Annual Letter to Donors

January 12, 2021

the screamDear friends of Workers Together With Him,

Nelly and I did not send out Christmas cards this year, but if we had, they might have featured Edvard Munch's famous painting, The Scream (with my addition of the face mask). It has been that kind of a year. And of course I'm not only talking about my own situation. As 1 Peter 5:9 says, "the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." We all went through this together, even if we had to redefine what it means to be 'together'. Had any of us ever heard of a 'Zoom meeting' or 'social distancing' before 2020?

I won't spend time bemoaning all the plans I made for 2020 that did not come to pass, but this was the first year since WTWH began that I made ZERO mission trips. Just like every other gospel minister, I had to adapt. I have been using PowerPoint slideshows to augment my teachings for many years, but this year I revised them to stand on their own without my supplemental commentary. This new approach made it possible for me to teach the students at the Nepal Presbyterian Theological Seminary (NPTS) even after the government closed the school and everyone was sent home because of the pandemic.

None of my classes were taught "live" — the twelve-hour time difference and the varying quality of internet in the villages made that very impractical. (Besides, I simply hate teaching into a camera!) Instead, the students downloaded the lessons to their phones or laptops, and emailed me their assignments to correct. The 4th year students studied the Book of Revelation, the 3rd year students studied the Pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), and the 2nd year students studied the Psalms.

Of course I missed the interaction that comes with being at the school both in and out of the classroom. But the silver-lining to this cloud was that by-and-large, the students got far more out of their lessons than any other time I have taught them.

I have faced this dilemma throughout the 21 years of WTWH: I love taking people on an exploration of the Scriptures. To me, teaching a Bible seminar is like taking people on a walk through a beautiful forest. The goal is not only to complete the walk but rather to enjoy the walk and learn something along the way. Unfortunately, meeting this goal is much easier said than done. Everything depends upon the amount of time I have to work with. How many days do I have to complete this walk? How long will the students follow the trail before they start wandering off on their own?

In November 2019, I spent two weeks at the seminary and taught for nearly 80 hours. During that time, we covered an incredible amount of ground (I wrote about my classes and schedule in the December 2019 entry in this blog). But I wonder how many of the students remember what they heard? It was a lot to absorb.

Ironically, dealing with this pandemic led to a solution to my problem! The students worked at their own pace, and the written assignments ensured they understood the main points of a lesson before moving to the next. Through the assignments I was able to give each student the individual help that is impossible in a "live" class. In the end, I felt very good about it.

The school expects to reopen in February. The students will return to the campus and a new semester will begin. But God only knows when international travel will become routine again and people will be able to cross borders without spending weeks in quarantine. For now, my online classes will continue. These days I am putting the final touches on the courses I have prepared for them: The Book of Acts for the first year students, and The Week of Millenniums for the others.

These same lessons are on the WTWH website for anyone to download. Perhaps you will find them useful in your own quest to understand the Scriptures more perfectly. Whether you take one lesson a day or one a week is up to you. (Don't let too much time pass in between or you will lose both the thread of the teaching and your momentum). These days most of us are staying home far more than we are accustomed. What a good time to try one of these classes. It costs you nothing but your time and dedication, but I guarantee a rich return on your investment.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says, "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." You and I know there seems to be an endless array of teachers and courses covering all manner of subjects, each one promising a particular benefit and asking for your ear. As for my classes, my guarantee is this: if you follow the lessons and do the assignments, you will know the Scriptures better than you do now. As a result, you will better understand WHO GOD IS, WHO WE ARE, WHERE WE ARE, HOW WE GOT HERE, and WHERE WE ARE GOING.

I may not be wiser than you, but the Scriptures are! That is because the Scriptures are the gateway to the living Word of God and the eternal fountain of truth. I have gone through these same lessons many, many times, and there has never been an occasion when I did not learn something new. I have written nine books and taught classes around the world, but I know these PowerPoint slideshows are the best work I've done by far. That is why I am excited to share them. The lessons lead you to the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit takes over the instruction from there.

John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

I realize that I am "preaching to the choir." If you didn't believe in the work I was doing, you would not support me. But I am anxious for you to see what I've been doing with the time your donations have allotted me. Your donations have made it possible for me to devote myself to the work required to produce these courses, and made it possible for me to continue my international teaching ministry at a time the whole world shut down. To say I am grateful is a MASSIVE understatement. But even more than that, I want you to know your investment has not fallen to idle hands.

A large part of the budget of Workers Together With Him goes toward travel expenses, and in 2020, there were none. This gave me opportunity to send aid to several of the ministers we know in Africa and Nepal who are doing their best to lead people through these strange and difficult times. In particular, I want to commend Pastor Chet Raj of Kailali, Nepal, who has led his church members on two humanitarian/gospel missions during this pandemic. I put together a slideshow presentation of his Christmas mission, and it includes two videos sent to me by his church. You can download it HERE. (It is a large file, so it may take a while.)

I would also like to pass on a prayer request and supplication. For many years, the work at NPTS has been generously supported by a church in South Korea. Lately, their support has been waning. Most of the students at the school come from poor villages and are on full or partial scholarships. Dr. Prakash Lama, the president and principal of the school, asked me to make known his need for additional funding. There are currently eight full-time teachers and four non-teaching staff who are each paid $150 a month. Part-time teachers receive half that amount. This is not enough to retain their services — not because they are greedy, but because they cannot make ends meet. Prakash is a very practical man with a great desire to make the school self-supporting, but all his ideas require start-up capital that he does not have. If you are interesting in helping this school on a one-time or continual basis, please let me know. If you would like to correspond with Dr. Lama directly, write to him HERE.

Teaching at NPTS is a great honor to me, and of course, it is through your help that I am able to serve the school without charge. Dr. Lama has asked me to develop even more classes to the end that graduating students will have received instruction from me on all the books of the Bible. This is a daunting task, but one that I am happily undertaking.

Thank you again for being part of Workers Together With Him. I believe we are making a difference. May God bless you now and in the great beyond for your contributions.

In the service of His Majesty, the King of kings.



Index to Tim's Blog