Last Week in the Trenches – May 2013

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Our Present: Pray for Us!!!

 

 

 

Thank you to all of you that have been praying for us. Would you be willing to stop what you are doing as you are reading this newsletter and pray for our family? Specifically, we would appreciate prayer for the following areas:

 

 

 

  • God has been growing Amy and I quite a bit during these first few months in Utah. He has been drawing us into a much closer relationship with Him and with each other. He has drastically changed our perspective on why we are in Utah, what He wants us to focus our attention on, and how we are to approach the neighbors and others that He brings across our path. Please pray for continued growth and direction.

 

 

 

  • Some of you are aware that Amy went through quite a lot physically and emotionally during her pregnancy with Jude. Even though Jude is now 1 year old, some of the same symptoms have remained. Since we have been in Utah, God has been bringing us both through a cleansing and freeing process that has been bringing a lot of things to the surface. Amy has recently been to the doctor to have a complete physical and blood work done. We are grateful to say that the test results that have come in have reported good news, we are still waiting on a few results. Please pray that we would draw close to God and that He would continue the good work that He has started in us.

 

 

 

  • I mentioned in our previous newsletter that I had applied to be a substitute teacher throughout Sanpete County, where we live. Despite the fact that there are no certification requirements, I have personally introduced myself to the principal of each school and the fact that I have a Masters degree, there have been no phone calls for opportunities. This is especially odd given the fact that several of our friends and neighbors that have far less education and experience teaching have been called, sometimes frequently, to substitute teach. I have also been applying for other opportunities with no success. We do not want to say for certain, but we believe that it is my former experience as a Pastor and my education in Christian schools that is causing this lack of response. We are lead to believe this because I have also had no response to my willingness to be a coach and umpire in the youth baseball league.

 

 

 

  • With this lack of a job, we have been forced to live solely on the support we have been able to raise, government assistance and the use of our credit card. We previously stated that our goal, based on the cost of living in Utah, is $5000/month. This would account for and include medical insurance, life insurance, housing, bills, groceries, homeschool curriculum and house supplies. We also stated an additional goal of $1000/month to pay for the costs of the ministry including fundraising, traveling and costs to produce seminar materials. I’m pleased to say that since moving to Utah, we have been able to reduce the costs of several of our bills, and we are still working on a few. This is how that $6000/month goal currently breaks down:

 

 

 

  • 15% monthly support and income
  • 40% one-time support income
  • 30% decrease in cost of living
  • 15% put on credit card

 

 

 

Would you prayerfully consider supporting our ministry on a monthly basis? You can do so easily via bank account or credit/debit card by clicking here. If you are personally unable to support us at this time, would you prayerfully consider passing on our ministry to your friends and your pastor?

 

 

 

  • Please pray for continued opportunities to share Jesus with others. Noah has started his baseball season and Elijah will be starting his teeball season soon. Please pray that God would continue to open doors of conversation and relationship both to share the gospel and to bring friends into our lives.

 

 

 

The Past Month: Great Opportunities

 

 

 

I spoke to you last month about the opportunity I had to teach a webinar with emediainsiders on “Why Should We Trust the Bible?” According to Christine at emedia, it was a hit and they would like to do more once she is off maternity leave. Some of those who attended have never given their lives over to Jesus and expressed skepticism of the Bible as one of their main roadblocks.

 

 

 

I have mentioned before that we are very blessed to have a strong Christian church so close to us, especially one that offers AWANA  for our kids. But we wanted to know more of what the Christian presence in Sanpete County really consisted of. What we discovered through visiting churches from Richfield all the way up to Lehi is that Utah needs Christians that are strong in their faith and live grace filled lives desperately. I don’t want you to get me wrong. Utah has some wonderful churches and moves of God, but many of the churches in Utah, especially in Sanpete County, are offering the same legalism as the Mormon church and many churches we have visited have been very unwelcoming. Please pray for Christians to move to Utah. It appears to me that the age group most likely to move here would be college age, especially those pursuing an MBA degree as there are several great options to pursue this goal in Utah.

 

We have recently found a church in Richfield, New Hope Baptist Church, that we plan on attending as a family until the church plant in Spanish Fork gets started up.

 

 

 

On one particular visit to a church in Provo, Amy started talking to a man just outside the church who struggled with alcohol. She was able to have a great conversation with this man who had been hurt by the church in the past and invite him to sit with us for worship. At first he resisted and walked away because he didn’t feel he would be welcome inside…. However, about 15 minutes later he sat down beside us in church. He left before the service was over and we haven’t seen him since. Please pray for Gary.

 

 

 

Thank you to Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries for inviting me to join a dialogue between some students from Azusa Pacific University and students from Brigham Young University. Professors from both schools were present, as well as a representative from the Public Relations department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had the opportunity to ask some probing questions of the BYU professors as well as get the email address and phone number of Professor Shon Hopkin.

