We moved from our house to Boot Camp on June 1, and being on the road since Boot Camp, we just arrived back home October 15. The time was surely a great time of blessing and progress, but also very tiring. It is good to be in your own bed after four months on the road.
After we finished the five Boot Camps here in Florida and some Debriefs, we traveled to Harrisburg, PA and met with George Kell and his ministry there. We spotted out a place to move the Tabernacle next summer. I have known George for many years through Youth for Christ. His specific emphasis is on drama and does a number of productions. They are excited about having the Tabernacle there. They have a very good spot there on the main highway. I think it will be very successful. We just finished taking down the Tabernacle in Hudson, Wisconsin, where it was with Bruce Cicchese and Teens for Christ. They did very well and we had quite a lot of people come and see the Tabernacle. It was a great witness to the community. They were able to get people to their ministry which was a great help to them. The donations went to AIDS Orphans, which helped us in that area. We will set up the Tabernacle in Harrisburg in mid-May 2011 through October. If you plan to be in the area during that time, plan to see the Tabernacle.
We now have two life-size replicas of the Tabernacle. One is here in Florida and the other one is in the trailer that we have parked in Wisconsin, waiting its move to Pennsylvania. This winter we will be building the third Tabernacle which we will be able to put up in the summer and hopefully move it to the West Coast. The purpose is to win people to Christ, because once you have toured the Tabernacle, you have had the plan of salvation presented. The second purpose is the donations go to AIDS Orphans. Third, it is a promotional piece for all the ministries of Teen Missions and generally is a draw for people who host it. For that reason we decided to build the third one. Most all the materials are ordered or in place. We have some volunteers coming and look for several more to come this winter starting in January. We hope to build it in the first three months of the year beginning in January. We need people to work on building the walls and bases. They do not need specific construction skills as Howard and Mary Vanderpool, who oversaw the first two Tabernacles, will oversee this one. We also need ladies to embroider all the curtains, which is a big job. If you are interested in volunteering in the winter, you can contact Betty Lane at the TMI office. We do have some housing available which is on a first-come, first-served basis, but it is limited. You must contact the office before you come. Please don’t just arrive. We certainly welcome you. What a great experience to build this life-size replica of the Tabernacle. You get a Bible education while you are building it!
While on this tour, we were able to visit five churches in the Ohio area. On Sept. 12 we had our Alma Homecoming and spoke at the Alma Methodist Church. My most important job is the afternoon festivities, when we run the National Crawdad Championship! This year was well attended although the creek was low and crawdads were hard to find. However the race went well. That evening we spoke at Mt. Tabor church which is Bernie’s home church and we feel it is our home church, although we are not members there. I think I look forward to that more than any place all year long. I love the music they have from Sister Osie Dell and her group who always have a special song for me. One is “there is going to be a meeting in the Air” and another is “The old Miff Tree”. She sings that for us every year, and one of the verses talks about preachers who go up the miff tree. I tell her to leave it out, but she doesn’t! I really don’t want her to. We love and appreciate the people at Mt. Tabor so much. There is nothing like going home to the hills.
We also had a great service at Huntington Chapel and the people there are such a blessing. Rev. Marlin Kellough was one of my Bible Club kids when I was in Youth for Christ. He is such an obedient servant to the Lord and built this church in the hollow, when everyone seemed to oppose it. Yet God has greatly used it and him. Danetta Newland attends there and she helps us with our Motorcycle Sunday School ministry. We also attended Liberty Hill. I remember it mostly as the church where Sister Ruth Posey preached and attended. She has always been a blessing to us and I got to see her recently as she is in the same rest home as my brother, Bill, in Chillicothe. We walked in and she looked up at Bernie and said “well, it is Bernie Bland” and she knew me also. Her children were quite surprised as sometimes she doesn’t recognize them. She has been such a faithful servant of the Lord for many years and I am thankful for her. She was involved with the first ministry I had which was 4H in Alma. We also attended Byington Christian Union Church. I remember running VBS when I was there with American Sunday School Union. Brother Jeff Smith is the pastor and is doing such a good work there. I was shock when I walked into the building and saw the addition that was being put on. We are thankful for the ministry of Jeff and the people at Byington. It really warmed our hearts to drive down to Byington through the countryside. I began to wonder if I wanted to go back to Florida or not. Attending these churches was such an encouragement to us and we look forward to it each year. We also attended Bethel Chapel Christian Union Church where we are members. Chelci Borland and Tyler Ray, both former team members, showed up to do their TMI presentation and were surprised to see Bernie and I in the congregation. They did very well.
