Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Is on the Way

Dear Life Church Family,
I know that many of you read my blog but I also know that several are not on facebook and do not see when it is posted so I wanted to give you an update about where I am heading, what I will be doing and my needs for the coming year.
I will be leaving for Guatemala again on Jan 18 to begin work immediately. We will be hosting about 14 groups and working with 2 others this year. We have approximately 28 weeks of work on the schedule as of now and there are sure to be a few changes and additions as the year progresses. I will be returning home in late March most likely for about 3 weeks and then returning for 6 to 8 more months.
We will be doing much the same work as last year. We will continue with house and stove construction. We still have work to complete on both schools and the Church in Membrillal. We will continue to work on the Food Machine in Zapote. We will also work with medical teams as well in both villages. Our desire is to find projects that will help people become self sufficient and allow us to proclaim the Gospel to them.

We never know what a year will bring and there are always lots of surprises but we are looking forward with eager anticipation.
As for me, I am behind on my fundraising. I need to raise about $3,000 by Jan 11 before I leave to cover some expenses. I have received about $1,000 so far and half of that has gone to my initial airfare. I will also need to buy a roundtrip ticket in March before I return.  I have set a goal of $12,000 this year for my personal expenses. I set the amount at that because that is the amount needed for a resident visa. Though I love to come back here, it would be more convenient to do in my timing rather than the Guatemalan governments. I also am looking to raise $5,000 extra for a car. It would probably cost around $8,000 for a reliable vehicle and I figure that there should be about $3,000 that I could spare from the $12,000 because I do not have rent yet. This is the best year to buy a car because next year I will have the extra expenses of rent and utilities.
I am asking you to consider partnering with me in this ministry this year. In order to raise the needed funds, I am looking for 20 monthly individual supporters and 3 or 4 monthly supporting Churches. I also want you to consider Jean, Lauren and Annie and the work they too will be doing in Guatemala. If God leads you to support them instead, that is great. Mostly I want to ask you to pray for us and get involved.

 Thank You.

If you would like to help with my expenses you can mail checks to  
Life Church Morris
C/O San Lucas Mission    
P.O. Box 679                      
Morris, IL 60450

            For Lauren and Jean              
C/O Santiago Mission
For Annie                            
C/O Esther House

Monday, December 21, 2015

Always remain flexible

This week I started making preparations for my return to Guatemala. We have been anticipating a very busy year and so it was with excitement that I started looking for my tickets. I found a fairly good deal on United and bought them. I was not excited about the outbound flight time but I was very excited to get back to work. I am enjoying being home and seeing everyone but feel like it is time to be working again. I miss everyone here when I am gone but feel unproductive when I am here, even when I am working on things.

I bought my tickets and sent the information on to people in Guatemala so they would know my plans and about 30 minutes later I got our new schedule. In the last two days it has changed substantially. I will only have about a week in the States in May if I keep my current itinerary but I could come back a month earlier and have almost a month. There is now a group coming earlier in January and they will be there 4 days before me. I will not be changing that date because they are small and will get by without me.

You might be asking why I am sharing these things. I just want to let you all know that plans change. We like to get locked into something and force it to work on our timetable and God laughs at our stubbornness. We cannot see tomorrow but we plan like we have everything figured out. We are being blessed with more teams coming to us than ever. More work will be accomplished than we expected but we have to be flexible for it all to work out. We cannot predict what God wants to do in or through us. We can only remain pliable in His hands and receive the blessings that He pours into us as they come.

It is Christmastime and most will be spending time with family and friends. God wants to bless us with their presence in this season but many of us stress out because things do not go like we plan. We want to control how our days and our interactions go. We miss out on those blessings because we are not flexible. I want to challenge you this season to be flexible this season. Give the people around you the freedom to just live in relationship. Don't try and direct or control your relationships and your time together. Let God just bless you with presence this season. Thank Him for what He brings you and allows you to experience with your friends and family this Christmas. Determine in your heart to just enjoy Him, them and the holiday and not to let the things that come up or the plans that  change distract you from the blessings He is giving you this year.

