Browsing the blog archives for May, 2005

Piles of sand

Adam's Updates

Saturday, May 28th, 2005
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Dear Family and Friends,

Last week I was reading Psalm 23 again, and came to the familiar verse: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” I saw something that I had never noticed before.

David wasn’t saying “Lord, my cup is too small, look at all the water that is getting spilled!” “I just can’t catch everything!” Instead, he was simply grateful that his cup was full and running over.

Here in Mongolia there are so many opportunities all around us. Requests for trainings come almost weekly, and we see so many potential things that we could do, if we had the time and staff. A large number of projects stand just waiting for us to get the chance to work on them.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, if we look at these opportunities as blessings from the Lord, we can thank Him that “our cup is running over”. We could be sitting here wondering what to do, but God has poured out such a rich array of projects that we need His wisdom in knowing what will be most important to work on.

Last fall Tim used the analogy that we feel like we are shoveling away at a huge sand pile of things to do, and every scoop brings a new wave of sand down the side of the pile. Recalling a recent incident with an actual sand pile near our apartment, Tim made an interesting comment a few days ago; “Children love sand piles.”

I started thinking about this a little more. Why is it that a sand pile represents hours of joy to one person, and hours of toiling drudgery to someone else? The difference is in their perspective. The child sees the sand in front of him and makes good use of a small portion. The workman thinks only of how long it will take to move the entire pile.

Jesus reminds us in John 15, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

We don’t have to take responsibility for “moving the whole pile.” We just need to be faithful with the things that God has put before us to do. We don’t have to move the pile for God, He wants us to rest in Him so that He can show His power in accomplishing His will through our lives.

Last Monday I saw a good example of this principle in action. Leo, a university student from MIU had scheduled to meet with me on Tuesday morning to see if I would be available to share some lectures on character with his class. Talking with me briefly on Sunday afternoon, Tim mentioned that some of the MIU students he saw at church were looking forward to my lecture on Monday.  🙂

Realizing that somehow there must have been a mistake in communication, we both felt that it would be good for me to go to MIU on Monday afternoon, just in case they were expecting me to speak. A very full schedule on Monday morning left virtually no time to prepare for the lecture.

I decided to share on the quality of sincerity, since that is what we had just taught in our character-English classes a few days before, and after a hasty lunch, I picked up my folder and headed out the door. Pausing to pray in the stairwell, I asked that the Lord would somehow allow me to share effectively with the MIU students. I recalled many times last year when the Lord showed His great faithfulness in equipping me to do what He brought before me.

Arriving at the school a few minutes later, I tried asking a few of the students where the “Management Research Team” was meeting. We tried calling a cell phone of one of the students, but the Lord had orchestrated that right at that point the girl that Tim had talked to on Sunday walked in and was able to bring me to the class.

As it turned out, Leo was very surprised, but delighted to see me! He introduced me to the class, and asked if I could share with the students. Looking around at the 20 or so students around the table, I took the pen knife out of my shirt pocket. (I had felt prompted to grab this as I was going out the door a few minutes earlier.) A pen cap was on the end, concealing the blade.

From all appearances it was just a pen, everyone agreed, until I revealed the small blade inside. “Sincerity”, I began, “is being the same on the inside as we appear to be on the outside.” For the next hour, the Lord enabled me to have a most focused and clear explanation of the first “I will” of sincerity. Personal illustrations came to mind as I shared freely on the importance of choosing our friends and how we spend our free time.

Why is it that some of my best messages are given after the least preparation? Maybe it is that the excellency of the power would be of God, and not of me. (See 2 Corinthians 4:7) God again was showing me that it was not my “skills” but His grace that enables me to do what He sets before me.

Not everything in the Christian life is “smooth sailing.” CTI-Mongolia is no exception. One of our recent challenges has been with getting some paperwork processed for my family to be able to come to Mongolia. As an Non-Government Organization, we were renewing our three-year NGO certificate. Although we had submitted our paperwork over a month prior, our NGO application had still not been processed.

Causing cascading delays on other paperwork that we were trying to process, we were told that we could not apply for a work permit for my Dad until we had our NGO certificate back. A work permit was needed to begin applying for visas for my family, and the rapidly approaching arrival date of June 25th caused no little pressure for Tim and those involved.

It seems that some of the officials in the labor department were concerned about our organization and wanted to know why we keep trying to bring foreign staff to Mongolia. The fact that Tim had appealed to a higher authority several months ago about some other issues seemed to only further strain the relationship.

