Future Hopes

FUTURE HOPES

The future holds no fear for the child of God resting in His promises and grace. As our family trusts the Lord to continue to lead and direct us, I wanted to lay out the plans we are making for the future. Our goal is to arrive in the Philippines in May 2019 in order to launch Haven of Grace Seminary in June 2019. Our arrival in the Philippines is determined by two controlling factors:

  1. Birth of Baby Valiante – Lord willing, we will greet our new baby in May 2018. We felt that it would be beneficial for Sarah, the new baby, and the rest of the family to wait to travel overseas until everyone has a chance to get acclimated.
  2. Filipino School Year – The Filipino summer is April and May with most schools beginning sometime in the month of June. Since the seminary is an educational institution, it makes sense to launch the seminary at the beginning of the school year.

Based on our deputation experience thus far, we are very hopeful to have all of our support raised by May 2019. We have been raising support for only four months and currently stand at 41% of our needed support. Additionally, there are a number of churches that have expressed a desire to support our family who have yet to formally vote on us.

With regard to the seminary, we are already making preparations for the programs we will offer. God has been so good to direct us to godly men who have experience in theological training abroad to offer support and counsel as we lay out everything from our philosophy to the degrees offered. Mark Kittrell, Dr. Curt Lamansky and I recently had an extremely productive planning session to begin constructing a program that will provide the most effective platform to train Filipinos for ministry. To say I am excited would be an understatement!

Looking even further ahead, after we are on the field, we have plans return to the States every April and May. Since these are the summer months in the Philippines, the seminary will not be in session. This will allow us to report back to our supporting churches, and raise any additional support needed without having to be away from the work at the seminary for an entire year every four or five years.

At this time, I want to thank each of you who have prayed for us, as well as those who have sacrificially supported our family over these months. We are confident that Haven of Grace Seminary will be used greatly by God for the furtherance of the Gospel, not just in the Philippines, but all throughout Southeast Asia. We are humbled by the opportunity to equip and train national pastors in the Philippines.

 

New Year of Spiritual Growth

The New Year offers us an opportunity to take inventory of the previous year, and make appropriate changes for next. Unfortunately, there are countless pitfalls that await us in the coming year that will sidetrack us if we are not on guard. Below is a sermon I preached this past Sunday at Bensalem Baptist Church from 1 Timothy 6. This text helps prepare us for those pitfalls, and gives instruction on how to thrive spiritually in 2018. I hope it will be a blessing and encouragement to you!

FOUND FAITHFUL

FOUND FAITHFUL

The Scripture tells us that “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor 4:2). This text is situated within one of the most extensive sections of Scripture detailing the work of a minister of Jesus Christ. In the previous chapter, Paul uses the imagery of a building to illustrate the importance of building our ministries upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11). Once the foundation is set, it is up to the builder to use materials that will endure—gold, silver and precious stones—rather than materials that cannot withstand the test of fire—wood, hay, straw (1 Cor 3:12-14).

As Paul expresses, one of the keys to a “successful” ministry is being faithful to the calling God entrusts a person’s care. This point is highlighted by the usage of the word “stewards.” This term brings out the concept of a “manager” (specifically a manger of a household). Once again, the image of a “building” or “house” lingers in our minds from the previous chapter. Every “minister” is entrusted with a different responsibility to oversee (we could call it a different place in the vineyard to tend). But the key to success (wherever God places you in his service) is to be found faithful.

This past weekend, our family had the joy of being with the Hubble Family and Noxen Bible Baptist Church.img_1601When I think of a man being found faithful, I think of Pastor Ben. I knew Ben from my time at Northland, and even then I knew him to be a godly, consistent example of faithfulness to the Lord. So, this past Sunday it was a joy to see Ben and Heather’s steady, consistent ministry to the folks, not just within their own congregation, but within the community as well. Being from the area in which God has called them to serve, their heart for children and families within the community was a powerful testimony to me. They clearly have a desire for God to use them to lead folks to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that God would honor their faithful service and continue to bless the ministry to which they have been called.img_1607

A Special Sunday

A SPECIAL SUNDAY

Words cannot express how meaningful and special this past Sunday was to our family. We are so thankful for the opportunity to present our ministry at Bensalem Baptist Church. If you were not able to make it, here is the video of our presentation, and the message I preached from 1 Thessalonians 1.

Where It All Began

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Twenty-two years ago this month I sat in a service at Bensalem Baptist Church wrestling with deeper questions than most fifteen year olds might wrestle with.

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Over the past number of months, I had come face to face with some startling biblical truths:

  • I stood guilty before God because of my sin (Rom 3:23)
  • My sin deserved punishment (Rom 6:23)
  • God sent Jesus to bear my sin and now offered me eternal life (2 Cor 5:21)

Honestly, I was aware of many of these realities well before I sat in that service in November 1995. But there was a final point that arrested my attention:

  • I needed to apply those truths personally to my life (Rom 10:9-13)

In other words: “I needed to do something about it.” As strange as it may sound, there had never come a time in my life when I recognized the need to turn to Jesus Christ by acknowledging my sinfulness and trust Him as my only hope of salvation. Before this point in my life I probably would have said I believed “in” Jesus. In other words, I believed He existed, and I would have even affirmed that He was the Son of God. But I can truthfully say I had never believed “on” Jesus. I had not yet rested my confidence for both this life, and the life to come upon Him. My hope for eternity had not yet been committed to His trust. It was plainly evident that His death ultimately had no bearing on my life. Up to this point I had not yet realized the depth of my sin, nor how it subtly controlled my life. What I would have claimed to “believe in” did not transform who I was or what I did.

