The end of 2006 marks the end of three years of ministry for Apologetic Response Ministries (A.R.M.) and The Apologetic Response web site (theapologeticresponse.org). It has been a year full of new ministry opportunities, joys, sorrows and challenges. Where some doors closed new ones were opened and our loving and gracious Lord was with us through it all.
2006 saw a significant change in our web ministry. We had experienced a sudden and unexpected need to create a new web site with a new domain name. Due to lack of time and experience we were unable to make a smooth transition from the old domain to the new one. As a result we lost many regular readers and correspondence since we had no way of notifying them of the change. Fortunately our mailing list remained the same so those readers were informed of the change. Also our mailing list has grown this past year as well as a result of our monthly seminars. So with the closing of the former domain we were able to secure a new domain which better reflected the ministry of The Apologetic Response which opened new doors of opportunity. The new site does not reflect the number of hits from the old site but we have added a new map counter which allows us and readers to see how many times we are being visited and also where in the world our readers are. So for now our readers are few but we are trusting they will grow in number as we continue to ‘ARM’ the churches in Toronto and beyond .
We continue to be blessed with Westmount Park Church giving us the space and time on a monthly basis to invite church leaders and the general public to our seminars. As a result we have been able meet with the leadership of a number of other churches for the purpose of discussing how Apologetic Response Ministries (ARM) can help them to arm and equip their members to meet and respond to the competing viewpoints our city that would lead the hearts and minds of people away from true freedom in Christ.
We followed the same ministry plan as we did in 2005 which was to present one seminar a month showing a video and/or powerpoint presentation, free materials and materials for purchase relating to the topic of the seminar. The following is a list of teaching topics covered this past year:
January – ‘The Challenge of Cults on World Mission Fields’ – This was a video presentation with Paul Carden, the Director of The Centers For Apologetics Research. Paul shared with us the great need for discernment ministry on our world mission fields as many new church plants get infiltrated by cults once our mission organizations leave. ARM’s Mission Project for 2006 was to find capable and willing translators to translate tracts into languages other than English to assist in this task.
February – ‘How To Identify A Dangerous Religious Group’ – This is a four part video series produced by RBC Ministries. This series was last aired in 1999 and never made available to the public. With the permission of RBC Ministries we were able to assemble this series onto one DVD and make it available to the public. In addition to this we were also given permission by Zondervan to reproduce the audio book ‘Churches That Abuse’ by Ron Enroth which is no longer available through Zondervan.
March – ‘The Da Vinci Code – Separating Fact From Fiction’ – This is another four part video series produced by RBC Ministries. With the DVD release of The Da Vinci Code movie coming up soon after March, we felt it worthwhile to revisit our Christian response to it again. Dr. James Beverley also made his book ‘Counterfeit Code’ available to us.
April – ‘The Case For Christ’ – This DVD produced by CCN with Lee Strobel and Mike Mittleberg compliments Lee Strobel’s book of the same title as he uses his journalist skills to examine the evidence for Jesus Christ by playing the skeptic and firing hard-hitting questions at scholars to determine whether or not the gospel accounts are reliable or not. This book and video should be shared with any atheist or agnostic friends and family you may have.
May – ‘Freemasonry – From Darkness to Light?’ – This DVD offers a Christian response to Freemasonry. We chose it due to the popularity of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code book considering also that his follow-up book release called ‘The Solomon Key’ was expected to follow the same sales success as The Da Vinci Code. The Solomon Key involves mystery and intrigue surrounding Freemasonry. In researching and preparing for this seminar we also discovered that Freemasons have set up a new web site with recruitment videos online also in anticipation of the growing popular interest in Freemasonry. Also check out ‘The Masonic Lodge – To Be or Not To Be a Freemason?’, a free downloadable PDF book at ldslearning.org researched and written by our very own Vincent Poldrugovac.
June – ‘Witnesses Of Jehovah’ – This 1988 production by Good News Defenders may be vintage but it is not out of date. This video traces the history of the organization from it’s first days, penetrating the deceptive methods and false prophecies of this pseudo-Christian cult to extend it’s manipulative empire across the world. This is the third year we have reviewed the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in June as we also host and support Lawrence Hughes from Calgary in his continuing efforts to bring about public awareness of this group and the thousands of lives lost through their policy of refusing life-saving blood transfusions. Lawrence is only one of thousands of former Jehovah’s Witnesses who have lost loved ones because of this murderous policy based on a twisted interpretation of scripture.