In America, we are more familiar with just filling out forms and having them accepted or rejected based on clearly defined criteria. Here, it seems that more responsibility is given to the authorities themselves, so this gives them the ability to assign more “homework” if they have concerns about what you are doing.

This also gives a real opportunity for the Lord to work in the heart of our authorities. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” – Proverbs 21:1. This was clearly seen last week as Jedidiah and Cindy appealed to the labor department officials.

After fervent prayer that the Lord would somehow grant us favor in their eyes, Jedidiah and Cindy set out to visit the labor department and ask if we could possibly process my Dad’s work permit while the NGO certificate was being reviewed. Humanly speaking, there was very little hope that our letter from the NGO office, (explaining that we were still being reviewed) would have any effect on the situation. We could almost hear the words, “No. Come back when you have the actual NGO certificate in hand.”

To our great surprise, the official was very friendly with us. He looked over our papers, and said that we could go ahead and submit them for the work permit! Instead of having to translate more letters or obtain further paperwork, the way was opened for us to move forward! Jedidiah and Cindy returned and we all praised the Lord for His working in this situation.

Meeting the next day with the Foreign Affairs Office, things again were able to move forward without further delays. This is a tremendous blessing, saving us the additional time involved, and the added expense of having to expedite things at the last minute. Please continue to pray that the Lord would allow the final details to come together in the next few days.

So many things are happening here! Just this morning I taught the Intermediate English class for our Character – English classes. One of my students looked at me and said, “Adam, are you a Christian?” “Yes, I am a Christian,” I replied with a smile, noticing the little crosses in her earrings. “I am a Christian too.” She said, practicing her English. “I believed in Jesus two years ago.”

I could sense that some of the other students were a little uncomfortable, and one quietly said, “I believe in Buddha.” “That is fine,” I replied with a smile, “our classes are open to everyone.” “We want anyone to be able to come.” I went on to explain that we all need character, no matter what religion we are. (Although I personally believe that we cannot consistently live out good character apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. -See Romans 8:4)

It is exciting to see not only the opportunities that God brings, but also the wisdom He gives in responding to unexpected situations and questions in a gracious way. This, of course, is a big learning experience in itself, but I believe that God wants us to be able to respond graciously when others ask a reason of the hope that lies within us.

There is so much more that I could write about! The Attentiveness training in the Sangalkharkain district last Wednesday could fill an update by itself! But I must bring things to a close here. Thank you again for praying with us! God is truly doing a great work!

Praise Points:

– Praise the Lord for how He worked things out for my family’s work permit and visas! It looks like we will have things finished in time for them to get their visas in the next few weeks before they come.

– Thank you for praying for the training in Sangalkharkain last Wednesday! We had a wonderful day teaching on the character quality of attentiveness, and even the seasoned Police officers were getting involved in the discussions and activities. Byato from World Vision translated for most of the day, and showed great enthusiasm and leadership with the group.

– The Intermediate English classes have been going very well. I have never taught English before, so this has been a new experience for me. The greatest need for the students is for conversation practice, so most of the class consists of encouraging and guiding them as they practice speaking. By speaking slowly in simple sentences, I am able to do most of the class without needing additional translation.

– Thank you for your prayers for the database project with Joshua Reimer! Tim allowed us to take several days to focus on this project, and the Lord allowed us to make some major progress. I hope to send Joshua the updated files next week.

Prayer Requests:

– Pray that the final details of Mongolian visas would come together for my family. It has been exciting to see how the Lord is working in this situation.

– I am expecting the software licenses to arrive sometime early next week, so pray for wisdom as I begin the process of upgrading our computers and setting up a server for our network here.


I found this beautiful flower growing on the side of a mountain that we climbed last Saturday. You can compare its size to the blades of grass around it.

A view of the east side of Ulaanbaatar from a mountaintop. The small mountain near the center of the picture is where tourists usually get a view of the city.

Five of our staff and a Mongolian friend that joined us for the hike.

The CTI team last Saturday. Joshua and Kate returned to their home in Australia on Tuesday, and the Lim family returns to Singapore tomorrow afternoon, reducing the number of staff to 8.

Evening work projects can take various forms, including repairing the latch for the door to our main apartment.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

In Christ,

– Adam

Adam Waller ~

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

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Adam's Updates

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Mongolia! Looking out the window I can see the bright sunshine on the buildings and trees, with a slight haze obscuring the mountains beyond the city. The weather has been a little cool as the heat was turned off for the summer the week I arrived. We even got to see some light snow flurries a few days later.

Quite a lot of things have transpired since my last update, as I am sure you can well imagine. I will just try to share a few highlights from the past three weeks.