But all of that changed in November 1995. I saw clearly (for the first time) that I needed to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I saw my need for Him, but above that, I desired Him to enter my life, cleanse me from sin, make me His child, and lead me from that point forward. I can honestly say it was on that day I began my relationship with God.

I write this post for two reasons.

#1 – I am looking forward to presenting our ministry to the Philippines and preaching at Bensalem Baptist Church this coming Sunday. I count it a great honor to preach in the place where God opened my eyes to see my need for Him. If you are able to be there, I hope you can join us in 11:00 AM Service in the main auditorium.

#2 – I believe there are a lot of people who are in the same state I was prior to November 1995. They believe in God, or believe in Jesus, but that belief has never truly affected their lives. They live without hope, bound by sin, struggling to make sense of this life. Sure, they may be moral people, and they might even attend church, but God is not the all-consuming desire of their lives. If you are in this position, it is at this point that the beauty of the gospel shines the brightest. If you desire Jesus Christ to be your Savior (for forgiveness of sin, a relationship with God and a home in heaven when you die), you simply need to ask Him. When you ask Jesus to be your Savior, understand that you are placing all of your hope upon Him. And for those who ask, we are met with the promise of Romans 10:13, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Looking back over these twenty-two years, I am very grateful for the work God has done in my life. I am glad that when I called upon Him, Jesus was there to answer the call. I am far from perfect, but I see the impact the gospel has made in my life. This relationship with God has given me peace, a hunger to know Him more through His Word, and an abiding desire to obey and serve Him. Today, this is what drives me to go to the Philippines in order to teach pastors how to more effectively study God’s Word so they can joyfully obey and serve Him in their own ministries. If you have yet to come to experience this kind of relationship with God that can only come through faith in Christ, I hope you will come to Him and see the gospel make the same impact in your life.

Friendships and Fellowship

FRIENDSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIP

Our travels this past weekend took us to Kendall Park Baptist Church in Franklin Twp. NJ.img_1511This congregation welcomed us with open arms and we enjoyed sweet times of fellowship with their pastor and church family. Pastor Brown actually served as the senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church from 1998-2008 (this is the same church I pastored from 2010-2017). On account of this connection we share a unique bond. The fellowship with this dear brother and his wife was very sweet. When you meet the Browns, you will quickly learn that they love to spend time with people. We were over their house on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and on both occasions they had invited others from the church to join in the festivities.

Another connection we have with this church comes through Tri-State Bible Camp. Every Spring, Emmanuel would take a group to Tri-State’s Work Retreat. This is a time to help with various projects on the campsite getting things ready for the camping season. Over the past few years, our time there coincided with Kendall Park Baptist Church’s. This has afforded us some tremendous opportunities for fellowship.

In addition, Micah and Kiersten went to camp at Tri-State this past summer, and they met many of the children from Kendall Park there as well. Kiersten was especially blessed over the weekend getting to spend time with lots of girls right around her own age. This has always been a struggle for Kiersten (finding friends around her age), so we were so glad to see how much fun she had with the young ladies at Kendall Park.

img_1507Our time at Kendall Park was a refreshing experience for our entire family. We are thankful for the work God is doing there and the blessing they were to us!

Over the Road

OVER THE ROAD

Long distance travel just got a bit easier for the Valiante Family. Over the past month or two, we have been looking for a good deal on an RV which would help make our longer trips more comfortable. Although most of our meetings up to this point have been within just a couple hours, we wanted an RV for our upcoming cross country trip out West in the late summer / fall of 2018. We also plan to utilize this vehicle for any meetings outside of our immediate area over the coming months. Here is a picture of our new addition…img_1460The story of this purchase begins back in the late summer. When we put our house on the market, our plan was to use some of the proceeds from the sale of our house to buy a motorhome. But, when it became clear that we would be renting our home out instead of selling it, I said, “We’re definitely not going to buy a motorhome.” It certainly would have made longer trips more bearable, but it was not a necessity. However, when we found out that Sarah was expecting I quickly changed my mind and said, “We’re going to buy a motorhome!” The thought of traveling cross country  in a cramped minivan with an infant was too much to bear. Hopefully this purchase will make things much easier on Sarah during those months with a new baby.

img_1458After doing some research and looking at available motorhomes online, we saw this one come up on Facebook Marketplace. It had very low mileage (19,300) and was in very good condition for its age. Sarah and I swung by to look at it on Sunday (and really enjoyed getting to know the owner), and we committed to purchase it sometime this week. We picked up our RV today (and took care of transferring the title and registering it). The kids immediately fell in love with it. They enjoyed checking out all of the fun places to sit and hide. Jonas was extremely disappointed that he would not get to sleep in the bunk tonight. Actually, one of the reasons we settled on this type of RV (it called a Class C Motorhome) is because of the extra sleeping spaces. The bunk above the driver’s area could easily sleep all four of our children. The sofa turns into a bed, as does the dining area. And of course, there is a full-size bed in the rear of the coach. Working off of those calculations, we could sleep about 10 if we needed to! (And no, we do not have plans to add 3 more to our family… but the Lord has a way of surprising us at times).img_1451img_1453img_1465img_1446We are truly thankful to see the Lord giving us everything we need (and even some things we don’t necessarily need but want). I believe this RV will give be a great benefit to our family during this period of raising support. I would appreciate your prayers for our family as we travel, that the Lord would provide us safety, memorable experiences, and opportunities to minister to others.