Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers! It is obvious to us that many people have been praying for our family and ministry over the last year! We have seen God provide for and protect us in miraculous ways, and we know a large part of that is because of the prayers of God’s people on our behalf!
As we have begun our 2019 ministry year, it is difficult for us not to think back continually on the events of 2018. It was unquestionably a year of great blessings and great trials! Thankfully we can say that the blessings outweighed the trials – though some of the hurts are still fresh and will take some time to heal…
A recap of our year begins with our prayer for a replacement trailer. God blessed and many of you had a part in praying and giving toward that end! You cannot imagine our gratitude for this. Truly, we cannot adequately put it into words…
We went from a 1997 28’ bumper pull trailer with one slide-out to a 2012 42’ fifth wheel with four slide-outs! What an amazing blessing and answer to prayer! God truly gave us a miraculous deal on that trailer (as became even more obvious a few months later when we sadly and unexpectedly had to replace it.) The Forest River Sandpiper 365SAQ was a beautiful trailer and was in practically new condition! It had a bunkhouse for the boys (finally a bedroom of their own with beds of their own!), along with a separate half bath for them, and a real, true bedroom for us, as well as a wonderful amount of living room/dining room/kitchen space, and storage! It was beautiful inside and out, and we enjoyed so much the newfound space and privacy!
It was pulling that trailer for the first time loaded that the trials-turned blessings of the year began. A main drive wheel came off unexpectedly from our beautiful 02 F250. We thought the damages to the truck might be enough that the insurance company would total it. When the answer came back that they were not going to total the truck, we found out that its value was significantly higher than we had previously thought. Since we had such a significant accident, we felt it might be good to pursue a dually truck if we could sell our current one for a good price. It was going to take a miracle to get the deal we would need – especially in the time frame that we had! We were looking for a 2010 or newer RAM 3500 diesel dually for $15k or less (This is below the Blue Book value of any such truck in good running condition). In order to purchase one, we would also need to sell our current truck for around twice what we had paid for it – after we made the necessary repairs from the accident! It was a recipe for God to show Himself strong on our behalf! Of the two trucks that we found anywhere in the country that met the criteria and price range, one stuck out as having lower mileage and appearing in better condition. We called the dealership where it was listed and they came down $1,500 more than we asked on the price! Then the Lord helped us sell the F250 for nearly twice what we paid for it - on the same day the repairs were finished! After a trip to Louisiana to purchase the replacement truck, we were back on the road with a newer better truck – and without a loan by the grace of God!
During the weeks of vehicle upheaval we were in Bristol, VA doing door-to-door soulwinning prior to the Bristol Revival. This is where we were when the truck sold, and where we left from for Louisiana. It was encouraging getting to spend some time on a nearly daily basis with Bro. John Wheeler sharing the Gospel! Pastor Cook and the folks at Victory Baptist were very kind to us! They allowed us to stay in a cabin owned by the pastor and his family since we were unable to bring our new trailer due to the accident!
When we got back to Illinois with the new truck, it was immediately on to Indianapolis for the Victory Gospel Crusade! Easily one of our favorite meetings each year, the Victory Gospel Crusade in Indy was a good success! We saw a good number of salvation decisions in the church, under the tent, and on the streets! The pastor of the primary church involved was able to baptize several on the last Sunday! Because there are several evangelists’ families involved, it is always an encouraging time of fellowship! Evangelist Dwight Smith who spearheads the meetings has been a real help and encouragement to our family! Pastor Leo Mejia of the Charity Baptist Church in Indy was a gracious host and a joy to work with! Several other pastors and churches that were involved were also true blessings to us and the meeting!
From there our family took a brief vacation to visit the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. We had a flat tire on the trailer on the way, but were able to get the spare on and hobble the rest of the way to where we were to park for our visit. After enjoying some family time there (and getting all of the tires replaced on the trailer thanks to help from gracious friends), we were on our way to Charlottesville, VA!
Charlottesville is a place dear to our hearts because of the Faith Baptist Church family and Pastor and Mrs. Jones! We were on our way there to help work with the youth for several weeks as well as lead a VBS with the Conyers family.
It was on that fateful trip that our new fifth wheel was totaled by a semi. Many have heard the details regarding that incident. It was sad and unfortunate, and to say we were devastated would be an understatement. We were grateful for God’s gracious protection though, and through the situation God did great things on our behalf. The insurance for the trucking company - after telling us that we would probably have to go back and forth to come to an agreement on a replacement trailer value - surprised us by offering us more than we requested in order to replace our trailer! We were not only able to buy a newer trailer than the one that was hit, but we were given enough above that to pay off the only loans we still had (some student loans from Pepsi’s time in college)! The replacement trailer that we purchased, a 2016 Heartland Gateway 3650BH, had the same basic floorplan as the one before but with the added benefits of a fifth slide-out (for a larger kitchen area) and a bath tub! The blessing outweighed the trial, but our hearts were heavy after such difficult circumstances.