July – no meeting
August – no meeting
September – ‘The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon’ – This video produced by Living Hope Ministries examines the evidence, or rather lack of evidence for the Book of Mormon as compared to the overwhelming evidence for the Bible. Interviewing both practicing Mormons and former Mormons, this video is suitable for sharing with Mormon friends and neighbors. Our meeting was hosted by Vincent Poldrugovac who also authored ‘ENSIGN – Raising The Banner of Truth’ also available as a free download PDF book on his web site ldslearning.org.
October – ‘Understanding Islam’ – This DVD production is another one from CCN which features a stirring testimony from former Muslim Dr. Ergun Caner who is now a Christian Professor and author of Unveiling Islam. Our meeting was hosted by Neil Bulloch volunteering for Fellowship of Faith for Muslims here in Toronto. We were also given an emotional personal testimony from one of the many former Muslims who joined us for that meeting.
November – ‘The Case For Christmas’ – This was our final meeting of 2006 closing our year with the latest of The Case For … series by Lee Strobel.
December – Although we did not host any meetings during December, we did however alert our mailing list to an outreach event hosted by St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Mississauga which showcased the new film ‘The Nativity Story’ as well as St. Mark’s evening with Dr. Paul Maier called ‘The Very First Christmas – A Historian’s Perspective.’
More Ministry Opportunities
Besides hosting monthly seminars this past year, we also hosted a small Bible Study Group in our home. Those of us involved in counter-cult ministry felt a need to balance our studies of poor leadership with studies of good leadership. Some of our participants were also recovering from experiences with abusive leadership so we used a study in 2 Corinthians called ‘A Ministry Anyone Could Trust’ from the Bible-Teaching Ministry of Charles Swindoll published by Insight For Living. This sixteen week study helped us keep our view of ministry in balance when it can so easily become unbalanced when we only examine the heresies of others or let our negative experiences turn us away from the truth of the Scriptures.
Also, as a result of monthly seminars this past year, we are looking forward to some expansion of this ministry into other churches in the coming months ahead. You’ll have to wait for our next annual report to hear about that.
Besides the setback in our web ministry this year I got hit hard with the passing of my good friend of 20 years David Field in May of this year. David was 39 years old and died of heart failure as a direct result of living with muscular dystrophy. Although his death was expected eventually because of his disease, it was still hard hitting as we were just working on his will. Thankfully he is with our Lord now and not only walking but probably running and flying around.
I was just beginning to get over this loss (to me!) when my mother also went to be with our Lord in June of this year at the age of 65. This was, and still is, especially hard as I was unable to say goodbye and thank her for her faithful prayers for me when I was younger and rebellious and also to thank her for introducing me to the living Lord of the universe in the first place. I don’t know if our loved ones ever watch over us as continuing servants of the Lord or not but if they do, Mum, I love you and thank you and look forward to seeing you again. Also, I don’t know if my Jehovah’s Witness sister is reading this or not but if you are Pam, despite our differences, I love you and thank you for caring for Mum in her last days when I was not able to be there for her.
On a much more positive and uplifting note, we have been truly blessed abundantly this past year as the Lord has seen fit to sustain us and enable us through this past year even without a predictable support base. I began this report with the set back of setting up a new web site but how was this to happen when these things cost money? At the same time this happened we were also gifted with a very generous donation from a donor totally unconnected to our ministry! This gift not only paid for our new domain name and web hosting for the year, it also paid for a new post office box address (The Apologetic Response, P.O. Box 282, Stn. D, Etobicoke, ON., M9A 4X2) and a new CD/DVD duplicating tower enabling us to more easily and economically produce our own CDs and DVDs! In addition to this, we were also gifted with a new G4 Mac mini with a DVD burning drive and software. This came from my friend David before he went to be with the Lord. Two other large financial gifts were offered this year which were designated to purchase our own color laser printer among other office supplies we needed!
With all of these gifts combined to save us production costs of going outside for printing and duplicating services, we have been so blessed and encouraged believing that the Lord will continue to provide for this ministry even though we never know when or by what means His provision will come despite Satan’s attempts to discourage us. Praise God!
For those readers who have supported this ministry with your prayers and generous gifts of support and also for the benefit of those who may only have just heard of this ministry, I’d like to share some encouraging words from some folks who have been served and encouraged by The Apologetic Response:
“Thank you David for inviting me out to the ministry. The meetings are well organized with lots of resources, some of it offered free which you don’t see very often, this shows the concern and need for the church to engage other religions and cults on the truth of the Gospel. I highly recommend everyone to come out to these studies.”