 

 

 

The Lord has lead me to focus most of my attention in conversations on the teachings of Jesus. Professor Hopkin, along with an individual on Facebook that identifies himself as Anti-Mormons on FB, have agreed to enter into a more formal dialogue with me about the teachings of Jesus. My goal is to write a book called “Teachings of the Prophets: Jesus Christ.” My aim with this book is to help both Christians and LDS understand how each other think and interpret Scripture. I hope to also show clearly the differences between Christians and LDS based on the teachings of Jesus. I have based the title on the series of manuals that the LDS are currently going through in their wards called the “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” series. If you would like to purchase some of the titles in this series, you can do so at my Amazon Bookstore. The bookstore now has over 100 items in it and is approaching its 50th sale. I sell both Christian and LDS books in the store both to reach out to LDS and to equip Christians to know better what LDS believe.

 

 

 

The Facebook page passed 100 likes earlier this week as well. Lots of great discussion starters to be found there.

 

 

 

The highlight of our last month was meeting the Anderson family face-to-face. Matthew Anderson and his family have recently moved from Missouri to plant a church in the Spanish Fork area. We have mentioned previously that People of the Free Gift, as well as the Oakes family, have been tithing to the Anderson family and that our desire is to help them any way we are able. If you are not feeling lead to support our ministry, but would like to support a church plant in Utah, you can do so by visiting the Plant Utah website. I first got in contact with Matthew a year ago as I stumbled upon his website. There have been times if I’ve wondered if he is my clone as our convictions about church, philosophy of ministry, homeschooling and raising of kids have seemed identical. So great to have like-minded friends in Utah. So hard to find, especially in Sanpete County when only 1 out every 200 people you meet are a Christian, and not all Christians believe or think alike.

The Anderson family has recently been pre-approved for a home loan. They are asking for prayer that they would be able to find a home in the Spanish Fork area that is big enough to accomodate their family (did I mention they have 5 kids?) and to start a church.

 

 

 

What Does the Future Look Like?

 

 

 

If you are in the Southern California area, we’d love to see you or meet you. We will be in the area June 4-9. We originally scheduled this trip to attend a homeschool conference, but God has graciously opened up the doors for me to speak twice during the trip. The first opportunity will be Wednesday, June 5 from 7-8pm at Living Waters Christian Fellowship in Fallbrook, CA. I will be speaking on “What to say when your Mormon friend says, ‘I’m a Christian too!’” The second opportunity will be Sunday, June 9 from 9-10am at Fallbrook First Baptist Church.

 

 

 

If you would like to schedule our ministry for a speaking opportunity, please visit our website. We have four different seminars to choose from, each consisting of 5-6 hours worth of material for your group to choose from. We don’t charge anything for our seminars. Whatever individuals or the group are lead to give or purchase is between them and the Lord.

 

 

 

We will also be in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area visiting Amy’s mom from June 19-30. I am currently trying to schedule some speaking opportunities while we are there. If you are a Pastor or know somebody in the Albuquerque area, please pass this newsletter on to them or contact us. We would love to meet you or speak to your group while we are there.

 

 

 

To pursue income, I have been in contact with several Christian Universities and Bible Colleges seeking a position as an online adjunct professor for classes related to biblical studies or ministry. Teaching has been and always will be my strongest area of gifting and my greatest area of passion. I would love to utilize this to bring in much needed income. If you have a connection in this regard, please pass it along as its often not only what you know, but who you know.

 

 

 

I am also still pursuing teaching guitar lessons. If you know of anybody in Utah that wants to learn guitar, please pass my information along to them. I charge $20/hour and give $5 discounts for every referral. Refer four friends and get your guitar lessons for free!

 

About the Oakes Family

Jason and Amy have been married for 9 years. We have three boys named Noah, Elijah and Jude. God has gifted Jason with a passion and ability to teach complex ideas in a way that is understandable to all.  In 2012, God called Jason to step down from serving 7 years in various pastoral roles in a church in California, start a ministry called “People of the Free Gift,” and move to Manti, Utah where 99.5% of the population does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Our desire is to do 4 things: Teach Seminars, Fill the Pulpit, Lead Mission Teams and Assist Church Planters/Pastors.

 

 

For more information about our ministry, please visit:

 

Website – www.peopleofthefreegift.com

 

Facebook – www.facebook.com/peopleofthefreegift

 

Bookstore – www.amazon.com/shops/Peopleofthefreegift

 

Invite Us to Speak to Your Group – www.peopleofthefreegift.com/seminars

 

Give Electronically to Our Ministry – https://peopleofthefreegift.cloverdonations.com/people-of-the-free-gift/