Challenges, Opportunities & Blessings

Everyone at the Center wants to thank you for your prayer and partnership as we meet the challenges in the new year, especially our building project. I have been in contact with many contractors but still have not found one who can take on our project. Please continue to pray that God would send us a North Carolina licensed General Contractor who has the time in his schedule to take on our project.

We recently re-launched our podcast “Field Notes with Dave Mason” which is available on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. This third season of the Podcast (which started with Episode 44) features a new and exciting format. Each week I am recording our Bible Studies held at the Center, along with the questions and answer session that follows. Now you can sit in with our Marines and Sailors as we study the Bible and discuss the lessons together.

Recently, Micah, one of our regular female Marine attendees, started a women’s Bible Study at a local coffee shop under the supervision of Patty. They meet for just an hour each Monday night, taking turns leading the study and fellowshipping. It has already grown to 14 participants.

At the end of the February we hosted the North and South Carolina Baptist Bible Fellowship Pastor’s Conference at the Center. About 25 pastors attended. Pastor Josh Newton, who sits on our Board of Directors, and I preached, our Assistant Director Luke Mason introduced our ministry, my youngest son Ben led worship and one of our Center Marines, Micah, sang a special song. Another of our Marines, Mason Montoya also gave a testimony. Speaking of Mason, I was honored to stand with Mason’s pastor, Ryan Hearn of Brookwood Baptist here in Jacksonville, and pin his chevrons on as he was promoted to Corporal.

During one of our regular Friday night meetings, a visiting Marine spoke up after the Bible Study and wanted to share a verse of scripture his Gunny had given him that day. The Scripture was John 3:16 and he read it like we all would having first discovered it. This young man is searching and I believe will soon find the free gift of salvation in Christ. Later that night (around 11:00 pm) many of our Marines were gathered in worship, playing guitars and singing in our Rec Hall. Another Marine asked if he could speak to me. God was gracious to allow me to lead him to a saving knowledge of Christ that night. As for the time, you read that right. Our Marines are staying at the Center till nearly midnight (sometimes after) each week. They don’t want to leave. It just shows me that God has brought about my prayer that we would truly be a “home away from home” for these Marines.

Keep Praying for us, God is just getting started!

Dave Mason

THROUGH THE STORM

Hurricane Florence meandered through our area in September, leaving a trail of destruction from wind damage to flooding. An evacuation order was given for our county, so Patty and I boarded up our home, sandbagged the Center and quickly headed back to Maryland for a week. Many of our friends down here suffered damaged roofs, sheared siding and flooded homes. When we returned we found NO damage to our home. Just dozens of cubic yards of limbs and leaves in our yard. The Sunday after we returned four Marines showed up after church and cleaned our yard in under 2 hours!

IMG_0768

I am so blessed to report that your prayers on our behalf were answered. The only damage to our Center was a 4-ft. section of our white PVC fence blown out and a golf-ball sized hole in the small kitchen roof of the Center. We didn’t discover the hole until several days after we returned. Several Marines came out early our first Friday back and cleaned our yard of all the branches and pine needles. One of our Marines, Nick, climbed up on the roof to clean the gutters and discovered the hole. We were wondering- with 30 inches of rain and a hole this size, why didn’t we have any water damage in the Center? At the same time we discovered the hole, Patty and Greg, one of our Marines, were in the Kitchen getting everything ready for the meal that evening. They took down the Aluminum serving trays we keep on top of the refrigerator and found ALL the water that came in drained perfectly into the serving tray! I patched up the hole the next day and we fixed the fence later in the week.

Unfortunately, Florence was not as kind to the Chapel on Camp Johnson where I do the majority of our outreach. The Chapel, a National Historic site, constructed in 1940, had several of its roofs fail and over 6 inches of water in the sanctuary. Ceilings came down throughout the building and there is structural damage. The chapel will be unusable for more than a year as repairs are made. Compounding the situation, the current Chaplain, a very good friend of mine, is being transferred to 2nd MARDIV at Lejeune in November and his replacement is not due until the first of the year. PRAY we can start the Reconnect Service back up as soon as possible. I helped Chaplain Dunlap start this ministry and I want to see it continue.

Ministry continued through the storm and its aftermath. Many of our Marines have PCS’ed to other assignments all over the world. About 5 or 6 more are preparing to ship out to the frozen north on the other side of the planet this month for training that will last several months. And still more have 6 month deployments scheduled for the end of the year. Please pray with us for our Men and Women on deployment and training missions.

This past summer has been amazing, with dozens attending our Dinner/Bible Studies every week. The spiritual hunger and growth among our men is amazing. Weekly they come in telling of how they are sharing the Good News with their fellow Marines. While we continue our outreach, we look forward to reaching more Marines and Naval Corpsmen with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are still short on support for the year, offerings have been down for some time now – some of our churches have had to cut back – we may end the year “in the red” – any help to offset this shortage is appreciated.