There were other blessings in the aftermath of the accident as well. God provided a kind pastor and his church to help us unload our belongings from the wrecked trailer. Yet another pastor allowed us to borrow his box trailer to move everything to Charlottesville. Also, the Lord had us scheduled to be at a church where we could stay in a prophet's chamber while we waited on the insurance company!
During that time we were still able to help lead the VBS with the Conyers family, and it seemed to be well received by the church and young people!
After the VBS ended and we had purchased the replacement trailer, we had some time before we needed to help with any future meeting. We headed to one of Pepsi’s favorite places, New England, to spend some time with friends and try to enjoy some quiet time. We visited the Faulks and McCarthys in Groton, MA as well as the Caseys in Worcester. We enjoyed good fellowship with these friends, as well as some opportunities to minister while in the area.
We then pulled our trailer to Stratham, NH to spend some time visiting one of Pepsi’s favorite places in New England, York Beach, Maine.
Sadly, the night we arrived there our sweet dog of 7 years was hit by a car. Her loss brought a fresh wave of sadness to our home. Pets may not have souls, but they can be at times as dear as family and, such was the case with our sweet Lou. We tried to enjoy our time there and did continue to have good fellowship and opportunities to minister among good friends, but our home certainly was not the same without her.
From there we headed to Waterford, CT to visit friends at Lakes Pond Baptist Church. It had been nearly 2 weeks since we had lost Lou, and we decided to try to fill some of the void by getting a puppy. After talking it over, the decision was made that one puppy might not come close to filling the gap that was left, so we went and got 2 puppies (an Irish-doodle and a Golden-doodle)! Flynn and Penny have certainly added some energy to our home and have been a welcome distraction from the hurt of losing our sweet Lou!
Again, we enjoyed fellowship and opportunities to minister while in CT! Pastor Doug Meader and his son (and assistant), Donnie, are dear friends! Joshua attended Bible college with Donnie at Ambassador, and Pastor Meader was heavily involved in the Victory Gospel Crusade in Worcester in 2017. Pastor Meader is busy planting a church in Willimantic, CT out of the church in Waterford. This is at least the second church plant for Lakes Pond Baptist and Pastor Meader! It was neat to be a part of a service in the park across from the church plant during one of the Sunday afternoons while there! Pastor Meader was able to lead a man to the Lord at the tailgate of his pickup after the service!
2018 was an unusual year for us in that there were not as many area-wide meetings for us to be involved in as some past years! Yet, the year would not end without one more meeting that was area-wide in its scope!
From CT we headed to Rhode Island to be involved in a month long evangelistic meeting being hosted by the Knotty Oak Baptist Church in Coventry, RI. Pastor Chris Baker had been preparing his people for 15 months for a month long meeting in which the Gospel would be preached nightly in 3 locations! Evangelist Dwight Smith was the main evangelist, and we were able to help for those weeks.
Pastor Baker had gotten stirred up during the Victory Gospel Crusade in Worcester in 2017. Seeing what God did there put a burden in his heart and gave him a vision for his area. In 2018 he led his congregation to begin planting two churches simultaneously – one in Portsmouth, RI and one in Providence! The two areas are very different from each other. Portsmouth is extremely affluent while Providence is a low-income inner city area. It was in these two church plants as well as the main church in Coventry that the Gospel was preached nightly for a month! What an exciting and unprecedented meeting! It was neat to see visitors, salvations, and prayers of rededication! It was also neat to see preachers and Christians from all over New England rally behind such an effort! Around 30 different preachers were involved in this area-wide Gospel preaching campaign!
From there, the rest of our year was mainly composed of visiting with family over the holidays. There were some opportunities to minister in churches throughout that time, as well as a refreshing opportunity for Joshua to have some fellowship at an Evangelists Advance.
Currently our family is in Washington State helping a church plant just outside of Seattle! (Pulling the trailer here was quite an experience! Pepsi and the boys flew out from Illinois while Joshua pulled the trailer from Florida across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexica, Arizona, California, Oregon, and into Washington!) We intend to stay and help through the end of March, at which point we plan to head to Ohio to help with a God Bless America Rally there. While here, our primary responsibilities include daily door-to-door as well as helping in any way around the church.
Our plans for the rest of the year after the meeting in Ohio are a Victory Gospel Crusade in Newport News, VA, a two week meeting with Evangelist Dwight Smith in RI, another area-wide God Bless America meeting in Alabama, as well as helping with a meeting in Watertown, SD. (Likely we will also spend some time with our friends in Charlottesville for some period of time as well!)
Our greatest prayer request for our family and ministry this year and on into the future is for fruit - and fruit that remains!
(Of course, we still appreciate very much your prayers for safety as we travel! After 2018 we would be happy to have a less eventful year traveling in 2019 if it would be the Lord's will!)
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
Joshua and Pepsi Lancaster
2 Chron. 7:14; James 4:8-10