Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Letter from Bill Oden

September 24, 2008

Dear Friends of Bill Oden,

I'm getting ready to launch out on some new adventures this October, November and December and I'd like to ask you to pray for me, and to pray about helping me. I'm not just speaking of helping financially (though of course that is appreciated), but believe it or not, even "fire breathing preachers" need encouragement. When Peter writes to "the elders that are among you" (1 Peter 5:1) he "exhorts" them. One main meaning of the word "exhort" is to encourage. When we "en – courage" someone, we put "courage – in" them. And believe me it takes "courage" to fly all over the world in lands where you cannot speak the local language, don't know the customs, and can't use the "Oden charm".

Many Christians believe that "ministers," "men of God," "pastors and preachers" are supermen heroes, invulnerable to the pain and heartaches and discouragements that the "normal" Christians go through. What a laugh. Many times ministers have, as it were, a target painted on their backs. Surely one of Satan's favorite verses in the Bible is, "I will smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered." (Mark 14:27) 2 Corinthians 6 gives a laundry list of trials and testings that ministers go through, that they must overcome. No wonder Paul requested prayer and help so often, and was so grateful for fellowship and financial aid, both for himself and those he was ministering to. You seldom hear this preached, but he had weaknesses, faced fears, was "cast down" (discouragement/depression) and experienced "much trembling" as he went through his many longsufferings. (1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 11; Acts 18:9, 10; 2 Tim. 3:10-12)

What is even worse is that many Christians believe that God could not use "little old me" to encourage a Mighty Man of God. How wrong they are. Notice what Paul says, "But God, who comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus" - (And by the word he brought that the Corinthians still loved him) (2 Cor. 7:6, 7). Let me share a personal example of how God can use you to encourage a minister.

About a year or two ago, I was going through a great trial. Part of it was financial, but it went much deeper than that. I had become very discouraged. I could not see the "fruit" that my ministry was producing and had all but lost hope. I knew exactly what Paul meant when he said, "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me," (2 Tim. 1:15 - I felt I could add America and Europe). I was not only ready to give up the ministry, but ready to give up the ghost. Just at the Darkest Hour, I got an email link from Aumara Na Chiangmai (Aeed), a precious sister we work with in Thailand. I clicked on the link and watched a little stick figure cartoon video.

In the video, Jesus asked this young man/boy to hold up a sign with an arrow pointing in the "right" direction. It was pointing people to Jesus. Jesus told the young man to hold this for Him until He came back for him. The boy was very excited to be used by God and he faithfully held up the sign. As people went by, a number of them heeded the sign and went in the right direction. The young man was happy and fulfilled.

As years went by, fewer people heeded his sign and it seemed hardly anyone was coming that way at all. It started raining. It started snowing. The little man began to shiver, and shake, and to grow weak. He held on as long as he could. Finally he fainted and fell, and his sign fell too. As he lay in the snow, feeling like just laying there and dying, he remembered when Jesus gave him the sign back in the beginning. Somehow that vision gave him the courage and strength to get back on his feet and hold the sign up.

At last Jesus came back for him. Jesus hugged him and told him what a good job he had done in spite of much suffering, and that it was time to come home with Him. Jesus and the man walked off arm in arm. And then there was a last scene in which Jesus was giving the sign to a new young man, telling him to "hold this for Me until I come back for you."

Well folks, I was a basket case. I was crying all over the keyboard and telling Jesus that I would stick in there. That took a lot of spiritual pressure off of me. I was encouraged in Jesus' love. That night I went to church. At my church, we missionaries get our stipend once a month (whether we need it or not). But that night (mid month) the treasurer gave me an envelope. Usually I never open envelopes until I get home, but this night due to the special circumstances, I decided to sneak a peek. $5000!!!! (150,000 Baht) T.Y.J. (Thank You Jesus)! Well, that took a lot of the pressure off of me, but Jesus knew that I needed some more encouragement – a deeper work.

As we worshipped the Lord that evening, a song from V. B. S., (Vacation Bible School) was sung. It went like this: "Before God made the mountains, Before God made the Sea, Before God made the moon and stars, God loved you and me." Just to be reminded that Jesus foreknew me and "foreloved me" was such a comfort to my soul. And then Jesus gave me the cherry on top. A visiting preacher shared a wonderful Bible teaching on "Hope." Not man's flimsy whimsy hope, but God's "anchor to the soul" hope, that enters in within the veil" (Hebrews 6:18-20). I "went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights."

Now just think for a minute of all the "ingredients" that went into the "recipe" of my encouragement? Someone(s) made the video. Aeed sent it to me. Someone gave me $5000. The treasurer listened to God and gave me the offering early. There were all the people who worked with V. B. S. so that song came forth. Don't forget the kids who sang it or the person who wrote it. What about the worship leader who included it. And don't forget the visiting preacher who had prepared and been led to give such a word in season. We surely serve a God who knows how to comfort those who are cast down – BUT HE USES HIS BODY TO DO IT MOST OF THE TIME!

And so I ask you to "pray about helping me." Here are ten ways you could encourage me:

1. Remind me of God's blessings in our relationship (past or present).

2. Let me know that you are praying for me.

3. Talk to your pastor and see if he would invite me to speak at your church.

4. Have a home meeting (maybe just one/maybe more) and let me share with some folks about my trips, teach Bible, pray for them.

5. Send me some email addresses of people you think would enjoy getting my news letter.

6. Email to me when I am on my trips as it can get very lonely.

7. Send an offering to help me and those I work with.

8. Check out my website, and let me know what you think.

9. Ask me about the beautiful rings and things I brought back from Burma/Thailand and see if you would like to give some as gifts.

10. Write to me and ask me about any Bible questions you have. I don't get to teach as much now when home and I need to stay sharp.
I could go on and on.

11. Communicate with me about any blessing you get from these newsletters.

Perhaps some will say, "That Bill Oden is sure a weak minister, needing so much encouragement." Perhaps I am. Or maybe they will say, "Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him that was falling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon you, and you faint; it touches you and you are troubled." Maybe that is true. But I seek to follow the Bible's instruction to ". . . exhort (encourage) one another daily," and I need it too (Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:25).

Thank you all for all you have done and meant to me in these 40 years of ministry. I covet your prayers, your friendship, and your love.
Yours in Christ,
Bill Oden

For U. S. Tax Deduction:
Make check out to "Grace Fellowship Church"
And put "Traveling Ministry" in lower left hand corner
Mail to: Grace Fellowship Church
P. O. Box 9234
Hampton, VA 23670

Special Designations:
"Asian Relief" – Cyclone survivors

Or Direct to me:
Bill Oden
39 Wheatland Dr.
Hampton, VA 23666

Contributions are appreciated and needed. Prayers are essential.
Not only do I use your gifts to fund my trips, but also to help these faithful foreign works and workers I meet, which have no "organization or support behind them."

Phone: 757.838.7609
Mobile: 757.240.8121
In Thailand: 6.685.168.3202
In Mexico: 52.442.324.0921
Skype: freedom_of_speech

Sept. 25 – October 7 : Texas/Oklahoma
November 3 - 10: Mexico
November 17 – December 17: Thailand/Burma/Philippines

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