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January 13, 2017

“By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left . . .” 2 Corinthians 6:7

Dear Friends,

We are well into a new year but have not sent out a summary of our public ministry efforts for the last two months of last year. 2016 was a fairly robust, and we trust spiritually fruitful, year of evangelism for us. While we know that we could have done even more, yet with the Lord’s help we handed out 38,000 of our gospel tracts and booklets as well as shared gospel messages with multitudes more by the large Scripture signs we hold during our evangelism at public gatherings and also by our billboard campaign.

Our last public ministry summary went through the month of October. Since then, we have lit dropped our gospel booklet From Death unto Life at homes in Dubuque, Iowa; and Janesville and Baraboo, Wisconsin. Our brethren in Omaha, Nebraska also lit dropped with the same gospel booklet and also one of our gospel tracts in that city. In 2016, our gospel billboard message was posted in heavy traffic areas in the cities of Brodhead, Monroe (three billboards), Menomonee, Beloit, Wausau, Platteville, Janesville; Dubuque, Iowa; Dodgeville, Fond du lac, Gratiot, and Appleton. Two of the three Monroe billboards were up during the biennial Cheese Days event which draws huge crowds to our town.

So far for 2017, we have rented billboards to put up the same gospel message in Watertown; also at another location in Dubuque, Iowa; and on the heavily used Highway 14 outside of Madison. Our plan is to continue posting this billboard with its gospel message and the internet address to the text of our gospel booklet From Death unto Life.

On November 18, only three of us were able to be on hand to share the gospel with the teeming masses of predominantly young people representing high schools from all around our state arriving at the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium in Madison for the WIAA high school football championships. We have ministered the gospel at this event every year for many years. At such times, in the face of such crowds, one cannot help but wish for more gospel workers. But circumstances sometimes prevent that, and we always make the best of the manpower we have. In this case, one of us held a large Scripture sign, and two concentrated on tracts alone. When all was said and done, we had given out 911 of our Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners gospel tract; and a great many of the football fans also read the large Scripture sign.

When we first arrived at Camp Randall, one of us gave a gospel tract to a UW security guard (see picture). This lady, whom I would guess may well have been of the Hmong people, immediately and very intently began reading our gospel tract. She would have nothing of any distractions until she had carefully read each and every page of the tract. May it be that the Spirit of the Lord savingly shined the word of life into her heart as she read, perhaps for the first time, the gospel of Christ Jesus.

Another UW security guard, in fact, a security supervisor, was not so open to the gospel and not the least bit friendly to it or to us. This woman gave us a hard time, insisting—no, commanding—that we could not share the gospel on the public sidewalk which we were on. There was no reasoning with her. We had to go, and that was that, or she would have the police arrest us. I encouraged her to round up a police officer and talk to him about the situation. With a withering “you asked for it” look, she resolutely marched over to a group of UW officers. They apparently gave the old battleaxe a short constitutional lesson. After that, the only contact we had with her were her killing looks from a distance. But who knows what the Lord may do in the heart of that women who, at the very least, read our gospel sign. She would not be the first persecution-minded Saul-type whom the Lord glorified Himself by saving. Other than some interruption for yours truly during the time I dealt with the security supervisor, the gospel truly had “free course” throughout our time at Camp Randall this year.

What a blessing and privilege to be able to freely share the true gospel with thousands upon thousands of mostly young people. It is for the Lord’s people to pray that the gospel will continue to have free course in this nation with regard to the freedom to share the gospel in public places and then also that the gospel will have free course in the hearts of men, women, and young people by the effectual work of the Holy Spirit. 2 Thessalonians 3:1: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.”

We ought all to also pray that the Lord’s own blood-bought church will diligently avail themselves of that mercy of religious liberty in order to show mercy to the lost, condemned multitudes around us that “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” After all, multitudes of our forefathers were martyred for sharing the gospel of which we have even the protection of constitutional law to share. And even today, all round the world, our brethren in Christ are hazarding their liberty, their property, their very lives to share the gospel with the lost. Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

On the evening of December 30, several of our brethren in Omaha, Nebraska witnessed for Christ on the sidewalks outside the Roman Catholic St. Cecilia Cathedral in that same city. The event was a celebration for Cardinal Blase Cupich, an Omaha native who was recently made a cardinal. Our brethren held a large sign which had on it “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5”; and also another sign reading, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12.” They also gave out our Urgent Plea to Roman Catholics pamphlet to Roman Catholics arriving for the event. Between conversations, the pamphlets, and the Scripture signs, a good number of Roman Catholics, including several priests, were witnessed to with “the word of truth.” In fact, one priest was seen to put our tract into his pocket. The night was not entirely free of tension or less than favorable responses, as you would imagine. But, the thing that matters is that one way or another, a good number of Roman Catholics heard or read the gospel truth and in charity were warned of the enslaving, damning lies of Rome.

Pilgrims Covenant Church gladly supports, with our tithes and offerings, overseas missions in areas where there is great need. But we strongly believe that there is also a great need right here in our beloved nation, and we ought to go out into “the highways and hedges” to share the true gospel of Christ with the lost who are all around us.

