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November 11, 2017, 7:36 PM

God's Plan Works

The following post is an article written several years ago by my dad, Milton Rhoads. Since that time, he has gone on to be with the Lord. He being dead yet speaketh.

My father and mother received the Holy Ghost and were baptized in Jesus’ name over seventy years ago.  This was the new birth experience as described by Jesus in John 3:5. As He was talking to a man named Nicodemus He said, “You must be born again.” He also said that unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. You cannot get much plainer than that, can you? This is also what the apostles taught in the Book of Acts. When asked what must be done, Peter, standing with the eleven other apostles, said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

My parents embraced the gospel as taught by the apostles. They tried to pattern their lives after the original New Testament church. If I try to describe my parents, I would describe them as faithful. They were consistently faithful. They were faithful all the time.

Faithful means "keeping faith, constant, loyal, responsible, conscientious." As Jesus taught a parable on stewardship He said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21). It is clear that God values faithfulness.

You might ask, “Faithful in what?”

  • Faithful in devotion to God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
  • Faithful in financial giving. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).
     
  • Faithful in church attendance. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
     
  • Faithful in love for the church family and the ministry. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (I Timothy 5:17).
     
  • Faithful in providing for our families. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8).

God values faithfulness!

By having faithful parents to train and lead me, I had the best possible chance of being saved. Because of my parents’ teaching and being constantly exposed to the Word of God at home and in church, I knew I could not be saved without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In 1952, at 12 years of age, I repented, was baptized in Jesus’ name, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in other tongues, just like they did in the Book of Acts.

Some people say the Holy Ghost is not for us today, but was only for the early church. Thank God, that is not true! I, most of my family, and hundreds of others that I have known through the years have received this wonderful gift. This is the new birth experience that Jesus talked about. Acts 2:39 says, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” I am glad the Holy Ghost is for us today.

Besides salvation, there have been many benefits of following God’s plan:

  • I have had a happy, peaceful life following His plan. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).  
  • I have enjoyed being part of God’s family, the church. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (I John 3:14).
     
  • I have been healed and seen God heal others instantly. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). “And these signs shall follow them that believe…they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17–18).
     
  • I have had many prayers answered. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).
     
  • God has provided all my needs. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
     
  • I have never known the sorrow and pain of a broken home.
     
  • I have never been arrested or in prison.
     
  • I have never been a slave to cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs.
     
  • I have never been beaten or abused by drunken parents.

And the list goes on and on! There are so many benefits in following God’s plan. You see, God’s plan really works! I had all of these benefits because my parents decided to obey God’s plan.

The Bible is very clear about the law of sowing and reaping. You will reap what you sow! Many families pass on to the next generation a lifestyle of violence, adultery, drunkenness, drug abuse, and all manner of sin. The children have to suffer for the actions of the parents.

When you are born again, you receive a new nature and can break the traditions of disobedience that were passed on to you. By obeying the plan of God, you will have a happy life now and eternal life after this life is over. Your children will have a better chance of being saved when the father of the home is the spiritual leader as God planned. His plan works!




October 3, 2017, 12:28 PM

My Times Are in His Hands


This is a guest blog post by Cristie Dykeman, who is currently serving as an AIMer (Associate in Missions) to Suriname.

I have felt a call to missions since I was twelve years old at a missions conference held at my home church. I believe I had to wear a costume representing the country of Colombia that year. Since then, I have felt a longing to do something for the work of the Lord in the field of missions.

I first heard of Suriname in 2002. I was fifteen years old at the time. Brother and Sister Rhoads were deputizing in New Brunswick, Canada and visited my church. I don’t remember the message that night but I remember the altar call. My pastor at the time, Brother James McLaughlin, said that he felt the Lord was prompting him in the Spirit that there was a young person in the service who would one day be with the Rhoadses in Suriname. I felt the presence of the Lord sweep over me, and I was slain in the Spirit and stayed there praying for some time. I went home and recorded the events in my journal, writing with complete assurance and some naivety that I was going to Suriname.

