe this is the case. Keep in mind that you do not make the rules. We were created by a holy God, and He ultimately calls the shots. Bring your lawyer if you wish, but remember that he will just be another defendant on Judgment Day.

Because I do believe this, and so do many of you who are reading, that puts a weight of responsibility on us to share the Good News, that God so loved the world that He gave His Son, to pay the price for all of our sins, so that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. In fact, we have been commanded to share that message. And I don’t need to bring out empirical proof to all of you for you to know that most of us live lives of gross disobedience to the Great Commission.

Over the next several months I expect to see a lot of changed profile photos expressing solidarity with the victims of the Orlando massacre by many believers in Christ. Keep in mind that showing your sadness is appropriate, but it is not a substitute for sharing the Gospel with the lost world.

It is interesting to note that the shooter was born in the US and went to school here. I have to wonder if he had heard the Gospel while he was growing up. Was he or his family befriended by Christians who shared the Gospel with them? Every sinner, no matter how vile you believe that person to be, started life as a child.

That is the lens through which I see this terrible event. In a nation where we have the right to share the Gospel, most of us don’t. And even those of us who do, focus on reaching people AFTER they have grown up. The average church spends 3% of its budget on ministering to children, and most of them do not evangelize the children they have.

This terrible event will not be changing my profile picture or how I live my life. I am back at work today, planning on reaching hundreds of children this summer with the Gospel. Many of them will make first time professions of faith, and begin a life of living by faith in Jesus. I am blessed to have many volunteers who give of their time to obey God and do what He has told us to do. But there are many thousands more to reach in this area, and we don’t need sympathy. We need your help.

Visit us online at CEFCH.ORG to give your time, talent, or treasure. Thank you.