Finally, a quick update on our building project. I am happy to report that drawings are currently being made by our Architect and we are on track to be permitted and ready to break ground in the first of the year. Your faithfulness has in our Building Fund Bank Account to currently show $43,000 of the $84,000 we need for this project.  And we just got a call that another $20,000 is on the way! That will put us at $63,00! Pray with us the remaining $21,000 will come in exactly when we need it. I am searching for a General Contractor with a North Carolina license who will work with us and our budget. Pray with us that we find the right man. We will be issuing the call for work teams to come down and help us build next year. Keep looking for that announcement as well.

THANK YOU AGAIN for your love, support, and especially all your prayers for us through this most difficult month.

Dave Signature

Lion’s Den

img_24111.jpg
Yesterday was a shining example of God’s Grace in my life and the ministry of Military Fellowship Center. Though I am not at 100% following my bout with pneumonia, I was able for the first time in over three weeks to put in a fourteen hour day (which I do every Friday and Tuesday). It was extra special though for two reasons.
First I was able to keep my commitment to host this months “Military Connections” meeting for local ministries that specifically reach our Marines and Corpsmen. We had about a dozen ministers over to The Center and I cooked them a spaghetti lunch, gave a tour of the grounds, and we discussed outreach to the fresh troops at Camp Gieger and Camp Devil Dog Chapels.
I was able to rest afterwards and get some real study in on a sermon. I took a quick break to ride into town and visited the 2nd & Charles bookstore. They always have a free bin of books outside of damaged books or just books they think wont sell. In that bin was “The Olivet Discourse” by A.C. Gaebelein, a book just on the passage of Scripture I am studying for my next sermon!
Finally we held our Friday Night meeting. No energy to cook again so we had Pizza from our favorite local shop Lazzara’s. And instead of a formal Bible Study I held one of my “Lion’s Den” Q&A sessions. I’ve been doing this since my days in the Pastorate, allowing any question from the Bible, about the Faith, or really anything to be posed, putting me in “the lion’s den” and forcing me to answer. I love it. We’ve done it before at the Center, but never before have we had the response we had last night. We started around 7:30 after most had their fill of pizza and the Q&A lasted until after 9! In fact we stayed at the table so long no one wandered over to the Activity hall to play pool or ping pong.
Most of the Questions were centered around End-times, but we also touched on topics like Forgiveness, Suicide, True Salvation and more. Plus there was a personal testimony by one of our Troops that simply shut mouths and teared up eyes. It was amazing. God gave me my voice back for those precious hours, and like many times as a pastor, my voice began cracking again right afterwards. The Grace of God knows no limits! He Enables the called.
I am simply humbled and awestruck at His goodness.

Forgiveness

          “I want everyone to remember that we cannot change what happened….. But we can change how we relate to it.”
          Instead of tearing down monuments, kneeling at the pledge, rioting and looking to politicians to fix everything…. forgive.
          No one in this century can call themselves a victim above God’s Chosen People who were murdered and tortured en masse.
          I remember a month or so ago it was “right” to say you can punch a random person who identifies as a Nazi.
          Here is a woman who at the age of ten was tortured by the Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, and forgave him.
          This is a long video by internet standards (14 + minutes) but you need to watch it.
          As Jesus forgave those that nailed Him to the Cross, we need today to learn the power of forgiveness. Nothing that is capturing the headlines will heal this nation. Only The Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offers and demands we emulate will. And the Church should lead the way by asking for and calling for forgiveness. Jesus showed us that nothing is un-forgivable. Until they nail you personally to a cross, you cannot complain… and even then, if we are going to be like Jesus, we have to forgive.  Folks say ‘I can forgive but I cannot forget…’ not true. You know you have truly forgiven when you remember the pain but it no longer hurts, effectively forgetting the hurt inflicted on you.
          I have always preached from the pulpit that holding a grudge, refusing to forgive only hurts you as the victim more.
          “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” – Matthew 5:44

 

Update…

 

Recently on a Friday afternoon I texted Joseph, who would be graduating the next week and shipping out from Camp Johnson. It would be his last night with us. He was able to come out so I went to Camp Johnson at 1830 that night. Joseph met me at the barracks as usual. As we were leaving I ran into Ryan, a Marine I had met at Reconnect afternoon meetings on Wednesdays. He asked if he could come out. I said, if you are allowed, sure. He ran inside, changed out of his Cammie’s and came back down 5 minutes later, with Abraham, another Marine. Excited, I brought back three when I went out for just one Marine!

Fast forward to 2130, and I am dropping off the three, and spent a little time counseling Ryan on his walk with Christ. After dropping off the men, I am walking out of the barracks and run into Keaton, another young Marine I met at Reconnect. He wants to come out to the center as well. GOD IS GOOD!