The Oklahoma City Training Center was hosting the Oak Brook College of Law graduation the week before I left, so I was glad to be able to help out with the added work load for evening chore time when the guys do the dishes and kitchen cleanup.

Also attending the OBCL graduation was Dr. Bill Gothard, and since no one was flying with him from headquarters, Mr. Jantz asked if I could assist him for the weekend. This was a very good experience for me, although humbling at times. (Like when I forgot to bring the two boxes of books on our visit to the Diamondback Correctional Facility.)

Looking back, I am so grateful for how the Lord loved me so much that he wanted to teach me a very important, although difficult lesson. Having the spiritual gift of serving, I really enjoy working to meet the needs of others. However, there is a subtle danger in seeking approval from those that I am serving, rather than from the Lord.

I can not think of a set of circumstances where the Lord could have more clearly showed me this difference, and while I greatly enjoyed this opportunity to serve Dr. Gothard, there were a couple situations where my inexperience allowed me to fall short of doing what was expected.

The Lord so gently reminded me that whether I am serving Dr. Gothard, or “the least of these,” my focus needs to be on serving as unto the Lord. If I do my very best, the Lord knows my heart, and while I may not always meet every man’s expectation, it is of the Lord that I receive the reward of my labor. Misunderstandings will happen with men, but God will never misunderstand our heart. (See Ephesians 6:5-8, and Colossians 3:22-24)

Visiting the Diamondback Correctional Facility was a most memorable experience! Driving over an hour West of Oklahoma City, we finally caught sight of the prison, far off the road, and just barely peeking over the grassy rise before it. Rows of fencing and razor wire glittered in the sun, securely enclosing the privately owned compound.

Meeting us outside, the chaplain led us through several gates until we reached the office where we presented our photo ID and passed through the metal detector. Stopping to share a brief word of encouragement with some of the staff at the prison, Dr. Gothard inquired a little more about the inmates.

The pod that we were scheduled to meet was comprised of 120 men, all from Hawaii. Most were serving life sentences for second-degree murder, manslaughter, and other serious crimes. Responding to a faith-based initiative, all of these men had watched the Basic Seminar by video, where Dr. Gothard presents seven Biblical principles for life.

So deeply impacted were these men that every single one wrote a letter to Dr. Gothard, thanking him for sharing these truths from God’s Word. They and the chaplains told Dr. Gothard that if he was ever in the area, he had a standing invitation to visit their pod, known at the prison as “The Faith Pod.”

Clearing more security doors, the chaplains paused outside the door to the pod. “You are going to have goose bumps when you come in here.” the told us, and opened the door. Even with this warning, never could I have imagined what we were about to see…

Joyful, radiant faces beamed as shouts, cheers and applause filled the air. Brightly colored streamers and decorations hung from the railing above, and a huge banner proclaimed the seminar motto: “Giving the World a New Approach to Life!” Like a returning hero, Dr. Gothard was ushered to the front of the central area where chairs had been arranged for Dr. Gothard’s address.

The air was electric with enthusiasm and joy as the ovation continued for several minutes. As the men regained their seats, one of the prisoners came to the podium and read a very formal welcome in English, pausing at each paragraph to translate it into his native Hawaiian language. He then presented Dr. Gothard with a Hawaiian lei, intricately crafted from white paper napkins.

The tastefully designed program continued with some songs by a group of the men, sung in English and Hawaiian, and one of men quoted the entire chapter of Romans 6. My eyes traveled across the group, seeing on many faces the visible scars of the past, yet beaming with a joy that only God can give! These men may be behind bars, but they have found freedom inside!

One after another, men came to the podium to share testimonies of God’s work in their life. Often choked by emotion, but strengthened by shouts of “Amen!” “That’s right!” “It’s okay, man!” coming with tender love from their fellows. Tears running down his cheeks, one man shared how he finally sees light at the end of the way.

Others shared of how they have been sharing these truths with their families and loved ones. One man told how his Mother had stopped reading her Bible and almost given up all hope, when he had the opportunity to tell her how his life had been changed -for the better! Another shared how for the first time he saw God’s love in allowing him to go to prison where he learned truths that he might never have heard outside.

Looking around the room, I could see the same cells, doors and gates that were in the other pods, but here something was drastically different. Brightly colored posters with Scripture verses adorned some of the cell doors, character qualities written out on poster board surrounded the room, and a large sign in the center displayed a resolution that the prisoners had written for their pod.

