The Last of the Last Days

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
by David Miles. Used with permission.

After leaving the Temple complex and crossing the Kidron Valley, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, giving His disciples (and us) an astonishing panorama of the end times (Matthew 24). He forewarns that the time just before His return would be the most difficult and distressing in all of human history. Leading up to those desperate days will be what Jesus refers to as the “beginning of birth pains”: great deception; wars and rumors of wars; earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places (Matthew 24:6-8; Mark 13:5-8; Luke 21:8-11; see also Revelation 6:1-8 concerning the four horses with riders).

These “beginning of birth pains” are followed shortly by: unprecedented natural disasters across the planet; escalating activity of evil spirits, wickedness, immorality, violence and persecution; an increase in lawlessness which “will cause the love of many to grow cold”; widespread apostasy (falling away from the faith); a totalitarian government led by a world leader (Antichrist) and a deceptive religious leader (False Prophet); along with terrors and great signs from heaven. This may not be the scenario we want, but it is what Scripture reveals and is a sad commentary on this generation.

The good news is that in spite of the hatred, betrayal and persecution of Christians, the Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations. The greatest revival in history will occur at this time of tribulation.

Heading To Judgment

While the term “last days” refers to the entire church age since Pentecost, the apostle Paul gives indicators that will proliferate as we near the end of the church age: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness [religion] although they have denied its power. Keep away from such people as these (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

The depths of depravity to which our nation and this world are descending is disheartening to those who love Christ and His Word and cherish truth and righteousness. As our decadent society free-falls into the chaos of unrestrained, out-in-the-open, uninhibited, gratuitous immorality, brutality, sorcery, thefts, lies and profanity—the masses will ignore these prophecies foretold in the book of Revelation and throughout the Old and New Testaments.

As Jesus’ promised return draws near, God’s Spirit is bringing as many to salvation as will heed His beckoning call. God is loving, merciful and long- suffering and has already delayed the unleashing of His wrath. In His desire for people to come to repentance, He is orchestrating increasing and intensifying signs of impending judgments spoken of in Revelation and other prophetic Scripture, intended to bring those who will to repentance while cleansing the earth of the evil that has defiled it.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless (2 Peter 3:9-14).

Open your eyes and you will see clear indications that cataclysmic events are on the horizon, to be meted out to a world that denies its Creator, blasphemes His name, distorts His truth, perverts His ways, disobeys His commandments, rebels against His standards, opposes His Word and persecutes His followers! Unless there is widespread, genuine repentance, this generation is rapidly heading to judgment.

The Rapture

Scripture indicates that Jesus will return for His Bride (true believers) before the Great Tribulation commences, rescuing us from “the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). The Rapture could occur anytime (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) so be ready!

Dr. Ed Hindson, former professor at Liberty University eloquently stated: “‘Nobody knows the time of My coming.’…The point is that nobody knows the time, so don’t waste your time trying to guess the time, be ready all the time because Jesus can come anytime.”

Philippians 3:20-21 encourages us with words of promise as we await the rapture and the transformation of our mortal bodies into immortality: Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Will Christ Find Faith On the Earth?

In His parable of the Woman and the Judge, Jesus asks a relevant question for today’s generation, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The sad reality is that in the case of many supposed Christians the answer will be, “No.” Yet for believers in Christ who love Him, study His Word, look for His coming and are empowered by His Spirit to walk in faithfulness, the answer will be an emphatic, “Yes!”

The question put to you today is: When Jesus Christ returns, will He find faith in you? Are you crying out to God for help and deliverance in the midst of these difficult times or are you looking to someone or something else such as science, technology or New Age techniques to rescue, protect and guide you?

Are You Distressed?

Although Lot was living in corrupt Sodom, God rescued him from its devastating judgment because Lot “was a righteous man who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)” (2 Peter 2:7-8).

The LORD commanded Ezekiel, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst”(Ezekiel. 9:4).

Is your soul tormented? Do you sigh and groan over what is going on in America and the world? Are you sorrowful and remorseful by what you see?

May our hearts cry out: “Come Lord Jesus! No longer let Your name be blasphemed. No longer allow Your truth to be perverted and twisted. No longer allow violence and murders to devastate this nation. No longer let lies and corruption prevail. No longer stand by as sexual immorality and sorcery seduce this generation. May truth and justice triumph! May Your name be exalted in all nations and Your will done on earth as it is in heaven. Come Lord Jesus and establish your kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy!”

The inhabitants of this earth will either fall on their knees in repentance or be brought to their knees in judgment. My continual prayer is: Lord, use me and this ministry to turn the hearts of the people back to You. Help me to prepare them for what is coming and to inspire them to walk in faithfulness until You return!

Lift Up Your Heads

The prophetic book of Daniel states concerning the time of the end: “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand” (Daniel 12:10). While many people waste their time viewing images on the Internet and watching movies laced with violence, immorality and sorcery, others study Scripture and end time prophecy. Who will have discernment as prophetic events continue to unfold?