Joseph graduated from GSS (Ground Supply School) on July 19 and shipped back to Paris Island to work Ground Supply there for the next four years. I attended his graduation and was not surprised that he won the Motivator Award from his class.

I want you to know that On September 25, 2017 we will be hosting our 65th Anniversary Banquet for Military Evangelism at the Shady Maple Banquet Hall in Lancaster, PA. Invitations will be in the mail in the next week. Please RSVP to the invitation as soon as you can so we can plan properly. We have a special program planned. For many of our supporters it will be the first time Patty and I get to meet you! Pastors, please mark this time and bring as many as you wish from your congregation. We can reserve tables for your church. Cost for the dinner is $22 per person. If you are not on our snail mail list and would like to attend the banquet, message me in the comments or email me at militaryfellowshipctr@gmail.com

Big things are coming from Military Evangelism. I can’t share everything right now, but be in prayer for a big project that we are exploring. Details will follow!

Thank you again for your faithful prayers and support. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

If you would like to make a donation to Military Evangelism through our online portal simply click HERE. You will be taken to our secure online giving site where you can enter your information and make a one-time or set up a recurring gift to the ministry.

‘Till Jesus Returns,

Dave Mason
General Director
Military Evangelism

Jenga

A few of our Marines missed this weeks Friday Fellowship. Other obligations, working too long, just plain tired and passed out right after work. The life of a Marine is rarely consistent. Though our group was smaller than usual, we still had a great time.

We are nearly finished our study of Romans, which we started on the first Friday of February, 2016. We brought back one of the favorite meals we have ever done, the Hot Dog bar. Four types of Hot Dogs, including North Carolina Red Hots, and all the fixings you would find at a New York hot dog stand. Seconds and thirds were had by almost everybody.

JENGAThe highlight of the night was Giant Jenga. My son Luke made the game from 2×4’s last year. Two rounds ended with a crash and lots of laughs.

We have many of our Marines shipping out this year, either leaving after completing their contract, or being PCS’d to other bases. We continue to reach out on the bases in Jacksonville and covet your prayers as we labor to bring more into the fellowship.

DAVE MASON

Dance

1042480_jump

“Never give a sword to a warrior who can’t dance.” – Old Celtic Proverb

 

I woke this morning with this old saying running through my mind. I first read it back in 1990 in Robert Bly’s book “Iron John” and then in 2006 in John Eldredge’s “The Way of the Wild Heart.”

 

For me it means never be so consumed with the battle at hand that you forget why your fighting. Jesus said “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” -John 10:10 Life is meant to be enjoyed. And it can only be fully enjoyed, completely engaged in when our lives are tethered to The One who created life. But often those of us who are saved find ourselves not enjoying life. We are filled with anxiety, burdened with cares, overcome by the world or our own religious systems we create to keep us on the straight and narrow.

 

I’ve been  a minister of the Gospel for 20 years now. I have been in about every type of church you can imagine. What has floored me is the lack of joy I have found among the brethren. I am Baptist by practice, and Baptists usually don’t dance. It’s mostly because we have been trying to stifle young passions, and I understand that. But believe me, Jesus danced. His Jewish heritage demanded it. Dancing is an expression of joy, and wether you dance or not, you need to experience and express joy in some way.

 

I read about Jesus turning the tables over in the temple and I know He is a warrior. I read about Him at the Wedding in Cana, being derided but the Pharisees and Sadducees for being a winebibber and a glutton and I know He was a dancer. A  joyful person who laughed a lot and smiled more often than not, who probably played pranks on the disciples and told a lot of jokes. Its not that those things are missing from the Gospels, its that they are not emphasized as the Gospel writers had a job to do – deliver a message about Who Jesus is, what His doctrine is, and what He accomplished during His earthly ministry.

 

I think one of the reasons we have so little joy is we are so afraid of failing. We build fences around our lives to keep righteousness in and sin out. The problem is, when no one is looking (not even God, we reason) we start finding ways around, over or under the fences. We see a failure as irredeemable, unforgivable, un-Christian.

 

Wanna  know a secret? come close, I’ll whisper it.

 

We all fail.

 

We all have to at time come back to our Father and ask for forgiveness. The possibility of failing should not keep us from living lives of joy. The firm knowledge that when we do fail God will forgive us IF we come to Him in faith should encourage us to experience Joy. This knowledge is never a license to sin, never an excuse to  venture down the dark alleys of our minds. I met a preacher once who told me he believed in the Eternal Security of the believer, but would never preach it. I asked why. He replied that knowing your eternally secure would only encourage most Christians to keep on sinning! So the Truth is subject to the limitations we put on God’s Grace.

 

Fight your battles. You’re supposed to. We are called to be Warriors for Christ. Stand for the Truth, take the slings and arrows of the world and volley back love and grace and truth. but don’t let your fear of failing rob you of Joy.

 

And then, however your expression of Joy takes form, physically, within the heart, alone or among friends and family…

DANCE.