Fast forward a few years later and I married at the age of nineteen. During my eight-year marriage my husband backslid. I spent several years crying to God for my husband’s salvation and lamenting what I perceived to be a missed calling. I certainly couldn’t see how I could be involved in Global Missions being married to a man who did not share the same desire. After a particularly difficult year, the Lord gave a word as I prayed in the chapel at the hospital where I worked: “Get ready for phase two.” It seemed such a strange thing for the Lord to say and yet it was so clear that I couldn’t deny it.

When I arrived home from work that night, my husband told me he was leaving to move in with another woman. He was increasingly involved with drugs and alcohol and there was no way to dissuade him. It was not the outcome for which I had prayed but I am thankful to serve a God who truly gives “beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.”

In the following months, I made a big move back across the country to the area where I had grown up. It was a difficult time but the Lord prepared the way for me and provided for all my needs.

The following year I felt a renewed desire to be involved in missions. I applied and took park in a missions trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion Services International (a UPCI endorsed ministry) using my profession as a nurse. Two more trips followed and the old familiar longing for greater participation intensified. As I thought about the AIM program, only one country came to mind— Suriname. At this point in late 2015/early 2016, there were no UPC missionaries in Suriname as the Rhoadses were living in Texas. Many times, I questioned, “How can I be with the Rhoadses in Suriname when they aren’t even there? Was that word really from the Lord?”

In August 2016, I saw a picture on the AIM2go Facebook page of the “newest church in Sand Landing, Suriname, (submitted by the Rhoads family).” My heart nearly jumped from my chest as I wondered if this could possibly be the same missionaries I remembered. After a good amount of searching, I found Brother Rhoads’ Twitter account and subsequently a link to their website. When I contacted the Rhoadses by email inquiring if they had need for an AIMer, Brother Rhoads asked what town I was from and who my pastor was when they had deputized at my church in 2002. After providing that information, Brother Rhoads replied that he had thought it might be me as he remembered Brother McLaughlin telling him I just might go to Suriname one day.

A little over a year since this exchange, as I write this, I am sitting in my rented apartment in Paramaribo, Suriname! The past year has been filled with many changes including selling my house to downsize and leaving my job to come on this three-month AIM term. My family and friends have been so supportive and I have been overwhelmed with the generosity and miracles that have taken place to get me here.

It has been over fifteen years since the Lord laid the country of Suriname on my heart.

I don’t know exactly what the Lord has in mind for me in Suriname and many times I doubt my abilities. Of course, I will be involved in the church here, and God willing, I will be volunteering in a hospital, using my nursing vocation to help minister to people in need. I know this period of my life is a call to deeper consecration and devotion. Also, it is a time to learn from the Rhoadses’ years of experience in ministry.

I will probably leave Suriname having gained more than I contributed, likely feeling the same as many other AIMers before me. I know that the Lord has a plan; if He knew my future over fifteen years ago, He is certainly in control of what lies ahead. He is, after all, a sovereign God in the middle of the chaos of this world. Truly my times and yours are in His capable hands. 




July 11, 2017, 5:43 PM

Mississippi in My Mind

The year was 1982. Sandra and I, married less than a year, left Texas Bible College in the rearview mirror and headed east to Mississippi. Our destination was the Pine Grove community, near Columbia, and we arrived with our possessions in tow in a U-Haul trailer.

We were welcomed to Mississippi by Pastor and Sister Charles Phillips and the congregation of Pine Grove Pentecostal Church. Though our original plan was to be there for the summer, that plan—as plans do—changed. We ended up staying for over four years, serving as the assistant to Pastor Phillips. 

Pastor and Sister Phillips and the members of the Pine Grove church were very kind to us during our time in Mississippi. We were supposed to be helping them, but they probably actually helped us more. Not only did they provide us with a place to live and a salary, they helped a young, inexperienced couple get started in Christian ministry. 

We were blessed in other ways in Mississippi. It was there that our two oldest children, Justin and Melissa, were born. It was there that we were licensed and ordained by the Mississippi District United Pentecostal Church. It was also in Mississippi that we first felt a call to Suriname, and from there that we launched into missionary work in 1986.

As I type this blog post, these and other good memories of our time in Mississippi come flooding back. I may physically be in Suriname right now, but I just went to Mississippi in my mind. It was a nice trip.

