His World on My Heart

September 27, 2010 by

This past week I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with people from three different countries. One was a young man from Macedonia, a young lady from Romania and a student from Jamaica. It was such a joy to put the Word of God into their hands and pray that the Spirit of God will draw them to our Savior.

All of us are familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” But verse 17 says, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” In two verses of Scripture, the word “world” appears four times. God has a world on His heart. He has also put that world on our hearts. Will you partner with our ministry to help us take the Gospel to the world that Jesus died to save? We can’t do it without your help.

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Here Comes the Bride

September 23, 2010 by

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 by

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 by

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

Adding New Staff

August 3, 2010 by

The Lord continues to open doors for us to advance the Gospel in many places around the world. At the same time, I am aware that it takes a larger staff to get the work done the Lord has called us to do. I have been praying for several years about the possibility of bringing my youngest son Jacob on our staff. After much prayer and counsel, he has agreed to join our ministry full-time beginning January 1, 2011. He will be assisting our ministry in communication, outreach and evangelism. He has specialized experience in ministry development. I am so excited about having him partner with us in advancing God’s Kingdom.

He will have the responsibility of raising the financial support for him and his family just as we have had to do. Please join us in praying that all of his needs will be met as he becomes a part of RVM. If you are able to help financially with this new venture, we would be ever so grateful. Let’s take the Gospel to the whole world while we still have time. Matthew 24:14 says, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world…and then the end will come.”

Fifteen Years and Counting

August 1, 2010 by

Today, August 1, marks our fifteenth anniversary for RVM.  August 1, 1995 was my first day as a full-time evangelist. It is hard for me to believe that fifteen years have come and gone. What an amazing ride it has been. When we first started,  I had no idea that the Lord would open the doors for us to preach the Gospel all over the world. In those early days, I was actually wondering where our support was going to come from. But during the years, the Lord has raised up an incredible support team for our mission.  We have been able to partner with preachers, missionaries, churches and other mission organizations to take the Gospel into thirty-nine different countries.  We have been able to share the Gospel with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists,  and Atheists.  I have preached in churches that have ranged from 20 members to 2000 members. I remember one particular week I preached to 17 people in a small country church and the following week I preached to 1700 people in a large growing community.  In every case, the Lord has been faithful to supply our needs, to open the doors and give us the opportunity to proclaim His love and forgiveness through our Lord Jesus Christ.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I know who holds our future.  I am excited about the possibilities of taking the Word of God into new and unreached areas in the days ahead. May our Lord be greatly glorified and His Gospel proclaimed in the next days of this ministry.

A Tragic Bombing and An Urgent Gospel

July 13, 2010 by

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.

Video from Buudo

July 12, 2010 by

On June 21, 2010, we told you about a woman with gangrene in the village of Buudo, Uganda (via our Facebook Page). Our doctors estimated only a few days to live. We were able to transfer her to the hospital in town. Praise the Lord she will survive! This is her video.

The Life He Came to Give

July 10, 2010 by

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)

From Carissa Drauss

July 3, 2010 by

We’ve been home for one week now…. Ask me if “real life” has hit me yet? Ok… no. It hasn’t. Frankly I hope that it never does. God did such an amazing work in my heart and life…. I hope it never fades away. I fear that being back and being surrounded by “stuff” will drown out the Voice that I heard so clearly when I was in Uganda.

This past weekend at church, I noticed that I now have beautiful footage in my heart and mind to go along with worship. For example, when I read in Psalm “He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth,” I noticed that I now have visions of Deborah – a beautiful Ugandan woman who had gangrene so bad that her leg may need to be amputated- but I’m told that she had her arms lifted to the Lord! Presumably she was praising Him because she trusted Him and He sent our nurses! She worshiped and praised Him despite the fact that she was in tremendous pain and staring death right in the face. Deborah is a true testament and example of what we are supposed to be.

There were so many stories like this- so many beautiful people. People who trusted and loved the Lord simply- purely- with a genuine love. A humble love. I pray that I will not only experience that kind of love here in the US, but that I may continue to be a vessel for Jesus’ love here. I pray that I don’t get mired in the stuff of “self” or frozen in fear or concerned with what people think. I am often so worried about what people think! I can’t be like that anymore. I am God’s! I must submit and surrender completely to Him so that He can use me – so that He can help me BE the love.

It was so cool to be able to feel Jesus giving me His soft eyes filled with love to look at these people with! Also, I had never shared the Gospel or my testimony or walked with anyone as they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior – but I was so blessed to have had that opportunity on this trip! It was so wonderful to feel connected to the Source and Sustainer and to be used by Him in that capacity!

Also – I have a quick note about our team – our God-breathed RVM Uganda Team! If you’ve read in 1 Corinthians 12 about everyone in the church having different parts – different rolls to fill – well, that was definitely the case here. God put together a team that truly complimented one another. Individual strengths were shared and woven into the fabric of our team’s shared heart. It was another miracle. God just poured His blessings out on us all!

I am so grateful for this experience! I am grateful to God first and then to the Via Family, and to Godfrey & Joy Wanamitsa & Arise Africa for their leadership and the hard work they invested in making this life-altering trip a reality! THANK YOU ALL – leaders, team members, supporters and of course, the Ugandan people – for your passion for and faithfulness in spreading the Good News!!! He is risen!!!

God Be Praised!
Carissa Drauss