Spring 2023 – end of year prayer letter

Third Watch Ministries, NFP                                                       Bob & Ellen Bollow

P.O. Box 1283                                                                                         May 18, 2023

Wheaton, IL 60187  


“It is vain, then, to speak of reposing trust in the Person without believing the message. For trust involves a personal relation between the one who trusts and him in whom the trust is reposed. And in this case the personal relation is set up by the blessed theology of the Cross.”      … J. Gresham Machen

Hey Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I hope this Spring has gone well for you. We had a near 80-degree day and then snow. The weather reflects some of the up and down encounters I have on campus. Though God is consistently gracious most days to give me someone who will listen, I have days no one will turn to Christ. But I am hopeful in the Lord’s promise that His word will not return void [Isaiah 55:11]. There really are as few students as ever in the hallways late in the semester. There are a lot of remote learning classes. On the upside it is easy to find a place to park. So, I thought I would share a couple stories of students I talked to on a day no one trusted Jesus as Savior.

Janoah was a petite black girl with a white doily on her head that looked like it belonged under your grandma’s teapot. She had long, thin braids coming down out from under it. She had smaller features and a broad smile, a cute kid. She believed herself a Christian but did not confess the Cross as payment for her sins, nor the resurrection, at first. Her answer to what she would say to God was, “Because I make an effort, like, to follow Him. I do things, like, try to spend time with Him every day. I make an effort to talk to people about God.” She thought she had an 85% chance of going to Heaven. I slowly made sure to cover everything in the Gospel going through the booklet. She actually asked me to talk slower and I did. I asked what Jesus had done to take away the sins of the world. “You go to God through Him,” was the best she could come up with.  In the end, after hearing of the Cross and the righteousness of Christ she said, “I should have answered the question differently.” After hearing the prayer, having said she’d want to be forgiven, Janoah said she had “prayed a prayer like that before.” She confessed to believing what I had taught her. Based on her statements, and struggle to understand what I stated to her at first, I think she came to her first real understanding of becoming a Christian. She had knowledge before we talked that would be necessary for saving faith, but had not seemed to place her trust in it. She had friends that she studied the Bible with, who told her the baptism she had gone through when she was 8 was not sufficient as she could not have understood enough as a child. This seemed to be an accurate assessment since she did not understand enough until after I talked to her. She told her mother about her friend’s critique of her childhood baptism. Her mom assured her that when she was 8, she had “wanted to be in Heaven someday” with her mother and father. Which would be true of many people even as adults, though they do not believe Jesus was God. I think 1Cor. 7:14 teaches children are covered by their parents’ faith when too young to understand the Gospel. Hopefully she understands what I said. I left her with the booklet and Bible Promises for You. I have bumped into her since and said, “You were already trusting in Jesus when I talked to you right?” and she agreed.  So, I hope what I said took root and what I mean by that and she means by that are now the same.

A student from an Islamic background told me this year the people he knew who had been Muslim were now atheists or Christians. I found about a dozen Muslims to explain the Gospel to this year—Q was one.

Q was in one of the nooks overlooking the Science building lounge. He just went by a first initial. He looked like a thin young Cat Stevens of the 1960’s, the curly hair and beard part. He also wore black framed glasses and had on a pull over shirt and jeans. His family was from India and by Muslim standards he seemed liberal. He was dismissive of some of the extremes of Islam. I told him I had read the first 10 Surahs of the Qur’an and it read like an anti-Christian and Jewish diatribe. He acknowledged this was true, leaving me wondering if he was in fact as anti-extreme as he comported himself to be. Islamic teaching would of course not grant me any boon. I asked what he would say to God to get into Heaven. “I’ve actually thought about this—what I would say,” he said smiling. “My vision of God—I feel He will look at me [and say] ‘We both know your life to be a piece of $__ť And I will look back and say [persuasively] ‘Come on, come on! It’s me.’” I did not take him seriously and said, “So like maybe there is a section in Heaven for comedians, though I don’t know if you’d want to spend eternity with a lot of the comedians out there today.” “Well, those won’t make it,” he opined smiling.  “Maybe there will be a big sign saying, ‘Come On’ with all the comedians standing under it?” I suggested. We laughed at the impossibility of that and talked about the dark times we are in and hard times going forward.  Though he seemed casual about it, he said he felt for Christians with what they were going through right now. I took this to mean the collapse of Christian Morality and persecution by the state. I said from what I knew of the countries under Islamic rule those persecuting Christians would be taken care of were they to take over. He did not want to acknowledge the totalitarian make-up of Muslim controlled countries. We talked about Wahhabism the extremes of faith. He seemed to feel in the early days of Islam, Muslims were surprised they were not talking about the same thing as Christians. I mentioned Robert Spencer’s work that talked about early coins in Islamic places having crosses on them. I made all the points I make going through the Gospel conversationally and then brushed through them quickly in the booklet I wanted to leave with him, which he took. He was polite enough to take a Bible Study on the Deity of Christ too. So I hope there was a seed planted there. As I got up to leave, we had seemed to hit it off so I said, “I hope someday we see each other in Heaven.” “I think we will,” he said with a smile. I hope he receives Christ so he will be right.