From Ohio, we flew to Canada and visited our base at Outlook, Saskatchewan. The Missionaries to Canada had arrived for training. The Vanderpools, Howard, Mary, Kathy, and Barb (Paisley) were there to train this group of nine young people, seven from Indonesia and two from Korea. They certainly are a blessing and sharp young people. They have been a blessing to many in Canada already. It was great to be at Camp Outlook and be with our staff, Greg and Amy Reddekopp, Dave and Shirley Charron and Romsia from Indonesia. We appreciated Wayne and Jean Vaxwick who hosted us there and gave us a beautiful room to stay in. It was an enjoyable time to see this team of young people that has come to Canada for one year to share the Gospel. We are hoping to be able to get them visas to come to the United States in April 2011 for three months, and be at the Lord’s Boot Camp. One young man, Alex, is from Papua. He had an artificial leg which was giving him lots of problems and did not walk well. I think he was in a lot of pain, but had such a pleasant spirit. He sings well and was thrilled to be in Canada. While there, we received word that they were able to take him to a surgeon who has made him a new prosthesis which we are just rejoicing over. While we were in Canada, I took the Teen Missions van and drove down to Montana. We were trying to do a set up on an Indian reservation and visited Glen Dive where there is a creation museum. I was very blessed by the work there and hope to have a team back there in 2012.
From Canada, we went back to Ohio and flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We visited there with a ministry Faith Comes By Hearing. They produce what they call “Proclaimers”, which is an electronic box that has the bible recorded audibly. They have it in many languages. I was thrilled because we are starting a new work among the Yao in Malawi and was able to get a Proclaimer in the Yao language. The Bible is not written in YAO, so to have it in audio, was great. Our staff used it and met one of the chiefs and was able to lead him to Christ. They took a picture and I was able to take it out and show them. Our host, Jerry Jackson (and his wife Annette), who is the director, hosted us at their house and treated us so well. He even took me out to his garden and showed me his lemon cucumbers, which I have never seen before and even gave me seeds so I can plant some here. Our daughter went with us and drove for us as we did a lot of driving. We rented a car and not only did we visit the base there, which is a very big operation, but enjoyed a model that Jerry had built of Noah’s Ark. He put 12-14 months into building it and gave great insight on it. I was impressed with his high tech abilities so Kathy Vanderpool, Linda Maher, Steve Petersen and Doug Petersen are going out in late October to see the ministry. I’m sure they will pick up some good ideas that we can use.
Following Albuquerque, we drove west to the Navajo Nation. We visited a nation at Show Low, Arizona which was a Christian school and does outreach on the reservation. I was impressed with what they are doing and they would like to be involved with us in the future. They gave us the name of a lady who is living on the Navajo Reservation and has a church there. The lady had the unusual name of Mary Kaye. We were able to talk to her and so we made arrangements to drive up to meet her. Needless to say the Navajo Reservation is a huge place, bigger than many states. Driving up there we ended up on a dirt road which has no signs and it is not easy to find your way around. We ended up at one place and there was no one there. We debated whether to turn back and a guy pulled up in a pick up. He thought we were probably lost, which we were, and we told him who we were looking for and the place of Burnt Corn. He told us that the road to there is closed, but there is a back road and he was going that way. So we followed him through a cloud of dust. He finally stopped out in the middle of no place which was Burnt Corn. There was nothing in sight but a dry wash (dry creek bed). This is where prayer kicks in. Thanks to all of you who pray for us. You might wonder if it takes effect. We are praying and our “angel” (as Cathy called him) left us and this lady walks up and says “my name is MK”. To make a long story short, we have a Preteen team going there to build an addition onto the hogan (8-sided) church.
From there, we drove on to Kingman, Arizona.We had been invited to speak at a Baptist Church there. Kristen Jordan, a young gal who was on our motorcycle team, got us the invitation. She was such a good gal and was a help to us. The pastor was excited as we shared about MSSM. As you know, people can sponsor a Sunday School for $79 a month. He said if four people gave $20 a month, we could have a Sunday School. Kristen met them in the vestibule after the service, and ended up underwriting two Sunday Schools. Praise the Lord!
Following Kingman, Arizona, we went to Albuquerque and flew to Ohio. A couple of days later I was on my way to Iraq, via Jordan. We were to meet with KQ a former staffer who is in Iraq. It was kind of an uneasy feeling and we had to overnight in Jordan then take another plane the next day to Sulaimani, which is in northeastern Iraq, where the Kurds are. Sulaimani is a city of over a million people and does not have one single church. Of course it is a strong Muslim area, however, the CMA has sent three couples in and they have rented an auditorium in a hotel and are running a service on Saturday night. I attended it and there were about 30-40 there. I certainly learned to appreciate the ministry of those who work in those kinds of countries working undercover and notopenly. Bless their hearts, they are laboring to reach the Gospel. Pray for them. You can sense the oppression. When I flew back, I had to spend a day in Jordan. Kathy Vanderpool had arranged for a friend of hers to meet me since I had a full day there. He took me to Mt. Nebo, where I could look into the Promised Land, then Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John, then the valley of Jethro. He was such a gracious host and I enjoyed being with him and traveling around that part of Jordan with all the Biblical implications there. Jordan is far more open than Iraq and it has Burger King, McDonalds, and all those American places, which you don’t see in Iraq.
