“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
The angel announced the birth of Christ, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10
Our world is in desperate need of this good news, and we have the honor of bringing it to them! Thank you for enabling Danelle and I to bring Christ the Lord to many this year through your gifts, prayers, and encouragement!
House Churches: In Atlanta we continue to meet outside as temperatures drop. We are thankful for the new folks (on the far right & left) who have joined us this fall. They have hearts to know Christ and make Him known. Their faith has encouraged us in the same way the faith of the Christians in Rome did for Paul, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Romans 1:12 NLT We thought your faith would be strengthened by reading Eric’s inspiring testimony (on the back). Eric and Sarah’s family are a vital part of our church.
The churches in St. Petersburg, Florida and Raleigh, North Carolina continue to faithfully follow the Lord even with various challenges. We long to be with them, but we stay in contact by phone until we can. Let’s all pray that 2021 allows more face to face contact!
Granddad’s Animal Adventures Recommendation: Our good friend Claire posted this on social media recently. “A great friend of ours wrote this book and we’ve so enjoyed reading it together. It’s a collection of 18 short stories about Steve’s childhood adventures growing up in Appalachia with a small Bible truth woven in at the end of each one. “I decided to sit down on a large rock. The rock moved! I jumped up, frightened and trying to understand what was going on.”😳!!! If you have kids or want to buy a gift for someone with children, I would highly recommend this book. We read one at a time the kids consistently beg for another.” It is now 24 stories and is available in hardcover, as well as paperback and e-book. To purchase a few copies for your children, grandchildren, nephews, or nieces for Christmas gifts, please follow this link: https://tinyurl.com/y67ys3bx, or find it on Amazon.
Prayer & Praise
1. House Churches Pray we would continue building relationships with unbelievers - especially Jack @ LA Fitness and Lev in North Carolina, who is from Kazakhstan and has been here only 2 months. Both are reading Secure In An Insecure World! Pray for the churches in Raleigh and St. Pete to persevere in reaching unbelievers and encourage one another in the power of the Spirit, relying on God’s grace.
2. Granddad’s Animal Adventures Ask God to use Steve’s book to bring many children to know Jesus!
3. Family Ask God to give us quality time with our children & grandchildren over the holidays. We hope to have everyone together (outside!!) for Christmas! Pray for warm weather and our health.
4. Year-End Giving Please consider a special gift for our work in evangelism and discipleship. We understand it has been a financially stressful year for many of you, so please do not feel obligated, but your prayers are coveted and needed. Thank you so much to each of your who makes our work possible!
You can give electronically: https://reliant.org/steve.nelson or mail your gift to Reliant at the address below. If you have any questions about how to give, please contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your love, prayers, and support!
Steve & Danelle
Steve, Julie, Rich, Eric & Sarah @ Hogpen Hill Climb (many years ago)
Eric Morris’ Testimony
I can almost feel the desert sun on my back. My mind goes back over miles and years to a place and time of peace. As a young man each mountain is full of promise and I run up hoping to catch a glimpse of the next peak in the distance. The air is thin but cool and refreshes my lungs with the scent of pinon sap. I think of God and the majesty of creation, just a dim reflection of His glory. A small mule deer leaps into focus, surprising me even as he starts and freezes in the path, noticing me. For an instant, our eyes lock and I see no fear, only understanding. He sees a predator, lean and hungry - but he too is young and fast and knows that I will not catch him today. I see a fellow animal, driven perpetually by unforgiving calculations of nature. Fight to eat, strive to reproduce, ultimately succumb to make room for those more exquisitely adapted to a changing world. At one time, my own motivations were hardly more complex; I chased whatever I thought would satisfy me - knowledge, career, money, parties, women. My selfish actions brought a mixture a failure and success, but also a grown sense of unease. Where was the happiness that should come from getting what I want? In a remote but insistent corner of my mind, the specter of my own mortality lurked. Like the deer, one day I won't be fast enough. What was the point of it all, anyway? I had forgotten the god of my childhood - a remote and austere law bringer, who was primarily concerned with ruining half of every weekend and enforcing the world-famous Scots-Irish work ethic.
Thankfully, God had not forgotten me. During my increasingly erratic behavior, He brought people of peace into my life. The loud-mouthed track star from rural Georgia who would not stop talking about Jesus. The pastor's daughter who convinced me to come to bible study (they were ordering pizza, after all). The campus preacher and missionary, willing to be my friend and mentor despite my ambivalent brand of agnosticism. The beautiful but elusive blond who once sold (scalped) me football tickets and would later become my wife. As I spent more time in the orbit of this community of believers, I began to feel the presence of another person. Although I could not see Him, my friends helped me understand that Jesus Christ wanted me to get to know Him too. This was a hard concept for me to grasp. How could a being who oversees the universe and everything in it, want to have a relationship with one man? That seems like the epitome of bad management strategy. There is a story in John 4 about Jesus talking with a woman who is filling up a water jug at the town well. The woman is a foreigner and has lived a sinful life. Jesus says "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life". This passage helped me understand Jesus's heart - he wants me to accept the free gift he is giving, which will not only redeem me from spiritual death, but also fulfill me completely. I confessed my sins to God and asked Jesus to be my savior and king in my third year of college.
Like my jog in the New Mexico hills, my faith journey has not always been easy. There have been times of questioning interspersed with times of peace. I often feel most connected with God and pray most easily out in nature away from the concerns of day to day life. He has been teaching me how faithful for nearly 20 years now. Early in my life as a believer, I traveled to Ukraine with a group of friends on a two-week mission trip. We taught English and shared stories from the bible in pairs, which was a daunting task for me due to a fear of public speaking. My teaching partner was a younger sister in Christ. When I saw how confidently she shared her faith with people from another culture (and mostly much older), I could see God working through her, and understood that if I put my faith in Him, I would be able to do the same. I prayed constantly those two weeks, and God gave me the ability to share effectively and even make friends with some of our students. My wife and I how now been married for 15 years and have 3 kids aged 8-12. Being a husband and father is an awesome blessing in many ways, and a challenge to continue moving away from my selfish past. God is using my family to help me mature in faith, since he is a perfect Father whose example I can strive to follow day to day. The words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians encourage me: "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
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