Thanks for getting us to a first birthday!

Andy tight horizontal with boat copy

Though most of our audiences were smaller than 100 in each setting, we managed to “bring Israel” to more than 12,000 people in our first year!

It seems fitting that we’ve just held a first birthday party for one of our grandchildren.

The party for our 1-year-old had all the classic ingredients. There was a cake, a single candle, a lot of children and one very surprised little girl in the center of the photos.

That’s where we are today at Experience Israel Now.

Only there’s no cake.

Today marks the first birthday of EIN, and frankly, I’m a little surprised to be here.

For the first 50 or so years of my life, it never occurred to me – not in my wildest dreams – that we’d one day leave a very good church and a very secure lifestyle in order to follow a dream that still sounds a little crazy.

Our crazy idea? We’re bringing the life-changing lessons from the land of the Bible to audiences everywhere. For the past 12 months we’ve traveled thousands of miles and delivered dozens of virtual-tour presentations to church attenders, students, business people, prisoners and orphans.

No matter the age, setting or program, the reaction has always been the same. People are stunned to see how the land of the Bible can bring new light to even the most familiar of Bible stories.

Like my youngest granddaughter, who could not fathom why such a fuss was being made over a single candle, there are days when I can’t fathom what’s happened to us.

There’s another comparison I need to make.

My granddaughter – and this ministry – would not be alive today if not for the help of a lot of people. No one gets to a first birthday without a lot of help!

Thank you, Shirley Hills Baptist Church, for blessing us so richly as we left a wonderful body of believers to chase this dream. It wasn’t just the six months of salary that was a blessing to us, though that, indeed, was an incredible blessing! No, it was much more than money that made the difference. It was your encouragement, your prayers and your willingness through the years to allow me to explore God’s call on my life. Your patience and kindness was a gift I shall never forget.

Thank you to all our ministry partners. There’s a small group of people who’ve made sure we’ve had funds to continue this work. Some have given one-time gifts. Others are supporting us monthly. We could not have done this without you!

Thank you to all the churches, schools and businesses that took a risk and invited EIN to do a program, preach a sermon or take over a chapel service. We also could not have reached this point without your help.

Thank you, Central State Prison! There’s a group of men who helped me formulate the idea of developing virtual tours to supplement our Bible studies at Central State. Some of that original group are on the outside now, and for this we are thankful. Some are still on the inside, and on occasion, I get to see them again. I consider these men some of the best friends and best prayer warriors I’ve got. They helped birth this ministry!

And thank you, prayer partners. If you’ve prayed for us, you’ve helped unlock doors that were once bolted shut. If you’ve prayed for us, you’re the power behind the miracles we’re recounting. If you’ve prayed for us, you’ve loved us. We feel very, very loved!

For all these things, we are grateful.

A cake would be nice, of course.

But a second year of living the dream would be even better!