Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Tampa, FL

December 3, 2010

I’m in Tampa, FL to preach my elderly uncle’s funeral. He was very sick for some time and now is home with the Lord. This trip to Tampa reminds me of a trip I took there in 1974.  I was a college student on Christmas break. My elderly grandmother lived in Tampa at the time and was very close to death.  I made a quick trip to see her for the last time.  I had never talked with her about her relationship with the Lord but I  had doubts about her salvation.  I asked the family to let me have a few private moments with her before I went back to school.  In those few minutes we talked about her need for Jesus Christ. I still remember portions of the conversation.  After sharing the Gospel message I asked her to put her trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.  She bowed her head in prayer and confessed Jesus as Lord.  As I turned to leave I said, “Grandma, do you know what this means?”  I was expecting her to say something about now being saved and ready for heaven.  Instead, she answered,  “Yes, I know it means a lot to me!” Hallelujah!  It means a lot to me too.

New Book

October 28, 2010

Dear friends,  I sure would appreciate your prayers as I attempt to write a book on the effectiveness of short term missions. The purpose of the book will be to help churches and individuals prepare for short term mission projects.  If all goes well, I hope to have it released in 2011.  It will be a practical, hands-on book written from 15 years of leading mission teams and doing mission work in more than 30 countries. Thanks so much for your prayers. – Rick

More Opportunities in 2011

September 30, 2010
In 2006, I spent the summer in Uganda helping Arise Africa International in any way I could. It consisted of leading Bible studies, fixing computers for their ministry office, building structures for new churches to meet in, and spending time encouraging the small village churches. In my time there, I saw a handful of churches come through Arise Africa’s Guest House for their week of missions. One team came for over a week but spent little time doing actual ministry. What they called “missions” consisted of a short Bible study and a cute puppet show in a small village for three days. The rest of their time was spent sightseeing, white water rafting on the Nile River, and a three day safari. I’m sorry, but that is not missions. That is not the Gospel.

If I’m going to spend thousands of dollars to go overseas on a mission trip then I want to spend every ounce of energy I have to proclaim the Gospel. I want to fly home to the States absolutely exhausted. You wouldn’t expect anything less from this ministry. You give and you sacrifice so that the Kingdom can expand for God’s glory, not for us to go sightseeing. RVM is solely about the advancement of the Gospel.

As I join the RVM team in January, one strategy we want to implement is to partner more with you and your church. I believe that the American church is embracing anew the Great Commission and regaining an urgency for the Gospel (see the Great Comission Resurgence). However, so many churches do not have the resources to take their own mission trips. That’s where RVM can be a blessing. We want to partner with your church to train your team, handle the logistics, plan for the trip, and have Rick Via lead the team. Administration in missions is extremely important for your time overseas to be the most effective. We can help by organizing travel itineraries, booking flights, transportation and lodging, assuring passports, visas, and shots are all in order, assembling interpreters, planning ministry activities alongside missionaries,  and budgeting for travel and ministry. All of these things (and more) go in to a taking a successful, safe, short term mission trip. We believe, by the grace of God, and through much prayer that we can partner with more churches, train more pastors, reach more people, and see more souls come to salvation in Christ in 2011. With your help, your giving, and your prayer, we will see God continue to do amazing things around the world for His glory.

Please continue to pray for Keesha and I as we diligently raise our support in order to come on staff with RVM. If the Lord leads you, we would ask that you commit to support Keesha and I on a monthly basis for one year. You can donate online here. Please pray about how you might partner with us for the sake of the Gospel.

By His Grace,
Jacob Via

Here Comes the Bride

September 23, 2010

On Friday, September 10, I walked my daughter down the isle to present her to a young man as his bride. She had a special glow on her face as we walked arm in arm. For a brief moment I thought about the times I would take her by the arm as a little girl and pretend with her that she was walking down the isle to be married. We would giggle and laugh and then go on to some other silly game. This time it wan’t pretend. This was the real moment when she would become the bride of someone else. She was a radiant bride and she will be a wonderful and godly wife. Her mother and I have prayed for 20 years that the Lord would prepare her and us for this special moment. In His faithfulness He did prepare us all for this blessed event. Thankyou for your prayers and special wishes for her and her husband Jay Ezelle. Jay is studying to be a youth pastor and still has a semester of college left.

One day our blessed Lord will return for His bride, the church. May we be as ready for His return as Joy was on her wedding day. May we be a radiant church, godly and faithful unto Him alone.
Here comes the bride!

After Joy’s wedding our family headed off to the beach for a much needed time of vacation and family connection. Now that we have so many grandchildren, it is quite a crowd when we all get together. There were 29 of us Via’s who invaded the beaches of Nags Head, NC. I’m pretty sure we left a few sand castles still standing when we left. We even got to see the newlyweds for a brief time. Outside of my own relationship with my Savior, the relationship I have with my wife and children is the most important part of my life. How grateful I am that they all know and love the Lord Jesus and are using their lives to honor and serve Him. It’s time to go back home to a busy ministry and busy fall preaching schedule but I carry the special memories of these days together at the beach. Hallelujah. God is good.