Photo Credit: Nick Youngson, http://nyphotographic.com/




March 2, 2017, 9:41 AM

Thanks a Lot

OK, so those Shinarites of Babel really made it difficult to do missionary work. Contrary to the will of God, they got together to build a city and a tower. As a result of their disobedience, the whole earth went from speaking a common language to speaking various languages.

With the evolution of languages over the millennia, today's world has a multitude of languages and dialects. This leads to one of the great challenges of missionary work—everyone needs to hear the gospel in a language they can understand. It could have been so easy, if not for those pesky Shinarites.

While communicating the gospel is a serious issue, at times miscommunication leads to humorous situations.

For example, there is the oft-told story of the young lady who tried to tell a Spanish-speaking congregation she was embarassed, and used the word embarazada. Oops! 

And then there was the time in Curacao when I said to the congregation, in the Papiamentu language, "Si bo tin pregunta, laba bo man."   Thankfully those who had a question did not get up and wash their hands, as I had instructed them to do.

Another time a youth leader from Guyana came to Suriname to speak at our youth camp. I introduced him to someone and informed the person, in Dutch, that the brother had come to discourage our young people.

Ah, the joys, challenges and frustrations of various languages. Thanks a lot, Shinarites.

 

 




January 25, 2017, 12:00 AM

The Things That Did Not Happen

OK, I confess—I knew better, but I did it anyway. In our apartment in Suriname there was a crack where the ceiling joins the wall, and I wanted to caulk it to keep the dust from falling from the attic into the rooms below. I needed a ladder, but did not have one and did not want to go borrow or buy one.

So, I improvised. I stacked two plastic trunks and used that makeshift stool to reach the area that needed to be caulked. I knew it was unsafe—definitely not OSHA approved—but I was just trying to get the job done.

I was on the very last area to be caulked when it happened…nothing. In spite of my, ahem, stupidity, nothing bad happened (other than a couple of cracks in the top of the trunk I was standing on). I did not fall and break a leg or an arm. Instead, I finished the job, put up the caulking gun and the trunks, and voila, done.

Oh, by the way, did I tell you about the time I was held by rebels for three days without food or water? No, because it did not happen.

Or the time our plane ran out of fuel and we had to make an emergency landing in the jungle? No, because it did not happen.

What about the time my wife was in the hospital for a week with malaria? No again, because it did not happen.

Without further belaboring the point let me just say, “Thank you, Lord, for all the things that did not happen.”




November 17, 2016, 12:00 AM

He's Still at It

Thirty years ago our family first became involved in missionary work. It was in 1986 that we left Mississippi with two-year-old Justin and three-month-old Melissa in tow. We went as Associates in Missions to St. Maarten, in the Leeward Islands, where we spent nine months working alongside the pastor of a thriving United Pentecostal Church.

One of the first people we met after arriving in St. Maarten was Brother Norman Williams. A faithful member of the church, Brother Norman often came to church early to make sure things were in order and to open the doors for the services. I can still seem to hear his greeting as people arrived, a loud and hearty "Praise Him!"

And then the service would begin. Oh yes, the service would begin and Brother Norman would also begin. You see, he was an unofficial musician. When the music began he would pull out his instrument—a metal triangle—which he would beat in time with the music with a large metal spike. Often Brother Norman's worship became so exuberant that he would lay the triangle aside and dance before the Lord.

But is was not always that way. It seems Brother Norman once worked at the local rum factory, but lost his job because of drunkenness. And then he met Jesus, who forgave and delivered him. He was baptized in the name of Jesus and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. And he became a whole-hearted worshiper of the One who set him free.

The 2016 Caribbean Conference of the United Pentecostal Church was held in St. Lucia. When the first conference service began, I saw a familiar face and heard a familiar sound. Brother Norman Williams, now seventy-six years old, was right on the front row, playing his triangle and dancing before the Lord. After thirty years, he's still at it.  

Watch the clip below to see Brother Norman in action.

(Special thanks to Mark Smith for the photo and the video.)

 




October 18, 2016, 12:00 AM

The Blessing of Being Sent

A young man sold his business, and on his own initiative moved his family to another country to work with missionaries. He supported himself with his own resources for a while, but eventually the money began to run short. He later returned to his home country and made application for missions appointment to the country of his burden. In telling of his experience he remarked, “I found out you can go without being sent, you just cannot stay very long.”

