Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back blogging starting with an accident

I took a few months off blogging but I'm back!
I spent the last few days in Atlanta at the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) conference listening to papers, meeting fellow professors and former students, and buying books!
I came home to my car that had been sideswiped by a 28 year old man who, after hitting my car, struck my neighbor Larry as he got out of his truck. The picture to the right (taken by my son-in-law Justin) shows the scene from the side of my car towards Larry's truck that was turned back to front and on its side by the impact of the accident. Larry was left lying beside the curb just before his wife's white car. The man, who is being charged with assault, has his Neon car to the left. The suspect was not badly hurt I understand, but Larry's leg with its new artificial knee is broken, his collarbone is broken, his eyes are swollen and damaged, his body is bruised and battered. I got a good visit with him this morning in ICU and read to him some Scripture (Isaiah 40:28-31) and prayed with him and his wife.
My car has been damaged down its passenger side but cars can be repaired (although I'm not sure if the suspect's insurance is sufficient!). I leave Monday for Vancouver, British Columbia to visit my new grand kids (Soren and Marlow will be the subject of my next blog!). When I get back I will be dealing with the insurance company on the repairs. This comes a couple of months after this same car was repaired after being rear-ended by a driver! I am slowly getting my 1998 car renovated!
You can see some raw helicopter video of the accident at:
The story is about the seventh story down on the page.
In the next few weeks I'll be blogging about my twin grand kids, my upcoming men's tour to Israel, upcoming house renovations, and other interesting items that come into my life. Trust you'll come back and visit me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last Day in Romania

I leave the Bible Institute here at 4 am tomorrow (Friday) morning. I fly British Airways to London and then American on to Dallas. I hope to be at the DTS BBQ tomorrow night! I noticed that Ireland had some problems with the ash cloud the last few days but I trust I won't spend additional time getting home. I am going to miss my little six-year old friend Ruthie. She talks to me, translates for me when students talk to me at the table, sings, prays and she gets all the candy I have brought in my suitcase! I gave her the sleeping mask from the airplane and she wore it to lunch. Lunch was soup and peas with some chicken mixed in. I enjoy it.
Classes ended at 1 pm and I spent the last hour or so preparing the exam that the students will take on Monday.
Tuesday night I spent some time in the guys room sharing a devotion with them. I took a picture of the three guys in the room on their bed and another one of their closet and shelves (that is my friend Alin who is a staff member here and got them to invite me to come! He was my translator for the devotion too). Not much by some standards but these guys are great!
Last night I spoke for 45 minutes to the students because they wanted to hear how the Lord had saved and led me. The singing was great (sometimes I recognize the tune) and the students very attentive. I've had some great conversations with those who know a little English and with the others through translation. I am going home richer for having come here. I took a picture of three of the young ladies is. Always serving and working around. May they find good husbands to serve with them in the years ahead!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Minor Prophets for Romanians!

Today was my second of four days of teaching, for 5 hours a day, the Minor Prophets to the students here. There are only 11 students (including both first and second years) which seems real small for some of us but if I remember correctly, Dallas Theological Seminary started with 11 students 85 years ago! God is often in the small, seemingly insignificant things of life. The amazing fact is that these students and the staff here in Word of Life are praying and planning to start Word of Life in Greece (where you cannot evangelize anyone under the age of 18) and Turkey (where the Muslims are not welcoming!) and a few other countries that are in this part of the world. Isn't that amazing? I think I would just be satisfied with building up my "own" ministry in my "own" country but apparently they believe God wants them to reach out to the world! They have camps planned for both countries this summer. Bold, humble and trusting.
After teaching 3 classes we had chapel and Iuliana translated for me as the students shared. They first sang enthusiastically (Laurian, a second year male student led) and then they shared what had happened in their ministry week last week and last weekend. In various avenues, these students shared the gospel using drama, puppets, street witnessing, ministry in churches, to well over 1,000 people I am sure. Wonderful reports of decisions and plans to meet and talk and disciple in the days ahead. Aura, a gypsy girl here, shared how she was able to speak in the gypsy dialect with two girls who responded to the offer of salvation and then how others came too. In class we were studying Jonah and it was so applicable to the situation.
Romania is both modern and not-so-modern. The picture I took out the van window shows modern cars passing the horse and cart. The picture of the people standing outside the fence of the church where I preached Sunday morning shows you the smiling faces of Romanians with a typical house out here in the rural areas.

