Dear friends of Vital Signs Ministries,                         February 2024

I’m sure you noticed that our LifeSharer letter came to you in a different format in the January edition. And the surprise to you was a surprise to us also! It turned out to be an accident of the printer. However, since that “mistake” turned out to be popular with our VSM partners (and since the cost would be nearly the same either way), when we have color photos and need 4 pages, you’ll probably see that format again.

We have only just returned from northwest Iowa after a momentous weekend. I’ll give you some details in a moment but first, here’s a few other ministry happenings from this past month. January is always particularly busy for us with our final week of Christmas dinner parties, Claire dealing with first-of-the-year business matters, and all the various activities surrounding Sanctity of Human Life Month. But this January also included some bitterly cold mornings outside the abortion mill; over 80 letters and cards of advocacy and/or encouragement written; the funeral of Bekah Frank, a dear young woman who has been and will remain a sweet friend and inspirational heroine to us; several overdue home repairs skillfully performed by David and Daniel Dykstra of Millennium Construction; some serious repairs on our Toyota; Vital Signs’ social media presence including Saturday morning’s Top 5 and a 2-part collection posted on Vital Signs Blog with fascinating quotes about abortion throughout history; a packed schedule for our “mercy ministries” to seniors which included our Sunday afternoon church services at Aksarben Village and 12 presentations of “When Swing Was King;” and, naturally enough, all the hours required in clearing ours and our neighbors’ driveways and walks of Nebraska snow!

By the way, among the correspondence mentioned above were letters appealing for mercy to be shown by several nations who have long been shamefully guilty of persecuting Christians: Burma, China, Eritrea, North Korea, Belarus, India, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Vietnam. I print an example here in hopes that it might it stimulate prayers…and perhaps a few letters of your own. (Maybe your Sunday school class or home group might take a few minutes for such activity. Address sheets can be found at our website.)

A letter to the leaders of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,

I am writing as an American minister of Christ’s gospel with an urgent appeal for you to initiate new moves of justice and compassion regarding the sad plight of prisoners who are experiencing unfair and harsh imprisonment in your nation because of their faith in Jesus for eternal salvation. Please recognize that sincere Christians represent a wonderful blessing to your nation as they are morally upright, diligent workers, respectful, kindhearted, and generous. They do not seek to undermine the State, but indeed seek to enhance your nation’s strength and culture through prayers, devotion to family life, and peaceful service.

Therefore, to mistreat persons merely because of religious differences (or other acts of conscience) is a tragic mistake, one that frustrates, angers, and saddens people of tolerance and goodwill throughout the world. Please act quickly to open the jail cells of those enduring undeserved punishment for their religious faith.

“Religious freedom, an essential requirement of the dignity of every person, is a cornerstone of the structure of human rights, and for this reason, an irreplaceable factor in the good of individuals and of the whole of society as well as of the personal fulfillment of each individual.” (John Paul II)

Thank you for your consideration of this crucial human rights matter.

Okay, let me now move on to the events of the momentous weekend I mentioned at the opening of this letter. They began with the Friday night banquet hosted by Nebraska Right to Life which serves as a springboard to the Walk for Life beginning at the State Capitol the next morning. We were really delighted to have as our table guests some longtime, Lincoln-area friends: Deb Hershberger, Rick and Kelly Duncan, Alicia Chrastil, and Bruce and Maureen Stahr. It was an especially enlightening and inspiring program this year with abortion survivor Melissa Ohden as the featured speaker, Shirley Lang and State Senator Joni Albrecht given well-deserved achievement awards, and remarks from Senator Pete Ricketts and several other solidly pro-life dignitaries. Claire and I have supported Nebraska Right to Life from the earliest days of ourpro-life ministry and we’re pleased that our networking with them has even increased in recent years. We were, therefore, particularly blessed when Sandy Danek asked me to once again give the opening charge and prayer for the 500+ gathered for Friday night’s event. Those remarks and prayer are printed below.

Good evening. In the face of what’s been happening in our culture, particularly in the raging, repulsive reactions of the left to the overturning of Roe v Wade, way too many Christians are trying to ride out the storm by staying out of it as much as possible. Yes, they prefer right to triumph over wrong. But, for all practical purposes, what they prefer most is to stay comfortable and safe and not rock the boat any worse by making waves themselves. They want to be — at peace.

But we need (we most desperately need) another kind of Christian in times like these — Christians who care enough about truth to speak it, Christians who love enough to sacrifice and serve those who are in dire straits, to work hard and to pray hard that they might please God by being courageous warriors, loyal ambassadors, and obedient sons and daughters of their heavenly King.

Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch statesman, journalist, evangelical theologian, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905, once wrote, “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin. You must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”

So, in the service of He Who has called us to overcome the darkness (which, among other terrible wickedness in our day, has involved the massive shedding of innocent blood), let us humble ourselves before God, gratefully receive His gracious empowerment, and rededicate ourselves this night to, as our brother Kuyper urged us, “lay our convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of our faith.”

