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"How are things going with Vital Signs Ministries?"

Dear VSM LifeSharers,                                                                            May 2012

            “Hey, Denny and Claire!  How are things going with Vital Signs Ministries these days?”

            Uh, could you be more specific?

            “Okay.  How’s it going with the prayer and sidewalk counseling ministry?”

            Well, our current schedule finds us in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill four mornings a month – the first and third Wednesday and the second and fourth Saturday.  It’s an especially difficult task because of the physical layout of the building for though many of the workers use the front entrance along 93rd Street, the clients are directed to use the entrance that’s on the back side of the building to which we have no access at all.  This means that our sidewalk counseling is in play only when clients mistakenly park in front.  But even then the security guards quickly direct them back.  It is extremely frustrating…and sad.

            But despite the hardship, we remain proactive.  For instance, Pat Osborne is creating new signs to make our presence there even more vivid, more colorful and more attractive.  The signs feature beautiful pictures, compelling messages and truly arresting colors and designs.  If our communicative ministry at this abortion mill is going to be primarily visual, we’re going to make it as effective as possible.

            But our presence in front of Planned Parenthood provides more than a vibrant message to God.  Our prayers pack a stronger punch than we can imagine and we are moving to increase their effect not only by being more diligent and focused in prayer when we’re there but also by securing many more Christians to come against Planned Parenthood.  Thus, the creation of our “3 for 5” campaign which is being picked up by pro-life intercessors around Nebraska, around the country and even beyond.  Just last week Brad Mattes of Life Issues Institute featured our “3 for 5” campaign on his radio program – a program which airs on hundreds of stations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

            “That’s hopeful news, Den.  How about the ‘When Swing Was King’ ministry?  Is that still going strong?”

            I’ll say.  We continue to present “When Swing Was King” at 11 (sometimes 12) nursing homes and/or assisted living centers every month.  Last week we were over at the Life Care Center in Omaha which was the place where this remarkable outreach began.  We initially conceived it as kind of a party for my Mom and a few of her friends at the nursing home.  That was 22 months ago.  Who could have known that it would expand into the momentous ministry that it has become!  I mean, since that first showing, we have now created 17 (and counting) different volumes – each one containing 13 big band songs, a couple of hundred photos in a Power Point slide show, and an interesting and fun commentary.

            And to date, we’ve presented it…hold on to your seats…183 times!

            We couldn’t be more awed, humbled, delighted and grateful to God for the remarkable effects “When Swing Was King” has produced thus far.  And that includes not only the programs themselves but the conversations, prayers and ongoing friendships it has created between us and the residents, their family members and members of the facility staff.  Oh yes, one more thing – “When Swing Was King” has created interest from as far away as Colorado Springs.  Last week we were contacted by an associate producer for Focus on the Family who believes our 30 years of experience in nursing home outreach (including WSWK) might make for a stimulating radio program.  So he called us, recorded a 40-minute conversation, and is passing it along to the Focus leadership.  We had a terrific time together but we’ll have to see if anything else develops from this.  We’ll let you know.

            “Wow.  That’s pretty impressive stuff.  What about Vital Signs in cyberspace?  How are things going on that front?”

            That’s always a pretty busy arena for us, especially in keeping the posts flying over on Vital Signs Blog.  Our schedule is so full nowadays that I have had to organize my blogging time differently but I’m still managing to put on 15-25 posts every week.  As you know, I deal with various aspects of the culture wars with a specific view to keeping Christians informed and active.  Among the most important “action alerts” from the last couple of weeks are ones dealing with the Lingerie Football League coming to Ralston, Communist China’s crimes against Chen Guangcheng, Best Buy’s involvement with Hamas, Starbuck’s promotion of homosexuality and Pepsi’s reversal on using fetal tissue to select product flavors.

            Our internet voices include our Russian-language web site which is always adding articles and, of course, the official website of Vital Signs Ministries.  Changes over there recently have included a special section for our “3 for 5” program and additions of several new articles including “Safe Sex Isn’t So Safe,” “Arbor Day vs Earth Day: ‘The Earth Is the Lord's,’” “Vital Signs at UNMC: ‘The Case for the Sanctity of Life,’" the full transcript of “Knights in Shining Armor: The Adventure of Christian Chivalry,” and several others.

            “Very cool.  What about speaking and writing?  I know you’re still the perennial guest speaker at Faith Bible Church but do you ever have the opportunity for other engagements and projects?”

            Yes, a few.  It’s important to understand that my sermons at Faith are utilized by Vital Signs too.  For instance, the audio files are posted on our website and the outlines and theological structure of many of those sermons are also translated and put onto our Russian-language site.  But I do take advantage of a few other opportunities.  For example, there were engagements at a UNMC Christian fellowship and the FreedMen Conquest event earlier in the spring.  And last week I delivered two sermons at Tabernacle Baptist Church in George, Iowa and a talk on Christian chivalry to a men’s group at Evangelical Bible Church.

            As far as writing is concerned, most of that is done on Vital Signs Blog, the monthly LifeSharer letter and a little bit for items I post on Facebook or The Book Den blog.  However, I am trying to carve out time for some other projects.  Among these is an edited transcript of a presentation I’ve given in the past called “Heroes in White: A Christian History of Nursing” and a brand new study in which I use fictional villains to present a commentary on modern medical ethics.  The working title for that is “Frankenstein’s Notebooks: The Mad Scientist in Literature and Life.”

            “That’s certainly a full plate you and Claire have.  Is there anything you’ve left out?”

            Hmm.  I suppose I should mention the social interactions which we’re involved in.  Some of that could be classified as mentoring; some as networking with other pro-life leaders; some as visitation to seniors; and some as just fellowship with like-minded believers who keep us, as the Scriptures describe, “stimulated to love and good deeds.”  Among the most important of these are our literary club, our dinner parties and, in recent weeks, early morning Tuesday conversations with John Malek up at the Panera’s on Maple.

            Then there’s the correspondence (both individual and our group letter-writing parties), the phone, Claire keeping Vital Signs’ business affairs in order and so on – all of which we fold in to our reading, sermon preparation, lawn work, meal preparation, housecleaning, exercise and the two of us just spending time together.

            “One final question.  You’ve mentioned an awful lot of things about what you and Claire are doing through Vital Signs Ministries.  But you didn’t say anything about finances.  A lot of organizations talk about that more than anything else but you guys hardly ever mention it.  So, how are things in that respect?”

            Well, to be frank.  They’re not great.  We’ve been losing ground for a few years now.  So, it would certainly be a great help if we could find a few more LifeSharers and maybe a church or two to help us out.  Anything anyone could do to assist in that “recruitment” would be most appreciated by our Board of Directors – and by Claire and me too!

            But, make no mistake, Claire and I (and our Board members) are committed to staying the same course we have for the last 30 years; namely, providing principled, effective, winsome and joyful pro-life ministries in Christ’s Name.  And thank you so very much for your partnership in this critical adventure.  Until next month, I’ll see you on Vital Signs Blog.