The weather here has been perfect in that for me there has been no rain, the sun is shining, in the 70's, and the air is fresh out here in the country. I have two more days to teach and I need to cover a number of prophets! Pray for me. The Lord seems to have given me real rapport with the people here and I hope I can come back again to teach (and bring some of you with me!).

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's It Like Where I am This Week?

Today is Monday (now 9 pm) and I just finished teaching 5 classes from 2-7 pm and then had dinner (fish, rice, carrots and tea or water to drink). I'm going to talk about classes in the next blog but let me show you some pictures of the property where I am living and teaching this week.
It is located about 80 miles from Bucharest, I would guess, though it takes about two hours to drive the distance, the last part up a steep gravel/dirt road. Sixty miles W/NW of Bucharest is the city of Pitesti. NW of Pitesti about 20 miles is a piece of property on the side, near the top, of a hill that overlooks a huge valley. In the far distance is a larger city with a Renault car factory that employs many people and has brought some prosperity to some while most remain in small houses heated by wood with gardens and fruit trees in the front and back. Some have cows (often just one or two owned by a family) and there is a flock of sheep in the nearby meadow.
I'm not sure how big the property is but I'm guessing at 40 acres. It will be the site of the Word of Life summer kids camps as soon as they can complete the dining hall and kitchen complex. The picture shows the concrete and steel beams in place just waiting for more funds to complete the rest. For the last number of years they have rented camping facilities but this will give them great advantages to have camps here.
Last year the school operated out of one building, the wood building that now functions as the kitchen, dining hall for the 16 students and 6 staff that are here right now. Last year (the first year of the school) it was the dormitory, washrooms, classroom, as well as the kitchen and dining room! Many rooms were multipurpose!
During this past year they completed the two story dormitory you see in the picture (the small building on the left is where the heat is created for the building using a wood furnace. There is no natural gas available). Only the first floor is finished and it is used for the men's and women's rooms (4 students to a room), two rooms for Alin and his wife Iuliana and daughter Ruth (no kitchen so they eat with the students every meal), two classrooms, an office, and a room for a guest (where I am staying this week). They are planning for a number of more students next year so they will need to complete part of the second story I think. They are building Alin and Iuliana a small house on the hill. It is almost completed outside and they hope they will be able to complete the inside by the Fall so they can have a place of their own. Pray for the Lord's provision for them. I wonder how many of us would be willing to live in two 20 x12 rooms with a child just so you could serve the Lord in this place? They do it without complaining and with a smile on their face. Saturday night they had me in to their "home" for tea and cookies (which they had just been given by a believer and so they wanted to share them with me). I brought them some Starbucks Coffee and they were so excited. But they made a pot to share with the students at lunch on Sunday. They have been a real inspiration to me about being content with what I have and sharing everything with fellow believers. Almost sounds New Testament. Great to read but even greater to see.
The students are a joy to be with even though I have only been here a couple of days and am just getting to know them. They are sincere, hard-working, committed to the Lord and to ministry. Most of them have accepted the Lord in past few years as teenagers. One of the first things they do when they talk to me (a few in slow English, the rest by translator) is to share how they came to know the Lord. It is just a natural thing for them to do and they are excited about it!
I'm afraid many young people I know would complain about some of the conditions (did you notice the "sidewalk" from the dorm to the wood dining hall?) but these trust the Lord for the $1,000 for the year and accept what that can provide for them in terms of food etc. They wash their clothes by hand and the ladies have a tent (the white one to the left of the wood dining hall) that they can hang some of their clothes in (bedide all the tools that are stored there!). Someone comes in to cook their lunch and dinner during the week but weekends the (female) students that their turn and the men clean up.
What an experience I am having. I think I'm getting far more than I'm giving.
Thanks to my home church, Waterbrook Bible Fellowship ( for taking care of the flight expenses to come to Hungary and to Romania. My ministry here is part of the ministry of each one at Waterbrook who gives faithfully.

