The Bert Craft Family
Independent Baptist Missionaries
Bert and Heather Craft
Apartado Postal #215
Oaxaca, Oaxaca 68001
Sent Under the Authority of:
Faith Missionary Baptist Church
Pastor Jerry Asberry
330 Massac Church Road
Paducah, KY 42001
January 7, 2012, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Dear Beloved Pastors, Saints, and Faithful Churches of the Lord,
We send you greetings in Jesus’ name, praying that you and yours will have your most fruitful year ever for the glory of the Lord! Only with the help of our ever present God have we been sustained through our troubles, our travels, and unusual providential circumstances during the year 2011. We are praying for increased grace to plainly rejoice in and trust our sovereign God through this time of transition of our membership and sponsorship from Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah, to another church of like faith and order. We sincerely request that you pray with us and for us that the Lord will make His will clear.
In recent days, I have been meditating on Acts 13:1-2, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers ...as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” As I understand what is written here by divine inspiration, the Holy Spirit of God actively directs the Lord’s churches in the activities in which they should be involved. The Holy Spirit is the one who leads churches in their mission work and church planting efforts. Paul and Barnabas did not solicit the church to send them forth to do mission work; rather, the Spirit of God moved upon and burdened the Antioch church to send them forth to the church planting work among foreign peoples. Perhaps this was God’s way of working in the church a hearty passion for the mission work which they would sustain in fervent prayer, support as they were enabled and prospered by God, and stand with God’s servants in their prolonged absence in foreign lands. Furthermore, perhaps it was God’s way of directing Paul as to the timing of his foreign missionary service to which he was called years earlier in his conversion experience (Acts 26:17-18). Based on this passage and with an earnest, fervent desire to continue in this mission work, we are waiting upon the Lord that the Holy Spirit move upon a church so that she may be directed AND burdened to continue this church planting work in southern Mexico. If the Spirit of God does not work in such a fashion, we will have to stop and re-evaluate what the Lord has next for us in His perfect providence. We beseech you to remember this situation in prayer before the Lord.
In spite of our present difficulty of changing to a new sponsoring church, the Lord has been pleased to give us a special season of blessing in the mission work in Oaxaca. It seems that the church organization and ordination at the end of November has brought a real sense of Holy Spirit conviction to the unconverted and a sense of revival among the people of God. Within a few days after these events, María Clotilde, who has faithfully attended our services for the last 13 years since she was single and is now the mother of five children, made manifest that God has saved her, having nailed her sins in Christ to the cross and that He has given her the grace to forgive others against whom she has been so very embittered. What a difference the Spirit of God makes and salvation brings! Her husband stood this past Sunday and with tears thanked God for his wife’s salvation and asked the church to pray that God will save him as he presently has no power to break off with sin. María is already suffering family rejection and persecution as she is placing Bible texts on the door of her house and on the windows of her home, testifying against the abominations of Catholicism. She is also going to each family member, reconciling with them and sharing what God in Christ has done in her life.
The Lord has also worked in the hearts of three men who have made professions of faith and likewise requested baptism. Please pray for Ramiro Peralta, Daniel Villanueva, and Bertito, my son. Ramiro has attended most of the Sunday services with his wife and two sons since 2002. He sought out the congregation after having read many times “The Trail Of Blood.” One day he told his wife, “I am going to seek out the people who distribute this booklet. If they believe and practice according to what is written herein, then I am going to unite with them.” For the last nine years, Ramiro has listened attentively to the Word of God, has studied the Scriptures in his own home, and now has made public that the Lord has granted unto him a new heart. He wants to be baptized and be a member of the Lord’s church!
Daniel Villanueva, a 25 year old single man, began attending the public services in December of 2010. He has with a hungry heart been absorbing the teaching of the Word of God and participating with us in our public witnessing and tract distribution. He also has given a testimony that the Lord has saved him and desires to be baptized.
This past Sunday morning on the way to our public worship services, Bertito asked if he could address the family. The Lord has been very openly working in his life since the latter months of our recent stateside trip. He has been earnestly reading and studying his Bible. One night about two or three o’clock in the morning, he sought me out with tears and a heavy heart with questions regarding the work of Christ and salvation. He has been listening to a lot of recorded sermons. He has shown forth a hunger and thirst after righteousness and God’s Word. Therefore, it was not a surprise when he announced to us all that Christ had saved him and that he was wholly trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross for his salvation. One of the struggles that he encountered was that he was waiting for a “fireworks-type” experience, but finally realized that it is only by trusting completely in Christ alone. He likewise has made known his desire to obey the Lord in the waters of baptism.