Jesus said, “Now when these things [signs of His coming] begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). In the day and age we live it is of utmost importance to get our hearts and lives right with the Lord and study His Word— then, no matter what happens, we will have discernment, wisdom, peace, courage and strength in the midst of it.

Be assured, Jesus Christ will come again and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over the entire earth and all creation. Those who have put their faith in Him as the promised Messiah, Savior and Lord, will experience indescribable peace and joy throughout the millennium and eternity!

May all God’s people, with eager anticipation, be “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)!

Salvation: Easy as A-B-C and D

by Bill Rudge

I have experienced hundreds of exciting witness encounters using insight through creative ideas and illustrations. Every encounter has its own approach and conversational style, but the final message is as simple as A-B-C and D:

A – Admit you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. There is nothing you can do to pay the penalty of sin or earn your salvation (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is death, and only God’s righteous, sinless Son could pay that penalty. So, the only solution to your dilemma is to come to Jesus Christ in repentance, receive His free gift of salvation, and accept Him as your Savior and Lord. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

B – Believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead. Just believing in something doesn’t make it true, no matter how sincere you are. Nor is it the intensity of belief that makes something true. It is who and what you believe in that really matters. Jesus said, “…unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). To “believe in” is more than merely acknowledging the reality of Jesus Christ; it means “to trust in and rely on” – a belief that results in committing your life to Him.

C – Confess with your mouth that Jesus died and rose again. Tell others that you have accepted Him as your Savior and Lord. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

When you sincerely act on A, B, and C, something amazing happens. God’s Spirit indwells you and begins to mold you into a new creation. Your name is written in the Book of Life! And when you depart this life, you will be welcomed into God’s eternal kingdom and receive all He has prepared for those who love Him.

D – Demonstrate your faith by growing in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ through regular Bible study and prayer, fellowshipping with other believers, and being a witness to those who do not yet know Him. Demonstrate a changed life as His Spirit and Word transform you, molding you into the person you were created to be.

No Greater Love

Knowing and living for Jesus Christ is a wonderful spiritual journey with life-changing experiences and eternal blessings. Your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will prove to be the wisest, most courageous, and most eternally significant decision you will ever make.

What Is A Christian? – How You Can Know Christ

by Bill Rudge

Believers in Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). The testimony to Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) was so strong in Antioch (the largest city of the Roman province of Syria and a center for missionary activity) that His followers and disciples were identified as Christians (a term of derision in the earliest days of the church meaning “of the family of Christ” but eventually, followers of Christ came to love and adopt this name).

Today, Christian has a much broader and often entirely different meaning than its original use. Many believe
a Christian is someone who merely goes to church, believes in God, lives a good life, or tries to keep the commandments. While it is true that such things as church attendance, water baptism, living a godly lifestyle, and a loving attitude should definitely be marks of a believer, these should never be misconceived as the criteria for someone to become a Christian. We must examine Scripture and, based upon its authority, determine what it really means to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Not by Works

According to Scripture, doing good works or keeping God’s Law does not make someone a Christian. The apostle Paul explains that one of the purposes of the Law in the Tanakh (Old Testament) was to show us that we all are sinners and can never achieve the standards required by God. Because of our sinful nature, we continually fall short of the mark. This dilemma reveals our need for a Savior (Galatians 3:24; John 6:28-29).

But by Faith

It is by faith in Jesus Christ, therefore, that we are saved (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 9:30-33). Nothing
is more tragic than someone pursuing a false hope of salvation through his or her good works when Jesus offers true salvation as a free gift (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9; Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Romans 10:2-4).

Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ is forgiveness available and a restored relationship with
the Father made possible. Only Christ is the perfect sacrifice and substitute that satisfies a holy and just God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 9:22). The animal sacrifices in the Hebrew Scriptures were merely a foreshadowing of the death of God’s Son on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).

So Jesus paid the penalty for our sins; He suffered and died in our place. We don’t have to “perform” for God out of fear and guilt, but are now free to serve and obey Him because we know and love Him (Philippians 3:3-9; Acts 20:24).

Good works done after accepting Christ spring from a heart of gratitude. Because of what the Lord accomplished on the cross, a believer is enabled to do good deeds. These acts are the fruit and result of salvation, not the cause of
it (James 2:14-26; Acts 26:20). The Bible is clear. We are not saved by dead faith (James 2:17) nor by dead works (Hebrews 6:1; 9:14), but by a living faith which results in “love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

We cannot expect to be accepted by God because of our own goodness. Romans 3:23 points this out emphatically: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This does not mean that we cannot do good, but according to God’s standard of righteousness, we all miss the mark.

In all the religions of the world, there are people seeking to establish their own righteousness to earn salvation. In Biblical Christianity, however, it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ which makes possible salvation as a free gift, through faith, to those who will receive it (Romans 1:16-17). Peace with God has been made possible by His own provision (Romans 5:1).