We seek to be a faithful church as to our doctrine and our practice, walking in “the old paths, where is the good way.” So, between that and the strong presence of new evangelicalism in this area, we are a small church. But the Lord of the harvest has blessed us with the resources we need to sow the gospel in the hearts of multitudes year by year. We never ask for donations, yet some among the Lord’s people this past year again undertook to send donations to our public ministry effort. It is only right then that we offer those brethren our heartfelt thanks for providing the help that has allowed us to reach so many more people with the gospel than our little church would have been able to do otherwise. I know that some of you also remember us and our ministry work when you are before God’s throne of grace. For this, we are also extremely grateful.

May the Lord bless you and keep you all in the coming year; and may He stir up our hearts to be more like that persecuted church in Thessalonica to whom the apostle of Christ wrote, 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”

Sincerely,

Ralph Ovadal



October 29, 2016
 

Dear Friends,  

For those who are interested, here is a summary of our Pilgrims Covenant Church public ministry work since I last sent out such a report in July. As always, please let us know if, for any reason, you would just as soon not receive these reports. It would bother me if I knew we have been sending out these reports to someone who would rather not receive them. But, for those of you who do enjoy such an update, I hope you will find the following summary encouraging reading during these not always encouraging days.  

Our billboard campaign (see pictures) continues on full steam, with each billboard in each location up for a minimum of four weeks. I say minimum because, in the providence of God, some have remained up longer. Usually when a billboard remains up longer than the contracted time, it is because no one else has rented the space. But, the strange thing about how this has gone with us is that these billboards of ours which have stayed up longer than the purchased time are in very good locations and have been up at very good times of the year, traffic-wise. For instance, as I write this, one of our billboards in Monroe has been up now for eight weeks! So far, we have had billboards up in Brodhead, Monroe (3), Menomonee, Beloit, Wausau, Platteville, Janesville, Dodgeville, Fond du Lac, Gratiot, and Appleton. Currently, we have a billboard scheduled to go up in Watertown in mid-April, 2017, but are looking for locations for more billboards.  
 

We have been selecting all of our billboards with great care, and all have the same strengths, but some have additional advantages. To give several examples of what I mean about additional advantages, our billboard in Fond du Lac was not only easily read by persons in cars passing by on the busy highway along which it stood but also visible to boaters, fishermen and from cottages on the immediately adjacent Fond du Lac river! Our billboard in Dodgeville was not only on the busy intersection of two state highways which meet on the north side of the city, but it was also in the immediate area of the county jail and situated so that persons being transported to the jail would read it, as would those visiting them. Two of our three billboards in Monroe were up during Cheese Days when Monroe was swarming with hordes of people from all over the state, even the nation, and believe it or not, even from other nations.
 

For one reason, or another, our fall gospel lit dropping campaign has been less than dynamic, but we are working on it. So far we have only made it to Janesville, Wisconsin and Pecatonica, Illinois. In both towns, we left our gospel booklet From Death unto Life on the doors of businesses and homes. We are certainly hoping to lit drop more towns before the snow flies.  

On July 30, some of us handed out From Death unto Life booklets to shoppers at the Beloit farmers market. We also held two of our large Scriptures signs, one on each end of the market which is in the downtown area of Beloit. Persons passing by in cars also saw one of our Scripture signs. We were able to hand out 817 gospel booklets. One person told us that in previous years a Christian family have handed out gospel tracts at the market but that they had not done so this year. So, it may well be that the Lord moved us to fill in the gap left by that family. Whoever they were, they belonged to a rare breed of Christians who actually take the gospel out into the world and share it with the lost.  
 

One of our Scripture signs at the Beloit farmers market

On Labor Day, we shared the gospel at the Janesville Labor Day Parade. As has become our method of operation, we “ran the parade route,” as we say, handing out gospel tracts. In truth, we do not run but actually work methodically, thoroughly, and steadily the length of a parade with a person walking in the street along the curb on each side, handing out tracts; and then others on the sidewalks on each side, reaching with tracts those who are not accessible from the street side. At the Janesville parade, we were able to give out 2,456 Heaven or Hell gospel tracts.
 

Working the Labor Day parade route in Janesville

The 2016 biennial Cheese Days in Monroe took place September 16-18. Various members of our little church worked hard all weekend, some both holding Scriptures signs and handing out tracts, others concentrating strictly on getting tracts into the hands of as many people as possible. Some of us were out Friday for the opening festivities and events. We divided up in teams and covered Saturday continuously from 8:45 AM until 5:15 PM.  
 

Part of our witness at the Cheese Days Chase run

On the Lord’s Day, we held church early in order to get our teams in place on time to cover the Cheese Days parade route, which is nearly two miles long. We had teams run the parade, working it over well, end to end, handing out gospel tracts. Several of our members also held a Scripture sign and handed out tracts to the crowd gathered on the town square, which is shut off to vehicular traffic and set up with stages, food booths, various attractions, and of course, beer vendors. In fact, persons are allowed to carry open beer containers around with them on the square, so as not to lose any drinking time and at the same time increase the revenues of the liquor peddlers.
 