Amidst these amazing blessings (to God alone be all praise and honor!), the Lord has also begun to work in the heart of one of the men of the congregation regarding a call to the ministry. I had lunch with him last week and we talked soberly about the Spirit’s work in his life and whether or not the Lord is calling him. As with all of God’s servants, he feels unworthy and insufficient for such a high calling. Please pray for Porfirio that God would plainly confirm His will to him and that he would be able to trust the Chief Shepherd should God be pleased to make him an under-shepherd.
If the Lord wills, later this month Brothers Narciso Martínez, Guadalupe Hernández, and I will be having a reunion in the State of Tabasco to interview a man who is pastoring a small group of people. He loves the doctrines of grace and has attended our Bible conferences in recent years. He says that he wants Scriptural baptism and wants to put in order the work and do things the Bible way. We trust that the Lord has worked these things in his heart, and we are going to have a two day meeting with him to determine if the Lord would have us to be involved in this situation. We believe that our God is one of strict order and that order must be Bible-based. He requires that all things be done decently and in order without irregularities and disobedience to His Word. If Donaín is willing to heartily submit to Bible order, which is our historical Baptist position, we will then be baptizing him and all of those who have a sound testimony of salvation and the mission work will be placed under the authority of the Grace of God Baptist Church in San Agustín Mixtepec, Oaxaca. On the other hand, if we sense inconformity to the Bible pattern and a resistance to plain Bible truth, we will not be able to proceed.
Some final thoughts: first, I feel compelled to thank you for your continued intercession for the Craft family and the mission work in southern Mexico. These spiritual blessings that we are enjoying are fruits of your persistence in prayer according to the will of God. It is only through spiritual, not carnal, arms that we see victory on the spiritual battlefield (2Corinthians 10:4). May the Lord grant us grace to persevere in prayer that the Word of the Lord may have free course.
Secondly, I want to thank all of those who have inquired about our leaving Faith Missionary Baptist Church to seek authorization in another church. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at email@example.com or via our U.S. cellphone at 956-342-9650 (please dial this number as if I were in the States).
Thirdly, I want to thank you for your financial support throughout the year 2011. The Lord has wonderfully blessed His Word, and the mission works and newly constituted church continue to grow. In 2011, through the generosity of the Lord’s people and churches, we were enabled of the Lord to purchase several major appliances that all seemed to go out at the same time and we were able to make several costly repairs to the pickup truck while we traveled in and out of Mexico and throughout the United States. The Lord has sustained us and graciously met every need.
Lastly, I want to thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for my all-of-grace salvation, His indwelling, ever-ministering Spirit, His “Rock of Gibraltar” Word, and for His call upon my life to preach the unsearchable riches of His grace and salvation to the heathen of this world for His glory. By divine mercy, I am God’s bond-slave (doulos) and not the hireling of men who flees when the danger comes because he does not love the sheep (John 10:11-13). Through the years, we have been tested and tried by many difficult circumstances that have stretched us beyond measure, but instead of them having daunted us, deterred us, deviated us, and destroyed us, they have revealed that the same God who calls unworthy men to glorify Him in preaching the Word and seeking out the salvation of sinners also sustains them to the end of this earthly race. Though many dangers have threatened the well-being of the sheep and flocks of God in southern Mexico, we have not run or shrunk from our heavenly responsibility to lay down our lives for the Lord’s sheep. This is not self-praise, but rather our most humble thanksgiving to our great Sustainer and His sustaining grace. It is only because of His unwavering faithfulness that we can be found faithful. As the old hymnologist, John Newton, wrote:
“Through many dangers, toils and snares...we have already come.
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far...and grace will lead me home.”
Let us all cling to and confide in this amazing grace in order to face future dangers, toils, and snares, and to finish our course well for the glory of God and the salvation of His elect who are yet to be brought into the fold. May He be pleased to use us in 2012!
Yours for God’s glory and His elect where Christ is not named,
Bert Craft"Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named." Romans 15:20