November 2008

Our trip to Melbourne and Adelaide for the National Baptist Fellowship went well. Thank you for praying. I was to speak at a church anniversary in Melbourne. It was a lovely day of fellowship with the church and pastor who had hosted the National Baptist Fellowship in 2007. The Lord blessed with an excellent day.

The brethren who put us up have a quail farm that incubates about 6000 quail eggs each week or so. I believe it was a kind of Japanese quail that grows bigger and better. That operation fascinated us since we both were brought up on farms! Kathleen once got into trouble with her dad because she was afraid that a snake might be in the henhouse when she needed to go gather the eggs one dark night!

Monday morning we flew to Adelaide in southern Australia for the 2008 National Baptist Fellowship.  The attendance was excellent with about 500-600 present in the larger evening service. The fellowship was sweet and the preaching edifying. The music program was first-class which lays the groundwork for an excellent meeting.

I sensed the Lord’s strength physically for my time of ministry. But most of all He touched hearts, especially young people, and that was a real answer to prayer. A pastor’s son who had been away from the Lord’s purpose for his life made a decision to come back. He testified to how the Lord used some difficult circumstances to break him recently, and when the challenge to let God break and use was given, he responded. We had known him since he was a child.

A young lady 21 years old came up and told me how that when she was a little girl of six years I had come over to her in the parking lot and had knelt and prayed for her. She said that had always been so precious and meant so much to her and that she could never forget it! I don’t really remember the incident, but both Kathleen and I love to talk to children and young people and challenge and pray for them. One never knows what an influence it could be! Needless to say, it was a special blessing divinely-wrapped and tenderly presented to us 15 years later!

Even today a man called our USA website number. We knew and loved his family in Lebanon. He was such a nice young man and had come to our camp and home many times. Now living in another part of the world, he said he often thought of us and had such  high respect for us. So last week he decided to put my name into an internet search and it came up! How we loved that nice young man, but Christ loved him so much more and died for the forgiveness of his sins! Our hearts jumped for joy at this restored contact with him after some 33 years. The Lord’s ways are wonderful and beyond our comprehension!

October 2008

A Texas church ran the Old Testament course last year with great success and blessing so I am told. Actually about half of the 22 students wanted to audit the course at first and not do all the work. After the first class, they changed their minds and started doing all the work and 20 have now finished the year’s course.  A number of them were older people and are ready to take the New Testament course which will be offered next year!

The big excitement for us this month is that our sending church, Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas, with Pastor Ron Jones started the New Testament Bible History course meeting on Tuesday evening! Fifty-five people responded and started the group study! The ages of the students range from 15 to 84! Can you imagine that? An additional 40 people bought some or all of the New Testament materials (Handbook, DVDs, Workbook) to use or study at home. This all is great excitement for us old Temple Baptistites and would be a good send-off for us to Heaven, although I wouldn’t mind hanging around and seeing how it all goes and what else the Lord is going to do!

The Lord gave us some precious opportunities to minister to young people during the USA trip. Many testified to the Lord’s working in their lives in some very special meetings. What a privilege that the Lord can still use us to encourage these young lives! If nothing else, we could tell them that God is faithful and has not let us down even one time in these 58 years since being saved and surrendering to the call to the ministry!

May I again request prayer for the Regent’s Park church and their building project. This week they will be reviewing the commitments of the brethren for the building and decide what and how to do. This past year while they were waiting on the Council to finish some minor changes for the building permit, the price of the steel for the building increased about 65%. Please pray that the Lord will guide them and protect them from any hidden snares. Thank you for always being there for us!

September 2008

The first morning after our arrival in Kansas from Australia turned out to be a special day mixed with deep sadness and unusual joy. I first met Kathleen during a 1955 revival meeting being held in a rural area near Atlanta, Kansas. Doyle Hopper, my father in the ministry was preaching, Mike Schepis, a colleague pastoring in Wichita, was providing the vocal music and leading the singing, and I was playing the piano or organ. All these years we had been close friends, but now Mike was dying in the hospital. When we entered the room, his doctor, a believer, was singing to him, “There is a place of constant rest; near to the heart of God.”

His wife assured me that he did recognize me though he could not talk. I thought he faintly smiled once when I was talking about old ministry experiences. Mike and his wife had visited us both in Lebanon and in Australia. After prayer we left with an overwhelming sense of the nearness of heaven and how wonderful it will be for all of us to be with Christ. Mike checked out of that hospital that evening and took his place in Christ’s blessed presence never to suffer again. What a hope!

During our trip we met several people who want to use the New Testament Bible History  materials in different areas. One man plans to translate it into Chinese. A veteran Bible translator among tribes expressed his desire to get it translated into Burmese and into the hands of many national pastors in Burma. Another missionary plans to use the materials in Surinam for some English classes among the educated nationals and hopes to translate material into the local Dutch language as well. A chaplain is hoping to use it in his prison ministry. This is all very exciting to us!

One Bible college started using the New Testament Handbook as a companion text for their Bible Geography class. The professor likes to tie the geography to the history, and the Handbook does that in detail. Several homeschoolers bought both the Old and New Testament materials. Twenty-five NT Handbooks and twenty five NT Workbooks have been taken to Fiji for the Bible college, and they hope to soon start using them!

Please pray for a number of USA Bible colleges that are considering using the New Testament Bible History Handbook as a textbook for New Testament Survey. Several of our supporting churches have informed me that they are making plans to use the materials in a church institute class.  We are praying that many of our supporting churches will see the blessing of doing so and getting laypeople into a structured study of God’s Word in a group setting.

Thanks to all of you for praying for the trip. One further instalment of news will finish it off next month! Please pray for our National Baptist Fellowship to be held in Adelaide, South Australia at the end of the month. I need your prayers for my small part in the speaking. And please pray for the Croydon Park church (now called Regents Park church) which is facing important decisions about building a new church. They moved out of the old church property and have been meeting in a public community center for about two years. Building costs have soared, interest rates are up, and they need lots of money and wisdom to know how to proceed with the building of the new church!

August 2008

No, we are not deceased; we have just been away from home living out of a suitcase! We failed to keep you informed but we will now try to compensate. We are presently safely and happily back in Australia in our own beds!.

God gave us a wonderful and memorable trip with so many mercies in the face of every concern we had. Kathleen was very concerned about the driving in strange places and the strength to drive, but God graciously revealed His keeping hand and abundant strength. She so wanted to help me to go and do what was in my heart, and the Lord answered.

God opened the door for me to speak to about 500 young people and staff in a vibrant Bible college. The response of these young people was exciting and moving. Thank God for many young people who want to be used of God and to take the place of us who are passing off the scene!

A magnificent highlight of the trip was our stay in Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas, with Pastor Ron Jones. We stayed at the church in a lovely little apartment, and we just loved it. We had the opportunity of getting to know so many of these wonderful people and ministering to them several times. Brother Jones and his wife and staff are great and energetic friends to us oldies!

These three weeks were a dream come true. Memories of the past flooded our minds. I came to this town in 1954 as a single preacher with a heart burdened to start an independent Baptist church. We even entered the one-room above-garage apartment (bathroom downstairs with the car) and found the same red sofa that was there when we were married and moved in! The lady who owns the property couldn’t believe that anyone could ever have live there! But we did, and we were never happier. We don’t even remember coming down the crickety stairs, walking across the unheated garage and taking a shower in that crude toilet and shower!

Really, it was luxury compared to our childhood when we trudged 30-40 yards through the cold and snow to an “out-house” toilet. Toilet-tissue was generally a page out of a mail-order catalog placed there for the occasion! We easily forget how things used to be!

God bless El Dorado’s Temple Baptist Church and pastor! Our hearts are filled with gratitude to God for a church that has kept the faith and is faithfully fighting the good fight and pursuing the same course upon which it was established 54 years ago!

May 2008

Thank you for your prayers and concern for us and for what we are endeavouring to do for the Lord. We are constantly overwhelmed by how He has so richly blessed us with His abundant mercies!

Two years ago we celebrated fifty years of marriage. Now this month we are celebrating 50 years as servants to the Arabic people in Lebanon and Australia! What a privilege it has been.

Kathleen saw the cardiologist today after several tests. He is quite confident that the irregular heart rhythms are irrelevant to the symptoms she is experiencing, so they will have to look elsewhere for the cause. They will continue with those tests after our imminent trip to the USA.

I will be performing the marriage ceremony of a Lebanese couple on Sunday. The young man was saved in Lebanon through the believers who were with me in our church there for many years.  The bride’s parents were members of the Arabic church in Blacktown where I pastored for four years. That church was also started out of our main church in Sydney.

The Gospel net swings wide and deep, so it is thrilling to see how God brings so many individual pieces of what seems an impossible puzzle into a beautiful picture that brings glory to His Name! We are so blessed and consoled to see that truly “our labour is not in vain in the Lord!”

We do pray for you our friends and your needs that God will continue to richly bless and use you. We look forward to a fruitful, blessed trip to the USA.  Thanks for praying for us.

April 2008

A friend from Lebanon emailed a virus warning message. I responded saying that we didn’t have any computer viruses nor physical viruses. I said the only virus we had was a long-time love for the Lebanese people and that we were not being able to get rid of that virus! The friend wrote back with the wish that we would never get over that virus and that she wished the people in Lebanon would get the same virus!

The Lord willing we will take a trip to the USA this summer. It will be a chance to attend some conferences, visit a few churches and to see family. We want to promote the study courses, The New and Old Testament Bible History Illustrated.

A national missionary to India previously unknown to us contacted us about purchasing the New Testament Handbook, DVDs and course materials for use in his Bible college in India! So we arranged for 100 extra sets of the Handbook and Workbook to be printed for the man to pick up in Hyderabad, India. It thrills us to think how the Lord can use these materials in places where we will probably never know nor visit.

Please join us in prayer that God will open doors in many churches where these study materials can be a tool for blessing among God’s people. A large Independent Baptist college has adopted the Handbook as the textbook for New Testament History or Survey. Other colleges are considering it for a textbook. We will be running the New Testament course in a summer session of a Bible college during our USA visit.

Thank God for Temple Baptist Church of El Dorado, Kansas, our sending church, which will be distributing these materials in the USA. That is a huge blessing to us in this endeavor of faith.

We would appreciate your prayers for Kathleen as she is having some tests in in an attempt to get some answers to her physical ailments. The cardiologist believes that the tests can sort things out by the time we travel, so please join us in intercession for this matter.

March 2008

We’re rejoicing and celebrating the faithfulness of God! On Valentine’s Day we finished the project at nine in the evening! I took the last DVD in to check it and found an obvious mistake on one of the visuals, so I corrected it, set-up the encoding process again which takes most of the night. Early the next morning I rebuilt and burned that last DVD and took them all to the man who is converting them to NTSC, the video format which is used in the USA and several other countries like Japan.

The printing of the book was scheduled to start this week in India. So we feel like a mountain has been moved from in front of us! The long days of 12-15 hours of work were becoming wearisome, so we are filled with gratitude to God for His sustaining strength that took us to the culmination of the project. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing upon the printing and shipping of the books to Australia and to Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas.

I promised some testimonies of people who took the New Testament course in the 2007 pilot program, so here are a few:
*“This was a very practical course. A highlight was the experiences of the long ministry of the author which were condensed and passionately poured into the Bible teaching throughout the course and especially in the Logs on the Fire!”
*“This is a  unique study experience which connected me to the NT world. I gained real insight as to how, where and why each book was written. The Words to Note section of the Handbook brought NT words to real life in their historical and cultural context. The author’s experiences added a special flavor of interest to the course. My knowledge of the NT has been greatly increased as has my desire to apply what I have learned.”
*“Thank you for putting together this New Testament Survey Course on DVD.  I have enjoyed it and am still enjoying the format whereby I am forced to read the Bible books with the respective Review Notes to search for the answers to the Review Questions. This course has challenged me to be more disciplined in my study. The colourful pictures and the “Logs on the Fire” messages made the course even more interesting.  I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to have an overview of the New Testament.”
*“I really do appreciate all the hard work and time spent on putting this material together. It is really clear and easy to follow. It has much background material with many insights that I was not aware of.  It is very useful now as I read the New Testament and results in my getting a lot more out of my Bible study.”

A working mother wrote: “I am grateful for the tremendous effort put in to make  NT Bible History happen; it kept us captivated and made it so much easier to understand each book. We thank God for such a faithful servant and teacher. I highly recommend this course.”

An involved pastor wrote: “I have found this course to be balanced, informative and spiritually challenging. The lectures in company with the study material are very well presented and accurate. The course has stimulated growth in the lives of Christians as they came to a better understanding of the contents of the New Testament. I whole heartily endorse this course.”

Thanks to all of you who held us up in prayer for this project.

December 2007

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a blessed Christmas and a fruitful New Year! The weeks and months and years click off so quickly. Truly life is but a vapor as James tells us.

The 2007 Bible college year is now complete. We also completed the pilot program for the year of New Testament Bible History in the six extension locations, three of which we personally ran weekly. Graduation Fellowship Week was a great blessing and well attended. One hundred certificates were given out for the college extension classes and four students graduated from the college.

The guest speaker for the Graduation Week was Pastor Ron Jones from Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas. This is the first church I planted as a young man back in 1954. Pastor Jones was the first pastor from this our sending church to visit us either in Lebanon or Australia, so we were really excited about this “first-in-fifty-years” occasion! He and his wife were such a blessing to us, and it was a big highlight of 2007. Several people were saved in the meetings he preached as well as a good response from Christians. A combined youth rally was held with about 300 youth in attendance. The Lord touched the heart of a young man to whose family we had ministered in the past and he accepted Christ. Pastor Jones really relates to youth and God blessed his ministry here.