I also recently received this email from a student I talked to earlier in the year who prayed to receive Jesus.

Hello Bob,

    My name is Fisayomi, we talked in Seaton in February. I was looking through the book and pamphlet you gave me and you signed “February 27th, 2023. Forgiven”. This moment was the catalyst to change my life forever. You didn’t sign saved sir, you signed forgiven.

    During the time you spoke with me, I was searching for God and his love in the wrong places and people. I couldn’t figure out why I was hearing the message from you but after the month of April passed where God took me on a healing journey, I realized why he had sent you to have the conversation with me.

     I pray that the lord blesses you and all in your household beyond what you could ever imagine. God used you to bring me back to my calling and where I am meant to be, in His presence and I want to thank you for being his vessel,

     The Lord has been urging me to contact you and tell you that any help you may need with creativity, either music, sewing, art, singing, or anything in this category please let me know. God has shown up in my life heavily and the least I can do is use my talents to glorify his name. Thank you so much, God bless you..

Sincerely, Fisayomi O.

There were 153 students who prayed to receive Christ while I was with them or whom I found out later had done so. Two of these (Mars and Joaquin) heard the Gospel and prayed last school year, but I did not find out until this fall to begin praying for them. Also, Abbey, who I told to ask God to prove Himself to her, did so. She bumped into a girl her age (a stranger, she saw this as a sign), was invited to Church and prayed there. I’ve prayed for her since she told me the story. These are the names of the new believes in the 2022-2023 school year. Their stories are on www.thethirdwatch.org if you missed one.  (An * means they said they would pray later.)

Kevin, Brian, Riq, Shane, Fernando, Dona, Mariana, Kyra, Ethan, Savannah, Riley, Litzy, Gordon, Scott, Josie*, Henry, Sam, Anthony, Ryan, Arely, John, Skye, Michael, Jason, Giancarlo, Andrew, Sam, Anish, Erika, Erick, Jocelyn, Christian, Gian, Victoria, Nick, Emerald, Dom, Sam, Martin, Desha, Morgan, Citlali, Julie, Leslie, Max, Mattie, Eduardo, Cyrus, Bris, Kayla*, Heaven, Mimi, Isaac, Micky, AnnMarie, Dejan*, Nathan, Ysabela, Zakia, Michelle, Ryan, D, Robertro, Jayden, Mayra, Freddy, Emily, Znyia, Gianluca, Alex, Jessica, Riley, Juan, Kenny, Omar, Kiara, Joaquin, Rose, Ben, Tanya, Quin, Denise, Sam, Ozzy*, Ashley, Mars, Allison, Ishani, Osvaldo, Kelly, Sabas, Daisy, Andrew, Aaliyah, Sydney, Shanice, Taron, Melissa, Preston, Daniel, Evelyn, Abbey, Adrienne, Kyle, Ahsi, Kristina, Sandra, Emily,  Diego, Ryan, Nicole, Xia, Fisayomi, Noah, Sarah, Niko, SarahMary, Janet, Will, Chris, Rico, Dan, Miles, Aaron, Sara, Ethan, Jaden, Darin*, Hameedah, Michael, Otto, Joe, Mark, Justin, John, Billy, Bobby, Ugo, Lily, Laokratis, Ben, Abby, Daivion, Jose, Lymarie, Ephe, Ada, Esther, Angely, Stephen, Noah, Nick, Lizbeth, Aimee, Bella, Jack, Leslie, Adrian, Marko*, Janelle*

Thanks for your prayers and support this school year.  God has done great things!

In Him,     Bob & Ellen