The Attitude of Gratitude

August 24, 2010

I have recently been convicted of how little I pause to thank the Lord for all of His goodness in my life, family and ministry. I was reading about a pastor who was preaching to his people on thankfulness. He was preaching from Phil 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.”  He said the more he preached the more he felt convicted of his own lack of thankfulness.  By the end of his message he said he could not wait to tell everyone good bye so he could get on his knees in his study and repent!  I can relate. Even as I read this account, I had to put the book aside and give some thanksgiving to my Lord.

It didn’t take me long to come up with a long list of things to be thankful for. Here are a few things found on my list:

  • My salvation
  • God’s calling on my life
  • My faithful wife
  • My children loving Jesus Christ
  • The privilege of preaching the Word
  • Precious friends who support our ministry
  • My health and strength
  • For souls saved through our ministry
  • For prayer partners who constantly lift me up to God’s Throne of Grace.

So I am asking you…have you stopped to thank Him lately?

Answering God’s Call

August 6, 2010

I wanted to take a moment and share my heart with you about a new venture that God is leading my family and I to. For the last 6 months or so, we’ve been fervently praying about going on staff full-time with Rick Via World Reach Ministries. After much prayer and counsel, my wife Keesha and I feel strongly that this is where the Lord is pulling our hearts. So as of January 1, 2011 I will be stepping down as Communications Director at Richland Creek Community Church and embarking on this new adventure. For those who have been asking, we will not be moving from Raleigh. We don’t feel that God has called us to relocate, at least for now. Serving with RVM allows be to be completely mobile. I could work from home or from India. But for now, we will remain heavily involved in our local church, as every believer should be. We believe in the local church.

Our Family
If you don’t already know us, let me introduce you to my family. I have been married for 3 years to my wife Keesha, the most beautiful, amazing, godly woman I have ever known. She has always faithfully supported and shared my call into ministry. We have 3 beautiful children (yes 3…in 3 years). Ilijah will turn 2 next week, Izabella will turn 1 in October, and we are expecting number 3 to meet us in January. Before you ask the question – No, we don’t know how many children we want. All we know is that we love our family beyond belief and that God continues to bless us with children.

I Believe in Rick Via Ministries
I’ve seen God’s hand at work in this ministry. I’ve seen lives changed, churches planted, pastors trained, and people saved. Rick Via has a heart for the nations and a passion for the Gospel. I have been involved with Rick Via Ministries in some capacity for about 10 years now and have served full-time at my local church here in Raleigh for just over 3 years. With the little ministry experience I have, I have yet to meet a single man with more passion for the lost and more urgency for the Gospel. He is my mentor and my hero. The chance to get to serve in ministry along side him is very exciting for me.

Communications Director
I will come on staff with RVM as Communications Director, developing and organizing all of the marketing and advertising strategies for the ministry as well as continue running all of their website, blog, social networking, and media development. In conjunction, I will begin taking on more administrative responsibilities for the ministry, such as bookings, calendar, public relations, trip planning, etc.

The Strategy
I hope by now you know the heart and vision for RVM is not to be another parachurch ministry pleading for your money. Our heart and vision, as it always has been, is to partner with the local church, not compete with it. We want to partner with your local church in all of its missions and evangelism efforts. RVM is a means by which your church can be trained, equipped, and lead on a short-term mission trip, as well as a means to help you reach the community around you. Rick Via Ministries wants to partner with you in spreading the Gospel to the world, from the neighborhoods to the nations.

This is Nothing New
I’m not coming on staff with RVM with this great new plan to reach the world with the Love of Christ. By the Grace of God, that is what RVM has been doing for 15 years now. I’m merely joining the team to help them do more of that, more of what God has called us to do.

The Days Ahead
My family and I have a long 4 months ahead of us as we strive to fulfill God’s calling on our family. We have the large task in front of us to raise our financial support. We know that God is faithful and know that He will provide for all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. We ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us as we continue to make Him known among the nations.