I wanted to let you know that I will be leaving on Jan 18th and it looks like I will be returning for a few weeks at the end of March through the middle of April. I am still in need of financial support. I have talked to many people but nothing is sure as of yet. I need to raise $12,000 for living expenses and am praying for a $5,000 to $8,000 more for transportation. I have been limited by the lack of a vehicle for the last 3 years and I I am spending more time there it is becoming a major inconvenience. Please pray about partnering with me in the coming year. If you have questions about the work that we are doing or my role in it please feel free to message or call me. My # is 779-227-3812 or my e-mail is

You can mail support to
Life Church Morris
P.O. Box 679
C/O San Lucas Mission
Morris, IL 60450

Thank you all and Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Learning humility

I do not know about you but I am horrible when it comes to admitting need. I can tell you about the work that is being done or about the kids and families that we work with but when it comes to stating a need, I lock up. I remember when the doctor diagnosed my cancer 5 years ago, I did not want to tell my family. I did not want to admit that there was something in my life that was beyond my control. I knew that God was big enough to lead me through it but I denied the rightful place of believers to walk out the journey with me.

In missions I often find myself in  similar situation. I love the work that I do and know that God has called me to it. I do not doubt He is the one that initiated the work and opened the doors for me to be part of it. I even know that He is responsible for meeting my physical needs when I am doing the work He calls me to. Where I struggle is in admitting that it is not just my work. He has called and is calling people to partner in this work to advance His kingdom. I struggle to admit that I need them in order to do what I am called to do and that they need me to do it because God has put this work on their hearts. He has called us to partner together for His kingdom.

When I look around, I see a lot of missionaries doing great work. They are sharing the Gospel and meeting the needs of others and doing it with a servant's heart. They love the people that they serve and do it in order for the Glory of Jesus to be seen in the earth. I hope that I too am reflecting Jesus this way in my work. They have so many needs and I feel like my asking somehow cuts into their support and many of them are friends. I would not want to hinder them by telling my needs. I should just have enough faith to let God provide.

That sounds altruistic but really I am beginning to see that it is a form of spiritual pride. The Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens. To want to help others without being open and vulnerable about my life is a form of holding myself in spiritual superiority. In reality, it is pride and fear. How can I lead if I have unmet needs? How can people see God working through me if I need something other than Him? Put on the mask of strength and do not let people see inside. You and God will get through this.

The reality is that God sets us in a body. He does not call us to independence or even to depend solely on Him. While He is our primary source, He calls us to live in a body and for each of us to supply, support and strengthen the parts of the body around us. He could provide every need without the body but then we would not develop the healthy interdependence that He desires us to have. We would not have unity if we are all off doing our own thing without relationships with one another. He designed us to live in community and to learn to lean on one another. I do not have everything that I need to do the work that I am called to and neither do you. We all were created to work together as a living and dynamic organism to accomplish the purpose of evangelism, discipleship and serving the world.

With this in mind I wanted to share a little bit about my upcoming year. I will again be in Guatemala working in the communities of Zapote and Membrillal. We will be working with about 13 teams over 20 weeks doing construction, medical clinics and food production. We are serving these communities with the Gospel and with physical help as well with the dual goals of community independence and a thriving Church in the community. These things are already taking place and growing. Zapote has 200 students in the school and about 270 people in the Church. Membrillal is just beginning to see the Church take off and the school will have about 110 students next year.

As for me, I am committed to this work and know that God has called me to be there. For next year I will have several expenses. The government of  Guatemala requires me to have $12,000 of verifiable support to begin the process of applying for residence and so that is my baseline. It would provide for things like Spanish classes, daily living expenses and a few occasional luxuries like a weekend away from the work. It would also pay for my airfare to the States twice a year. Beyond that, I would like to raise $5,000 to $7,000 this year in order to buy some form of transportation. I considered a motorcycle because of affordability but there are to many limitations. Something with 4 wheels is much more suited to all of the things that I need it for.

I do not want to sound ungrateful for all of the past giving because I am not and I do not want anybody to give unless God is directing them to. I know many others that are serving also and want you only to give where God is directing you. I do want to ask you all to pray though and support fully the one or the few that God is calling you to support. In missions. we are happy to go and do the work that we are called to but we need the body to support that work for it to continue. Let God lead you but please support the missions that He calls you to.

If you are called to support me, you can mail your support to
Life Church Morris
C/O San Lucas Missions
P.O. Box 679
Morris, IL 60450

or if you feel led to support Jean and Lauren as they prepare to go you can mail support to the same address but C/O Santiago Missions.

Thank you all for your friendship, support and prayers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why Me

I have been thinking about a lot of things this last few weeks, reflecting on the year that we are completing and wondering why God chose me for this role. Why am I the one that is living far from home, getting to see God do such amazing things and having a part in all of it. Why did God choose me?

As I ask that question I realize something. He chose me because He chooses all of us. I am doing something that I love and know that I was created for because all of us were created for a purpose. None of us is here by accident but we have reason for being and destiny programmed into us. Some of us are called to go to another place and live with people that speak a different language and have different customs than we grew up with. Some are called to be nurses or mechanics. Others are called to be pastors or school teachers. None of us are called to mere existence. I have stepped into what I am created to be and so can you.