We took Pastor and Mrs. Jones to meet with two of the New Testament Bible History extension classes where we heard the testimonies of the students. One couple from Cambodia and Hong Kong, relatively new Christians from a Buddhist background, took the course. Both are accountants and have to drive 45 minutes plus each way from home to the church. So every Monday night they would come for the class, sometimes in separate cars when they didn’t finish work together so that both would not be late. They gave glowing testimonies of how they had learned so much and grown so much in the Lord through the year of study. The wife thanked me for the quizzes and exams saying that they helped her to really absorb what she had studied!

Thankfully, we have completed proofreading and corrections on the New Testament Bible History Handbook and will soon be sending it for printing. Hopefully it will be available in April of 2008.

In the next letter we will send some testimonies of the students which will be of interest to you who pray and are concerned with what God is doing in lives here. Again, we pray you will enjoy a spiritual Christmas and concluding yet another year of life’s short pilgrimage.

November 2007

Another letter came from the Philippines telling of a Bible institute running the Old Testament Bible History course. A picture was attached showing the students in class. It was such a blessing for us to see them getting some spiritual benefit out of something that God burdened us to do here in another country. People we won’t meet this side of Heaven can benefit from our ministry here!

We are working long and hard towards completion of the New Testament course. I have finished the first phase of editing the DVDs and am now started through the second phase. The second phase involves, in most cases, adding considerably more visuals, maybe double the original number or more and bringing everything up to a certain quality standard that represents the best we can do. The second phase involves a lot of work but not as much as the first phase. We are monitoring the lessons at least three times each week in the classes running under our supervision. Hopefully we will catch most of the obvious mistakes and correct them.

Please pray that we might have wisdom in knowing where and how to print the Handbook for the course. A decision will have to be taken soon, and right now we are not sure what is best. The Lord willing, we hope to make a trip to the USA next year, maybe in May, so we need to have the books printed and delivered before then.

Thank you for praying for the National Baptist Fellowship which was held in Melbourne last month. It was a great week of fellowship and blessing. The preaching was inspiring and edifying. There was a terrific spirit of blessing with many decisions and even several salvation decisions. Large numbers of young people were there and responded to the preaching and invitations. The evening meetings were attended by 1000-1100 and the day sessions maybe had around 600+ in attendance. We returned to Sydney rejoicing over the blessings of the week and what God is doing among the independent Baptists of this country.

September 2007

There is always so much for which to thank our wonderful Lord. He has so graciously given strength for us to continue doing what He has burdened us to do! There is good news on the “sight front” with no further haemorrhaging in my eye and continued progress! Kathleen struggles at times with her special routine of physical weaknesses and crash-times, but she still keeps everything running in the home and in the role she so vitally plays in what I am doing. Please pray for her.

We have also been encouraged with several new Bible History classes. A church in the USA has begun the Old Testament course in their Bible institute for some keen men. Another church in the USA is starting the Old Testament course for keen laypeople to further their knowledge of the Bible. Some will do the full complement of work and others will audit the course without doing all the work.

Our website, has been redone by a Lebanese friend here in Sydney. A Lebanese friend in Lebanon created it for me in the beginning! So without our beloved Lebanese, we wouldn’t have a website! You can always find our prayer letters under new postings or just click on Current Newsletter from the Hesters when you open up the site.

One new feature on the website is a video demo with six segments taken from the Old and New Testament Bible History courses. There is less quality online but it isn’t bad and gives a good sampling of the type of studies which are involved. Each segment is about eight minutes in length:
– Personal Testimony
– Course Overview
– Paul’s First Missionary Journey
– Paul’s Reflections before Imminent Death
– Marriage and Slavery according to Peter
– Re-visiting Mt. Sinai
– Tell Jericho-an event which occurred some 3400 years ago
– Hezekiah’s Tunnel Constructed in a Troubled Jerusalem

In two weeks we will be travelling to Melbourne for the annual National Baptist Fellowship. Pray for a great meeting and that my little contribution in preaching will be anointed and used of the Lord.

July 2007

Sydney Bible Baptist College is winding down the first semester of study with only two weeks left to go. Two new student applications are in the pipeline for the new semester which excites us. We don’t usually see many new students coming in the middle of the year.

Thank you for praying for the college. I believe we are at an important point with the new pastor couple soon to be on campus for the second semester. That will give us leeway to restructure the overall curriculum of the college for perhaps a better and wider impact. Everyone is excited at what God is doing. A large special gift was given that will meet the financial commitment of the college to the new staff for the remainder of the year. That was a great blessing of God upon the college ministry that is not dependent upon any support outside Australia.

Please pray for Pastor Mario Schiavone who is doing a wonderful job leading the college as the pastor of the sponsoring church. Pastor Sam Joukhadar is the executive assistant to the principal and is so productive and efficient in his many labours for the college. Now with Pastor Trevor Ringwaldt and his wife coming to the campus, the teaching staff will be enhanced, the dorm students will be well looked after, and there will be an expansion of the college ministry among the churches with Pastor Ringwaldt’s travelling ministry on weekends and special occasions.

My place in all of this is to be of any help and counsel I can be to the overall thrust of the ministry and to encourage these faithful men and the other pastors who teach in the college. I don’t have a lot of physical strength to give to the principal’s position, but I still have a good head of grey hair and 53 dedicated years of experience for whatever that may or may not be worth!

Recently my left eye haemorrhaged breaking into the inner part filling it with blood. This caused a lot of floaties and goop though I don’t have but a bit of peripheral sight in that nearly blind eye. It also strongly influences my total sight with the other eye as well as causing nausea and lack of balance. The specialist was alarmed at the very high pressure in the haemorrhaged eye and planned a surgical procedure to remove the blood if the eye didn’t respond to medication to bring the pressure down. Thankfully the eye did respond almost immediately, and we are praying for that continued response. If the pressure stays under control, the eye can be left, and the blood will gradually be absorbed and dissipate, though that could take months to happen.

The first great blessing is that it was in the bad eye and not in the good one. I pray for God to preserve that one good eye even with its limited vision. Its 25% of normal vision along with the aid of computers and big screens allow me a fruitful connection with the world of sight for which I am so grateful to God. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and encouragement to us. God has been so gracious!

May 2007

God has answered prayer concerning an older pastor and his family who will be coming to live and serve in the college. They are godly and faithful people who will be a positive asset to the ministry in Sydney. He is gifted in building as well and will be a blessing on the campus. His wife is an excellent teacher for the ladies, so that will be another plus for the college ministry. They still have two lovely girls at home (in their twenties). This will be, however, a financial challenge for the college and we covet your continued prayers.

I have taught Systematic Theology at the college here for thirty years and will be turning that class over to the new pastor on the college team. I still teach Old Testament Bible History and New Testament Bible History, both of which I have developed (or am developing) as a DVD college extension course.

A pastor unknown to us called recently from a Middle Eastern country to ask how he could get the Old Testament course to use in his ministry there. He had heard about it from a church in the Philippines who had used it. The church in the Philippines just finished their first run of the course for 15-20 keen professional people who wanted to study God’s Word in a structured course. So it was a joy to talk to this pastor in the Middle East and encourage him in this way. We mailed him a complete set of 30 DVDs along with the four books of materials.

We find a real joy and satisfaction in being able to have a small ministry and input into the lives of people we’ve never met in a place we’ve never been! This past month we also gave sets of the Old Testament course to a missionary in Samoa and another missionary in Paraguay in South America. The missionary in Paraguay wants to take the course for his own edification and encouragement after which time he may be able to use it with students in his country in English as well as translating some of it into Spanish. The wife of a missionary in Japan requested the course for her husband who wanted it. When she surprised him with it at Christmas, he wept according to guests from Australia who were visiting at the time. He is a graduate of our Sydney college.

We are personally running three of the New Testament Bible History classes weekly. This gives us a golden opportunity to monitor and correct any mistakes in the book, materials and DVDs. The last instalment of the textbook was printed last month as well as the workbook. So now we are down to editing the remaining eight lessons from the thirty-lesson series! Believe me, that is another big answer to prayer!

We still have the final corrections to make to the textbook before printing it in its final version. Pray for God’s direction on where and how we should print it. The DVDs will need another fine-tune before printing them in their final form (and before converting them to the USA NTSC video format). After that we can go through the copyright procedures and then, finally, commit the results of what has been a long and tedious project to our Lord Who burdened us to do it and miraculously sustained us throughout the work!

March 2007

February 5th was D-Day for our project-in-making of the past two and one-half years. On that date we would hopefully start using the New Testament Bible History Illustrated course at Sydney Bible Baptist College. The goal was to finish all possible on the formatting, proofreading and arranging of the textbook for the course. I started writing it at the beginning of the process. Out of the thirty lessons to be edited and made into DVDs, I set a goal of 15 which would allow me time to finish the other fifteen during the school year and keep ahead of the classes. Then, the Workbook with review questions from which quizzes would be made, class sheets to fill out during the viewing of the DVD would need to be in place, at least some of them. The Supervisor’s Manual would also have all class materials with answer keys.

The Christian friend formatting the book did a big hunk of the work before he had to stop to do other things. As a result we desperately needed help to carry on that work (unless we just gave out our simple draft notes).

The Lord in His unique way brought people to help us. Two Australian pastors who were good with the Publisher computer program on which the work was being done did some valuable formatting work as did two girls from the Arabic churches here. I wrote the pastor of my sending church in El Dorado, Kansas, and the icing on the cake came with the secretary (of that same church we established in Kansas 53 years ago) stepping into the gap to finish off the formatting work with the Pastoral and General Epistles. I had formatted James but didn’t have the time or strength to do any more. A Bible college student who is a graphic artist did the work on a nice cover insert for the notebook that would hold the material as it was completed during the year. The book will be printed and properly bound in the future.
The first two weeks of school in February were hectic, and we wondered if we could ever get through what we needed to do. Kathleen was working long hours every day proofreading, then coming in and working with me to correct the Publisher documents as well as the other materials that needed correcting.

The first college class started with 12 students taking the first quiz. The first Monday evening Extension School session was held on the college premises and ended up with 42 in attendance counting one new man who joined late! That really excited us! Among them were many from the two Arabic churches I’ve pastored in the past, including one of the pastors and his wife!

Maybe it seems to you that this is all a lot of “fuss” about so little! Certainly it is little, but I have found in 56 years of preaching that little things representing holy desires, sacrifice and effort can be used of God, sometimes in big ways in the long term. God put the desire in my heart to do this project in a stage of my life which would be the biggest challenge I had ever faced. The physical ills caused me to wonder many times if I could ever finish the project. All of the typing, camera work for filming the lectures, computer work on editing the films and making the DVDs were done with my one feeble eye and fingers that entertain arthritis in its beginning stages. Many days the chronic fatigue led me to question the entire project. But God! He is faithful Who will do it!

Many friends here were praying for us and encouraging us. Many friends across the seas were holding us up in prayer to be able to finish something small that was very important to us! So all the fuss about this “little thing” could be justified, I believe! Three other churches here have also started running the course. All we have to do is to keep up the momentum on the materials and finish them off before they are needed. Kathleen and I are running the College course plus two nights of the evening extension schools each week. Thanks to all of you for praying for this “little project” and helping create all this fuss about so little!

December 2006

I would like to fill you in on some of the prayer requests of the recent past. About Rachel and her father: Rachel has a continued “clear” from the MRI in regards to her recent tumour and two brain surgeries. Her pastor father has just been released from the hospital after some five to six months with TB meningitis. After three weeks he will be readmitted to a rehab hospital. The disease brought on a stroke, so he can’t walk and one arm is also incapacitated. He has made much progress and is blessed to be alive and improving, thank God!

In regards to the Iraqi couple and son who disappeared, their remaining daughter is now in Australia with relatives. She is a first or second-year university student. We met her in the Arabic church and tried to be of comfort and encouragement to her. Her parents are Christians, and nothing has been heard or known of them since they disappeared while driving home from a church camp in Iraq.

We were so proud of the Arabic church that hosted the National Baptist Fellowship recently in Sydney. About a thousand were in attendance for a wonderful Fellowship meeting. A pastor father and son from the USA were the special speakers and were a great blessing. I could not but think of thirty years ago and the founding of the Arabic ministry in Sydney when they were new immigrants who did not always enjoy the acceptance of the Australian society, which is a fairly normal reaction in any society where new immigrants are entering and getting jobs and starting businesses.

Now, thirty years later, this church hosted the three-day meeting on a level that has not been paralleled, in my view, during the thirty years I have attended these meetings. The large number of members involved in the work was fabulous. The zeal, the warmth and the efficiency of the host pastor and church were all of unusual stature, and we were so thankful for what God has done and is doing through them. They are displaying the meetings of the Fellowship on their web site at: I spoke on Tuesday evening about one hour and fifteen minutes into the session on The Ministry and The Earthen Vessel just in case someone is interested. It can easily be downloaded if a fast internet line is available.

November 2006

Kathleen’s salon (front room) is a testimony to the grace of God at work in her otherwise neat and orderly life. Most of the furniture has been moved out the past six months, and the neat, respectable showcase has been converted into a messy recording studio with spotlights reflecting light off of four large discarded real estate signs! The picture wall is hidden behind a large sheet of composite board which holds large background pictures for the recording. The only comfort as one enters the distraught salon is a big picture of the Holy Land casting its shadow of hope over the distressing scene!

The recording phase of the New Testament project is finished except for one lesson and a demo DVD which will be left to the end to tie up any loose ends. The wonderful physical relief from the daily extreme fatigue remained for the months of the recording. The week after the recording finished, the fatigue returned in part, though not as extreme and regular as before. Thank you for praying! We are so thankful for God’s merciful blessings!

After some frustration and delay with equipment and software, the editing phase of the project film has now started in earnest. With many long hours I hope to be able to finish one lesson each week. At that rate about half of the editing will be completed by the time the 2007 college year begins on February the first. I have committed to running the course in the college day-session and evening extension as well as a church or two who want to run the course on a weeknight.

The prayer challenge is for the strength to do this. Along with the initiation of the editing work has come some arthritis in both hands that hinder my long hours on the computer. Would you please pray for relief to meet this challenge. The burden and desire are so heavy on my heart to finish this project.