Preaching in Romania Sunday Night

After the morning service and lunch I had a short rest and then did some preparation for the evening church service.
After a two hour drive into Bucharet from the bible Institute, we stopped for a Romania chicken shwarma, the best shwarma I've ever had, and I've had lots. I took a picture of this place and the chicken "mass" that was being cooked. They have 7 spits on the go so there is always meat available and the place is busy! It is know throughout Bucharest and now I know why!

Then on to a Brethern Church for the 6:00-7:30 evening church service. We walked in as they were singing a hymn (without instruments) and I was amazed at the scene. There were about 150 believers present for this evening service (apparently evening church services are still very much the norm here in Romanian evangelical churches), men on the right as I walked in and the women on the left. All the women and girls had head coverings on (which I am very familiar with being raised in the Plymouth Brethren chapels of Canada). The center portion of the sanctuary was down a few steps. On either side of this main section was a raised section. Then completely around the sanctuary was a balcony in which there were a number of people including some children (I walked around later and discovered the children's nursery/play area was up behind the balcony).

The singing was beautiful with voices blending together, I could hear some young boys (see the picture below outside the church) clearly in the pew behind me. There were a good number of younger men and boys as well as young ladies and girls present.
A couple of hymns and a prayer (everyone stands for every prayer) and then I was ushered to the pulpit by my translator Emmanuel (he is on staff here with his wife Tereza and he is a gifted young man who has been used greatly in evanglism and discipleship here. Now he is assisting the director in many areas of ministry). It was about 6:15 and I was told to preach until about 7 pm. When I heard of this opportunity on Saturday I was asked to carry on in the portion they were studying on Sunday evenings and so I had John 14 to cover (not an easy passage to cover for some verses and especially through translation). However, the Lord gave me freedom and clear thinking and the right illustrations I believe and when I got to 6:50 the translator told me I didn't need to stop at 7 pm and to keep going that it would be OK with the people. This is the first time this has ever happened to me as a preacher!
I ended at about 7:10 pm with a challenge not to allow our hearts to remain troubled because 1) we could trust God, 2) Jesus has gone to His Father's house to prepare a place for us so this world is not our final home, 3) Jesus is coming again for us, and 4) in the meantime we can show our love for our Lord by acting according to His will because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who can help us in our struggles, give us understanding in our seeking after Him etc. After I sat down tired but sensing the Lord's blessing, the congregation was asked to sing a hymn. During the hymn the elder beside my translator asked him to take me back up to the pulpit where I could share more of my testimony or whatever I thought would be good to share! So for 20 minutes more I shared God's working in my life. I am so grateful for this opportunity and for the conversations afterwards (a number of the men were very familiar with DTS and Drs. Pentecost, Walvoord, Toussaint, and showed great appreciation for the teaching by these men and others). It was a wonderful time of fellowship with belivers, very few who could speak to me in halting English, but who obviously loved the Lord and His Word. Things we might see as impossible hindrances to ministry these believers accept and continue to share.

I got back late and then had a great conversation with Emmanuel. He and his wife are enjoying their second anniversary today! (They will now enjoy it with a pound of Starbuck's Coffee and maybe a special meal out because many of you as God's people have been so good to me). Pray for the staff here at Word of Life who share so freely, generously, and effectively. They have already become a great example to me.

The students have been away for a week of outreach ministry (they study for 3 weeks and then go out in ministry all over Romania for the fourth week). They have this morning to recover and take care of various things and then we are going to start classes this afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Preaching in Romanian Churches

I had a wonderful, full, unique day in Romania today!

Breakfast was the usual Romanian breakfast here at the Bible Institute. Bread, a spoon-full of butter, a spoon-full of jam, a slice of thin ham, warm tea (without milk). Simple, good, all that the school can provide and one for which I am thanful to God.