How do I know what I was called to do? First we have to have a relationship with the Creator. Who but the one that designed us would know what we were made for. Without Jesus, we may stumble along and find our passion but we will never find our destiny. They are tied together but are not the same thing. Our passion gives us power and vision for our work but our destiny will cause our work to impact the lives of people for eternity. We will enjoy working in our passion but we will find fulfillment in our destiny. Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit will bring these two together.

When we let God lead our steps, He will direct us into the place that He can use our lives to build His kingdom. As we are active in building His Kingdom, we are also building our own inheritance. He told us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven where thieves could not steal and moths and rust could not destroy. We will also find a sense of fulfillment in knowing that we are leaving the world better than we found it. People will have a hope that they previously did not have because we are walking in what God created us to be. When we walk in His purposes, we become the salt and light that Jesus called us in Matthew 5.

Today, did you get up with a sense of purpose and destiny? Do you feel like your life will matter long after you are gone? Did you dread getting out of bed to face another long tedious day? That is not what God created you to do. Ask Him how to escape the rat race and walk into purpose and destiny. I am not telling everyone to quit their jobs. Some of you are working 9 to 5 and are exactly where God created you to be. Where you are is impacting people for  His Kingdom. Some of you are in ministry and hate what you are doing. You chose a career because you believed the lie of sacred vs secular and now feel like a failure or disappointment because you want out. All of our labor is to be as an act of worship to God but it can only be worship if we are there in obedience to His plan for our lives.

I know that I am here because God has called me to be. Sometimes I worry about what the future will be. I am dependent on things beyond my control like finances. I do not have the material possessions and resources that I had when I worked at a regular job. I no longer have a 401 K. I am not sure about what I will be doing tomorrow but I know I am to be here today. I believe that God has me here and the proof is that He keeps putting it on people's hearts to support the work I do but even more, He keeps producing fruit and I get to rejoice at seeing it and knowing that He is working through all of our inadequate efforts to grow His Kingdom all around us. I am grateful for how God is using my life and pray that today you can say the same thing. If not, ask Him to help you set a new direction, one that will cause you to be on the path of purpose and destiny.

This year, many of you have supported me and the work that we are doing here in Guatemala and I am eternally grateful. Next year I am praying that will continue and increase. We will be doing more work and my personal needs still exist. It is coming to the point where I really need to get reliable transportation and will eventually need to find a place to live, though that could be quite a ways down the road yet. Pray for me and for our work. My financial goal for me next year is $17,000. This is much higher because it includes the purchase of a vehicle. I would also love to raise $15,000 for the school at Membrillal to finish next year strong financially. I will be writing about these things more in the coming weeks and will tell you more about how you can be involved. For now, if you would like to help me personally, you can send support to

Life Church Morris
C/O Guatemala Missions Fund
P.O. Box 679
Morris, IL 60450

The pictures have little to do with our work this year but they are just some fun ones that I liked and thought that you may enjoy as well.

Soon I will be telling you how you can help the school and the students for next year.

Thank you all

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Time for a little maintenance

The last couple of weeks you may have seen some of the pictures that I posted from the schools. With a group of college students from Minnesota, we have been painting both schools. Membrillal had never been painted and Zapote was looking really bad. The walls were covered in greasy fingerprints and volcanic ash. Every building needs a little maintenance and freshening up from time to time. We are not finished yet but because of other things going on we are taking a few days for a break.

On Saturday I was talking to the pastor in my home Church and he asked me how I was doing and I told him that we had been very busy for the last month. There really had not been a lot of free time to relax but that we were getting a lot done. He asked my what I was doing to rest and to restore myself. I had to admit that I had not been thinking much about those things because the opportunities had not presented themselves very often.

As I have been thinking about his question and the work we have been doing, I realized that we are in many ways like the school buildings. They need time set aside for repairs, repainting and thorough cleaning. Without these times they will get more dirty and fall into disrepair. They need to have focused attention on their needs if they are going to last for many decades. Without attention, they will not be able to be used for their intended purposes for very long. The will become dilapidated and unsafe. The rain, mold, dirt and bugs will begin take over.

I feel like I need to spend time recognizing these needs in my own life. Jesus promised that if we would come to Him, He would give us rest. In Ps 127:1+2 we see that our work is in vain unless God is protecting it and that He wants to be at the center of all so He an lead us into rest. In Ps 23 we read that the Lord is a shepherd that leads us, cares for us, and restores us. In Ps 91 we see that the Lord desires us to hide ourselves in Him and see His salvation, provision, protection and rest.  I think I need to spend some time meditating on these passages and letting them lead me to the one who is rest for my soul.