Yesterday I received a letter from a new Australian missionary in another country that gave me further impetus to finish the New Testament project. Some excerpts are as follows:
“Firstly, I wanted to say that the O T Bible History course that you provided to me has been a great blessing, not only to the students, but to me also. I am sure you have experienced many times in your years in the ministry, that the Lord would use someone to say something that is appropriate for your situation at that particular time, and that person had no idea that that was the case! Well, the Lord has used you through the course to do that. So I thank the Lord for using you in that way. Secondly, I also had a number of requests for copies of the set (from national pastors), which I have nicely declined (until he gets our permission). I have the first group of 8 students about to finish the course (and pass). I let them do all the questions in the quizzes and tests (i.e I didn’t reduce the number of questions). I have some more students that are at different stages of completion… Thanks again for being a blessing to us.”

I cannot express my feeling of joy, that completely unknown to us, God’s people in another country are being encouraged and built up through our labours here! This is only a “drop in the bucket” of what God is doing and can do through these two projects of the Old and New Testaments as helpful tools for building up and training God’s people. So God has motivated us to press forward to completion; only we need some small relief which God can give. Thank you for making this a matter for intercession before our great God! Thank you sincerely for your help and encouragement.

September 2006

Some things in life rate extra special and fifty years of happy marriage stand high on the list. Going about life today as total white-haired strangers to others, we even find ourselves being made over as so “cute and unusual,” because of the way we act with each other! To us it’s normal; maybe that’s what makes us so abnormal in the eyes of a society that is so accustomed to broken homes.

While training for the ministry in college, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about a future wife, and, frankly, I just didn’t find the right one! After graduating from college, I went to El Dorado, Kansas, and worked in the establishment of my first church, Temple Baptist Church. My dear mother was most concerned with her son and feared that he had some aversion to marriage. Again, I was terribly busy pastoring, working on a church building and then working as an electrician to keep body and soul together. And, frankly, I just hadn’t met the right one.

That “deplorable state of affairs” dragged on until I went to a nearby country area to play the piano and organ for a revival meeting being conducted by my home pastor and another pastor friend who was leading the singing and singing (he had a lovely Italian singing voice). A high school senior in the area wanted to attend those meetings but had to finish a lot of ironing before she would be allowed to do so. Her church didn’t care much for “revival meetings,” and this young lady had dared to question the assertion of her pastor that Jesus was not born of a virgin!

I barely met that unusual young lady at the last of those meetings. But a mutual pastor friend would later play cupid and got us together. Our “courting days” took place on a red sofa in the front room of her home where I taught her the book of Romans and where we talked about what we might do with our lives. I discovered that this young lady had a tremendous love for Christ. In fact, she had long prayed to marry a preacher and made herself available to serve Christ even on the mission field if He so commanded.

It was a hot day in July fifty years ago when we committed to love and treasure each other until death changed things. Our honeymoon of three days was nourished with watermelon and baloney sandwiches! Our salary was $15 per/week at Temple Baptist Church. But never have we been happier than we were in those days.

Kathleen has ever been a dedicated wife, so unselfish with me, and never has she balked at any price we needed to pay to serve God. First it was as a pastor’s wife in El Dorado, then preparation for Lebanon when she got her Bible college training while I was on deputation, then seventeen strenuous years in Lebanon. Following that brush with death, it has been thirty years in Australia with great blessing as well as great trials.

She has been so unselfish in giving herself to our wonderful daughters and in serving a sick husband for most of the Australian experience. Sixteen years ago she became the sole driver to get me everywhere I needed to go. With my damaged sight and hearing, she is a veritable external eye and ear to me. She is a jewel in the crown of ministry to which we’ve been privileged to participate, and she is ever that dedicated home maker and companion with whom it is a joy to share life.

God has been so gracious to us. We celebrated fifty wonderful years with another wonderful day. It is, indeed, very “cute and unusual” in a day when marriage has become so trite and fickle. May God bless Kathleen and give her many more spiritual sons and daughters who are influenced by her life and example. She is, as Proverbs 31:30 says, greatly to be praised. I thank God every day for her; “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

June 2006

The real burden God has placed heavily on my heart these days is to complete the New Testament Bible History Illustrated study series. It looks to be a 26-lesson series which will take almost a full school year to study, if the student takes one session each week. The first draft of the textbook has been written and is about 425 letter size pages in length. Now the work of writing the lectures and recording them on video is well underway. Following the completion of that phase, we will start editing the films with visuals, maps and photos added in. Each phase takes a great deal of time and work, but we are making good progress, thanks be to God.

At the end of last year, I began having bouts of extreme chronic fatigue almost every day. This fatigue affects every area of ability to accomplish what one desires to do. There has been a lot of this fatigue with the MS through the years, but I hadn’t had it this extreme for a long time, and neither had I had it so regular as it was this time, almost every day. It really slowed my work on the project.
Thank God that about two months ago relief came (no known reason except the mercy of our Lord), and I have been able to really make a dent in the current phase of the New Testament project! I am so thankful and so thrilled at what God has done. Thank you for your prayers.

I realize that we live in weak, frail bodies that are winding down for our exodus from this world. This heavy burden to finish this project may be working against a deadline, I don’t know. But life is not going to get easier, and the burden is there, so I am working hard! I would like to leave something in this world besides a tombstone with my name engraved on it. Of course, we want to leave the testimony of lives that were spent for God, but it would be nice to be able to leave something a bit tangible that might actively play a part in ministry. I believe that can be done through these Old and New Testament Bible History study series. So please continue to pray with us about the completion of the New Testament project.

A couple of weeks ago, the eye specialist who diagnosed the MS that was taking my sight some twenty years ago, also fears that he sees the beginning of macular degeneration in my one good eye which is already working at about 25% original potential. It is unrelated to MS, and he said it likes old people! I came home a bit discouraged about that, but again, I put it on the altar and gave it to God. That’s what I did twenty years ago, and the doctors said I definitely would not get any remission, but the Lord saw otherwise and gave me remission for a number of years now. So God knows about the new development, and He is in control.

We pray God’s blessing on all of you and deeply appreciate your prayers and concern. One quick request: the pastor who is the father of Rachel, the young lady who had a brain tumor whom I have requested prayer for the past year, has been sick for about three weeks with a severe headache and vomiting. Please pray for Fred and his family who have been through such a trial this past year. The doctors haven’t been able to discover what is causing it.

May 2006

Kathleen’s mother, at 100 years of age, fell into a coma and departed to be with her Lord in March. Kathleen has always wanted to be with her family for the funeral, and I had the privilege of presenting a plain Gospel message. Our daughter Melody and children presented music for the funeral as well.

It was not a sad time though “goodbyes” are always difficult. She was saved and a member of a Gospel-preaching Baptist church in her town. Her pastor had some very timely remarks about her life and stand for righteousness in the wider community. The local newspaper editor who had consistently been her philosophical opponent, wrote an unusual article commending her willingness to stand for right and to promote it in a very balanced and logical way. Had she been able to read his article, I’m sure she would literally have sat up and turned over in her grave!

We did not know this, but he said her stand (and another person or two) against alcohol had blocked the sale of alcohol in the town until very recently, which was amazing. Her pastor related of her keenness about every sermon he preached and about her attempts to help his grammar! She put tracts in with bills she paid by mail. As a little girl she had come to Kansas in a covered wagon. Truly she was an unusual lady with a keen intellect, writing ability and love for the truth. We were thankful for the testimony she left among many.

We spent 2+ weeks with our daughter and family and returned at the end of March. God really did miraculously in giving me strength for the trip, since I had been having a real bout with extreme fatigue. Also, the Lord allowed me the opportunity and strength to preach in Temple Baptist Church, our sending church in El Dorado, Kansas. It was such a blessed time for us to see this wonderful church and pastor again.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated; God is answering prayer. I’ve had some better days recently healthwise and have been able to accomplish some ministry goals. I would like to request prayer for the Croydon Park church regarding their big move. Pray for the sale of the parsonage. The church sale will be completed at the end of May, so the money from the house is sorely needed.

Please pray for the health of the independent Baptist churches in Lebanon and blessing upon their ministry in that needy country so dear to our hearts..

June 2014

Youth – Strength – Greyheaded

“I will go in the strength
of the Lord God.” 

Psalms 71:16

10231726 004

I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine  only. 17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. 18 Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”

Our Prayers and Hopes for Each and Every Day

We are celebrating sixty years of ministry since my ordination in 1954 while planting Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas. 

God has given us a rich and full life of service, first in in El Dorado, then in Tripoli, Lebanon for 17 years and finally in Australia for 38 years. We gave most of our youth to Lebanon and for everything that was accomplished we have “declared Thy wondrous works.” All the credit was His. It is such a blessing to see it continuing today.

Now we are old and cry out, “O Lord forsake us not!” We desperately need His strength and grace “until I have shewed Thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” I shared with Kathleen that our infirmities in old age are a divine opportunity to show the younger generation that Christ is ever sufficient regardless of our stage of life. We try to declare and show His righteousness (right-doing). He makes no mistakes in the portion He gives us to bear.

An Evening of Godly Music

We asked prayer in our last newsletter containing the testimony of Pastor Graham West who has a brain tumor. He has declined rapidly the past two months. His ability to speak is now gone and other functions are being affected. He can still smile.

Please pray for his wife Cathie. His son has been called to pastor the church and needs prayer. He is a sincere young man who has little experience in Christian leadership.

We cannot understand why the Lord is taking this capable pastor but His wisdom is unsearchable and always right. “I will make mention of Thy righteous-ness, even of Thine only.” We should never question His gracious and right doings!

Bible History Online

A dear brother in El Dorado began the work of putting our Bible History materials online. Another brother joined in to help him and I learned how to do it as well. They finished their part on the New Testament course and I have about finished the Old Testament. A young lady from our church here has also recently pitched in to help me. I will soon give a report on this project and its potential.

Lebanon News

The time is near for a close Lebanese friend to take up the pastorship of the church just outside of Tripoli, Lebanon. Please pray some final obstacles might be removed and  for this important move that God’s richest blessings will be upon this pastor’s new ministry there. 

Lebanon Beyt Mindere Camp

Extensive renovations are under way high in the Lebanese mountains at the Good Shepherd Conference Center. Pray that the work will continue to go smoothly and finish soon in time for the summer season of camps. Several other churches beside Pastor Traboulsi’s Lebanon Baptist Church will be conducting camps in Beyt Mindere.

March 2014

Thirty-seventh Anniversary

Faith Baptist Church in Regents Park , Sydney, Australia

Someone handed me a guitar in the church parking lot and insisted that I should play something. Not knowing [Read more…]

December 2013

An embarrassing but humorous “bad-hearing” incident happened in a home where we were invited to eat. The host asked me to relate some of my favorite thoughts about the Old Testament which I did at length. After my “amazing insights,” Pastor Nabeel whispered that the host had asked for the New Testament and not the Old! I apologized to the host and said if he wanted my insights for the NT, he would have to invite me for another meal!

The “switch-on” of my cochlear implant took place in an air of suspense. The over 80% chances were that I would hear some unintelligible electronic sounds that would require several months of work and practice before the brain would be able to decipher things. Or, if the Lord had mercy, and granted our request I might understand some of it from the beginning.

Truly, the Lord did exceedingly abundantly above what we ever dared to ask or think. When the bionic ear was switched on, I could plainly understand what was said! I’m hearing things I haven’t heard for years, clocks ticking, crackling of pages of the Bibles being turned in church and other things! I warned the Arabic congregation Sunday against talking about me because now I might hear them!

The “bad ear” is now dead after the surgery unless the device is on. With the device the bad ear is hearing substantially like the good ear (music and phone excluded) plus much more because of its higher volume without distortion or blasting, unlike the regular hearing aid does. My hearing has been moved into a “new ballpark,” even though I still struggle with certain sounds as I did before. Hopefully, practice and programing the device will improve those deficiencies. The audiologists are “over the moon” with my excellent results. To God be the glory!

The Spanish translation has continued to progress and both the Old and New Testament Bible History books are about 4/5ths translated. The formatting has been delayed due to serious health issues and back surgery of Mrs. Robertson that has severely impacted their work schedule. The good news is that she is making steady progress in recovery. Please pray for these dear servants of the Lord, missionaries to Spain for many years.

Sydney Bible Baptist College Graduation Fellowship concluded with 4 graduates and a great time of fellowship. Ninety people received certificates for completed courses in the evening extension program. Courses in Faith Baptist Church were Bible Doctrine, Spiritual Growth, NT Bible History, OT Bible History and Apologetics plus some other courses like computer and secretarial skills.

We pray you will have a blessed Christmas and a great beginning to the New Year! Your encouragement remains much appreciated.

November 2013

What’s the big deal? After all, it’s just a very small piece of card. Forget that you’ve had it for 60 years? Easier said than done.

The responsible lady said that “you don’t remember things you see long enough to drive safely. Your awareness of some things is not what it used to be. It has nothing to do with you personally,” she said. “It’s just this ailment, this Alzheimer’s that you have. That’s the problem.”

But none of that eased the pain for Kathleen, a fiercely-loyal and determined lady who would do anything possible to support her husband, The few strategies and things that literally enabled me to cope physically and thereby remain in the ministry through those years of sickness were the result of her constant reading, searching and sacrifice. So this matter of driving represented something of what she was.

Frankly, I was secretly afraid that this assessment would not go well but I had the assurance that whatever the result it would, in God’s loving providence, be for the best.

But when Kathleen left with our daughter to turn the driver’s license into the Road Traffic Authority, I knelt down alone and wept uncontrollably for at least thirty minutes. I felt we had lost a piece of our being, something very important and valuable.

I cried because my heart ached for Kathleen to have to go through this. I cried because I couldn’t forget that her “card” and the ability to drive me around these past 23 years had enabled my ministry after I had lost my ability to drive due to MS. It was a profound loss that could never be recovered!