Religion vs. Relationship

The world is filled with religions, but salvation is found only in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:11- 12). Religion is an attempt to reach God through human effort, traditions and ideas, but true Christianity is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion is what one does for God, but salvation is what God has done for us (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Know the Lord

I was buying blueberries one day when the young woman selling them told me about the recent death of
her father. She was still grieving, so I asked if her father knew the Lord. I wanted to gain some insight in an attempt to provide her some hope and encouragement. She said, “Yes, he made his peace with God.” I asked, “How about you?” She informed me she went to church but was not close to the Lord.

I said to her, “You can tell me about your father and even show me pictures, and although I can know all about him, I will never have a personal relationship with him like you had.” I continued, “Most people who go to church know about God like I would about your father, but God wants us to know Him in the personal way you knew your father.” Her eyes lit up as she told me that this is what she desired. After prayer, she hugged me, tears streaming down her face. She said, “This was not a chance meeting; I was meant to talk to you.”

Scripture teaches that we must know the Lord by having an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A Christian is someone who has a restored relationship with God the Father through a personal faith and acceptance
of His Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross. True Christianity is not a lifeless, external form of religion, but a living, vital, personal relationship with the Creator of the universe who is knowable and seeks to be known.

The qualifying factor for us to be pardoned by God’s forgiveness and declared righteous by Him is that we “believe in” the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31). To “believe in” means to be persuaded of, and hence, to trust in, rely on, and be faithful to. To “believe in” is not merely acknowledging the reality of Christ, but a belief that results in your accepting His provision of salvation, having confidence in Him as the only way of salvation, and committing your life and eternal destiny to Him. It means trusting Him as your Savior and obeying Him as your Lord.

New Creation

Jesus informed Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, that one could not see or enter the Kingdom of God without spiritual rebirth (John 3:3). One must be “born again” or “born from above.” Second Corinthians 5:17 says:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This does not mean that once you accept Christ you become perfect and no longer sin. It does mean that your attitude of rebellion and self-centeredness begins to change to one of obedience and Christ-centeredness. You begin growing and maturing in this new life as you develop a whole new way of thinking and acting. As you yield and submit to Jesus Christ through obedience to His Word and Spirit, He begins to mold and direct your life. He starts working in and through you to fulfill God’s ultimate goal for your life – being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

How good it is to know that your new birth is only the beginning of your new relationship with the Lord and the commencement of a continual growth process in your new life. You now have the assurance from Scripture that God “is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13), and that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

The Book of Life

This world is not all there is to life. Jesus Christ will return as the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords. You can either come to know Him as Savior and Lord
in this life or meet Him as Judge in the afterlife. Those who ignore or reject God’s provision of salvation—Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God—will be eternally separated from God’s presence. Those who receive Him will not come into judgment, but will pass through death into life (John 5:24; John 3:16).

When you accept God’s free gift of salvation your name is written in the Book of Life. Have you committed your life to Jesus Christ? Is your name written in the Book of Life? Revelation chapters 21 and 22 give a glimpse of the incredible things in store for those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ!

Experience His Reality

Years ago, by God’s grace, I chose to commit my life to Jesus Christ. Making a 180-degree turn, I began following Him as Savior and Lord. It is called repentance – dying to self and living for Christ. I asked His forgiveness for my life of rebellion and sin, and I acknowledged His rightful position as Lord of my life. I obeyed His Word by being baptized and developed a consistent life of Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. I strive to live for the Lord with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my strength.

You, too, can have new life in Christ. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. As one whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you will inherit all that God has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word. Once you experience a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ, you will want to grow in this new relationship and begin uncovering the depths of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him and His Word.

I do hope you will join me and the millions of others throughout history whose lives have been dramatically changed through the transforming power of the resurrected Christ. Surrender your life to Him today. Experience His peace and the joy that transcends your circumstances – and have hope for the life to come.

Are the Gospels Reliable?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Is there credible evidence that the Bible is a reliable source of divine revelation? Does the Bible speak accurately on all subject matters or is it only authoritative in regard to spiritual issues? How can you trust the Bible when it was written two thousand years ago? How do you know that the Bible is not full of myths and fabrications? Are the canonical Gospels historically reliable documents on the life of Jesus?

It seems anytime I talk to others about the Christian faith I end up hearing one of these questions. For example, I was able to speak with an airline pilot about the evidence for the Christian faith. Although he claimed to be a Christian, he was uncertain about the accuracy of events recorded in the Gospels since they were written years after they actually occurred. He felt the Gospels were probably the result of men and women bringing together different legends and myths about Jesus of Nazareth.

There are numerous reasons we can appeal to in establishing the historical trustworthiness of the canonical (sacred books officially accepted as genuine) Gospels, including:

• The canonical Gospels are grounded in eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4; John 19:35). The authors claim
to have had actual contact with the events themselves (Matthew and John) or they had firsthand knowledge of the events through the testimonies of those who did (Mark and Luke).