I know a lot of people, myself included get busy and say they do not have time for this rest. We try to spend 10 minutes with God before we rush out to some activity then do not understand why we have no strength or energy. David knew that the secret was to have time for quiet rest, focused on God. He was the king of a nation with a lot of enemies. He had a large army and many family squabbles going on but he took time out of his schedule for retreats with the Lord. If David could do it, should we also not find a way to plan our days around building intimacy and drawing strength for Jesus.

I am not going to write a lot more but I want to share these verses with you and ask you are you rested? Do you have time for intimacy with Jesus this week? Are you hidden away in the secret place of the Most High? Or, Are you tired, running on fumes and barely surviving each days load?

My Refuge and My Fortress

Ps 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Positioned to Receive Love

When I was much younger I had 2 experiences at Church retreats that impacted me greatly and helped me, at that time to really understand that I had a Heavenly Father and the He loved me a lot. I knew I was not just created to serve but that I was called to live as a son in my Father's love.  I do not know about you, but I often find that these God moments in my life lose their effect on me over time if I do not spend time meditating on what God is showing me and pursuing it. This experience was one of those things. As I got busy I began to look at myself as a servant primarily. I began to lose the sense of security that came from knowing my place in my Father's heart.

The last few weeks have been a refresher crash course and it has come unexpectedly and in a very unusual way. It began when my Church was here and intensified with the college group that is here right now. While my Church was here we spent most days working but one day there was only a couple of projects for me and I was finished with them quickly. After the projects I got to spend a lot of times with the kids from the school and that had come to the clinic. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with them and just play with them. The day did not really impact me at the time because it is a fairly normal occurrence. I get to play with the kids at Membrillal a lot.

This last week was where I really began to see what God was trying to show me. We went to Zapote to paint the first floor of the school. It is a pretty big task to non painters but it was a very needed task. It gets painted almost every year but because of the humidity and the always present volcanic dust in the air it looks dirty within a few months. This was a job that needed to be done and I was excited to see the transformation that fresh paint brings. I was ready to throw myself into this work and get it done.

One thing that I know is that when I go to the schools I will hear my name countless times during the day. This week was like that. Everywhere I went the kids, especially the younger ones called me. When I stopped, they climbed on me. I could not forget that I was at a school because I was surrounded by children calling me from inside their classrooms, at lunch, out on the playground and everywhere I went. They all wanted hang from my arms or arm wrestle me. At times I was arm wrestling one on each arm and at others I had one hanging from each bicep. I was feeling a little bit guilty. They were supposed to be focused on school and I was supposed to be working. My desire to play often won out and the kids got my attention.

You may be thinking that was irresponsible and you might be right but God began to show me His heart in this. He loves when we (I) come to Him just to be in His presence, to say look at me to ask Him "do you notice me"? He wants us to ask if we matter because He loves revealing Himself and His love to us. As I realized how attention starved may of these kids are I realized I to feel attention starved. I was feeling like maybe I did not matter to God. I began to see that as I love being with the kids and crave that time just to focus on them and tell them that they matter enough to interrupt my work God feels that way about me. I matter and He loves to be interrupted by me as I just stop and call out to Him. He wants to show us love and affirmation. He wants to reveal His love when we are not expecting it and He gladly sets us at the center of His attention when we come to Him. He loves to be a good dad to His kids.

This lesson was intensified when I ran into one of the local town drunks. He frequently tells me loudly that he loves me as he is asking for food or money. I will often buy him food or water because he is poisoning his system with rubbing alcohol. I never give him money because it will just go to more alcohol. I will talk with him and pray for him because he usually asks but my attitude towards him is often not good. I want to shake him and make him quit destroying his life. God reminded me that this man to was created in His image, was created to reflect an aspect of God to the world and he has a Father that is just waiting for him to surrender and call out to Him. Father wants this man to know His love and have a testimony of sonship to share with the world. I was wrong and I needed to let God love this man through me the same way that He loves the kids.

I am learning that God wants to reveal His love to me. He wants to show me His heart for me in new and extravagant ways. He wants me to walk in security as His son. The way that he is doing it is by putting me in positions to be a living demonstration of His love to others. As I allow myself to be used in this way in other people's  lives, He intensifies my understanding of His love for me. I am not a servant but a son. I choose  to serve and in that I learn more what it means to be loved. I pray that God gives me the strength for this work for many more years because I sense that there are many layers to His love that I have not begun to explore and many people that I still need to encounter to have a better understanding of this incredible love He offers.