The idea of being sent for a special purpose or mission is a biblical concept. Consider the following examples:

—God sent His Son into the world to bring salvation (John 3:17). 

—Jesus sent His apostles into the world to carry on His work (John 20:21). 

—The church at Antioch, at the prompting of the Holy Ghost, sent Paul and Barnabas to preach the gospel in other areas (Acts 13:1-4).

—The Apostle Paul wrote, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Romans 10:14-15a).

The process of a missionary being sent to take the gospel to other lands involves not only a sending Lord, but also a sending church. While a missionary needs to feel a sense of divine calling and mission, there is also a great blessing in being sent by a body of believers who are joined together for a common purpose.

First of all, the missionary receives support from the sending church. This support includes the following:

  • Moral support. It is important for a missionary to feel the confidence of the sending body in his call and ministry. During the application process a United Pentecostal Church missionary must receive the approval of his district board, the Global Missions Board, and the General Board. The approval of these boards represents the approval of the fellowship as a whole. It is a great blessing for the missionary to feel that the church body recognizes and affirms his call to missionary service.
     
  • Prayer support. When the sending church has approved a missionary for service, he has the added benefit of prayer support from the home constituency. This is crucial in the success of the missionary’s endeavors. The powers of darkness will hinder, health problems may arise, and opposition may come from various human sources. It is a blessing for the missionary to realize that the home church is standing with him in prayer through any and all difficulties.
     
  • Financial support. Another blessing of being sent is the availability of financial resources to help the missionary in his work. Many individuals and congregations  contribute financially, allowing the missionary to accomplish much more in a shorter period of time.

Secondly, the missionary is accountable to the sending church. Everyone needs to be accountable to someone, and that includes the missionary. Many times he is isolated in his field of labor, and it could be easy to develop a lone ranger mentality. A United Pentecostal Church missionary has the security of the Global Missions board overseeing his work, and he is accountable to the sending church in the following areas:

  • Financial accountability. The missionary is required to maintain accurate financial records, and to provide the Global Missions Division with monthly reports. This procedure helps to insure proper stewardship of church funds.
     
  • Doctrinal accountability. As a representative of the United Pentecostal Church, the missionary is expected to remain firm in his commitment to biblical truth, as outlined in the Articles of Faith.
     
  • Moral accountability. The missionary is expected to maintain moral purity. He needs to be a worthy ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ and the United Pentecostal Church.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be a missionary. It is a privilege to be called by God, and to be sent by the United Pentecostal Church. I am grateful for the support we receive from the church, and I appreciate the security of accountability to the church. Truly, there is a blessing in being sent.




September 16, 2016, 12:00 AM

Three Kinds of Money in My Wallet

On a recent trip from Suriname to Guyana I found three different kinds of currency in my wallet—US dollars, Suriname dollars and Guyana dollars. Wow, three kinds of money! I am starting to feel like a missionary again.

When I see money in my wallet, I realize it came from somewhere. As full-time missionaries, we are supported by faithful people who believe in what we are doing. Because of their giving, we were recently able to do things like:​​

—Travel to Guyana to preach and teach in the capital city.

—Give a children's Bible to kids in Suriname.

—Have Bible studies with a newly-baptized family.

—Work on Bible school notes and a discipleship book.

—Pay the rent on our apartment and put gasoline in our car.

You get the idea; it is through the generosity of others that we are able to be here, doing what we were called to do. So, to our faithful sponsors who make our missionary work possible, thank you for putting three kinds of money in my wallet. 

(Just in case you are interested, at the time of this writing 5,000 Guyana dollars is equal to 25 US dollars, and 100 Suriname dollars is equal to about 13 US dollars.)




August 17, 2016, 12:00 AM

This Too Is Missionary Work

"OK, this could take a while," I thought to myself as we entered the room. We were at the Ministry of Justice and Police in Paramaribo to get our passports stamped. The office was crowded with people waiting for the same thing. And it did take a while.

What a waste of time—waiting in an office to get our passports stamped again, when we could have been doing missionary work. 

Wait just a minute; did I say waste of time? Missionary work? I think it's time for a question and answer session to help me stay focused.