• The Gospels were written too close to actual events surrounding the life of Jesus to be legend. The fact that they were in existence during the lifetime of both hostile and non-hostile eyewitnesses would have prevented fabrications or falsifications on the part of the Gospel writers.

External evidence, such as archeology, has verified the accuracy of the New Testament Gospels in regard to what they say about historical people, places, and events.

Consider just the following two examples: First, all of
the canonical Gospels record that Jesus was put on trial before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Matthew
27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18-19). Since there was no mention of Pontius Pilate outside the Gospel accounts, many scholars questioned whether Pilate was a historical person. Two Italian archeologists answered this question when they unearthed an inscription in Latin at the port city of Caesarea which stated, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans.”

Second, three of the canonical Gospels mention Nazareth as the city where Jesus was raised (Matthew 2:23; Luke 4:16;
John 1:45). Since the Old Testament, Josephus, and the Talmud do not list Nazareth among the villages and cities of Galilee, Nazareth was considered by many scholars to be a fictitious city. However, in an excavation at Caesarea in 1962, a Hebrew inscription was found, “which mentions it (Nazareth) as one of the places in Galilee to which members of the twenty-four priestly courses emigrated after the foundation of Aelia Capitolina in A.D. 135.”

Adding to this discovery, first-century tombs were uncovered around the vicinity of Nazareth, which has led archeologists to conclude that, “… Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period.” So archeology continues to demonstrate the canonical Gospels are consistent with what we know about first-century Israel.

A true examination of the evidence has proven that the canonical Gospels on the life of Jesus are historically reliable and allegations to the contrary are false. The canonical Gospels provide us with four different accounts on the life of Jesus. In these accounts, while the authors may stress different aspects of Jesus’ life and have different purposes for writing, they each present harmonious historical information about Jesus of Nazareth.

Memories of Aunt Lucy

Mary Green, a longtime supporter of BRM and the mother of Ann Ore who is on staff at the ministry, went home to be with the Lord recently. A few months ago, Mary had sent us the following note and the poem, Faith (following note):

Dear Bill and Karen,

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your newsletters, and how much I learn from them. This has been a very difficult time for many people, but it is during the stressful times that we grow in our understanding of God’s Word and in growing closer to Him, so I can be thankful for them.

Enclosed is a poem entitled Faith, written by my dearly loved Aunt Lucy. She had a difficult life. She lived in a log cabin with no electricity or running water. I have so many happy memories of times spent on that farm. Aunt Lucy always sang hymns as she worked in her garden or worked around the house. Her book of poetry is called “Dream Petals” and many were written during World War II. May God be with you both. I continue to pray for you, your family, and your ministry.

Mary Green, New Jersey

Faith

by Lucy Morgan Johnson

If oft affliction I must bear,
I do not mind, for God is there
To strengthen me with faith anew,
To bear my cross, and weakness too.

Should darkness hide me from His sight,
My faith will be a guiding light;
To feel, and know that He is near,
To lead me when life’s way seems drear.

When pain and shadow ’round me loom
That faith will help me pierce the gloom
And it will be a beacon light,
To guide me safely through the night.

And should my path be rough and steep,
I pray that faith will help me keep
Life’s weary way without a sigh
To feel that God is ever nigh.

My future though I cannot see,
Faith makes it seem so real to me;
With hope, my bright and shining star,
Enriched by love, that gleams afar.

May my affliction be for me
Stepping-stones, to eternity;
And may I ever understand,
That faith is but my Savior’s hand.

And when life’s sun is sinking low,
That faith will light my way to go;
And when the veil of death is drawn,
My soul will rise to greet the dawn.

If dark the way, I will go on,
With faith to meet the coming morn,
And know that when night’s shades have flown,
I’ll see the sun rise o’er God’s throne.

Do You Have a Vision?

Through Scripture and prayer, God’s goals and vision you will conceive…

With all of your heart trust the Lord and believe…

Persevere in faith till fulfillment of His promise you receive…

Through the witness of your life those fallen away you will retrieve…

Then keep serving the Lord till this world you leave.

Bill Rudge

Regrets and No Regrets

There are three things for which I have no regrets. Ironically, they are the same three things for which I have some regrets.

First, for my faith in Christ and relationship with Him. I have no regrets for the many years I have been a committed follower of Jesus Christ. But I do have regrets for the years before I accepted Him and the choices I made, which although they did not destroy me – left their marks.

Second, for the time and relationships I have with my close and extended families. I have no regrets for the wonderful times I have had with my children, grandchildren, other family members and friends. They have blessed me in countless ways. But I do regret not having more time to spend with them. I guess I will have to wait until the Millennium and Eternity, when there will be no time restraints or hindrances for these amazing relationships.