But God never takes away something without giving us something just as precious and valuable in its place. The “little piece of cardboard” was taken and a photo ID issued in its place. And when God takes something valuable, He is doing something in us that will enhance our real persons.

It almost sounds like forced optimism and feels somewhat hollow at times, but it is true. Our God, our Faithful Creator, is working on our “photo ID” and will not be satisfied until He forms in us an image like unto that of Christ, our Perfect Saviour! Yes, it hurts! Yes, we had our hearts set on keeping “the card” for several years yet. No, we can’t see much good out of it yet! But God said it’s all good and we desperately want to believe Him. In His protective presence is peace, joy and security for our fear-tossed souls on a dark and uncertain sea.

My surgery for the cochlear implant took place and I am presently moping around with my generous dose of nausea, dizziness, imbalance and general grumpiness! The surgeon told me today that all is healing normally and that I would be ready for “switch-on” of the device in a week’s time. That involves some detailed programming of the device before the magic moment.

But for 80% of the recipients, the magic moment of “switch-on” is a bewildering experience of foreboding, electronic gibberish! And it takes from 6-12 months of work and practice to realize the full benefit of this magic device. The brain has to learn its language, they say. This small computer that processes the sounds has been surgically imposed inside my cranial space (skull) and physically wired under the skin behind the ear and through the bone down into the cochlea. Quite the deal!

My verse for the surgery was Proverbs 20:12, “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.” I printed it out on a little paper and gave it to the surgeon, the leading cochlear implant surgeon in Sydney with around 300 operations under his belt. I told him that I believed in prayer and had prayed for him as he used his many skills to operate on my ear that God had designed.

He thanked me kindly and related the story of the Australian, Dr. Graham Clark, who was among the first in designing and implanting a workable bionic ear. His father’s deafness had inspired him to keep working despite countless failures and criticisms from skeptical friends who thought he was whacky for continuing to try. But persistent Dr. Clark said, “I believe I have a directive from God to someday succeed!” I’m so glad he did!

My “switch-on” occurs in a week’s time. I wonder what we will hear first when we are “switched on” in heaven’s glory!

July 2013

Our Faith Baptist Church is greatly blessed these days with so many new visitors and people being saved regularly. Discipleship classes, Spiritual Growth classes, Old Testament Survey classes-many believers are participating in these opportunities and growing. I believe about 25 peple received certificates Sunday for having completed the Spiritual Growth Course. Add to that a strong preaching and teaching pulpit ministry, so we go to church every time wondering what will happen today!

Our pastor recently instituted what I call the “Hester Limousine Ministry” to get us to church and back so that Kathleen doesn’t have to drive (25 minutes each way). We have 3 different drivers each Sunday which gives us a great opportunity to share in their lives and pray with them. We had a lovely time recently with a young man driving us as I told him how his great grandfather came to the Lord in our Lebanon ministry and related events that happened about fifty years ago! We have always asked the Lord to let us be an encouragement until He takes us out and that prayer is being answered!

The doctor told Kathleen that she is not to drive alone so we are adjusting to that new standard. Her Alzheimer’s is imposing other restrictions and our life styles are, sometimes grudgingly, synchronizing with those changes. The old liberties die hard and we are asking the Lord to mercifully help us accept them thankfully and to cope.

Lancaster Baptist Church in California held a large Spiritual Leadership Conference in June and invited me to come since they were honoring some gray hairs at the conference and I had perhaps more of them than many. Plus I have been preaching and serving the Lord for 62 years. Kathleen insisted that I go when the invitation came several months ago. So I did and had a wonderful, encouraging time! Thank God Kathleen did well at our daughter’s home during my seven-day absence. The tribute can be viewed on:

With our 57th wedding anniversary in July we are overwhelmed when we think of God’s faithfulness and goodness to us all these years. We try to focus on counting our blessings which helps to take the sting out of some of the changes that are difficult to accept. As we grow older it is beautiful to see how God ties things together.

After the tribute at the conference, a lady sitting directly in front of Pastor Bill Zaydan and me asked to speak to me. She said, “When I was a little girl you came and spoke about Lebanon at our church in Ohio. I determined at that time that I would make you my missionary and pray always for you. I grew up praying for you but eventually lost track of you and didn’t even know if you were still alive. I have never ceased to pray for you and tonight I know that you are alive and that God has answered my prayers.” That was a real blessing to me. You never know who God has out there (besides those of you whom we do know about) working for your good and supporting in prayer. Truly we serve a great God!

May 2013

Sydney Bible Baptist College is off to a good first semester. God answered prayer with 13 full-time students and 18 part-time students. Additionally, there are another 90 students in the evening and extension school classes!

My course at college this year is New Testament Bible History Survey. Kathleen’s health situation requires me to miss some classes, but I really enjoy doing what I can. Please continue to pray for Kathleen and her struggle with Alzheimer’s and some other annoying physical symptoms that have plagued her for years and are now exacerbated. She is still a huge blessing helping me with matters of sight and hearing! We thank the Lord continually that He has allowed us to still have each other to help!

The Spanish translation of the Bible history survey books is progressing well. The Old Testament Guidebook is not quite half-done, and the New Testament Handbook is well over half-done!

Please join us in prayer for these matters:

-Where should we print and how can we effectively distribute the Spanish books? We are exploring one avenue right now and need the Lord’s firm direction.

-We need some special person who knows Spanish translation well and is also able to fit in the translation on powerpoint slides. We have the slides available in English and want to replace the text with Spanish. This will give us a library of powerpoint presentations for each of the 30 New Testament lessons. Later we’ll see if it is expedient to do the same for the Old Testament lessons.

-Pray for our translators and formatter:

Pastor and Mrs. Marvin Robertson, Maria Esther Alvarez and her son Arturo

-Please pray for the upcoming summer ministry of the Christian camps/conferences in Beit Mendere in Lebanon. The political situation is of concern and we pray that it will not affect the summer ministry of the camp. Renovation work is currently in process in preparation for the summer ministries. Also, the Aaba church will be moving into their new church building which will be a great blessing. For some time they have been bounced around because of unrest in Tripoli where they were previously meeting on Sundays.

I would like to share with you an encouraging letter from a pastor who ran the Old Testament Bible History course (with the DVD lectures) for some keen laypeople in his church in Alabama. It has always been my vision and prayer that many churches would find a real help from these courses just as this pastor did below:

“Brother Hester, Greetings in the wonderful Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We just wanted to let you know what a blessing the Old Testament History Bible Course was! About 15 of our church members completed the study last Thursday. Over the past months we have grown to love our time of study with you and always looked forward to ‘our beloved historical outline!’ Lord willing we will begin the New Testament History studies in August with more Christians that are hungry for the Word of God. Thank you for your service to our Lord. Let us ‘work ’till Jesus comes’ my good friend and brother!”  Pastor J.C., Grace Baptist Church

February 2013

I prayed with Johnny’s great grandfather when he accepted Christ as his Saviour in Lebanon in 1962. Later his grandparents and father prayed with me and received Christ. It was also my privilege to marry his parents here in Australia. Johnny was a very sincere, committed Christian. He had unusual ability in football (rugby style-without padding) and made the professional ranks at the age of nineteen. He became a public role model for a football-loving nation with the flash of publicity that such athletes receive.

At the age of twenty he was diagnosed with cancer. After heavy chemotherapy, he disciplined his way back (rare and almost impossible) into shape to play twelve more professional games. Then the cancer reappeared.

Last Friday morning about 2:30 am, the doctor told his mother Abbey that it wouldn’t be long until Johnny would be gone. She said she would tell him. “Johnny, it won’t be long now. It’s almost time to go and Jesus is waiting for you. Shall we call the family?” He replied, “Yes, and let’s call the relatives to come too.” She questioned, “Johnny, it’s very early in the morning. Are you sure you want to call them too?” The nurse appeared to give him a morphine shot for the unbearable pain. Johnny declined, saying he wanted to see everyone and it wouldn’t be possible if he took the shot.

When Pastor Nabeel Zaydan of Faith Baptist Church (Johnny’s uncle) arrived at the hospital after the 40-minute drive, he found several cousins talking and joking with Johnny and he was telling them that he had no fear of death because he was going home to be with Jesus. Johnny said, “What took you so long, Pastor?” He insisted on telling each relative goodbye individually. Then he asked them all to gather around him and sing a couple of hymns. They sang “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul” and “Some Golden Daybreak.” A Lebanese family in the room next door said they got goose-bumps and had never seen nor heard such an event!

Johnny was gasping for breath and in terrible pain. He asked for the nurse to come and give him the shot of morphine. Then he asked for everyone to leave except his immediate family to spend the time with them. One of his 3 brothers is also a Christian professional footballer well known in the football community. All this time Johnny was smiling and jovial. Alex, a close friend from Faith Baptist Church arrived and came in. “Johnny, Alex is here.” Alex said, “Johnny, you’re my hero. I love you.” Johnny replied, “I love you too.” Johnny was gasping for breath and almost sat up in bed and was straining his wide-open eyes. “Alex, I can’t see you.” Johnny continued, “Mum, who turned off the lights?” She said, “Johnny, it’s not the lights, it’s the valley of the shadow of death. But soon it will get bright and you’ll be in heaven.” His older brother urged, “Just commit yourself into the Lord’s hands and don’t hesitate.” Johnny was struggling to breathe and said, “Bright. It is bright!” Then his face broke out into a huge smile two times as if he were seeing something. He gasped and then lapsed. Within a few moments the family realized that the Lord had taken him and he was gone.

His death made big headlines in the newspapers, TV, radio and online news. His coaches called him the perfect gentleman whose life was guided by spiritual values, a lion heart and iron man who never complained one word or even gave an exasperated sigh during all his suffering, a 23 year-old who had taught them so much and who had made them and their players better people. The National Rugby League is establishing a yearly Jon Mannah Trophy Game that will pay tribute to him. Morally, they would like for all their players to imitate his character and strengths.

About 1500 people heard short Gospel messages during the three nights of condolences for the Mannah family at the church. After counting 2400 people inside the church for the funeral service, the men had to close the church doors. There was no place left to stand anywhere in the building. Many were left standing outside. The media reported 3000 mourners. Another two thousand people viewed the funeral online on the day and many more are still viewing it on

Johnny’s life and death touched thousands in the world. One of the football players from his club who had previously heard the witness of him and his brother accepted Christ during the funeral service. The Lord gave unusual power as Pastor Zaydan presented clearly the Glorious Gospel of Christ with tears and courage. Who knows what God is going to do? Pray with us that the Lord will use the death of this very special, unusual young man for a very special task in our midst for the revival of Christians and the salvation of the unsaved!

December 2012

The Spanish translation should be ready about a year from now. Missionary Marvin Robertson in Spain is supervising the translation project. He has another excellent translator working with him, a native Spanish-speaker. They both review and revise each other’s work, so I believe we are going to have a superb translation that will incorporate the strengths of each into a great result! The original formatting is being utilized with errors removed, thanks to the perfectionist skills of the supervisor of the project!

The translation work is off to a good start. The OT Bible History Guidebook is about translated through Genesis with 38 pages completed. The NT Bible History Handbook is translated about through the Gospel of Matthew with 52 pages complete. We are putting these translated pages together for a Spanish sample of the books into a spiral to display at some Spanish conferences. We can also send a PDF sample by email to anyone interested. If you know missionaries or pastors in Spanish-speaking countries, please send us their names and email addresses, and we will send them updates about the translation project.

Please pray for Missionary Marvin Robertson and his wife, and for Maria Esther de Alvarez and her husband who are Mexican missionaries to Spain. These godly missionary families are putting their heart and soul into this work along with their many other ministries. We all share the burden that these books and materials can be a blessing to Spanish-speaking pastors, church institutes and Bible colleges. We have already received requests from total strangers expressing interest!

This has been a good year for the ministry of these study materials in the Philippines. We printed a total of 6000 books, 3000 OT Guidebooks and 3000 NT Handbooks in Manila to stock there for the Philippines ministry. Over 50 Filipino Bible institutes/colleges are using the materials. Scores of pastors have obtained the books for a study resource and give glowing reports of how the books are a blessing and help! One Filipino pastor hosting a large conference purchased 300 of these books to give to pastors attending the conference, most of whom would find it difficult to purchase themselves. The stock of 6000 is down to 3533!

Another hard-working pastor mentors about ten nearby pastors one day a week who have little in resources and no Bible college training. We gave them a good price they could afford and they are thrilled to death. The few stories that get back to us make goose bumps run on my spine! Five students in an African country are finding blessing through these materials. Who but God knows what all is going on in the 35-40 countries where sets of the materials have gone!

Last night I preached at the Graduation Fellowship Week of Sydney Bible Baptist College. After the service a lady came up to meet me. She had taken the OT course. At the beginning she feared that she could not possibly take the quizzes and exams required in the course! But she gradually fitted in and did quite well. She was so thrilled at what she had learned about the Old Testament and said it would not have happened without the quizzes pushing her on!

Please continue to pray for Kathleen who feels that she is losing ground with the Alzheimer’s. The medication has not yet demonstrated any identifiable benefit, but the Lord knows and we are asking for His perfect will.

September 2012

“I feel that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is timely since you have been experiencing these changes for a considerable period of time,” said the neurologist as he sat on his haunches by Kathleen’s chair and kindly patted her arm as he spoke comfortingly. He proceeded to arrange for her to begin taking the medication prescribed for such memory disorders.

Two things impressed me from that time of “bad news!” First was Kathleen’s seeming complete acceptance of a most distressing fact. Of course, there were months of preparation knowing that this was always a possibility, but the reality was troubling. Kathleen handled it with a calmness that helped my feelings of distress.

The second impression that really moved me was the caring attitude of the neurologist, probably an immigrant from the Pacific Asian region. Many doctors would just blurt it out with little explanation and then say, “Any question? OK, see you next session!” I thought how important it is for us as messengers of divine truth to always deliver those messages, some of judgment and some of blessing, with a genuine caring attitude that moves the recipient of that message.

