Merry Christmas from the Nielsen Family!
“O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble, why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like a traveler passing through the land, stopping only for the night?” Jeremiah 14:8
We wanted to take this time to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Our prayer is that the JOY that only Jesus can bring is yours in a very special way.
This month we will be traveling, and hope to arrive back in our home a day or two before Christmas.
In a few days, we are hitting the road for Texas, where we will spend a few days getting travel tested (COVID requirements), collecting mail, hanging out with some dear friends for a couple of days, and tying together a few loose ends before boarding our flight for Kona, Hawaii to spend the week with our daughter, Destiny Rose. The day after we leave her, Destiny will be making a 28-hour flight across the world to the nation of Albania. YES! She got her birthday wish! To all of you who prayed: THANK YOU! [NOTE: Her team is called “Brave Love” and will be focusing on a precious and vulnerable sector of this country: women and children. Albania is a 10/40 window unreached nation (0.6% evangelical Christian population).]
Born in a Bungalow
This year will mark 36 years since we flew to Kona as a young couple to embark on our missionary career. I (John) worked as a “mission builder” during the initial construction of what was then called “Pacific and Asia Christian University” (now University of the Nations.)
We stayed on to attend a Discipleship Training School. Stasia was pregnant with our first child and right after our lecture phase, as our classmates were preparing to go on outreach to the Philippines, she gave birth to Brittany in a bungalow called “Bethany House.”
Located in Kealakekua, overlooking the famous “little grass hut” and surrounded by banana and coffee trees, it was a very peaceful spot, to say the least. About a dozen staff and students from our school (all girls) were with Stasia throughout the whole home birth process. One was an RN, who brought with her an oxygen tank—just in case.
Our midwife was a wonderful, dedicated Jewish woman who ended up having to perform what she later called “the kiss of life” on little Brittany. Britt had come out with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck so tightly that she wasn’t breathing for the first minute or so. Stasia was on the floor and I was on the floor with her, holding her from behind. Seeing the baby not breathing, and the startled look on the midwife’s face as she cut the umbilical cord, set me into a brief panic. But when the “kiss of life” got the breathing started, I realized everything was going to be okay.
Missing outreach to the Philippines was a disappointment for me. I had so looked forward to stepping into missions and going to the “four corners of the earth” with the Gospel! After youth pastoring throughout my twenties—the world was waiting for me to bring them with the GOOD NEWS, and time was of the essence! (So I thought.) Few people on the planet were as motivated as I was to GO with the Gospel. God has a sense of humor–and he doesn’t have the lack of time perspective I often have! (Originally, we were going to launch as soon as we got married–but our pastor recommended we wait a year. And one thing led to another. The rest is history!)
Well, we did end up, over the years, going to a lot of places. By God’s grace, we proclaimed and demonstrated the Good News to as many people as we could along the way. But our first experience in missions was to stop, take a deep breath, and experience the wonder of new birth in a humble bungalow.
And you know, I got to thinking…this is exactly how Jesus got his start. God the Father sent His Son to save the world, but it started in a humble manger. Total dependence.
Now More Than Ever
Somehow I think this New Year is a time for all of us to reflect upon our need for God’s grace and intervention in all of our lives. Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. He is faithful. His promises are true! Happy New Year Everybody!
In His Mighty Grip,
P.s. Last month, John attended the “ReAwaken America” gathering in San Antonio, Texas. It was an awesome event, which featured 64 speakers over 3 days! This is one of the dozens of gatherings being held across the country. A Third Great Awakening is breaking out in America, even as she faces very difficult challenges, Below are some highlights.
History doesn’t always repeat exactly, but it tends to rhyme.
It was the preaching of George Whitefield in the First Great Awakening that lit the fires of revival, preparing the ground for the American Revolution. Without this revival, there would have been no 1776.
Only 3% of the colonists stood up and spoke out to resist the tyranny of King George while the other 97% either supported the King, sat back in fear or simply chose to be spectators.
In the Second Great Awakening, Charles Finney’s preaching moved like a wildfire across America, proclaiming evangelical conversion to a dead, religious church and speaking out boldly against slavery. Like the prophets of old, his ministry wasn’t received well by religious folk. But that didn’t stop him.
God always raises up fiery preachers to announce what he is doing, like John the Baptist, who Jesus called “the greatest man born of a woman.” (John was imprisoned and beheaded, by the way.)
Today, as we enter into the first stages of the Third Great Awakening, God is raising up a remnant, those who are standing up and speaking out. Sean Feucht is a worship leader who is standing up and standing out in this awakening. Pastor Greg Locke is one of those fiery voices. His POWERFUL, MUST WATCH 21-minute sermon at the ReAwaken America Conference in San Antonio last week was a clarion call.
ReAwaken America San Antonio Featured 64 speakers over three full days! Sean Feucht flew in from Iraq to lead worship on Day Three.
This is Col. Stuart Scheller, a combat veteran who spoke out, calling for accountability for what happened in Afghanistan. He was punished for standing up. He was a guest of honor at the conference.
John posing with “Man in America” Seth Holehouse
Disclaimer: Pastor Greg Locke speaks his mind with passion and pulls no punches. Listen at your own risk!