Third, concerning my health. I have no regrets for living a life of discipline concerning nutrition and exercise. But I do regret the many years I was a junk food junkie and abused my body and health in so many ways. I am blessed to have regained my health in my 30s and hope to maintain it until I go to be with the Lord.

~ Bill Rudge

The Miracle Continues – God’s Amazing Provision and Protection


While most people thought the goals and vision of Bill and Karen Rudge could never be achieved, Bill and Karen believed God would fulfill what He led them to do. In August of 1977, while in their mid twenties, God led them to start a unique ministry that was destined to become an international outreach. With no money or facilities, they began an incredible journey of faith.

Many of you are witnesses of the miraculous ways the Lord has worked in and through their lives and ministry. You know about the “giants”– the impossible circumstances and obstacles the Lord has enabled them to overcome.

Some of you were there when God literally stopped the rain and thunderstorms from preventing ministry events and outreaches. Others of you observed God’s mighty hand of protection as you traveled with Bill to mission fields or on other dangerous ventures.

Most of you are aware of the numerous times, over the years, Bill and Karen were in need of a financial miracle or when they stepped out in faith to begin building projects. Some of you were eyewitnesses to the astonishing ways the Lord provided the land and enabled the building of two ministry centers primarily with the help of volunteers and without paying any interest. Most of you have read about; some of you can verify and attest to, miraculous interventions the Lord did in seemingly impossible situations (see Bill’s book, Overcoming Giants).

Many of you remember that in spite of the previous ministry building being unsold, Bill and Karen stepped out in faith and constructed a new facility. Then, on the very day they began moving items into the completed new facility, the former ministry center was sold.

As a crucial part in God’s provision for the needs of this ministry during its 42 years of existence, you have enabled this dream of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth to become a reality. But it is one thing to dream, and quite another to live by faith day after day and year after year – often confronting overwhelming obstacles. Yet, Bill and Karen have dared to trust the Lord, walk in obedience to His Word, be led by His Spirit, and persevere in faith and determination until His purposes were fulfilled.

Divine Protection

Throughout their lives, Bill and Karen have witnessed the Lord’s protection in some incredible ways:

• Bill nearly froze to death in New Mexico less than a week before his conversion – but God dramatically rescued him.

• As a brand new Christian, a car battery exploded in his face – a miracle he was not blinded. (Years later, Bill’s youngest brother was told by a woman who witnessed the explosion, “Your brother should be blind!”)

• Shortly after start of Bill Rudge Ministries, Karen’s life-threatening liver disease suddenly disappeared.

• A shattered left ankle in the early days could have wiped out various aspects of the ministry such as Bill’s fitness and defense classes, school demos, soccer training and the obstacle course.

• Bill and Karen’s then two young children and three of their friends became separated from a group and wandered the streets of New York City by themselves for hours.

• An attempted abduction of their preteen daughter was thwarted by a friend who pulled her free from a man trying to drag her into a van.

• Armed guards in Jordan threatened to abduct their 13-year-old daughter from a bus.

• Bill has been in several near-tragic accidents, including a violent four-vehicle collision with his family while traveling through Oregon following a speaking engagement in British Columbia.

• Bill clearly heard a voice say “Stop!” as he began to pull into an intersection in Jackson Center seconds before a semi-truck whizzed by within a few feet of his vehicle.

• Placing his hand on the door handle of his vehicle in the middle of the night, leaving to meet with a former prisoner who called for help, Bill distinctly heard the word “Ambush.” He fell on his knees and prayed, then continued alone to what proved to be a set up from which only God could have delivered him.

• In Nigeria, Bill and his assistant were surrounded by 15 agitated and aggressive street people.

• In Haiti, Bill, his son, and two other team members were surrounded by approximately 40 hostile Haitians leaving a voodoo ceremony late at night.

• Over the years, Bill has traveled in several Middle East countries during threatened attacks against U.S. citizens.

• The first female suicide bomber detonated herself at the exact site Bill and his associates had stood just 23 hours earlier after speaking to a Messianic congregation in Jerusalem.

• Bill and his 13-year-old son were nearly struck by a speeding bus in the mountains of northern India: It slid to a stop just two feet in front of them.

• Bill was nearly shot during a conflict at a cult complex in West Virginia where later remains of murdered bodies were found.

• While leading a feared voodoo witch doctor to the Lord, Bill, the interpreter, and the witch doctor were supernaturally protected from being attacked by three angry men armed with machetes and a lead pipe.

• The vehicle in which Bill, his son-in-law, nephew, and Indian host were traveling came within inches of going over the edge of the Himalayan mountains.

• Bill and two others were smuggled in and out of a country where it was forbidden to share the Gospel under penalty of prison or death.

• Karen and Bill faced great peril when trapped in the California wildfires.

• Karen was diagnosed with cancer fifteen years ago and told she only had five years to live.