Saturday tract distribution at Cheese Days

Late Sunday afternoon, as one of our ladies who is so faithful in gospel labor put it, by the time the last cheese curd was eaten, the last polka was played, the last beer was drunk, the last alphorn was sounded, we had handed out 13,450 Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners gospel tracts. That is, 13,450 people were given, and received, one by one that newly written gospel tract (pccmonroe.org/evangelism/savesinners.htm).  
 

A group of Roman Catholic young people receiving gospel tracts

As you might imagine, over the many hours we ministered to the Cheese Days crowd, we had a variety of reactions to our Scripture signs and some pretty interesting interactions as we shared the gospel. One new evangelical woman who attends the large Monroe Bible church, a church well on the way toward apostasy, informed one of our men that he was “very wrong” to be handing out gospel tracts and instead should simply be “involved in the community” to reach others. Young people from that church worked in the Swiss Colony hospitality tent and wore shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Live Generously!” Those same young people were extremely cold toward us; and as they passed by our Scripture signs, their countenances betrayed hostility, an evidence of the sort of preaching those poor young people have been getting from their unfaithful minister. Other MBC members also exhibited their distaste for our simple, sincere, scriptural gospel message and labors.  

A local charismatic man walked up to me, slammed to the pavement the jacket he was carrying, and threw a sort of fit over some imagined wrongs committed against him by Christians like me in his past. Quite frankly, he made little sense. But then again, most people who have drunk as much beer as he obviously had generally do not make the most sense and often are unreasonable. Later, this man came back and sort of apologized before hotly engaging me in a disputation over the charismatic teaching concerning gifts of the Spirit such as tongues and even raising the dead. I shared with him the scriptural evidence that those gifts were limited to the apostolic time and why. His defense of the charismatic error was to insist I had not shown him from the Scriptures what I had shown him and then to give a demonstration of supposedly speaking in tongues.

On a more cheerful, hopeful note, an elderly Lutheran lady whom one of our women engaged in friendly conversation did not know, and apparently had not heard about, the necessity of being born again. She asked, “What exactly does that mean?” and was told exactly what it means. A man who rebuked one of our young lads for handing out tracts later returned to shake his hand and share a few kind words. Apparently his conscience would not give him rest until he did so, and I hope the Holy Spirit does the same thing with the gospel he was exposed to. A young man (perhaps a wounded combat vet) with amputated hands and forearms, as well as prosthetic legs, freely accepted a tract, gripping it between the stumps of his arms, after the woman with him had refused one.
 

Handing out tracts on the parade route of Cheese Days on Sunday

 

Of course, there are other encouraging accounts I could share; but I am sure all of you are very encouraged to simply know that so many tens of thousands of lost sinners had the gospel shared—by signs, tracts, and personal conversation—with them over Cheese Days weekend here in Monroe. We are sure the Lord will, in His own time, bless and prosper our gospel sowing. To Christ Jesus, the Word of Life and Lord of the Harvest, be the glory!  

On Saturday, October 22, a group of us traveled to Whitewater, Wisconsin to hand out gospel tracts to those attending the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater homecoming parade. We were loaded for bear, carrying 3,200 tracts split among us so that none of us would run out as we ran the parade route. This was our first ministry at this particular event. We had pictured teaming multitudes lined up along the parade route. What we found were small, spaced-out little knots of people here and there along the route. Suffice it to say, we covered the parade route very thoroughly indeed. When we reached the end, feeling a bit stunned by the sparse turn out, we decided to simply walk in the street, on each side of the floats and student groups actually in the fairly good-sized parade coming at us. We handed out tracts as we went. By this unorthodox method, we were able to get out quite a few additional tracts, and no one really said anything to us about how we did it. In the end, we were able to hand out a total of 623 Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners tracts.  
 

One of our youngest Christians (in plaid shirt) getting out the gospel in Whitewater

That’s it for now. In the past couple of months, we have purchased 60,000 more of our gospel tracts and gospel booklets. We are most thankful to the Lord for providing our small church the means to do so, and of course, we are grateful to those whom He has used for that very purpose. Thanks also to those who remember to the Lord our gospel work. We have more such work planned yet for 2016. There is no other means than the gospel shared out in the world by those faithful, sanctified, scriptural churches yet in the old paths, the gospel of Christ by which men dead in trespasses and sins are saved and regenerated as new creatures in Christ—even those who are enemies of Christ and His true church. And I know of no other weapon but the sword of the Spirit which can dispel the growing darkness of our country, defeat the growing tyranny, and rout that spiritual adversary of the Lord’s blood-bought people.

Sincerely,

Ralph Ovadal
 

 

This web site contains references to Wisconsin Christians United (WCU). That ministry, which was founded by Ralph Ovadal in 1993, has been included as a ministry of Pilgrims Covenant Church since April 1, 2005. 

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