The time went all too quickly. After Dr. Gothard’s address, the men presented him with an honorary “scrub,” a blue shirt like what each of them wear, but signed by all the members of the pod. Crowding around Dr. Gothard, the men personally thanked Dr. Gothard for all that they had learned in the Basic Seminar, and held out Bibles for him to sign.

Many of the prisoners also greeted Isaac and I, and shared how their lives have been changed. One man asked me how his family back home could hear the seminar. We were past our allotted time, and the men reluctantly gathered near the door for some final photographs before we were obliged to leave.

It would be impossible to adequately describe the two hours we spent at the Faith Pod, but it was an experience not to be forgotten. The same power, I had told them, that has transformed their lives, is what enables us to live the Christian life outside.

“You won’t find that in a thousand prisons,” Dr. Gothard commented to us afterwards. Reflecting on the Christian love and joy that we had so clearly sensed there, I wondered if you would find that type of atmosphere in a thousand churches in America today. Sadly, so many churches have left the life-changing power of applying the principles of God’s Word to our lives, and instead have turned to empty activities and worldly entertainment.

Here in Ulaanbaatar, I continue to marvel at the opportunities that God has set before us. A nation with a whole generation of new Christians, hungry for solid Biblical teaching from the Word of God. We don’t have to look for things to do and ways to reach out. We can’t even cover all the invitations and requests that come to us for teaching English, Character and Biblical trainings.

There are so many other things that I could write about, but I must bring this update to a close. Many needs all around us beckon for our time. Pray that the Lord will give us wisdom as we reach out in His love to those around us.

Praise Points:

– Praise the Lord for working out the details of my return to Mongolia. I was able to get a work permit in answer to prayer, and the Lord worked out my flights, in spite of being sent the wrong ticket less than a week before my departure.

– I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a couple weeks in Oklahoma City, just before returning to Mongolia. The Lord greatly blessed the computer project that I was working on, and I was able to have some very good times sharing with Isaac, Rachelle and David. I also greatly enjoyed spending a day in the Oklahoma City schools, teaching Character First! with David.

– The Lord worked out the opportunity for me to attend the university graduation of Nyambayar, Cindy’s cousin that came to Christ last fall. I was encouraged to hear that he would like to meet for more Bible studies together. Pray that the Lord would allow the details of this to come together.

– Joshua Reimer and I visited the Mongolian International University to see about the possibility of using their facility for larger seminars in the days ahead. In the course of the meeting Leo and several other friends from MIU came up to greet me. Leo and a friend invited me to speak at their student club, and it sounds like some other students are working on a proposal for us to teach at their school again.

Prayer Requests:

– We were able to order some (legally licensed) software from a distributor in Russia for a reduced price, due to our status as a Mongolian NGO. Pray that the Lord will give me wisdom in upgrading our computer systems and network here over the next few weeks.

– After a meeting yesterday, we have scheduled a character training in cooperation with Word Vision, a Christian based organization in Mongolia. We are scheduled to teach an all-day seminar to thirty community leaders from some areas of poverty and higher crime rates. Pray that the Lord will use this training in a powerful way, as most of these leaders are unsaved.

– In recent days I have been spending some focused time working on a database project for IBLP Australia. I started this project when I was in Melbourne in 2003, and have been working on it remotely from time to time. It has been a blessing to have Joshua Reimer from Australia here in Mongolia where we can work on it together. Pray that the Lord would bless our efforts and that we would continue to make rapid progress.


Seeing the array of razor wire and fences, it is little wonder that not a single prisoner has ever escaped from the Diamondback Correctional Facility.

A jubilant greeting from the men of the “Faith Pod” as the Chaplain and Dr. Gothard enter the room.

One of the prisoners shares how God has changed his life through the message of the Basic Seminar.

All the men gathered at the end of our visit for a group photo with Mr. Gothard. I was able to drive to the prison the next week, bringing for each of the 120 men two of Dr. Gothard’s recent books.

I found it quite amazing how much clothing you can fit inside a computer.  🙂  Careful packing allowed me to carry three badly needed desktop computers to Mongolia without going over my baggage limits.

Arriving at CTI on the week of a Basic Seminar in English and Russian, an Advanced Seminar and a Children’s Institute, I had the opportunity to help out in some skits for the Children’s Institute. Here a “French Waiter” tries to explain to his friend why we must test what kind of water we drink in the desert.

Nyambayar’s Graduation from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. (Nyambayar is on the left, with Cindy’s brother-in-law on the right.)

I am so grateful for all that God is doing here! – And to hear the exciting reports from back home! Please continue to pray for us as we serve together in this ministry.

In Christ,

– Adam

Adam Waller ~

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

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