• Bill was bitten by a brown recluse spider – one of the most poisonous in the United States. Trapper John said, “Everyone I know who has been bitten by a brown recluse spider lost all or part of a limb or has a hole in their leg or arm. Bill does not have even a mark on his finger. It is truly a miracle.”

• Greg Callahan sent Bill a letter concerning an incident that happened when they were youths at B Street Playground in Sharon. He wrote:

Tonight as I was reading your book it came back to me about when you had a card game where you would flip cards and bet you knew which card was mine. Well, you got me. But what truly puts a tear in my eye is that we used to stack those picnic tables three high and play cards on top of the third one. They were large and heavy picnic tables which took several guys to move. One day you and I were sitting on one side of the picnic table stacked three high and somehow it went tumbling over. Those tables had to weigh at least a couple hundred pounds and we fell quite a ways. We were both sitting with our feet under the table so that when it fell there was no way out! When we hit the cement floor the seat hit first so that we didn’t get crushed. It just amazes me that we could have been killed or crippled all those years ago, but by the grace of God nothing happened and here we are today.

The Lord’s Assurance

Early in his ministry the Lord assured Bill that his life would not be taken until God’s purpose was fulfilled. Bill has faced life threatening situations throughout his ministry and during many of his adventurous mission trips to dangerous countries throughout the world. He has often been in potentially explosive situations: Threatened, surrounded, attacked; had spells put on him – even “prophecies” for his destruction. But the God of the Bible has either given him the wisdom for how to deal with them, or has intervened to protect him.

He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones. Proverbs 2:7, 8

This does not mean we will never be injured, attacked, or even lose our lives, but the Lord will be with us and bring ultimate victory out of every adverse circumstance.

What More Shall We Say?

Time and space does not permit us to tell of all the miraculous events initiating our radio ministry and military outreaches; or the amazing way God used Gabriel (General Secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Churches of India) to open doors to begin our international outreach (precisely 10 years from the start of the ministry) fulfilling exactly Bill’s initial goals and vision for the ministry.

Nor does it permit us to tell (in this issue) of how the Lord enabled Bill – at no financial cost to the ministry – to fulfill the goal of blitzing the world with the Gospel in 2000. Or of many other astonishing feats and exploits the Lord has done through this ministry.

Those who honor Me I will honor. 1 Samuel 2:30

From the very beginning of this ministry, Bill and Karen’s desire has been to honor the Lord. As a result, God’s blessings (along with the difficulties) have far surpassed anything they might have imagined.

This journey is testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness. The Lord has protected, provided and fulfilled everything He has led them to do. These, and other miraculous events are recorded in a history of the ministry notebook entitled The Impossible. A future book will share in more detail these amazing accounts of what the Lord has accomplished in making the impossible possible.

In sharing these highlights we want to encourage you, to build your faith and to testify of the faithfulness of our God. As the apostle Paul said in Romans 15:17, 18:

Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me….

Don’t compare yourself to others or attempt to imitate them. Just follow the path the Lord has for you.

God desires you to…

accept Him as your Savior,

be committed to Him as LORD,

dare to step out in faith,

trust Him when facing impossible circumstances,

have hope in Him in the midst of tragedy,

honor His name in the face of adversity,

obey His Word in spite of ridicule,

stand as a bold witness for Jesus Christ and the Bible,

be sensitive to the leading of His Spirit,

persevere in faith and determination until His purpose is fulfilled, and

remain faithful until He returns.

– Bill Rudge

The “Great” Escape

by Bill Rudge

God in the Wildfires – Part 1

The neighborhoods and mountains were devastated as if by an atomic blast! Charred mountains and canyons lay as far as the eye could see. Over 3,500 houses were destroyed – most reduced to rubble and ash – along with ranks of burned cars and trucks, their windshields blown out. Billows of smoke blackened the daytime sky. Black soot covered everything in sight, creating a lunar landscape as out-of-control wildfires, exacerbated by Santa Ana winds, devastated an area equal in size to the state of Rhode Island.

The Rudges had just returned from ministering at US Army and Air Force bases in Germany and were in Southern California for further ministry when they found themselves under a mandatory evacuation order due to California’s most devastating wildfire in history. Shifting winds caused the raging flames to cut off many escape routes. Some people had already died trying to flee when the intense heat overtook them. Others lost all their worldly possessions in homes that had no insurance and faced an uncertain future. We prayed that daughter Tabitha’s home, which was in harm’s way, would be protected.

In the midst of this chaos, our faithful God provided not only a way of escape but avenues for ministry. Over the next two weeks, Bill Rudge had opportunities to minister to hundreds of people as a Red Cross Chaplain not only at several evacuation centers but also at the sites of their burned homes. He freely gave out hundreds of his books and audio messages to the fire victims who requested and received them gladly.

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Tabitha and Clayton’s neighborhood during the wildfires.