Morning church was in a Evangelical/Baptist Church about 3/4 of an hour away. The church was pretty full with about 15 men and 20 women. The pictures will show the church building (yes, the toilets are outside to the back right!). The church is heated (as it was this morning) by the wood lying there in the church yard. The furnace was a tall, ceramic block wood furnace in the back corner of the room (behind the men in the inside church picture. The two hour service was mostly planned five minutes before it started (at least that is when I agreed not only to preach but also present two 5 minute teachings on prayer! Talk about being ready to preach, pray, or die at a moment's notice!). The service was from 10 to noon and consisted of a hymn (no instruments though there was an organ at the front), prayer (everyone stood), another hymn (with no instuments), 5 minutes on Hebrews 4 by me, prayer for 15 minutes (everyone stood but only the men, seated on the right in the photo prayed), 5 minutes on Philippians 4 by me, prayer for 15 minutes (everyone stood and only the ladies, seated on the left prayed), a solo by Luliana one of the staff ladies from the Bible Institute (an amazing beautiful voice, a former student of mine from Hungary two years ago), a testimony by a student here (Oura ? pictured with my little friend Ruthie) who has scars all over her face and hands from being burned but who uses this to tell how she came to know the Lord (I had sat outside after lunch on Saturday and she had told me the story in halting English which brought tears to my eyes), two more solos by Luliana and then I preached for 40 minutes! Then a closing hymn, offering, and prayer. Too long for most American audiences, not enough noise, no instruments and yet God's presence was there like few times in many services I have been in!

After the service, an older lady dressed in traditional Romanian dress stood beside me and talked through a translator. What a joy to hear her comments and I wanted to get a picture with her so you could see her. She told me I was very tall (the first time I think I have ever heard that).

Lunch was outside under a beautiful spring/summer sun in Romania. I wish you could be here to experience some of God's special work in His world today.

It's after midnight here so the evening service in Bucharest will have to wait for another blog. I teach tomorrow and I'm excited (and always a little nervous when I start with a new group of students, especially ones from a different culture than my own) and I'm trusting God to reveal Himself in great ways through His Word. Check back tomorrow for more on my wonderful Sunday in Romania.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lost in Romania

I arrived in Bucharest, Romaina last night by prop plane from Budapest to a welcome sign in English. We drove through the capital for 3/4 of an hour (there are only 3 major highways in Romania) before we finally got to a highway leading out. We drove past the largest "public" building in the world, the "People's Palace" completed by the communists while food was being rationed etc. The revolution occured in 1989 I think and the country is trying to catch up from 40 years of deterioration.
After a 2 1/2 hour drive we got here about midnight to a rustic, rural but beautiful area of Romania. Today I was asked to go to the nearest city to drive a car back for someone. It was great to see the city of Pitesti (300,000) about 1/2 hour from the Bible Institute property. However, I was sure I could get back O.K. because the other driver had things to do in the city. I got back most of the way and then missed a road off the main road and took the next one. For the next hour I had a wonderful tour of the country of Romania through various small villages, past horse drawn carts, true haystacks, gypies wagons, etc. The only problem was I had no phone, no phone numbers, no map, I couldn't remember the name of the village near the property (which it out on top of a hill outside the village), and all the signs were in Romanian and the few people I tried to ask didn't speak English. Other than that I had a great time.
I'm usually pretty good with finding my way even in foreign countries and after about 1 1/2 hours I found the road I had missed the first time and arrived back for a late lunch and some relieved people who thought their bible teacher was missing for good!
Tomorrow I have been asked to speak at a church in the morning and another in the evening. I'd appreciate prayer for good translation and that the Lord would give me His message for both churches. Please pray.
My Mac computer can't connect to a phone line/USB here so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to update this blog but I'll try to see if I can use the office computer every second day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunglasses for the Song of Solomon!

