Years ago, in what seems like another life, my wife, Pat, and I and our two children did one term of service in South Korea then went to Dallas, Texas where I completed a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there I went to pastoring a small Baptist Church in Hillsboro, and eventually to teaching history, government and Bible in the Corsicana Christian Academy.
In 1989, God took all that away to teach me some things about Him that are not in books. I was unemployed, very low financially, did not have a ministry, and thought God had thrown me under the bus. Then, Dr. John Best (former professor New Testament Greek at Dallas Seminary) came to Believers Bible Church in Corsicana, Texas with a new ministry he and his wife Carolyn were developing, Exchanged Life Ministries. I told my wife, Pat, “This is what they were teaching us at Shenandoah Bible College in Roanoke, Virginia in the 60’s – I lost it somewhere along the way.” After the Conference, Pat and I went on to the next step, the Workshop. Then I went on through the Advanced Training in Dallas, and God began to open the next chapter in our lives: hurting people came into our lives who needed to hear what Dr. Best and ELM had given us. These included a divorcing couple, two young ladies with repeat suicide attempts. Not long afterward, the prison ministries opened up at the County Jail, and eventually the teen-age prison in town, the State Home, via my friend, pastor John Baker.
While this was going on, a young lady named Sally Rackets went through the ELM Advanced Training in one of the classes a few years after me. In those days, I kept going back to Dallas to go through the Conference over and over, and I took a few men with me who needed the message of Grace as badly I had. In the process, Sally and I became friends and when she self-published her book and showed me one I knew immediately what at least part of my life mission was to be. She got them printed by the Millett Printer in Dallas and sent me a few cases of them which I was handing out to as many of my friends as I could. Sally sends the booklets in bulk to either our house or our son Brian’s garage and IDL buys them as we have the need and resources.
In 2002, I was with some friends and told them about my vision and said, “I need a 501C-3,” and my friend said, “I have one we are not using; you can use it as a DBA.” Six of us went to the bank together and two of them, Janis and Charles Alfred, signed the paperwork and became our board. So, International Medical Missions DBA International Discipleship Literature was born. At the time, the biggest thing about it was the name.
During that time, I had become the manager of the Mail Room at the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana. They hired about 4 or 500 part-time workers for the Christmas season, many of them were Hispanic and I wanted a Spanish New Life version to give them. Sally said, “You get it translated and I will get it printed.” Two years and four translators later, a family from Spain, Eunice and Pedro San Jaime from the IBSTE Bible College in Barcelona came to visit their friends, the Cummins family, in our church. They took our book back to Spain where a missionary lady, Margaret Burt, completed the translation. Jan Mugele, who works in the ELMT office in Dallas sent the translation to her husband who is a Ph. D. Linguist in Los Colinas. By this time, Sally moved to California because her husband, Steve’s, work went west. She put together a team of Hispanic ladies to check our translation for readability by Mexican Americans and we had Nueva Vida en Cristo.
Not long after that, God brought Dave Lesniak, who lives in Indiana, into our lives and he opened the world up to us. Mr. Lesniak introduced us to Mr. Victor Zhuromsky who did a Russian translation and took our New Life books to over 1,000 churches across the Ukraine. In Asia, Mr. Lesniak introduced us to Dr. Alex Mathew in Kerala, India where he got our books translated and printed in the Malayalam language. By this time, we truly were, International Discipleship Literature.
Also, while all this was transpiring, our board members/partners, Janis and Charles Alfred, moved to Crockett, Texas where, along with their church affiliation, they began ministering to the incarcerated youth in the Crockett State School using our New Life booklets. Also, because of his long career with the telephone company, Charles was adept at computers, so he developed the IDL logo, letterhead for our stationery, and many other things that helped us present International Discipleship Literature as a legitimate para-church organization. Charles and Janis also developed a relationship with a ministry in Mexico to which we send hundreds on the Nueva Vida booklets. Unfortunately for us, Charles went to be with the Lord three years ago; his legacy and contributions linger, but his presence is greatly missed by his wife, Janis, and everyone who is associated with IDL.
In 2004, Mrs. Rackets introduced us to her friends, Dawn and Gene Whitehurst, who founded their own literature ministry in Burma (Myanmar), Surpassing Grace. For security reasons, we can’t use names from Myanmar but we send $1,000.00 to them every September and they print the New Life booklets in three languages: Myanmar, Lisu and Chin. The Lisu is primarily for what they call the Border School. They have a campus near the border with another country and they do Bible college and seminary level courses and back-pack books and Bibles back to their homes across Myanmar and into the other country. They use our New Life booklets as a textbook, which makes the annual printing so important. Pat and I have had the privilege of meeting four of the saints who distribute our books across Myanmar in the different languages. I told their leader, “You are the bravest man in the world,” to which he replied, “It is easier to die for Jesus than it is to live for Him.” That sounds different when it’s coming from a man with a price on his head. Along the way, Mrs. Rackets introduced us to her friend from Canada who does literature work on mainland China, and he got one printing of our book (done in Beijing) in Chinese. Most of our friends will send us back a few sample books in the various languages: Chinese, Myanmar, Lisu, Twi, etc.
One day there was a knock on our door and it was a local Corsicana pastor, Rev. Chad Owens of Unity Baptist Church, who has a close relationship with Bro. John Poku in Ghana, Africa. He took a case of our books to Africa and they fell in love with them. In the course of time, Bro. Poku got our booklets translated and began printing them in three languages every year: English, Twi (major language of Ashanti Province, city of Kumasi), and the Fufua language in the north. In 2014 I was blessed to be able to go to Ghana and spend a week with Bro. Poku and visit the village churches and wonderful national workers who use and distribute our booklets.
There is a family in our church who has had business and spiritual contacts in India for several years and earlier this year, their friends came to Corsicana to visit. We were able to spend some time with them and when they returned, they published the New Life booklet in the Hindi language. Our friend in India (name withheld for security) said that if he had the New Life booklet on a CD ROM in PDF, he could translate and publish the book in every language in India. Two weeks ago, Mrs. Rackets sent us five English and one Spanish CDs in PDF. Tina already has an English CD to take to India early in 2018.
A few years ago, a young lady came over from Spain, lived with the Cummins family in Corsicana and got a counseling degree from Dallas Seminary. She is in Spain now developing her counseling ministry, but will return to the U.S. in January, 2018 and then take the Spanish CD back to Spain when she returns.
In 2017, we either printed or distributed books in eight different languages on four continents. Our plan for 2018 and beyond is to maintain what we did previously plus actually begin printing in Spain rather than shipping to there and to add several more languages in India plus we also hope to add Nepal to the list.