It was a beautiful and peaceful evening on Saturday, October 25, 2003 at my daughter and son-in-law’s home in Alpine, California – about 30 miles east of San Diego. As it was the last weekend in October, we turned the clocks back one hour before retiring. About 3 a.m. Sunday morning Tabitha woke me because the Santa Ana winds were gusting up to 70 mph – blowing the outside furniture and toys away.

There had been no significant rainfall in Southern California for over six months, creating perfect weather conditions for fire.

Glimpse of Revelation

In the morning, I went outside and saw billows of smoke to the north, west and south; looking as if atomic bombs had exploded! The sky became pitch black; the sun appeared red – it seemed like Armageddon. On a smaller scale I caught a glimpse of what it will be like all over the world during the Tribulation.

My son-in-law, Clayton, a California Highway Patrolman (CHP), had been out working the fire areas from Saturday night to Sunday morning and was exhausted. (He threw up three times from smoke inhalation.)

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Tabitha and Clayton’s house during the California wildfires.

As the fires burned ever nearer to their house, I stepped out in Tabitha’s driveway several times and raised my hands to the Lord, asking Him to spare this house because it was used for ministry purposes. At about 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 26, Clayton decided to take his family to Rich and Sunday Miller’s house in Mission Bay (on San Diego’s coast). I’d wanted to stay on at the house but Clayton insisted we follow in his car.

My son-in-law, daughter and two young grandchildren led out heading to Interstate 8 West. Karen and I followed in a 1995 Neon with a gas gauge that was not working – their two dogs in the backseat.

Only a few miles into the trip, Tabitha informed me they’d left the gas on at the house. I said I’d go back (in spite of Clayton’s warning not to do so) but wanted Karen to go with them. She insisted, however, on staying with me. At this point the flames were burning within 100 feet from where we stopped on the freeway. And I was about to learn an important lesson: Do not turn around!

Back at the house, I turned off the gas and closed all the windows, which Tabitha had opened because of the high winds earlier. Thank the Lord I did, or they would have sustained soot and smoke damage throughout the house. Meanwhile Karen heard on the news that I-8 was now closed to the west and fires were burning all over San Diego County.

We decided to stay and I got both dogs out of the car. Twenty minutes later, I saw an orange glow and flames just over the hill from Tabitha’s house. I went out in the driveway and again raised my hands to the Lord asking Him to spare this house.

Thirty minutes later, the Sheriff came through the neighborhood announcing a mandatory and immediate evacuation. I loaded Molly in the car but was unsuccessful in corralling Niki – a huge Siberian husky. After five minutes of chasing him around we had to leave. I prayed the Lord would somehow protect him. Firefighters and neighbors at the end of Tabitha’s street told us not to expect anything of our neighborhood to be left.

The Detour

We were uncertain of where to go and even how to get there. The only place the fires were not yet burning was to the east, taking us farther from our daughter and her family.

It took us one hour to go merely a quarter mile in bumper-to-bumper traffic while leaving Alpine. Clayton told me via cell phone to leave his car and RUN because the flames could quickly overtake us from the unpredictable winds that were gusting up to 70 mph. He said people had been incinerated while trying to escape in their cars. Since we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, he told me to take his gun from the trunk, strap it around my shoulder and abandon the car. But where could we go without a car? So we stayed with the car.

The sky was ominous with billows of smoke. Fleeing the approaching wildfires, traffic was often at a standstill so you could get out of your car. I told people we met that we were catching a glimpse of Revelation and that the Biblical account is accurate regarding its description of destruction on earth during the Tribulation (Joel 2:30, 31; Revelation 6:12; 8:7, 11, 12).

I had recently read Fox’s Book of Martyrs and also had watched videos about Christian martyrs such as John Huss and others who were burned at the stake or tortured with fire, so I had vivid mental pictures of what fire and smoke could do to humans.

Karen was crying and calling BJ and Tabitha and other family members to say goodbye. However, I assured them I had total peace and knew the Lord would keep us safe and also protect Tabitha and Clayton’s house. Looking back though, it appeared to us that Tabitha’s house was in flames and smoke! We prayed several more times that the house would be spared.

In one moment, it seemed Karen and I were safe, secure and comfortable; yet in the next moment we were fleeing for our lives – without food, water, shelter or a bed.

Still caught in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, hot ashes were falling all around us and our eyes and lungs were burning from smoke. Once again, I assured Clay and BJ that we would be safe. Tabitha was very upset because she felt she’d sent us back to her house. Unable to go west, we headed east in hopes of reaching the home of Sue and Doug, friends of Tabitha who told her we could stay with them.

When we finally got out of Alpine and onto 8 East we saw a woman standing along the freeway near a motor home. She looked distraught and was staring back at Alpine watching the fire. Karen and I stopped and stood with her. She had fled Alpine when the canyons around her house burst into flames; she was certain her brand new house had burned to the ground. Her husband had gone back to get their truck, which was loaded with personal items. I prayed with her that her husband and house would be safe. About a minute after praying she was elated to see her husband drive up in the truck.