To that end, will you join me in letting Saint Patrick’s simple 5th Century prayer bring us before God. Our Father in heaven, hear our prayer this night.

May the strength of God pilot us.
May the power of God preserve us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the way of God direct us.
May the shield of God defend us.
May Christ be with us. Christ before us. Christ in us. Christ over us.
May Thy salvation, O Lord, be always ours this day and forevermore.

And Father, we also ask You now to bless our evening. Bless to our bodies this food we take with one another. Pour out Your grace upon those who have prepared the meal and so kindly serve it to us. Let Your Holy Spirit move mightily through each speaker and each part of the program. And may we all leave here more encouraged and better equipped to serve Your righteousness and truth. We pray in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

We were up early for breakfast at the Cornhusker Hotel where we visited with NRL out-state leaders Chuck Conrad and Rich & Barb McPhillips. And then we headed over to the university Student Union to set up the Vital Signs literature booth for the after-Walk crowds. Helping us with this outreach were Assure Women Center’s Barb Malek and, from Grace Bible Church, Rod & Jeannie Pittam. The weather wasn’t great (30° and gloomy) but wonderfully better than many other years. The program at the Capitol included Sandy’s welcome, prayers, the national anthem, and remarks from an awful lot of pro-life officials. And isn’t it terrific that Nebraska has so many leaders willing to take a public stand against the abortion of preborn kids! Governor Pillen was there; both of Nebraska’s senators; all three of our congressmen; the lieutenant-governor; the attorney general and state auditor; the speaker of the Unicameral and at least 15 of our state senators. All testified of the need to fight harder and pray harder in defense of the sanctity of life, especially in view of the demonic efforts afoot to get a ballot initiative which would enshrine unlimited abortion in our state constitution.

What a joy and spiritual stimulant to stand for the Lord in a crowd of thousands of fellow Nebraskans as we bear witness against the abomination of abortion. And what a profound witness it is to our state. (And yet how sad it is that so few evangelicals are standing in that crowd.) Still, in our immediate area were standing much-loved colleagues, John Malek, Don Kohls, Stephen Goodspeed, Fran Cupples, the Chester and Amy Davis family, the Michael & Elizabeth Dykstra family, Jeff & Kathy Krutz, and I’m sure a few others I missed seeing.

It was nice that we had enjoyed a satisfying breakfast at the hotel that morning because our next meal wasn’t until 7:00 that evening when John & Ruth Heyer served us delicious and hearty beef and vegetable soup in their home in George, Iowa. How sweet it was to be the recipients once again of their remarkable hospitality. Indeed, our fellowship over the next 36 hours was splendid. We were in George because Pastor Bryan Anderson of Tabernacle Baptist Church (one of our all-time favorite congregations) had invited me to present sermons for their two Sunday morning services. I was deeply honored to be back in a pulpit where I had delivered many, many messages in years past. And the people of the Tab were as friendly, engaged, and full of encouragement as ever! What a great time we had, including a super response to the literature booth we had set up for those two services.

But we were not done even then. Having made preparations for other Vital Signs teammates to handle the Sunday afternoon church service back at Aksarben Village, we continued to enjoy the Heyer’s hospitality until Monday morning. That meant a lot of conversation, prayers, and fellowship with them and with Doug & Mary De Weerdt, the Tyler & Jessica Glanzer family, and Stan & Marlys Korthals who had us over for a “second breakfast” before we left Monday morning. We really had a swell time — a time of refreshing, reconsecration, and ministry one to another. Thank You, Lord.

So we’re home now and already deep into developing February’s agenda. That means all of our regular duties plus creating this month’s “When Swing Was King” show, preparing for a letter blitz to Nebraska’s state senators, dealing with the announcement that the mega-abortion business Planned Parenthood is expanding, helping Grace Bible Church launch its own letter-writing party ministry on February 15, and organizing and helping host the Business and Professional People for Life quarterly luncheon on February 22.

Oh yes, one other February evening we are really looking forward to is the 9th. For that’s when Claire and I will join a team from King of Kings Church for a sparkling celebration of life, The Night to Shine. This is an unforgettable prom night experience created by the Tim Tebow Foundation, an uplifting party which underscores God’s love for young people (age 14 and up) with special needs.

And items you should take note of? 1) That BP4L luncheon on the 22nd features special speaker Connie Boesch of the Abortion Dialogue Academy. The cost of the program and meal (and the German-American Club does an excellent lunch) is $25. But if you sign in through Vital Signs, we provide a substantial discount. 2) The next Vital Signs letter-writing party is at our house on March 11. As we have been doing, we will have both a morning and evening party. 3) The next Vital Signs Book Brunch is Saturday, 10 AM, March 23 at our house. The book under discussion? No Little People: Sixteen Sermons for the 20th Century by Francis Schaeffer.

This is a pretty full letter we’ve given you this month — plenty to thank God for, plenty for you to consider regarding your applications and involvement, plenty to pray about.

Thank you, dear friends, for your ongoing friendship and help.

But be doers of the word,
and not hearers only.