The medication can maybe stabilize the symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. The doctors say the chances of that happening are about 50-70 per cent. We are praying that Kathleen will benefit from the medication. However, our trust and hope are in the Living God, the Faithful Creator Who is in complete charge of this case. He has allowed us to have each other to help one another, no small blessing at 80 and 74 years of age. We also live next door to a loving and caring daughter along with her family, which seems almost unbelievable to fathom.

The two grand daughters (22 and 24) planned a sleep-in “slumber party” for grandmother two days after the diagnosis. It was an absolutely delightful evening for both of us! Our plate is piled high with blessings. A loving pastor and church that exceed all imaginations are of constant comfort to us. The day after the diagnosis Kathleen said she wished our pastor would just tell the people the diagnosis and explain that they should not be surprised or offended when she repeats salutations or questions! He did that at the Sunday business meeting of the church while we were gone speaking in another church.

As we move forward on this “seniors’ journey,” our daily prayer is that the Lord will continue to use us to be a blessing as long as He leaves us on this earth. It’s not always easy to understand just how He is going to accomplish this, but we are looking to Him. “O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” Psalms 90:14

One of the exciting things happening at our growing church is the ordination this Saturday of a young man who was saved, trained and sent out to start a new church in Newcastle, a city two hours drive north of Sydney. He graduated from Sydney Bible Baptist College and served as an intern in another church for a year as well as another nearly two years in our church. Please pray for Charlie and Janet who are well-prepared and doing a good job in the new ministry.

July 2012

We printed the Cast Your Bread autobiography books for Australia here in Sydney at a large commercial printer. They had just purchased a large press that looked like an assembly line. The books were delivered to us at home, and when we opened the boxes, lo and behold the pictures were all too dark to comply with normal marketing standards. The printer was having teething problems with the new press.


The printer agreed to pick up the defective 500 copies and to reprint. I suddenly thought of a good use for the defective books. So I asked the printer for permission to keep the books and send them for free distribution in the Philippines. The pictures were discernible but inappropriate to sell here. The printer gave permission and I shipped them to the Philippines door-to-at a total cost of $175!


Two hundred and fifty of the books will be given to Filipino pastors attending a large conference in October. The other books have been or will be given to pastors and students. The brethren there were thrilled to get the books. I had no intention to send the autobiography to the Philippines, but the Lord had a unique plan to make it happen!


We’re excited! The translation of the New Testament Bible History Handbook into the Spanish language has now begun! Please pray for the brethren working on this project. We have no present plans to convert or title in Spanish the DVD lectures for the course, only to translate the NT Handbook along with the workbook and supervisor’s manual. Page 21 of the Handbook in Spanish is displayed.


Friends in the Spanish-speaking world have assured me that our book would fill a niche and be a blessing to pastors and especially Bible colleges. With 21 Spanish-speaking countries, please pray that the Lord will do some wonderful things with this Spanish book and study course. Our main target for the Spanish materials will be Bible colleges and institutes. Pastors will also find the Handbook a great resource for their personal study.


Spanish Translation


June 2012

The 35th anniversary of Faith Baptist Church in Regents Park in March was a blessed event of rejoicing. It was followed by lunch at the church and the book launch. Pastor Zaydan interviewed me and it is listed at the close of this newsletter.


We were shocked when the church sold 180 book at the launch! An older, godly pastor phoned me recently to tell me how he had been blessed by reading the book. He was crying and commented that every pastor ought to read it. We were encouraged that God could recycle our trials and blessings to bless others!


Both Faith Baptist churches in Blacktown and Regents Park are running our Bible History courses this year as also is Sydney Bible Baaptist College in an evening class. One lady wrote, “I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying the N T History course. They are the most amazing lessons I have ever listened to or studied. The combination of detailed Biblical notes together with history, pictures and maps of the Land is so informative and leaves one wanting more. I find it incomprehensible the amount of time, energy, and devoted study you have sacrificed in writing these books. I pray the Lord will give you both more strength to keep up this lovely blessed work for our sakes and for the sake of others to follow.”


A Filipino pastor recently wrote: “I can’t tell you how much your books have been a blessing to pastors here.”


We share these testimonies with you because you have been a vital part of our lives and ministry by your concern and prayers. We feel so unworthy to be a part of any of it but we rejoice with thanksgiving that God uses the weakest of vessels to accomplish His work.


Please pray for the beginning of the new school year in June in the Philippines. We are asking God to open doors in new colleges and institutes for the materials. May God bless each one of you!


Richard and Kathleen Hester


Pastor Zaydan’s interview with Pastor Richard Hester at the launch of “Cast Your Bread:”

  1. What events or trials did God allow in your early life that helped shape you to become who you are as a missionary today?
    Answer: I don’t remember any traumatic event or special difficulty that shaped my life. What I do remember is lots of hard work that engaged all the family and a consistent, loving Christian home that shaped my values and character.
  2. What doctrinal issues did you struggle with after your conversion and how did you eventually leave them behind?
    Answer: Teachings about divine healing being a full half of the Gospel for every Christian, the gift of tongues being the seal and evidence of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, women preaching and the losing of one’s salvation-these teachings and others engaged my eager mind to understand and prove their accuracy from Scripture.
    Annoying doubts about these teachings plagued my thinking. These issues were settled shortly after I left that atmosphere and enrolled in Bob Jones University. My doubts, the Scriptures I was pondering-all suddenly came together so clearly! For the first time I knew my feet were on solid ground! What a blessing it was to KNOW that I was forever saved and accepted in the Beloved! The other issues soon came into submission to the complete Word of God, and I was free!
  3. What year did you graduate and start your first church, how long were you there and why did you leave?
    Answer: Graduation and the launch of Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas took place in 1954. God interrupted our plans for a long stay in Temple Baptist Church with a heavy, unshakeable burden to go to Lebanon as missionaries. Our stay in El Dorado was less than three years. We were heartbroken to leave Temple Baptist Church but we were persuaded and confident by the Spirit that He was our Guide in this new assignment.
  4. Why Lebanon for your mission field, and out of all places, why Tripoli in the North?
    Answer: I was exposed to mission work in the Middle East Mission Prayer Band at the college which I attended. Also, I wrote several research papers on themes related to the Middle East like the Armenian massacre around 1900 in Turkey, the pillars of Islam etc. When the burden came to become foreign missionaries, the only consideration was the Middle East and then Lebanon. Why Tripoli, the second largest city of Lebanon, a fanatical city 85% Muslim? We felt a burden to go to a place that had little or no Gospel witness, and Tripoli fit that criterion as a large city with only one Gospel witness and one liberal Protestant witness. It was also the centre of North Lebanon with its hundreds of towns and villages with no Gospel witness.
  5. Learning Arabic is always difficult. How were you able to learn Arabic and preach in it within one year?
    Answer: We had no magic formula, just five disciplined days and evenings weekly studying and practising for one year. God blessed us with a Lebanese lady teacher who was strong in Arabic and knowledgeable in English. Plus we were determined to learn the language so we could better understand the people and be able to share the Gospel with them from our hearts to their hearts.
  6. What were the main difficulties that you encountered in understanding the Lebanese culture?
    Answer: Probably the main help in understanding the culture was learning Arabic in its society. We would ask our teacher constantly why that word meant what it did. We gained the rationale of why the Lebanese did some things differently from our way of doing or thinking. Often we found that we could benefit from much of what we learned.
  7. How would you summarise your ministry in Lebanon?
    Answer: It was very difficult and discouraging at times because of the scarceness of results compared to the effort expended. However, the many lives that were touched with the Gospel of Christ made it a blessed and rewarding experience. The continuance of that ministry today in two churches and a conference centre in the mountains brings great joy and thanksgiving for what God has done!
  8. What event made you finally leave Lebanon and how did the Lord change your direction to Australia?
    Answer: A combination of several brushes with death in the accelerating civil war helped bring us to the conclusion that the Lord would have us leave Lebanon for a respite until conditions might improve enough for us to be able to minister in Lebanon. But after leaving Lebanon, God used its tragedies and losses to strip us of any hope that Lebanon could be healed for a long time. Other circumstances forced our sights upon Australia where we could continue Arabic ministry. That ministry would not only reunite us with some former church members who had immigrated to Sydney but would touch many other Lebanese immigrants, some of whom we had known in Lebanon.
  9. Your ministry in Australia has been very diverse. Having hindsight, why do you think God brought you to the land down-under and what rewards did you find here?
    Answer: God brought us here to experience our greatest and most rewarding years of ministry among our beloved Arabic people!
  10. You have invested your life in many people. In other words, you have cast your bread upon the waters. How did you find it after many days? What do you hope to find in the future?
    Answer: The stories of that lifetime investment, its rewards and how they are being found is the exciting story of our autobiography, Cast Your Bread. Needless to say, every time we walk into Faith Baptist Church, we are overwhelmed with the sense of those rewards and God’s faithfulness upon our weak efforts to “cast our bread upon the waters.” Heaven is drawing closer and we look forward to an eternity where God will show us the exceeding riches of His grace upon ever so weak and unworthy servants, but servants dedicated nonetheless to His Matchless Glory and Grace!



March 2012

Cast Your Bread, the new autobiography, is in stock and available in the USA from Temple Baptist Church, P.O. Box 823, El Dorado, KS 67042. Phone: 316 321 3803 or Email:  In Australia it is available from or phone 02 9622 1148.

Jodi, the church secretary and the person responsible for our Missionary Outpost book ministry, wrote: “The first Sunday we sold 48 of your new book after the service. The lady at the table could hardly pull them out of the box fast enough! I had a free day, so I took the opportunity to read your book.  I laughed, I cried, I was challenged, I was encouraged, I was overwhelmed to learn how God prepared you and used you for what He wanted you to do for Him.”

Kathleen has not done well the past few months and has lost considerable ground with the memory issue. Her old physical symptoms have been volatile and unstable which further exacerbates the memory problem. I have put off writing because I just didn’t know what to say. We both felt that in light of the recent loss of ground that the MRI might document something of what was happening and that a diagnosis might be forthcoming. Then a regime of the powerful drugs would be put in place to hopefully slow the progress of the diagnosed disease, whether alzheimer’s, dementia-related or whatever.

To our surprise and thankful delight, the MRI was normal and the neurologist didn’t believe there was yet sufficient evidence for a diagnosis beyond Mild Cognitive Impairment. Thank you for your prayers. God’s grace is sufficient, and we want to trust Him for each day. I say “want” because some days our faith is weak. Thank God Kathleen can still drive although we have stopped her driving at night because she tends to have her “down times” more at evening time. Also, she still cooks though she struggles because she doesn’t remember the recipes and doesn’t remember where items are in the kitchen without some frustrating searching and whatever help I can give. But she’s really amazing and we are so thankful for all God has given us these years and for His present mercy! She can talk about it all with people and has big laughs about the embarrassing situations that occur because of memory!

The Sydney Bible Baptist College has begun a new year of ministry with several new fulltime students. Three daughters of a man and his wife who were both former students enrolled and are living in the dorm!

Faith Baptist Church in Regents Park will be celebrating their 35th anniversary on March 11th and launching our new autobiography as well in the afternoon. Pastor Zaydan will be inviting local pastors to come along for the book launch. I’ll give a report on the occasion in our next newsletter.

February 2012

Cast Your Bread


Autobiography – 300 pages

From Home on the Range


Home Anywhere with Jesus


Lives and Lessons


Richard and Kathleen Hester


Over Sixty Years of Preaching Ministry

Spanning Three Continents


Fears and Faithfulness of First Church


Aspirations and Anguish of Lebanon


Trials and Triummphs of Aust ralia


Other books by the author include:

Old Testament Bible History Guidebook

New Testament Bible History Handbook


These books have gone to over 35 different countries. The Philippines lead the list with

its many churches and Bible colleges and institutes that use the books and companion DVD lectures to great blessing. Most students in these churches have limited financial resources. So Missionary Outpost would like to help make these books available through donations from this autobiography.

For every Cast Your Bread that is ordered in the USA, some needy student will be helped to own a valuable resource book for the Old or New Testament. For example:

♦Make a donation of $15 or more and receive one Cast Your Bread FREE and help one  needy student! Shipping is included and costs you nothing.

♦Donate $25 or more, receive two Cast Your Bread FREE and help two students!

♦Donate $37 or more, get three Cast Your Bread FREE and help three students!


If churches order 10 or more, for their bookstore, they may have them for $7 per book plus shipping.


Send order with check made out to Temple Baptist/Missionary Outpost to:  Temple Baptist Church, P.O. Box 823, El Dorado, KS 67042 ,

Ph. 316 321 3803 or email:

September 2011

“What are some priorities on your heart right now?” was the question of my sending church’s pastor. I thought a moment and replied:

Number One: Restoration of a Dorm at the Campsite near the Cedars of Lebanon


I built this two-story dorm in 1969. It was stripped bare during the long Lebanese civil war and was taken over for many years by shepherds for a winter refuge for goat and sheep herds. Doors, windows, electrical wiring, toilets, camp beds and anything that could be removed except the concrete shell were stolen or destroyed. The space is needed for the camp ministry, and it is a burden on our hearts to see that building back in the ministry for which it was built!


Number Two: Maintain and Expand the Book Ministry in the Philippines


Results are very encouraging! We just received the following letter from a godly pastor who has a small Bible institute to train Christian workers and pastors:


“We are now using your book Old Testament Bible History. We are all so glad to have you teach us via your book and DVD set. I have told our class that you are my co-teacher in this particular subject. You are part of our faculty.


Bro. Hester, we really appreciate how much time and labour you have invested in this teaching ministry. For sure, yours is something that has affected and continues to influence more Bible students and laymen. We thank you so much.”


