June, 2012

Dear Friends,

In these unstable and temporal economic times, there is something we as believers can offer the world that is inherently stable and eternal, and that is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. That is what Bernie and I committed ourselves to doing when we were in our early twenties, and although our journey has taken us through various iterations of that dream, we continue to be committed to that to this day. That dream took shape as we were discipling college students on campuses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, working with graduate international students, leading various initiatives and projects with Campus Crusade over the years, including six years working with college students who were summer interns on Capitol Hill, and spending several summers internationally in Japan, Spain, Russia and India. As we now are working in the context of families, our mindset continues to issue out of our continued desire and calling to proclaim the gospel message to those that want to hear, and to help others who are interested to learn to do the same.

Our current ministry is a ‘child’ of what we discovered on college campuses. When we were working on campus, we would often get calls from worried parents, asking us to please visit their son or daughter, who was a ‘good kid’ who grew up in the church, but who now had no interest in spiritual things. We found that many who grew up in the church ended up leaving the church and the faith in the college environment. In our quest to better understand why this happened, we discovered that the statistics are startling and staggering: as much as 88% of those very individuals who should be carrying the torch, were dropping it. Why? There are a number of theories, like the influence of peers and atheistic school systems, and even the influence of some churches who possibly carry a form of godliness without the power. When young people from these churches are on their own, they have essentially been inoculated with a form of Christianity that prevents them from ever embracing the real thing! So unfortunately many never enter into a true ‘bow the knee’ relationship with Jesus Christ.

However, at the core of the problem, we believe, is the family. So rather than attempting to be a new ‘parent’ or to mentor college students, as we had in the bulk of our early ministry years, we believe the Lord has led us to take a step backwards and work with whole families together, with a specific desire to encourage the parents in those families, who will be the best disciplers of their own children, before they ever reach the college campus. Many of the students who responded to the gospel in our ministry, had already seen the ‘real thing’ from their parents. So in these latter decades of our ministry, we have purposed to assist parents in practicing real faith in front of their children by helping them for take the gospel from their hearts and their homes into the world, with their children watching and helping as lives are touched and changed. When these young people hit the college age, they will hopefully have caught the real thing, and can truly be world changers who have something to offer our confused and hurting world.

We wanted to share with you a few pictures and responses from our most recent outreach on Mother's Day. We used a sweet brochure honoring mothers, our own gospel flier (“Friendship: We Were Made For It, Now & Forever”), and a four question survey. As is typical, there was quite a range of responses, just like in Jesus’ Parable of the Four Soils. We wanted to share with you a few of the responses from some of the people Bernie and I talked to; but there were other family and friends with us who each have their own stories to tell, as well.

Truly converted - the good seed. First we talked to an older gentleman reading on a bench. By the end of our conversation, he said he had made a confession of faith and was personally ‘born again’ in his otherwise traditional church. He was very nice and thankful. It is always nice to meet and talk with those who have already made a decision to follow the Lord!

Those who reject the seed. Second was a young man who was also very nice, and kindly answered the questions. One of the questions was how his mother had influenced him spiritually. He said, “Not at all.” When asked if he would be interested in hearing a four point summary of the main issue of Christianity, he said nicely, "No." This is unfortunately the picture of many young people today. They often have no category for belief in God, and have been raised without any exposure to anything that properly represents faith. We live in an increasingly post-Christian culture. The next generation is doomed if Christian young people don't carry the torch.

Those who receive the word with joy. Next was a sweet woman who was very interested in what we had to say and hung on every word! I was able to explain the gospel to her, and she was very grateful for the two fliers we gave her. We trust the Lord to work in her heart with the seeds of truth sown in her life.

Those in bondage to addictions. Then we talked to two men who said they were in a treatment program and were recovering from addictions of some sort. They were very kind and positive, and happy to talk to us about their hope that they would find victory over their addictions through the spiritual emphasis of the treatment program.

The ‘good enough’ bunch - people who have their act together and don’t see their need for a Savior. There was a sweet family with five beautiful girls, playing in the park. They were no longer attending church. But they were grateful for the conversation and the information we gave them.

From a probable atheist college age young man, to a ‘together’ average family, everyone needs the Lord. The responses always vary as we go out and sow seeds, but we trust the Lord to bear fruit.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” I Cor. 3:6

Thank you for helping us share the gospel and help others to do the same. As families are transformed by parents living out their faith in front of their children, as young people take the torch, we pray the next generation will be one full of renewed faith that can offer true hope to our lost world.

God’s blessings to you and your family!

In Christ' love,

~ Linda for the Bealls