Question
Why are we in Suriname?

Answer
To do missionary work. You know, like preaching, teaching Bible studies, baptizing people and starting new churches.

Question
Why do we need to get our passports stamped every few months?

Answer
To allow us to legally remain in Suriname, so we can do the above-mentioned missionary work.

So here is my conclusion about waiting in an office to get our passports stamped—this too is missionary work.




July 15, 2016, 12:00 AM

Your Labor Was Not in Vain

In 1994 and 1995, Jeffrey and Deborah Smith spent six months in Suriname as the first United Pentecostal Church International missionaries to reside in the country. During their time here, Brother Smith baptized several people, including a man named Sitaram.

It was in 2008 that Kent and Joan Rhoads visited Suriname for the purpose of ministering at a tent crusade in Nieuw Nickerie. The large tent was set up on the cricket field, and in three services nine people received the gift of the Holy Ghost. One of those was a man named Sitaram.

Let's go back to the 1990s and meet Clarence and Sunita Edwards. Brother Edwards was a licensed minister of the United Pentecostal Church of Guyana, and had served as a pastor and a district official. When the Edwardses moved to neighboring Suriname in 1996, they found no existing United Pentecostal Church. Their solution to that problem was to start one. They founded All Nations Tabernacle UPC, where they continue to serve until today. And guess who their assistant pastor is? Yep, it's a man named Sitaram.

So here is a special message to Brother and Sister Smith, Brother and Sister Edwards, Brother and Sister Rhoads, and to those unsung heroes who prayed and gave unselfishly so others could go—your labor was not in vain. 

 


(Brother Sitaram in 2016. Click here to see larger photos.)




June 20, 2016, 12:00 AM

I Have Heard the Victory Bird

His name is great kiskadee, or Pitangus sulphuratus, if you want to get technical. But I don't want to get technical, because to me, the great kiskadee will always be known as the victory bird. Let me tell you why.

The first few weeks of getting settled in a new country can actually be rather unsettling. There are many things to be done, such as: buying a vehicle; applying for residence permits (which includes multiple pieces of paperwork at various government offices); finding a house to rent; learning to get around in a new city; learning where to acquire various needed items, from copy paper to toilet paper! And the list goes on, seemingly without end. Oh, and did I mention this all takes place in an unfamiliar setting, with unfamiliar people who sometimes speak unfamiliar languages? As you can see, the possibility of feeling overwhelmed can be rather high.

Our family arrived in Suriname in 2003 to begin our first term as missionaries here. One day, when we were going through the stresses of the settling-in process, I heard a birdcall outside our apartment. It sounded somewhat like a whip-poor-will, but instead of being slow and mournful, it was pert and sassy.  It sounded to me like the bird was saying "Vic-to-ry,"  so I quickly dubbed him the victory bird. His call reminded me that God was in control, and that He would give us victory through every situation.

Fast-forward thirteen years. One morning, soon after our return to Suriname in 2016, I heard a familiar sound. You guessed it—it was the victory bird. It seems he is still here, and still encouraging me to trust the Lord in everything. Yes, I have heard the victory bird, so I know everything is going to be alright.

Watch the clip below to see and hear a victory bird in action.

 




June 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

The Gift Keeps Giving

After we left Suriname and returned to the United States in 2012, a family from the church in Oil City, Louisiana (who did not want their name mentioned) gave us a brand-new 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan. What a surprise and what a blessing! We felt humbled and unworthy of such a gift.

We used the van until just before departing for Suriname in May, 2016, at which time we sold it to friends from the church we attended in the Lufkin, Texas area. With proceeds from the sale of the van, we were able to buy a car for use in our missionary work in Suriname. There is also money left over to help maintain the vehicle. The gift we received keeps giving.

But wait, there's more. Not only did the couple who bought the van get a good vehicle (we hope it serves them as well as it did us), they were excited about the fact that they could use it to take people to church. And so the gift keeps giving.

Thank you, Pastor Kent Rhoads, of Oil City United Pentecostal Church, for releasing people to give into the kingdom. Thank you, dear brother and sister who gave the gift in the first place, for your generosity. Your gift keeps giving.

Click here to see more photos of the vehicle.