A veteran missionary first ordered 200 books for his college students and some pastors. Later, when ordering for more pastors and 12 other Bible colleges established by his graduates, he wrote:


“We are so excited about these materials.  I have been watching the DVDs and have enjoyed them immensely.  I could never thank you enough for all the effort you have put in to make this project a reality. I wish so much that I had been able to take this course when I was very young as I can see how it would be an invaluable help in my preaching and teaching.  At least this generation will be able to get this great Bible course. I believe your work will stand the test of time and will be used by future generations should the Lord tarry.”


Whatever profits are made from sales of the materials in the USA and Australia are put into funding for the Philippines especially. Frankly, it doesn’t amount to that much after subtracting the free book samples and the many free sets of the materials given to missionaries around the world. For the materials to be viable and within reach in the Philippines, we give every college or institute free sets of the DVDs for the 60 hours of OT and NT teaching lectures. The two textbooks are made available for students at 60% of our printing cost. This makes the books within reach of many students who have, for the most part, little financial means.


In some areas the students are not even able to manage that, so we have a Library Plan where we give the college/institute a one-time gift of materials and books for their library where students can study their lessons each week. For every three students in the survey courses, we give the library one textbook (both OT and NT). Also we give each school a CD with PDF files from which they can print their student workbooks and a supervisor’s manual which contains all quizzes, exams and answer keys for the pastor or teacher. This makes it considerably cheaper for us and we find that they manage to print off or photocopy the workbooks as needed.


We have just purchased a stock of ten thousand stamped DVDs for a cheap cost price. A cheap cost price is crucial in the Philippines since most of the DVDs are a gift to the schools. Each school gets 20 DVDs for both the OT and NT sets. We have also sent to the USA for their needs there. This week we sent 4000 DVDs (OT and NT) to the Philippines for the unbelievable shipping cost of $80!


I am sharing all of this so that you can pray with understanding along with us for the burden on our hearts to be fulfilled for the sake of Lebanese and Filipino souls as well as many other countries that are using the materials! We are excited and thankful to God for these opportunities!

August 2011

July 26 celebrated 55 years since our 1956 wedding day. I chose to work the morning before our early evening wedding ceremony. Times were hard financially for the young pastor of a new church. We promised to love each other forever and to put the other first.

A dear friend recently mentioned us when she wrote in her column: “I myself have seen very few happy marriages in my lifetime. Those that I have seen (such as the marriage of friends of mine who are missionaries to Arabs living in Australia) have been the result of both husband and wife choosing to put the other person’s happiness first!”

Many times daily gratitude wells up in my heart and I blurt out to my wonderful Kathleen, “I love you” or “I’m so thankful for you.” The years have cemented those promises we made that evening before God and witnesses. Our relationship is so precious and comforting!

In our sunset years we are growing more dependent on each other and the Lord. Kathleen has been driving me everywhere now for 21 years and helping me with sight and hearing limitations. The list is endless: reading letters, magazines, labels, taking the phone to understand and take down details, addresses or names. All these things exhibit her devotion to her husband. Now she is becoming very dependent on the memory of her devoted husband: to accompany her to appointments, to direct her in driving to many destinations, and to remember many little details in public and in the home.

We want to be trusting of our wonderful Lord in our limitations. We want to be loving and patient with each other’s frustrations and fears as taken-for-granted abilities slowly fade. Before the wedding I wrote an idealistic piece: You’re what I want.  I want you to always be sweet and understanding, never irritable and gripey.  You are just wonderful!”

The discovery of some misplaced old love letters a week ago sprinkled some spice on our anniversary celebration with our grandchildren. In the letters I told Kathleen that she was the most genuine and sweetest girl I had ever met. I loved the way we could talk about the Bible and spiritual things. I wrote: “I have 1 plate, a knife, spoon and fork and only 1 cooking utensil.  But I’ll make out.  It doesn’t take much equipment to make vegetable soup. One can costs 27 cents; one can makes 2 meals (14 cents each). The theme for our marriage should be, ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall not eat!’”

I never called her by phone which was a party line in her community: I’d like to call you but there are 10,000 ears on that line, and I am broke anyway!” We courted every Thursday evening in her parents’ living room and she cooked me a big steak. Thursday was a wonderful diversion from the soup and baked beans! I wrote: Let’s pray that the Lord will send us a cow, a fat one.  I wish I knew some butchers personally.  Somebody who would cut up this cow for us.” An interesting sidelight: “The bottom fell out at Sunday School this morning.  The attendance was 45 and the offering was $23. I don’t know where the people were!”

Shortly before our wedding I wrote: “I’m making a bed with a headboard that will have a place for a radio and a few books.  Then we’ll put drawers on the bottom sides of the bed.  It may not look like a million dollars but it ought to work like a charm.  Whatever that is? I’m going to fix a place under the stairs where the owners park their 2 cars, next to our bathroom to hang some of our clothes (it was a one room apartment above an unheated garage). Everything won’t be too stylish but I hope you’ll like it.  I really do.  I have so little to offer you but I hope you’ll be happy with it.”

Again: “I fear I have little to offer you in life being a preacher and having little money. So I hope you realize what you’re getting into.  I have nothing to offer but hard work and bushels of love.  Very true, you can’t eat it for dinner, though it would make dinner more pleasant if you had some (dinner).  There are lots of heartaches and disappointments along with the blessings.  I’ve never had to go hungry, or if I did it was because of something foolish-like that car (bought on payments). But we live and learn.  Mostly learn. So we’ll suffer together.  But I’ll enjoy it much more with you around, sweetheart.  That is, if you’ll let me kiss you.  I think it is by far the best that we have decided to wait for kissing each other until marriage.”

We were so happy then. We’re no less now. Many things have changed during these 55 years. We’ve collected stacks and stacks of blessings to share and remember together for time and eternity. “Happy anniversary, Kathleen, you’ve been the best and more than I ever dreamed of!” God is good and all thanks to Him for an exceedingly happy marriage!

The grandchildren loved the evening and the entertainment of the love letters. We wish all of you a happy home!

Sincerely happy,

Richard and Kathleen Hester

June 2011

“He hath done all things well” was the testimony of the multitudes concerning the miracle-working Christ and this statement sums up perfectly our 26 days in Lebanon.


The Lord kept both of us from any kind of sickness, health incidents and stomach upsets. Kathleen coped well, thank God. The country was quiet and safe.


I can again thankfully say, as with the Philippines trip, that God gave strength far in excess of that which I ordinarily enjoy. I spoke 3-4 times each week at the three churches where I ministered. We were with people much of the time which required extra strength. God is to be thanked; I don’t know how either of us could have coped with it all.


We observed God’s obvious direction at every turn of the road. We reminisced how God had directed each step during our 52 year missionary pilgrimage spanning tragedy and triumph. We looked back to the 17 years we spent in Lebanon starting in 1959. We sat with our two daughters on the stadium steps of the camp conference center looking out to beautiful mountains and a deep canyon, praying and weeping together, remembering that, truly, “He hath done all things well!”


I preached my “farewell” message at one church but could not bring myself to preach it ever again, so much did I feel the strength of that bond with Lebanon and her people. Everyone just believed that we could surely come back again next year. I genuinely wanted (and still want) to believe them.


We humbly felt that God used us to be a blessing and an encouragement wherever we went, all credit to Him Who does all things well. Both of our daughters (and one husband) were there and were a blessing to us. Melody, our oldest, had not been back to Lebanon since leaving 35 years ago at 14 years of age. She did marvelously in Arabic, speaking to a ladies’ meeting and spending much time with ladies encouraging them in the Lord.


After a message the last week, I asked for any questions from the packed room. A man stood to his feet and said he was greatly troubled in conscience because of killing five people in the course of his security work. He wanted to know if he could ever enjoy peace and forgiveness. In that hushed room I could announce that the Gospel knows no bounds for him who will believe and accept God’s forgiveness. The man accepted Christ the following day and was a beaming witness at our last meeting along with his saintly wife who accepted Christ several years previously.


During one of the home visits we made with the pastor, a lady wanted to know if she could be delivered from a deep, nagging anger toward a relative who through careless behavior had accidentally killed her brother without ever demonstrating a tinge of remorse for what he had done. What a joy to announce that boundless love God demonstrated in forgiving us! That love makes it possible for us to forgive others even when they show no remorse! Let the whole world know, “He hath done all things well!”

April 2011

The official dedication of the new spacious facilities of Faith Baptist Church took place on Saturday, March 5th. It was a memorable day of remembrance of all that God has done to make the new church facilities possible.

Pastor Zaydan surprised us with a special tribute to our ministry. The video of it is on if you would like to view it. The Faith Baptist people are so appreciative of our labours among the Arabic people tp whom we dedicated our lifelong ministry and they never lose an opportunity to show their appreciation. They are precious people!

In recent months we have been praying about making a farewell trip to Lebanon. Such a trip is a big physical challenge and we felt that another year’s delay might be too late. We feel the successful trip to the Philippines has confirmed to us that this year is the time for Lebanon. Our plans will, however, be subject to the situation in the region, given all the unrest sweeping the Arab world. Presently Lebanon seems to be relatively unaffected by this unrest and desire for political and personal freedom. Lebanon is unique in the region and her many problems differ from those of other Middle Eastern countries

As of now, we plan to leave in May and will return via the USA after seeing our daughter and sending church. Actually, she will join us in Lebanon for a couple of weeks for her first visit to the land where she was born and raised until the age of 15. She is still fluent in Arabic. Our time in Lebanon will be confined to 3 or 4 churches that hold special interest for us, even though we are very much interested in all of them but do not have the time to visit more.

Thank you for your prayers as we begin preparation for this trip. Presently I am recovering from minor surgery for hernia repair. The printing of the books in the Philippines is now underway. The new school year there begins in June, so these next two months are an important time for the book ministry in their colleges and churches.

Your friendship and fellowship are a source of constant encouragement. May our Lord, His grace and His peace, be with you all!


March 2011

The Philippines’ trip was indeed blessed above measure! The 90 minute departure delay at Sydney Airport was untypical of the trip! The trip could hardly have been better, thank God!


The issue of strength and health for both Kathleen and me was blessed beyond description! We both managed the busy schedule of the conferences. The long sessions (3-4 hours) rarely had any breaks! God kept us from any sickness, flu or stomach upsets. The strength for the task was so unusual and divine.


I spoke 9 times in 10 days in Manila-2 conferences, 4 churches and 4 Bible colleges. The people were so gracious and we made many lovely friends! I loved trying to speak my few words and phrases in the Tagalo language!


We sent the study materials via missionaries to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Burma, India, Kenya, Ethiopia and Lebanon. There may have been others. A Burmese student studying in Manila took 10 books and a set of OT and NT DVDs to put in the library of a Burmese Bible college of 160 students of which his father is the president. This all excites us to no end! One Bible institute in Cambodia already has 39 students studying one of our courses!


The Lord led us to a printer in Manila who is printing 6000 books (OT Guidebook and NT Handbook) for an unusually low price. He will also look after distributing the materials! A church in Manila is giving us a room in which to store the books indefinitely. An Australian friend gave a gift to help us further bring the prices into line with the capabilities of the students. There is much poverty there. All these developments are miracles from God, and we stand amazed in His presence! Initial responses to the initiative to get these materials into Bible colleges and institutes are abundant and exciting. Please continue to pray.


Seven people accepted Christ and many Christians appeared to be both challenged and comforted. We heard much good preaching and were personally blessed and challenged. The Filipino churches have a passion for missions even though their resources are so very meager compared to ours in the developed countries.


Also, many churches have a Bible institute program and some have Bible colleges. They realize how important it is to teach their people and get them involved in a structured learning program, something I find lacking in many churches in the west and in Australia. In 2008 I sent a free set of the NT study materials to all my supporting churches. I only know of 2 or 3 which have run the courses in their churches (one is my sending church). These Filipino churches are crowding around to see how they can use the materials and are testifying of great blessings for having used them to help teach  their people.


Thank you for standing with us in prayer for this trip. God has answered!

December 2010

A Bible Conference marked the close of the Sydney Bible Baptist College school year. The preaching was challenging and the fellowship was sweet! Groups from several churches contributed to an extra special musical program that honored our Lord.


This year has witnessed the opening of several doors in Bible colleges in the Philippines for the Bible survey material that is now completed and in stock.


An invitation has been extended for me to speak in a missions conference in a church in Manila the second week of February. Several hundred pastors will also be present. The pastor has graciously scheduled for me to meet with these pastors to discuss the possible use of the Old and New Testament survey materials in their Bible colleges and institutes.


Would you please pray for:


  1. This visit to be blessed of God in opening long-term doors for this material to be a blessing to many Bible college students in the Philippines
  2. Our need of divine wisdom in setting things up to work practically
  3. Our need for special strength to fill the busy schedule of meetings and speaking engagements in several churches and Bible colleges


Finally, the conclusion of yet another year fills our hearts with praise and gratitude to God for His unnumbered blessings upon these unworthy servants. And “thanks be to God for His Unspeakable Gift” whose coming is marked even in the shopping malls of our world with beautiful music and moving words so profound, but seemingly uncomprehended by the oblivious multitudes of milling shoppers. May God give all of you a blessed Christmas!

November 2010

November 14, 2010 was an historic day for us! We’ve had some big event points in our lives, and this was one of them! It lacked two days of being exactly 34 years since our arrival in Australia.


Thirty-four years ago we had the joy of seeing God miraculously work upon our arrival with unusual results in the Arabic ministry, the likes of which we had never before seen in our years of ministry in Lebanon. That joy was compounded when the Lord opened the door for us to purchase the Croydon Park property which served Faith Baptist Church for over thirty years.


But Council intransigence and technicalities hindered any attempts to expand the facilities to contain the growing congregation, so Pastor Nabil and the congregation took the step by faith to sell all the properties and buy a new property where adequate facilities could be built. That eventually involved the church moving into a rented Council Community Center which was home to the church for 2.5 years.