Today we started studying the Song of Songs and I mentioned yesterday that it might be best if they wore sunglasses for some of the explicit parts. Today they showed up in class all wearing glasses!
We had three good classes and ended with a student presentation which was very good. Tomorrow all the other students will be presenting some lessons from the Book of Proverbs in song, drama, drawing, etc. It is always a fun time when they do this.
My cough and sore throat remain but I sense the Lord using me despite some discomfort.
This morning for breakfast we had hot-dogs (16 inches long! so you have to cut them in two) with buns and ketchup, and also some macaroni salad. This would be a lunch in North America but here the breakfasts are often similar to lunch. There was a table with a bowl of cereal for anyone who couldn't handle a hot-dog at 7:20 am!
Every time I come here to Word of Life Hungary I am thankful to the Lord for this ministry. I believe the churches of Hungary will be changed significantly in the years to come because of the training being received here. Take a look at the website: You may know of some young person who is wanting to study the Bible for a year or two and yet wants an adventure to be part of the time. They could get it all here! In fact, there are students from 11 different countries here this year including Canada and the USA. Even with travel the cost is very affordable.
Tomorrow I teach and then leave for Romania. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

20 Years in Tóalmás for Word of Life

This year marks 20 years that Word of Life has been in Hungary running the summer camp program. Next month they will have a special celebration for what has been accomplished for the Lord and in His strength. I took a picture of the back of the "castle" so you could see how beautiful it is. However, up close, there is much work to be done on the building. They just got the roof replaced (it is a historical building and so they replaced it with the original design). Perhaps some reading this blog could come over here some day and spend some time helping out in the painting, repairing, and building that goes on all the time.
The Bible College started later (1995) than the camp but it has grown along with a number of other ministries here. I started coming here in 2002 and this is my sixth time teaching young people in Hungary. Today I completed Ecclesiastes and tomorrow I start with the Song of Songs. I'm sure the next two days will be interesting!
Today I struggled with a cold and sore throat so I took an afternoon nap to see if my body can't fight this so it doesn't get any worse. When I walked into town yesterday I took a picture down the main street and one in the cemetery too. Just wanted to.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Safe at Word of Life, Hungary

I'm safely in my room at the Word of Life "castle" in Hungary. My room is on the second floor and to the right of the entrance. Isn't it a beautiful building that the Lord has given for ministry here, a building that just a few decades ago was hosting communist events!
An uneventful trip via Paris with no sign of an "ash cloud" anywhere this week! I forgot my camera for the trip but I do have my iPhone so small pictures from it will have to do for my blog. The picture outside the plane window was taken as we were coming down to land near Budapest. The river divides Buda and Pest.
The second pictures shows some of the communist era block apartment buildings as well as some of the other homes of the city.
After arriving, I had a great soup and salad dinner at the Kádárs who were good friends from the years that László (Laci) went to DTS. Now with three children and a dog, he and Szandra live in a great home in the village of Tolamas (~4,000 people, 10% of whom are Gypsys). Laci teaches at the Bible College here and directs the summer camps where almost 800 kids come every summer.
Tomorrow morning 9 am (2 am "my" Dallas time) I'll start teaching the first of three lectures tomorrow on Ecclesiastes. At 5 pm I'll have the privilege of preaching at the weekly student/staff/faculty chapel service. Pray for a special message from the Lord that I can pass on and for good physical stamina in the midst of jet lag.
I got a picture emailed to me that a student took last week in the classroom as I was teaching from Texas. I'll post it below.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Great Week in Hungary from Texas!

Lord willing, I leave this Sunday for teaching in Hungary and Romania. This week my teaching has been by Skype. The picture to the right is a screen capture (therefore of poor quality) of my computer in what I would see as I taught the class at Word of Life, Hungary. They could see me at the front of the class and my powerpoint slides were being projected to the right of my image. Isn't technology great! Of course there is something about being there in person and the casual conversations at dinner and in the classroom after the lecture can't be replaced by video conferencing. It is raining here in Texas today but it will be a few degrees cooler as I head off to Hungary. I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teaching Hungary (from Texas!)