I arrived back in Ohio from Iraq on Wednesday evening and left the next morning to drive to Chattanooga for the missions conference at First Presbyterian, which is one of our supporting churches. The people at First Pres. are so special. They treat us so well. We are the oldest missionaries they have.We stayed with Dr. Jack Evans and his wife, Jeanie, who has been our friend and is such a blessing to us. Their daughter, Allison, was with one of our teams and her husband is with sports ministries. They are now working in eight countries. They left that night for Nigeria. First Pres. has a new pastor, Rev. Tim Tinsley. I was so impressed with the message he shared with the congratulation. First Pres. is a very historic church and started out as a mission to the Cherokee. In fact they had 2-3 people who joined with the Trail of Tears when they moved to Oklahoma. First Pres. also has a missionary closet which is as nice as most downtown stores. The lady, Diane Denham, has been gracious to give us clothes for orphans. When we left, the car was so loaded that I couldn’t see out of the back window and you couldn’t put more in the trunk. We appreciate these people who are so dedicated to missions. I wish that all churches were so dedicated. Pastor Tim compared missions to church and that they are like boats. He said that he likes cruise ships, and the crew pampers the passengers; eat when you want and do what you want. He enjoys it, but he said this church is not going to be a cruise ship. I haven’t come to babysit anyone. We are going to be an aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier is not dedicated to pamper passengers, but to launch planes for the mission. Missions is our purpose. I was so impressed with that. They practice what they preach. It is the best missions conference that I have ever been to. They had 36 missionaries there and it was an encouragement to see what God is doing around the world with so many other organizations. Surprisingly, TMI has had an impact with many of them and a new candidate was on a TMI team to PNG. Finally, on the morning of October 11, we loaded up our car, because we weren’t able to do it that night since the conference was over at 9 PM and we had someone visiting after that. Dr. Ben Haden, former pastor of First Pres. and the head of Changed Lives Ministries, came over.We talked until after midnight and it was a joy to talk with him and hear about the ministry God has called him to. Boy, was it good to have that feeling of getting in the car and not have to stop anywhere for meetings or presentations, but we were on our way home. The car was so loaded, but we got all the goodies here and are looking forward to getting it sent out to orphans in Africa.
Since we have started MSSM, it has gone well.We started with a couple circuits, which is 12 Sunday Schools, and now we have 51 operating, with a goal that by November 11, 2011 (11/11/11), we will have 111 Sunday schools. Pray with us that we will reach that goal. One of the things we learned is that Muslim people can come to a Sunday school. They are not permitted to come to a church, but because it is a Sunday school, they can come and we have had scores of muslim young people come to know Christ as Savior. A Sunday school can be sponsored for $79 a month and you can name it after a church or as a memorial or remembrance for someone. We will provide a banner for you and will send a banner over to the Sunday school also, as a memorial. We are looking for 60 more Sunday school and we are almost down to 12 months left to get them.
BIG CHRISTMAS SHOE BOX
Christmas shoe boxes have been a blessing and there are different ministries that do that. Teen Missions is going to do a Big Christmas Shoe Box. In fact, the box is 8’x8’x20’ long! It is actually a shipping container. We have it on the property right now and it is loaded with about seven tons of used clothing. We were able to get that much in, because we had some people who had a compactor and we were able to make bails of clothing that weigh 1100 pounds each. It is just about two or three times more than if it wasn’t compacted. The container, which has to be certified for shipping, is now loaded.We have all kinds of warm clothes and we are hoping to get it there by their fall, which is our spring. So many children don’t have anything to keep them warm. We have purchased a container for $2500 and it takes $10,000 to get it shipped to our base in Malawi.We are hoping to raise the $10,000 and get it on its way. So pray with us that the Lord will raise up the money so we can send the Big Christmas Shoe Box to Malawi before the end of the year.
We were able to get our brochure out early this year, in fact we had it at Debrief, printed and ready to go so kids took it home with them. We will be mailing the rest of them in November. We already have 150 kids signed up on teams and we actually haven’t mailed the brochure yet. It is on our website at www.teenmissions.org.
The Faith Center Church in Miami, is going to sponsor a concert to raise money for AIDS Orphans. It is going to be Nov. 22. We plan to take a bus down with our students and some of our staff. They have big name people coming and it is such a great time of blessing. Pray that the Lord will pack the place. The church seats 4000 and we hope to be able to help a lot of orphans.
We had a very busy four months traveling and doing Teen Missions business. Overall giving is down for all ministry, ours included. We had to cut our overseas budgets by 25% each country for 2011. We also raised some needed support for ourselves. We appreciate you all so much and thinking back, some of you have supported us since the beginning of the ministry. That has been 40 years! God bless you! You are so special as many of you were teens when we met you. We love you all. We are looking forward to the holidays and having all the family home. That is a special time in our family.
Lord bless you,
Bob and Bernie Bland