When everyone walked into the opening service in the new facilities Sunday morning past, there was an air of excitement to say the least! It had been a long journey, but now we were there! At the insistence of Pastor Nabil, an unusual and gracious son in the ministry, I was the morning speaker  and he would translate the message into Arabic for the joint Arabic and English congegations.


A number of unsaved people were present along with a number of friends and well-wishers which swelled the attendance up to almost 400. Personally, I was so excited that I had difficulty getting to sleep Saturday night!


God’s blessing in allowing us to see and have a part in this important second phase of the church was overwhelming to our minds and emotions!


The new building will give adequate space for the congregation to grow to double or three times its present size. It contains two auditoriums (a picture of one of them is shown) and a large fellowship hall which also can be turned into a basketball court. All three can be opened up and form one huge auditorium! Pastor Nabil and his wife are doing a great job leading the church. The evangelistic outreach each week, the teaching of the people all the counsel of God through preaching and special classes for keen members to study the Word of God and how to minister-all is unusual and glorifying to God!


Pastor Nabil has lots of plans and dreams to further expand the church ministry of winning and teaching people! We’re so thankful to be able to be a part of it! And we constantly thank God for raising up godly and capable men to lead these two Sydney churches which have been the objects of our concern and ministry during these many years.


Two photos help tell the story of the new spacious and beautiful facilities. You can also view a presentation shown at the opening Sunday morning on the web at


The opening sermon is also on the same website.  The prayers of many people helped through the years to bring the church to this exciting phase!

August 2010

How old is “old?” These days I often say that I am “feeling old!” Both Kathleen and I seem to have recently burst into that new world of experiences peculiar to “old people!” Greatly diminished stamina, aches and pains moving around to new places. When the subject comes up, I am immediately exhorted by friends that I am only as old as I think I am (power of positive thinking). Or, I am only as old as I feel I am (power of denial). Yesterday I was told that I am only as old as my heart is (power of heredity).


Yes, I know I was born in 1932, but how old am I really? I’m confused between what I feel and what my friends tell me. So to escape from this distressing predicament I hopefully went to Psalms 90:10 which gave me a fright: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70 years); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80 years), yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” So it appears I’ve been living on “borrowed time” for over eight years full of “labour and sorrow!”


How old is old? Well, Abraham died at 175 full of years. “Full” means abounding but it has the strong meaning of “satisfaction or satisfied” which crowned Abraham’s years. King David died at 70 and Solomon at about 60. All three of these are said to have died “full of years or days.”


Life for the Christian is not measured so much by years as it is by a quality or fullness of years. Paul insisted that to live (at any age) is Christ in all His richness and fullness.  He had learned to be satisfied and content at whatever age, in whatever situation and in whatever feeling (pain, distress, etc).

Yes, we’re getting old; we’re living on borrowed time full of labour and sorrow, but we’re also full of satisfaction and contentment ever thanking God for His innumerable mercies toward us!


I have to confess that for most of my 78 years I haven’t longed for heaven as I should. I’ve been immersed in what I believed God wanted me to do. Heaven was a glorious prospect to which I joyfully subscribed, but to actually go, not now! Perhaps that isn’t all wrong because God did give us this desire to live and achieve. But as the physical abilities begin to wane and ebb away, that longing for the perfection of our heavenly hope and the glory of Christ’s presence begins to blossom and fill the days of our years. The “borrowed time” full of labour and sorrow prepares us for that heavenly home.


How old am I? I pray God might say that I am “full of days,” immersed in satisfaction with what God has graciously chosen for me until He chooses to take me out of this earthly portion of my journey.

July 2010

It is true that every day is the Lord’s day and that we should rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24)! The “bad days” can be so much easier when we remember that.


Today, it has become very popular to pretend that a Christian should be a “blind optimist” and never admit “bad days,” as if it is a mark of spirituality to feign perfect strength and victory every moment. After all, didn’t Paul say in 2 Cor. 2:14, “Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ?”


Verily Paul did say that, but he also said a number of other things, like 2 Cor. 2:13, “I had no rest in my spirit.” Can you believe what he said in 2 Cor. 1:8, “We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”


Paul did not hesitate to admit weakness and the “bad days.” The difference between Paul and many of us is that he also never failed to raise the banner of hope in God’s promise, though he may, at the time, have found comfort only by faith in a “good day” yet invisible to him.


Kathleen is having a “bad day” with an increase in the severity of some long-time symptoms and a struggle with memory.  Please pray as she has some tests during this month. The young man, the ball player, whom we mentioned in previous newsletters, has had a re-occurrence of the lymphoma shortly after the full chemo treatment. Plus it has spread to another organ. This young man is being “pressed out of measure above strength.” It is a “bad day” and he must focus on hope in Christ, “Who raiseth the dead” to manage this threatening day.


On the victory side, I had a great day last week when the project  of the OT DVDs (30 hours worth) was completed! Sometimes I wondered if I would ever get to that “day” but it happened by God’s grace and strength! I feel a heavy burden lifted because the Lord had put that burden on my heart to do this project. Thanks be to God for this victory!

April 2010

Along the way of life we have the privilege of meeting special people who are a blessing to us, even though we are endeavoring to be a blessing to them.

A girl whom we have known for years got married. Her life had been filled with tragedy. Her mother had suffered a violent death at the hands of hoodlums. Her home was filled with unhappiness. She now has children and we determined to break through the somber loneliness of one of the children. We would hug this little girl and express our love to her every time we saw here. Finally, one day she gave me the biggest and most precious smile! We pray that God will use us to bring some sunshine into that girl’s life!

A second person who likes to talk spiritual subjects with old white hairs came into my focus. I look for young people to encourage in the Lord. We’ve had many of them through all these years. We love to talk to them and challenge them spiritually. This young lady wrote us a beautiful letter of thanks with the following poem she had written on her 17th birthday. I thought it was beautiful and got her permission to share it with others:

Summer’s Seventeen

I’m seventeen in a moment; full of plans for the future.
Anticipations and rosy-tinted dreams.

I’m seventeen for a moment.  Life loves me   and I love living!
Life’s full of riches, and I am young and free.

Summer’s only beginning.  But in this long lazy summer
I must remember how brief this time will be.

Just seventeen for a moment.  Can’t waste it idly and happy.
Feasting on summer and summer’s best fruits in their prime.

I’m preparing for later, living life to its fullest
By living for Jesus.  What else counts in wintertime?

Life’s like a transluscent vapour;  here, then gone in a moment.
Man’s days are number and I know You’ve numbered mine.

Accept my first fruits of summer.  Can’t give You just what’s left over.
When life’s half-finished, please take my best from me.

While I’m young, while I’m free.
Lord, if I have any use.
Do whatever You want with me.  Take my youth, my plans, my dreams.
Here’s my best, here’s my summer at seventeen.

The final person I’ll mention is a young man eighteen years of age who had been diagnosed with lymphoma. He is a member of a professional football team at the beginning of his career. He had undergone a heavy regime of chemotherapy treatments. I’ve known him all his life, having married his parents years ago. I asked him what was the greatest lesson he had learned through this entire experience. His answer was along the following lines. He had lived for football (he had been a good testimony for the Lord along with it). His attitude toward this disease was that of quiet submission but with the thought of getting through the treatments as quickly as possible and getting back to his great love of playing professional football. In the middle of the treatments a test showed that things were not progressing as hoped and that other adverse things were happening with the cancer. This strong and youthful footballer returned home that day from the doctor devastated.

He got alone with the Lord and prayed, “Lord,  I don’t know what You are doing in my life, but I want to truly surrender all to You at this moment. You can now take football from my life, You can take my very life if that is what You think best. Everything is now Yours and not mine any longer!” This greatest lesson resulted in a heavy load immediately being lifted from his heart and a fullness of joy regardless of what happens.

There are others, but these three young people blessed me immeasurably and brought tears to my eyes!

March 2010

“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” This beautiful verse expresses my feelings about what to write in this newsletter of blessings!

I couldn’t forget God’s mercy in giving us another year of life and service. The clock of my life ticked 78 in January, and I am being reminded every month of friends and acquaintances even younger than I who are preceding us to that wonderful destination! God has been so good to us, though that doesn’t exclude the fact that we are “feeling our age” in a new and more real way recently!

We enjoyed a great family camp in January. I had the opportunity to lead a professional person to Christ who had been invited to visit the camp by a zealous young lady. This man said he had been running away from God for years and that he did not want to run any longer. He accepted Christ in tears and went home and called some of his professional colleagues and told them that he had been saved and that his life had been completely changed! What a blessing this was to me to get in on the action though I had never met this man previously. The young lady faithfully sowed and I walked in without merit and had a part in the harvest. What a blessing for both the sower and the reaper!

The second semester in USA Bible colleges began in January and about 770 of the New Testament Bible History Handbooks were ordered as textbooks for several USA colleges. It’s a real blessing to us to know that those students are getting some benefit from our labors! Bible college students have always been a special interest and burden on my heart, so the ministry of both the OT and NT books is truly a dream that God has made into reality! It also thrills us beyond measure that the books are ministering to Bible students in several other countries including especially Fiji and the Philippines.

Besides the New Testament class which I have in Sydney Bible Baptist College, I am running another New Testament class in Faith Baptist Church in Regents Park on Monday night for twelve keen laypeople. We hope to move the class to the new Faith Baptist Church facility around June when it will hopefully be completed. It is a blessing to see new people in most every service, and God is working in hearts, both saved and unsaved.

God’s wondrous and thoughtful works to us cannot be reckoned in order-we would surely leave many out of which we are not aware! We cannot number them because they are too many! I wonder what exciting and thoughtful works the Lord will bring across our paths in 2010? He has already given us a few hints of some possibilities! Thank you for praying and we’ll try to keep you informed.

December 2009

Christmas will soon be upon us reminding us again of God’s smiling and loving face to us. The beautiful prayer in Numbers 6:24 enjoins, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace.” God’s love to us is not a faceless, theoretical love but a visible, dramatic act. God so loved us that He gave His only Son for us.

I wrote in the Old Testament Guidebook on page 102 the following:
“Joshua’s moving farewell is recorded in chapter 24, but he exhorts the nation in chapter 23 as well.  A few things come to the forefront for review. First, there is an emphasis upon individual responsibility and not just national. Each tribe is responsible to expel the enemies from its land. Each person is responsible for his own lot. You remember that Caleb took that responsibility upon himself and drove out the enemies from his allotment. Joshua made it plain that “one man shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised (23:10).” Personal responsibility and personal victory are a vital part of the plan. Joshua cast a broad net to the nation in exhorting them to faithfulness in cleaving to the Lord. But then in his farewell section in Shechem he came down to the individual emphasis with the statement, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (24:15).’
Modern-day Christianity has too often lost itself in the crowd and seems to enjoy the ‘faceless status’ of an impersonal testimony.  People do and say things on social web sites that they would be ashamed to do in person. The anonymity of the ‘chat room’ has snared the faceless actors into a bondage that could easily end in moral shipwreck. There are to be no ‘faceless actors’ in the ranks of God’s people. Each and everyone of us is responsible to be like Christ, to seek holiness and to serve the Lord diligently.”
God’s love displays the most beautiful face ever to grace this earth, the face of Jesus Christ! We joyfully sing, “Face to face shall I behold Him!” Our obedience to God should be a visible face of godliness, a face reflecting the love and holiness of our thrice-holy Saviour!

We feel a deep desire to gratefully reflect that Glorious Love to those about us this Christmas season! I will be preaching the Christmas message in the two churches which I have formerly pastored here. One message will be in Arabic and the other in English. The lovely face of our Blessed Saviour  shines equally bright in one language just as it does in another. Thank you for encouraging us on!

October 2009

Ecclesiastes 11:1, “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days” is becoming more special to us as we come around the bend and head down the “final lap” of service for Christ. I say “final lap” optimistically realizing that we could be only one step away from the finish line. Whatever the case, in the meantime we enjoy immensely the surprises of the divine “thou shalt find it!”

Throwing good bread on swiftly-moving, erratic waters is hardly an endeavour to be understood, much less appreciated by most. Five dedicated missionaries in South America in 1956 literally threw their lives, like a loaf of bread, upon the jungle waters of Aucan heathenism. They didn’t live to “find it” but others in their steps did. Many an obedient  servant of God has left familiarity and security to “cast his bread” upon a people whom he did not know and perhaps a people who, to all appearances, did not even want him. It seems the height of folly to throw the most precious possession of all, one’s very life, upon uncertain, erratic waters that defy description or destination.

But when we realize that God personally undertakes to direct the surging, erratic waters, the exercise begins to make some sense. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it (both the rivers and the king’s heart) whithersoever He will (Prov. 21:1).” Humanly, I could never explain how we ended up going to a people we had never seen and whose language was unknown to us.  Lebanon was only a word on the page in our experience. But somehow that word came to fascinate our thoughts and desires and God made it the uncertain “waters” upon which we could have the “irrational privilege” of casting our “bread.”  That decision took place 52 years ago!

Now about the “last lap” that I spoke of earlier, it has become our enjoyable pastime to see how God manages many pieces of bread which surely seemed to be lost in the surging, uncertain waters of our “irregular  circumstances.”  The “puzzle-game” has been even more exciting because of the different continents God has to navigate to direct these separate pieces of bread to a certain destination. I think God really enjoys showing us His great might and literally keeping us children on the “edge of our seats” waiting for the next scene!

Forty years ago we built a conference center in the mountains of Lebanon not far from the famous Cedars of Lebanon. We had a passionate dream that this camp would be a great blessing and opportunity for the ministry of New Testament churches in Lebanon. The camp ministry was greatly blessed but six years later civil war, as it seemed, swept away the dream and the “bread” was carried out of sight by the turbulent, churning waters of civil war. Almost twenty years later some pieces of the “dream” were sighted by Faith Baptist Church of North Lebanon and missionary friends who began restoration work of the camp facility that had been stripped and partially destroyed during the civil war. But God needed another twelve years to gather the “pieces of bread” and direct them into the port destination.

