Dear friends of Vital Signs, October 2011
Last week we hosted our quarterly Board meeting, preceded by an end-of-summer meal of hot dogs, brats and Italian sausage that I had grilled, accompanied by potato salad, baked beans, chips and a superb apple cobbler with ice cream that Claire had prepared. It was a delicious and fun way to start what was a very enheartening evening. Yes, the times are tough -- both culturally and economically -- but we remain deeply grateful that God has called us into this ministry and the review of the last few months of Vital Signs Ministries we presented that night bears witness that we continue to make a serious impact for the Faith, the gospel and the culture of life. In fact, the review of our activity was so upbeat that several of our Board members urged us to pass it along in our next LifeSharer letter. We thought that was a good idea. So what follows are some of the highlights from that quarterly report.
Beginning our agenda that night was the financial report. This is rarely a thrilling part of the meeting for an under-funded ministry like ours and this one was no exception. As I said, times are tough and Vital Signs’ income is down. But we moved on to the review of Claire’s and my activities for the previous three months which, I hope you’ll agree, was a lot more encouraging. First up was a survey of several advocacy efforts which included our letters and internet postings: 1) against the Omaha Public School Board for their strict requiring of employees to read an immoral, anti-American “sensitivity” manual; 2) against Komen for the Cure’s unconscionable partnership with Planned Parenthood; 3) against those leaders of Communist and Islamic governments that are persecuting Christians; 4) against Walgreens and CVS pharmacy companies for selling really bizarre “sex toys” on their web pages; 5) against U.S. government officials who have engaged in a variety of acts detrimental to the public good; and 6) against Planned Parenthood.
That last campaign has occupied quite a bit of 2011’s third quarter. It included our prayer presence and sidewalk counseling outside the northwest Planned Parenthood abortion mill, of course. But there was also our involvement in a new statewide coalition, Nebraskans Against Planned Parenthood (NAPP). This new association consists of a small group of pro-life leaders who are trying to develop new strategies in opposing the sinister schemes of Planned Parenthood. We’ve occasionally met together in person down in Lincoln but we’ve done alot of talking on the phone and e-mailing as well. It was NAPP who brought Jim Sedlak and Rita Diller of STOPP International to Nebraska for speaking engagements and training sessions in several communities, including one in Omaha we helped organize. NAPP also created a Facebook site with daily updates. (I’m pleased to serve as one of the two co-administrators of that page.) Finally, NAPP is very close now to putting onto the internet an information-packed website that will serve pro-life advocates all over the state.
Was that all that we had been doing since the last Vital Signs meeting? Hardly. I’m pleased to say I’m just getting started. Next in our review were details about the “Lt. Dan Party” we had hosted (a patriotic film promoting the Gary Sinise Foundation) as well as a host of other hospitality and discipleship ministries in which our home served as the entertaining venue. Included also in that hospitality ministry is Claire’s baking dozens of her famous chocolate chip cookies for friends in hospital and for residents and staff of nursing homes.
I was also able to tell Board members about a stimulating evening I spent in a conference call with Coach Ron Brown and Board members of FreedMen Nebraska and about Claire and I providing a Vital Signs information booth at the Providential History Festival held at the Strategic Air and Space Museum. There was also the new Vital Signs brochure we had designed and printed; the two days in Lincoln spent in an exciting and unprecedented pro-life strategy and networking conference; our participation in the Life Chain; and a bunch of thank-you letters we had written to religious, business and political leaders who had done praiseworthy things.
And, oh yes, I reminded the Board members that I’m still preaching every Sunday at Faith Bible Church. I’m currently doing a series on the book of Galatians. And I’ve also started teaching an adult Sunday School class as well. It deals with the Old Testament tabernacle.
Vital Signs Ministries continues to soar in cyberspace and that part of our quarterly review was really neat to share also. Although I’ve read that there’s a national slump in blog traffic, Vital Signs Blog is still averaging about 400 page loads every weekday. That results in over 100,000 page loads so far in 2011. But that’s not all. There have been some neat improvements and expansion of our other web ministries too. The Vital Signs Ministries official web site looks better, has more on it and is more interactive. And VSM Resources, our Russian-language site, is not only adding to the number of articles it contains but is also gaining substantially in the number of visitors. In just the last quarter, it drew nearly 2,500 page loads from people all over the world who are utilizing the Bible study material, sermon helps and pro-life information we have there in Russian. Isn’t that terrific!
The next arena we had for our report was a ministry that is keeping us busier than we ever imagined. That’s the one we call “When Swing Was King.” Every month we give audiences at assisted living centers and nursing homes a new series of big band songs, photos and fun, lively commentary – all free of charge. It is (by far and away) the most popular outreach into these facilities that we’ve ever had.
And remember, we started “When Swing Was King” as a service to my Mom and her fellow residents at Life Care Center in late summer of 2010. That’s all we had in mind at the beginning. But God clearly had bigger plans for the program. For we now have 12 different volumes with 13 songs each that we provide for several places bi-monthly or quarterly. But 9 facilities have us in every month! And we’re getting more requests all the time. In 2010 we presented “When Swing Was King” 29 times. But the number of performances in 2011 has already reached 81 – and we still have two months to go! Wow.
Can you see why, despite the rather grim financial report we endured at the beginning of the Board meeting, we were all in a celebratory mood by the meeting’s end?
Still to come before the end of the year is a lot more of the same as well as AWANA speaking engagements, letter-writing nights and book discussions, and a special Vital Signs Christmas Party which will combine a charming sample of “When Swing Was King” with a commemoration of our 40 years of marriage. Sound like fun? It will be! The details will be coming your way in a couple of weeks!
In the meantime, please keep praying for God to use Vital Signs Ministries to fight back against the schemes of the evil one and to help build, for God’s glory, a culture of life in Omaha and way beyond. Thanks for all your support, guys. We are deeply grateful.
Much love to all of you from both of us…