I'm teaching Hungarian students from my home study in Garland, Texas! Last Sunday my flight to Budapest through Paris got canceled due to the ash cloud that shut down the flights over Europe. So this week, for the first time, I am teaching via Skype. I speak, wait for the translation, and then continue on. I can see the class (from the back of their classroom) and they can see me here in my office. I have sent my PowerPoint presentations and teaching notes on Proverbs to the translator, Chris James. He is doing a great job and the class seems to be going well. Today I introduced my class to my son Joshua who was at home studying (as a proud father I need to let you know that Joshua won the Greek award at Criswell College yesterday after winning the Hebrew award last year!).
This Sunday I have another flight booked to go to Budapest through Paris in order to teach the second half of the course. Next Friday I hope to fly from Budapest to Bucharest Romania to teach the Minor Prophets for a week. Both of these at classes at Word of Life Bible Institute or Training Center ( I am scheduled to fly home via British Airways to London and then American Airline on to Dallas. If I get stuck in Europe I may have to slip over to Israel or Turkey or some other place to see if I can visit a few sites. Well, at least I can dream.
Once I get to Europe I hope to update my blog with what is happening there at the schools.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Father-in-law in is heaven now

My father-in-law Harley Orman Howard died yesterday morning. He had stayed in our home shortly after his wife Betty had passed away and it became evident that he was suffering from early stage Alzheimers. He lived with us for a number of years until it was necessary to get him 24 hour care in a nursing home. We said goodbye to him over the years. Early this past Sunday morning Sharon and I went over and whispered in his ear about heaven and the Lord and then prayed with him. He gave some indication he was conscious of us being there and hearing but it was clear he was not going to last long. Sharon saw him again Monday and he held tightly to her hand. He died Tuesday morning. Below are some comments from our daughter Sarah. She lives in Vancouver and is flying down Saturday for the service on Sunday.
"My Grandaddy died today. What you need to know about Harley O. Howard: Fought in WWII where he traded army-issue cigarettes for chocolate bars, took us to the beach and always wore pants, grew a garden in an empty lot across the street, saved change in piggy banks with our names on them, was known to dance in the the living room and say things like "snap my garter let my socks roll down!" The man in a nutshell.
Alzheimer's meant saying goodbye to him a long time ago so we're glad he's finally done with this life and on to the next. He's with Grandma, he has his memories back, his knees work and he's in perfect health."
We plan to have a short service on Sunday and then his body will be flown back to Norfolk, Virginia where he will be buried beside his wife.

I just saw my daughter Sarah's blog on her grandaddy. I think your would enjoy reading it at

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saying Good Bye to Israel March '10

We got up this morning to a very solid rain coming down. An hour later the sky had cleared and the sun was shining down on Jerusalem as it usually does.
Today was our last day in Israel for this IFL March 2010 tour. We started off at the Garden Tomb for a Praise and Communion Service. What a way to start a day and to end a week and a half in Israel.
We also had a chance today to visit the Western Hill (today called Mt. Zion) where we saw the traditional place of the denials of Peter, then the Upper Room, the Jewish Quarter including Hezekiah's Broad Wall, the Roman Cardo, a great Jewish bagel lunch, before I sent the bus pilgrims back to the hotel to pack. Since Sharon and I don't leave until 10:15 am Friday, I spent a couple of hours in the Old City. I was able to help Dr. Dan Wallace make a good contact for possible future visits, I brought my wife a couple of gifts for next Christmas or some other good excuse to give him a gift, and then the Wallaces and I walked through the Muslim Quarter (Pati got some spices) and boarded an Arab bus back to our hotel. All this is quite a culturally stretching time for us as Americans and is something I've really come to enjoy doing.
Before I end my blog tonight I thought I'd add some pictures Sharon took yesterday. The first is of me in "Zedikiah's Cave." The next is of Steve Green in his concert last night at the Pavilion in Jerusalem (a church concert hall). I'm going to miss being here in the days ahead. I've gotten a couple of requests to return here to address Palestinian believers on a number of Scriptural questions as well as preaching opportunities. I'll be praying in the days ahead if this is somewhere I should be spending some time when my sabbatical comes up in 2011-12. Will you pray with me?