May, 2013

Hello, Dear Friends, and Happy Spring!

I am so excited to see the budding trees, sprouting flowers, and sunshine this time of year! I hope you are enjoying the pleasant springtime weather as well!

To give you a sense of the range of things we have been doing in recent months as a family ministry, we thought we'd share a little bit about some recent events, and more details about one of my favorite outreaches.

Annual Sweetheart Dinner in Our Home

Here are two of the fourteen couples who attended.. It was a lot of fun! Our theme for the evening was finding spiritual life lessons in well known Bible pairs.

Special Time with Special Friends from Thirty Years Ago

Bernie gives a private tour of Washington, DC to old friends and their visiting homestay students from Germany and Ukraine.


Our Firstborn Turns Thirty!

We can't believe it! Josh, our oldest, turned 30 in February.



Some families from recent American History Outings of Annapolis; these tours typically include evangelistic opportunities.

Did you know a Bible verse surrounds the official Maryland State Shield? Translated from the Tuscany Latin, it says, "You surround him with favor as with a shield." ~ Psalm 5:12b

Yet another international student group (this one from Penn State) got to hear Bernie tell stories of America's Christian heritage on-site in Washington, DC. I.e. Our national motto, "In God We Trust," comes from a simple Biblical concept: "In God have I put my trust." ~ Psalm 56:11 (cf. 20:7; 33:12)

Bernie was asked to show Christian leaders from a central European country our U.S. Capitol. One was a former Supreme Court Justice in his nation, but now is a lawyer for persecuted Christians, and another is a Bible translator & head of their nation's Bible Society.

Cherry Blossom Festival Outreach, Washington, DC

OUTREACH - One of my favorite outreaches each year is our annual Cherry Blossom Festival Outreach in Washington, DC. It is a beautiful time of year, and so nice to get outside after the bleak end of winter months even though this year the peak bloom was late. Our cherry blossom flier is the one of the few outreach fliers I actually wrote myself, so when we offer them to people I can tell them it is something I wrote, which makes it a personal gift from me in a way.

FLIER - I am always amazed at how happy most people are to receive it! After telling them the flier is a bit of history about the cherry blossom trees planted around the Tidal Basin, I try to always mention that I personalized it at the end with some spiritual application points that are relevant to me. I don't want to be 'sneaking' something to them that they don't want. And most people are grateful and quite happy to take it and read it. A few say 'no, thank you,' and occasionally a person will take a look and then hand it back to me. And that's OK! I never attempt to argue anyone into the Kingdom of God. I am just offering some information and some thoughts, people are free to explore it, accept it, or reject it. ('Some sneer, some believe.' See Acts 17:32-34) It is God's job, in his timing, to cause fruit that remains. It is my job only to be faithful to sow seeds.

Linda (left) and a friend take some spiritual interest surveys at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

SURVEYS - My favorite thing to do at these outreaches is to spend a little more time with people getting their answers to questions on a survey. Given the multifaceted problems our nation faces, I really am curious what people think about spiritual things. What people say and what they believe about spiritual issues is probably related to how our nation is doing, and it is interesting for me to engage people to collect this information. So if a person is sitting down and unoccupied, I will often do more than offer a flier, but instead I ask if they have a few minutes to answer a few questions on a spiritual interest survey. If they are OK with that, I ask my questions, clarify to make sure I understand their answers, and write them down. My purpose in this is not to give my view or counter their thinking, just to collect information about how people are thinking today. We hope to eventually consolidate answers into an unofficial 'poll.' The final question on the survey is this: "Would you be interested in hearing a four point outline that explains what the Bible has to say about true Christian faith?" If they say yes, I explain the gospel message; if they say no, I thank them for their time and I leave!

FUN - My very first survey of the day was the most fun. Two girls from a Buddhist background were happy to take the survey. And at the end one wanted to hear the four point gospel outline! The other listened and then even asked a question. Neither embraced the gospel message at the time, but the seed was sown, and hopefully it was a positive interaction and even one that possibly broke some stereotypical views people have towards Christians. We live in an increasingly relativistic, atheistic, and secular world. Because of this, as Christians, we need to take a step back in our interaction with others. When people no longer believe there is a creator God, and don't believe the Bible to be a credible and historically accurate document, our attempts to explain the truth of the Gospel through the holy inspired Word of God must be adapted to that worldview. In other words, the fact that scripture teaches truth means everything to us as believers, but not really much to someone who believes the Bible is fiction at best. So we need to live our life of love and care and integrity before them, we need to understand their views and perspectives and how it shapes their thinking, and of course we need to not shy away from explaining the hope that lies within us to those that ask. And that is what we seek to do when we go out to sow seeds. And that is what we hope to help others do. To care, to ask questions, to listen to people's answers, and to be able to explain our view when asked.

CAVEAT - I must add that I almost never 'feel' like initiating with people in this way. I am actually an introvert.
I always have to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak through me and use me, in spite of me, not because I am anything special or amazing. Yet inevitably, when I am finished, I am so grateful for the people I have met, and the conversations I have been blessed to have with them. And in the midst of the emotions, from the initial trepidation to the feelings of gratefulness as I am able to talk to people, God's truth is being sown, and I have the opportunity to be a sower. I pray others water the seeds we have planted, and I always ask my God to draw people to Himself and reap a bountiful harvest.

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

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." ~ Luke 10:2

God bless you richly,

~ Linda for the Bealls

Kerin Beall, one of my two
pretty daughters-in-law.

For our final page, we thought you might enjoy this group of pictures from a recent "Baby Celebration" in our home where we honored five special mothers from our church and their babies.

To the right is me with Evie, our youngest granddaughter.

Baby Ethan thinks baby Evie is pretty cute, but she's not so sure about him.