Sue and Doug, whose house we were hoping to reach, lived in Mt. Laguna in Cleveland National Forest, about 25 miles east of Alpine. It was dark by the time we drove the last ten miles to their house in the mountains – on unfamiliar winding roads.

We faced several other challenges. Our cell phone battery was dying but Karen tried one more time to call Sue for her address. As soon as Karen got it, the phone went dead! Although the gas gauge was not working, we knew we were almost out because Clayton kept a record of his mileage so he would know when to fill up. With electricity out (no street or house lights) it was pitch-black in the mountains. I stopped at a fire station near Sue’s house to call and ask her husband to stand at their road with a flashlight so we could find them.

Sue and Doug were using candles to light their house and were hosting another displaced couple. In the course of the evening Sue asked me how I came to faith and we all talked together for over an hour as I shared my testimony.

Early the next morning, I felt led to drive back to Alpine. I wanted to check on Tabitha’s house, then make our way the 30 miles west to Miller’s, but knew it would be difficult since so many roads were closed. The thick smoke made daylight seem like night.

At their insistence, we left Molly (who looked like a coyote) at Doug and Sue’s in case we had to walk to Alpine because of blocked roads or if we ran out of gas.

We wound our way down the 10 miles of mountain roads and then took U.S. Route 80 heading west. However, seven miles from Alpine, this highway was closed as well as 8 West. Taking the only road left open, sent us south toward the nearby Mexican border. I was concerned that should the road take us into Mexico, having a gun in the trunk could mean life imprisonment there. Not knowing the road, we were relieved to finally see a sign indicating 16 miles to Alpine, so we continued on. Ours was the only vehicle on the road.

About four miles from Alpine, airborne ash and smoke were so thick, I thought we might have to turn back, yet I knew that could be dangerous too. I expected our tires to melt at any moment as hot ashes rained down all over and around us. I apologized to Karen for getting her into this if anything should happen, but still felt the Lord would get us through. Then in the distance – out of nowhere – I saw three pickup trucks and followed them right into Alpine! A few hours later, the entire area through which we’d just driven was consumed by fire – as we would have been if we had run out of gas or broken down.

Alpine was abandoned except for a few vehicles. It looked like a ghost town. As we drove down Tabitha’s road we prayed their house would still be standing. From a distance I saw that it was! We rejoiced and thanked God. It was covered with ash, but untouched by the fire. We were elated to see Kacy Magnett, Tabitha’s good friend and one of our volunteer staff, pull up to Tabitha’s house with her daughter. They had slept in their house last night in Alpine since her husband Terry could not get home because I-8 was closed. Niki the dog was also safe, taking refuge in a storm drainage pipe.

We could not stay in Alpine because the air was still too thick with smoke and ash so we got on I-8 going west and met Clay at the CHP office in El Cajon to switch vehicles and give him his gun and belongings. Clay hugged me three times.

After leaving Tabitha’s and while on 8 West, helicopters flew 100 feet overhead dropping water on burning fires. The smoke was very thick all the way for 30 miles from Alpine west to San Diego. (The hazardous air quality lasted for days.)

Rich and Sunday hosted thirteen people (including two pregnant women and three toddlers), two cats and two dogs in their home which at that time only had three bedrooms and one bath.

Full Circle

The one road in and out of the mountains which we had traveled to stay the night was shut down the very next day due to fire. It would have taken us two or more days to get to the Miller’s if we’d had to go another way.

I was scheduled to fly to Pennsylvania on Monday but my flight was cancelled. On Tuesday I went to a one-hour Red Cross training for volunteers, followed by a one-hour chaplain training session.

The people of California and the Red Cross workers were amazed that being from Pennsylvania, a refuge of the fire myself and staying at a temporary shelter, I should serve as chaplain to other fire victims. Truly, the Lord orchestrated this ministry opportunity. Some of the people affected by the California wildfires had, a few years earlier, come east to help at the 9/11 terrorist site. Now I was able to return the favor.

On Wednesday I took eight hours of Red Cross Mass Care Training. KC Hutter, owner of Dirt Cheap Car Rental, gave me free usage of a yellow convertible Mustang. (I wanted something more conservative but she insisted I “deserved” this vehicle.)

On Thursday we moved back into Tabitha’s house. With no telephone service or electricity, we had to throw out all the food in the refrigerator. We had a cell phone, but no way to charge it.

That same day, Karen and I went down Stagecoach Road to see Susan (the woman we’d met on 8 East when the canyons around her house were burning). She was overjoyed to see us, and we were overjoyed to see that her beautiful new house was still standing. The fire came within 20 feet of it and the canyon burned on three sides, but her house remained untouched. I gave her a copy of my book, Faith Through the Fire and a pamphlet copy of my testimony which she enthusiastically received.

During the following days I had hundreds of ministry opportunities. Next month I will share some of the amazing stories and exciting opportunities during the devastating wildfires.