By His Grace,
Jacob Via

A Tragic Bombing and An Urgent Gospel

July 13, 2010

I was shocked and saddened when I received the news about the terrorist bombing in Uganda. It appears that a terrorist group associated with Al Qaeda bombed two establishments in Kampala on Sunday evening. These establishments were filled with people watching the World Cup soccer match. At the last count there were 74 people killed, including one young American teenager, and many others wounded and injured. There was also an American mission team that was injured in the explosion. This attack has become very personal to me and my family. As you know, I was just in Uganda 2 weeks ago with our team of 28 volunteers. On the last day of our mission, we ate lunch at the mall in Kampala located just next to the restaurant that was bombed. Please join me in praying for all of our missionaries and our Ugandan friends who have been impacted by this tragic event. I’ve been going to Uganda for the last 20 years and these are some of the dearest people on the face of God’s earth. Also, please remember to pray for those who were a part of this vicious bombing. The people who believe in this kind of violence are in deep spiritual darkness. It is a reminder to me that there are always ricks involved in taking the Gospel around the world. Even more reason to take seriously our purpose on this earth. We need a fresh urgency for the Gospel. We live in a dark and dying world, and the mission we have been given by God can’t be taken lightly. I’m so proud of Arise Africa International and our Ugandan believers and missionaries who model this type urgency for the Gospel every day.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
(1 Corinthians 1:3-5)

To all of our Ugandan friends – we want you to know that you are in our prayers and in our hearts. You are not forgotten at this time of sorrow and we are confident that our Lord is still on His throne. As long as He is on His throne, He will bring something good out of this senseless attack.

The Life He Came to Give

July 10, 2010

Last Saturday I was driving home from North Carolina for a speaking engagement. I was about an hour from home when I saw several police cars parked on an overpass bridge. I assumed it was a normal traffic stop until I spotted a man sitting on the guardrail of the bridge looking down on the traffic below. This man was getting ready to commit suicide. The officers were trying to talk him down from the bridge. I stopped to see if I could help. I carefully and slowly approached one of the officers and told him that I was a minister and that I would be available if they needed me. The officer told me that this man had lost his family, his job, everything, and felt he had no reason to live. I got as close as I could without alarming the man and began to pray silently – “Lord please don’t allow this man to jump. He’s not ready for eternity and I’m sure he’s going to jump straight into hell.” I continued to pray and waited close by in case the officers called for me.

The man slowly stood to his feet on the edge of the bridge and made the sign of the cross over his heart. I knew he was about to jump. “Oh Lord, please don’t let him jump!” I prayed. In the next second, as he prepared to leap to his death, a police officer forcefully grabbed his arm and quickly pulled him back over the guardrail to safety. A second longer and this man would have jumped into on coming traffic and certain death. The officers put him in handcuffs and took him off the bridge. The 3 officers approached me and thanked me for stopping – “We knew you were praying. It was only Jesus who enabled us to stop him.”

I wonder how many times in the course of a day we encounter people who think they have no reason to live. May our Lord give us the opportunity to tell them of the life He came to give.

“I have come that you may have life and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Memories of a Mentor

July 2, 2010

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of one of my mentors, Rev. Phil Day. Phil was the pastor who called a long haired hippy boy to be his youth pastor in 1976. I served as his youth pastor for 2 summers. In 1982, that same church would call me to be their pastor as Phil Day resigned. He came along side me for the next year to help me get established in ministry. He was full of encouragement, support, and wisdom. Brother Phil was a pure gospel preacher. He also peached the message at my ordination. The many souls that he lead to Jesus christ will rise up and call him blessed. I also call him blessed for the Godly influence he had on my life. Thank you brother Phil.

Read Rev Phil Day’s full obituary at http://bit.ly/9IOvqA

I Am My Brother’s Keeper

June 3, 2010

My brother, Ray Via, has had to overcome more challenges than most people will face in a lifetime. When he was born, the oxygen was cut off to his brain for about four minutes. This lack of oxygen caused brain damage that would become apparent as he grew older.

At first my parents were told that he had mild cerebral palsy. That diagnosis was later changed to brain damage. The doctors told my parents that Ray would never walk, never talk, never attend school or be able to function normally. My dear mother refused to believe that report. She was on a mission. Over the years of his development, she worked long hours teaching him to walk, talk and read. She made countless trips to speech therapists and social workers to get him every available advantage. Ray learned to do all the things the doctors said that he would never do. Today, Ray still faces challenges, from hearing loss to physical imbalance, yet he manages to live on his own, hold a steady job and even drive himself all over creation.

In spite of his challenges, Ray has a sharp mind in many ways. He has been an avid student of WWII and can name key figures, dates, places and battles with ease. He has a deep love for his family, especially his niece and nephews and his great nieces and nephews. He would drive all day just to spend a brief weekend with them. He has never missed a birthday or a graduation of any of our children. If you ask them, they will tell you that he is the best uncle in the world.

I can still remember the night, while watching a Billy Graham movie, my brother trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. When he’s not working, he loves to travel with me and never meets a stranger in the churches where I preach. He is a blessing to everyone he meets. He takes all the time in the world to spend with family, friends and acquaintances.

Ray has lived a life that the doctors said he never would. He is a walking testimony of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. Whenever I think I have had a hard day, I need to remember that Ray’s day has been harder still because of his physical challenges. Just as our Lord has walked with Ray through his many difficulties, He will walk with you through yours.

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37