Bramalea Baptist Church
“A.R.M is a specialized type of ministry that is necessary to the Body of Christ. As a pastor, I am encouraged at the amount and quality of resources that Dave Upton presents. As the city of Toronto grows, it will increasingly be challenged by cults and aberrant faiths. A.R.M is uniquely positioned to ‘arm’ the church with the necessary teaching to resist these challenges.”
“I’ve known David Upton for a number of years and he has such a passion for the lost.The Apologetic Response Ministry was formed out of that passion.This is a ministry which is needed not only in the Toronto area but across Canada.The ministrys’ website and resources are such a blessing to the Christian community and I know this for the website and the materials have been a blessing to me.
David may the Lord continue to bless the work your doing.”
Tenth Avenue Alliance Church
“I trust that the Lord will continue to sustain, and steadily expand, the ministry of The Apologetic Response in helping the church in Toronto and beyond to grow in discernment.”
The Centers For Apologetics Research
San Jaun Capistrano, California
“Thank you for the important ministry you have to the Body of Christ. I especially appreciate your concern for those believers who have been impacted by spiritual abuse. They often feel confused and alone. You provide resources for them to sort out their experiences and begin the process of healing that is so vital.”
I have appreciated your hardwork and the dilligent efforts of others in your group in helping me expose the Watchtower Society. Over the last few years you have supported my Protest Rallies twice a year, provided brochures of this cause to hand out to the public, chaufeured myself and my wife Jane to and from the Protest sites, hotels and airport. As well, you have spread the word far and near about these Protests and about the important issues that surround these Protests and my lawsuit. As a result of our efforts many lives have been saved, figuratively and literally. These Protest Rallies, as you know have attracted National media coverage. For example: When You, my wife Jane and myself had a protest at the Ontario Legislature Building, it was the top news story on CITY TV, and I was interviewed live on CANADA AM, which was broadcasted Nationally. That happened when there was only three of us to protest. There was also other media coverage that day in the papers and radio. There has been an unbelievable amount of media coverage over the years because the issues are of National………..Global importance. I think your ministry in helping victims of cults and educating the public about cults is of the utmost importance and will save many lives. It is obvious to me that we have both found our destiny and the road that the almighty wishes for us to take. We have both been chosen and have been given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many. I cannot thank you and your fellow believers enough for your help and your friendship. I look forward to seeing you this spring. I have chosen a tenative date for the next Protest at Osgoode Hall to be held Friday, June 22, and at the Watchtower Society Headquarters on Saturday, June 23, both starting at 12:00 noon. I hope to see you then.”
Again this year, there is not much to report other than what has already been said. Our Lord has seen fit to meet the monthly needs of this ministry leaving no surplus or debt. More details will be available to those who have supported this ministry upon request.
It is hoped that the Lord will help us bring together a strong team of experience Board members who can work together to oversee this ministry and acquire registered charitable status. We are also looking for multi-lingual Christians in the Toronto area who are skilled in translation work to partner with us along with CFAR and IRR to produce multi-lingual materials to be used here at home and abroad.
- For wisdom, guidance and direction as we offer apologetic responses to the world around us.
- For those who are angry and/or confused, that the Holy Spirit would use this ministry to speak to their hearts and minds to receive the free gift of salvation that He has to offer.
- For protection from the Evil one who would seek to discourage this ministry.
First and foremost to our Lord Jesus Christ for sustaining this ministry this year. Thanks also go to my friends and brothers in Christ who have helped so much this past year, Vincent Poldrugovac, Werner Peters, Neil Bulloch, Ben Brasz, Tony Costa and Renzo Mueller. I’d also like to thank Peter Cavanaugh and Bobby Greer for their technical support. Special thanks to all the individuals and ministries who contributed resources to share with churches in Toronto; MacGregor Ministries, CCN, Living Hope Ministries, RBC Ministries, BiblePlaces.com, RZIM Canada, Zondervan Corporation, Good News Defenders, Jeremiah Films, IRR.org, CFAR, James Beverley, Ron Enroth and Ruth Tucker. I also would like to thank all those who have contributed to this ministry with your financial contributions and your prayers. Thank you also to those who have written kind and encouraging comments both on the web site and privately. Encouraging words are as valuable and needed as money and prayers. Last but not least, I thank my wonderful wife Heather whom I affectionately refer to as ‘Holy Heather full of Grace’ simply because she is and my faith filled son Caleb who never ceases to amaze me in so many ways.
May God Richly Bless You All,
The Apologetic Response