Lebanon Baptist Church, Faith Baptist Church of North Lebanon and Pastor Edgard Traboulsi undertook extensive work this year towards restoring the camp facility and opening it up for a fulltime summer ministry. They named it “The Good Shepherd” conference center. A total of ten camps were held during the summer season this year, representing several churches and groups. Now back to the “last lap” and enjoying the “thou shalt find it” promise. I cannot explain the depth of the passionate feelings which overwhelmed us at this occasion of the relaunch of the ministry vision for this beautiful camp site that boasts the most beautiful scenes of any camp site I’ve ever seen, scenes of the Cedars (Solomon took many of these), the high mountain peaks, the Mediterranean Sea and the plain of olive trees below!

This occasion was not only exuberant thanksgiving to God for His blessing. It was an absolute outbreak of awe at the divine mystery of God’s workings. How a water-logged piece of bread could be found upon the wide ocean of circumstances and divinely escorted into the port of God’s purpose is something that humbles and strikes awe into the soul of the believer who longs to see the dream happen but cannot see any evidence that it could happen!

Other odd pieces of bread have surfaced in the most unlikely places, and we look forward to more surprises as we move (slowly) down the “last lap” of the race! Keep your eyes open for some surprises-you don’t know when your pieces of bread thrown supportively into the water after ours will float to the surface in full view and surprise you! Meanwhile, we’ll be resting and rejoicing in the Hands of The Great Finder!

September 2009

We all can rejoice in some God-given privilege we are allowed to enjoy. One of our distinct privileges is that of a pastor and group of people who play a special role in our lives. This sending church is extra special because I had the privilege of being their first pastor as well as the first missionary whom they sent out to another country, in this case, Lebanon and then Australia.

Although practically all of the faces have changed in that church during these 55 years, there is still one heart and one mind. We feel something special every time we return to Temple Baptist Church in El Dorado, Kansas. Pastor Ron Jones has done much to foster and maintain that special relationship.

God has led us in a marvelous way to develop some Bible study resources the past few years. We can see clearly the Lord’s hand in this small endeavor that will allow us to leave some tangible small ministry for blessing to others that can continue after we are gone. The main thrust of this project has come to focus on Bible colleges using the two books for textbooks in Old and New Testament survey courses. Right now we’re praying for 1000 students to be using each of those books each year. All thanks to our faithful God Who has granted about 70% of that initial goal. It thrills us to no end that young people studying in Bible colleges can get some benefit from our labors.

The above goal only speaks of the USA and Canada. Other countries have or are using the materials too. We just sent 150 of the New Testament Handbooks to the Philippines last month! It cost us less than one dollar per book to ship them which is fabulous!

We started this letter talking about a sending church, and this is where Temple Baptist, its pastor and secretary have stepped up to the plate (if you like baseball). Without them this thrilling extension of our lives and labors could not get to first-base. But their commitment and efficient handling of the distribution of these materials have literally been a “home-run” that is putting runs on the board! To Pastor Jones, his people and Jodi (the efficient and dedicated coordinator of the project), we give thanks to them and to God for this most special church that continues to multiply our labors for Christ!

Not only did Temple Baptist undertake all the work of handling these materials, they look for opportunities to present them to others. At their recent Ladies’ Conference they set up a table and sold a good number of the materials! And it needs to be said that we do not take one penny of the proceeds  personally though it would not be wrong to do so if that were the way God chose to provide our personal needs. Every penny made is put back into the ministry of these materials.

What is a special sending church? It is not a right but a wonderful privilege given to us by God. For a church to have been a blessing to us 55 years ago and to be such a part of our lives now in these “sunset years,” just has to be of God! I could wish the same for every missionary!

July 2009

The completion of the writing of the Old Testament Bible History Guidebook two weeks ago deserved a big celebration of thanking the Lord for His faithfulness and enablement! I started with the syllabus of about 140 large pages which I had put together back in the eighties and had used these years for the OT course. Now it has become 316 large pages nicely formatted with lots of pictures and outlines. The files are now with the printer in India. Several Bible colleges have already decided to use it for a textbook, so we are excited! Thanks for holding us up in prayer during these months of long days and nights working on this project. I am including some of the book’s foreword below:

My first experience in teaching Old Testament Bible History began with several Arabic students in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1962. Later the opportunity was presented to teach the same course in Tripoli, Lebanon, to some of our Faith Baptist Church young people who wanted to further their Biblical knowledge. More recently, I have been teaching the course in Sydney Bible Baptist College since 1977. The course has been used in a number of churches in Australia as well as being sent to 25 foreign countries for use in church settings, Bible institutes and Bible colleges. This Guidebook is an outgrowth of that course.

I believe I know some of the features that will be a real blessing in a survey book, so I have added some features to this version of the book.

  1. Bible names and words “Under the Glass” will add some salt and spice to the spiritual study diet.
  2. The “Wrap-up” for each book will help tie all the loose ends together and leave the student with a practical lesson from the particular Bible book.
  3. Lastly, “Finding Christ” will keep the study focused on Christ, the object of the study!

I could almost get amused thinking about some good things I’ve done in life that I never intended to do and which, had they been presented to me in an outright fashion, I would probably have said “No thanks!” It brings to mind my early years on the ranch where we worked cattle every year. We got the calves into a corral, then by closing a gate we got them into a small pen with a long chute that looked like they could get out through a narrow passage with an exit at the end. When the calf was coaxed into the escape route and stuck his head into the escape hatch at the end of the narrow passage, we yanked the rope to shut the exit’s steel bars to lock him into position! Then the work began: vaccination to protect from disease, tag the ear for identification, cut off the horns to make him less hurtful to others and castration of the males to make them less aggressive and less mean and to ensure tender meat in the future.

Many times God has coaxed me with a combination of circumstances that showed what He wanted me to do, something perhaps that I had no inclination to do. God put me in the narrow pen: a civil war, life spared, leaving that field, and I cried, “Dear God, my field of service is closing!” The bars clamped about my neck and the work began. Sickness that took one eye’s sight and 3/4ths of the other which left me so terribly weak and took my ability to drive. “Oh, God, why?! My world is crumbling and my ministry is gone!”  A push from behind with a closed door, a constraint on the left, a slap on the right, a painful work of discipline. Some growth vaccine for spiritual protection, a tag to better identify me as His servant in this world. A hurtful horn removed, and in some cases spiritual pruning to make me more gentle, kind and usable, more broken. God uses a range of tools to do it: sickness, physical limitations, uncanny circumstances and the list goes on.

It has been that way with writing this expanded book for an Old Testament Survey. It wasn’t something I intended to do. I didn’t consider myself able to do it anyway. But God coaxed, constrained and opened and worked, and here we are! God is very gentle and subtle with us, just as we were with those calves, to get us into a position where we can comprehend what He wants us to do. It’s wonderful that we have such a God Who is willing to spend so much time to prepare us for useful tasks which we can do together with Him to advance His work in this earth!

My wife, Kathleen, has worked tirelessly with me, doing all the proofreading and spending hours with me as I made the corrections on the computer. Our prayer is that the Lord will use this book for blessing with many. We especially pray that college students will find it a help as they prepare for what God has for them.

June 2009

Groundbreaking for the new Faith Baptist Church building site was a very exciting day! The church property that was the home of the church for the last nearly 33 years was sold three years ago. It was paid off and with the proceeds a new property was purchased on which to build. Land is very expensive in Sydney, so the land, a bit under 3 acres, was purchased. During these three years the church has saved all they could, but a large loan will be required for the building project.

Building in Sydney for this type of building also attracts a lot of exensive government-required expenditures. A huge underground reservoir to hold all the rainwater that comes on the property during a certain period of time is required. They will also be required to pay for a small electric substation. Bureaucrats have to think up something to justify their keep!

The groundbreaking service was the most unusual one I have ever attended! Pastor Nabil had planned it down to every detail, and it was a beautiful, symbolic occasion! It was a beautiful day weather-wise and a large group of the brethren were on hand. They asked me to shovel the first few scoops of dirt which I did with an experienced hand! Somebody said, “It appears you know how to use that shovel!” I said, “Yes, and I used it a lot in the Lebanese building programs, and nobody was standing around taking my pictures when I did it like you’re doing today!”

Even the small children of the members had their opportunity to shovel some dirt into the hole and be involved in the building program. They read the church covenant and rededicated themselves to it. Then the covenant was rolled up and placed in a bottle that will be buried at a particular place on the site for future generations to remember their covenant. Every one was challenged to really get behind the building program. Though the council required a building company to undertake the job, that company will allow the church the opportunity to do any work that it can contribute.

Please pray for the Lord’s hand to be upon every phase of the work: open doors for saving on the materials and labor, favorable weather and conditions-our God is concerned about all of these details. Pray for the people and their commitments to the building fund. It is a great challenge, but our pastor is leading with wisdom and spiritual insight, so we are looking to the Lord for great things!

March 2009

The saying goes that there is nothing certain in life except death and taxes. The Bible phrases it differently, confirming that “as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment,” and “in this world ye shall have tribulation.” My father had a strong recollection of the Great Depression. He had just married and had bought a new farm with a large loan from the bank. Then the stock market crashed in 1929, banks were closed, farm products lost value and what happened after that is known in history as the Great Depression. My father stuck with the loan and the farm through almost impossible times, surviving the Great Depression and finally paying off the loan which, as a young boy, I vividly remember as being a happy celebration when we burned the mortgage paper!

We easily forget hard times, especially when times are good. Kathleen’s mother, who died in 2006 at 100 years of age, also talked vividly of the Great Depression. These oldies who experienced that period carried with them the shadow of that reality through good times and always took it into account. My earliest memories include a few of the difficulties of that period as things were slowly beginning to turn around. Children today, at least in prosperous countries, generally sense little of the value of money and often hardly know what money feels like with our credit-based society.

We have been convinced by the experts (many of them haven’t paid their taxes it seems) that nothing really could interrupt this festive, comfortable lifestyle that we have come to expect. There are safeguards in the financial world that would preclude a repeat of a depression. It could not happen again in our day! Or could it? The Bible talks about a real financial meltdown in the book of Revelation as it describes the events of the Tribulation days to come. So it follows that we could see difficult financial days again before the Tribulation.

Today some of the “rock-solid” foundations of our financial welfare are shaking uncontrollably. Banks and insurance companies have ventured into “shoddy schemes” to make a killing without, they thought, any accountability or even risk. Regulators and politicians let it happen and credit-rating agencies stamped AAA on the sham. We, the people, are rightly angry and shocked to the roots. It disturbs my feeling of wellbeing to even think long about it!

But one thing is sure: Jesus is still the same, yesterday, today and forever! This is a call for us to come back to the True Rock and trust in Him. The news states that the sale and use of video games is increasing during these difficult times. It could be hoped that the Lord would use these times to increase all of us in our faith and trust in Him. With a heavy heart we pray for all our friends in the many churches around the world that are affected by today’s trials. Actually, Australia seems to be weathering the storm much better than most of the developed countries.

We started the Old Testament Bible History course the first half of February in Faith Baptist Church of Regents Park. Twenty-two are studying the course. The first week many of them were in a state of shock after realizing how much work it looked like it would take to do the course! Several are in their late thirties or forties, but most of them are in their twenties with several university students and others in fulltime work. All are very busy and are making a sacrificial effort to devote Monday night to attending the class. On an average, the course study needs probably around four hours of homework each week. The third and fourth weeks of study witnessed the waning of the initial shock and the emergence of a holy excitement about how much they are learning! It’s a great thrill for us to observe this process in the lives of laypeople who have decided to do something definite to increase their knowledge of God’s Word. It truly fills our hearts with gratitude to God for enabling us to develop these study materials that can be used anywhere, language permitting.

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee (Numbers 6:24-25).”

January 2009

This New Year reminds us once again of the great faithfulness of God. I will complete 77 years of this earthly pilgrimage next week. Many friends have already gone before us, so we are not taking the gift of life for granted. It is true that the strength of that life is diminishing considerably, but the spirit still is willing.

A couple of matters are paramount in our minds and hearts at the beginning of this year. First is the building program for Faith Baptist Church of Regents Park (formerly Croydon Park). As you know, they sold the former property a couple of years ago and are presently meeting in a community center. The ministry is greatly blessed and the church is growing. Pastor Zaydan and his wife are very attuned to the Lord and to the needs of this vibrant church. I know of no pastor who is doing more to teach and train his people for growth and ministry.

After a couple of years of delays and hitches, the time to build is upon them. During this time the cost of building materials has greatly increased. One blessing, however, is that the rate of interest they will have to pay on the loan has decreased significantly the past few months.

Please pray for Pastor Zaydan and his people as they confront this great challenge. Pray the Lord will keep them from every building danger and trap that could beset them. Pray for the Lord’s provision financially for what seems impossible, humanly speaking. Most of all, pray that God will protect them from division and disunity as they build for the future of this ministry.

As to the second matter, I am going to run the Old Testament Bible History class at the church on a weeknight for the school year starting in February. It appears we are going to have a good group to participate. I have been working hard revising and reformatting the Guidebook for the course. Hopefully it will be done in time. We are eagerly looking forward to spending this time with these beloved brethren. Some of them are children of people who were a big part of our ministry and others are new Christians whom we look forward to knowing better. We’re absolutely excited and expecting great things for the year!

The annual church camp was held last weekend with many blessings in lives. It was well attended from the two Faith Baptist Churches in Regents Park and Blacktown. The baptismal service was a thrill to view when a grandfather and grandchildren were baptized! The grandfather’s other son, a graduate of the Bible college and preacher in the church, baptized the grandchildren. There were other young people who were baptized after giving thrilling testimonies to God’s grace in their lives.

Thanks to you, our friends and co-workers in ministry, for standing with us yet another year. You are also in our thoughts and prayers as we enter a new year filled with many uncertainties. The problems this world faces are above and beyond the ability of any human to solve (or certainly to pay for!). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”