Many of you struggle with knowing that you are loved. You serve but feel like nothing more than a slave. You feel used and abused by those that you care for. Give it up. Ask God to show you that every work you are called to is secondary to the people that you encounter while doing it. Every accomplishment is nothing if it does not build relationships with people and help you see God's love more clearly. We exist and are called for one reason. To receive our Father's love and give it to all that we encounter. If we do this, we have succeeded in all God has for us.

Monday, October 5, 2015

You Must Go Now

Guillermo Paul, First CMA missionary to Guatemala
I have been back in Guatemala for two packed weeks now. From the first morning that I got out of bed there has been constant activity and I have enjoyed it all very much. The first week there was a conference for the CMA in Panajachel. I got to go and sit in meetings and listen to Pastors and leaders share their vision for the Churches commission to evangelize and make disciples in their own communities and in the world. It was a great time to meet many of the leaders in the Alliance from all over Central America.

On Friday, the 25th I took the last pastors that were still with us to catch a bus back to El Salvador and then went immediately to the airport to pick up a team from my home Church in the States. Life Church Morris sent 9 people to us and we were joined by a friends from  Morris, El Salvador and Guatemala. We were a very international team. While the group was together we were able to build a house and stove in Zapote the first two days and conduct a medical clinic and work on the Church building in Membrillal the last three work days.

Rudy looking at the river while it was rising.
The team was able to experience the joy of rainy season while we worked in Zapote. The first day while we were getting the posts set we could see the rain was coming. Because we have to cross 4 rivers with no bridge we started to pack up and leave as soon as the rain began. We were out to the main road about 45 minutes after the first raindrops fell. We drove through a lot of standing water but the rivers were okay and so we had no problem.

The second day was a little more eventful. At lunch time we figured the house would be done very quickly and we would be headed home. The sky was clear and there was not much work left to do. After we ate lunch we were making good progress but we could see a storm moving in quickly. Pastor Jose Luis told us we had to go NOW even though no rain had fallen yet. We packed up and hurried to get a few things from the Church and left. The rain started after we were in the vehicles and it was not raining nearly as hard as the previous day until we were almost out. You can imagine our surprise when we rounded the curve to the last river and it was about 2 feet higher than normal. We were stuck. We had made it to within a mile of safe travel and were were going nowhere.

We sat for the next 3 hours watching the rain pour down and the river continue to rise and fall. After about 2  1/2 hours it had fallen enough so that  people could cross by jumping from high rocks to other high rocks and we watched a steady stream of people do just that. Unfortunately for us, we could not cross that easily because the entrance to and exit exit from the river had both been washed away. The dirt ramps were gone. There was a 5' wall of dirt where the exit ramp had been. After the rain stopped a large end loader from the gravel company came down and repaired the road enough so that we could get through. We did not know how long we would have to sit but I think that I can speak for everyone when I say we were relieved when that end loader came and opened a way for us.

Heading to lunch in Zapote

In talking to the team we had, I think that it is safe to say that every one's favorite part of this whole trip was the people that they got to see and meet. My Church has heard many stories but they were able to puts names and faces to the people being served. They were no longer poor people or poor Guatemaltecos but they were people that had lives and families. They were people that felt and cared. They became real people to them. They now have a burden for and a love of these people that they did not know until after they met them.

Crowded work site. New house will be built on the left
If you are supporting people in ministry or are giving to organizations that help people, I want to encourage you to consider going for a visit or putting together a team to go work in the areas that your money is going to. It is a blessing to see that your money is going to transform lives and communities. It also helps you to have a vision for why some of us crazy folks want to be where we are and to continue doing the things we are doing. I believe God will reward your generosity and do not want to downplay that because it is important but I believe He also wants to fill your heart with love for people you have not yet met. Pray about it.

Line for the clinic
I also want to ask you to be praying for Guatemala and the people of Santa Catarina Pinula.  You may have seen the reports of the mudslides there. They have devastated the community. There are 125 confirmed dead as of this morning and 300 still missing. There is little hope of more survivors. Some of the town is under as much as 50' of mud. They are searching with dogs and digging with everything from shovels and hoes to heavy equipment. Many people have lost their families and all of their possessions in a matter of minutes. Pray that God will heal hearts and save many lost people through this tragedy. Also be praying that the people will have their material needs met as they try to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for all of your prayers, encouragement, for sending Church members to work with me and for your support.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Word of Encouragement, Life is to short

As I am preparing to leave I have spent a lot of time thinking about a comment that I frequently hear. I do not hear this comment occasionally or even regularly. It seems like I hear it several times a day. What is this comment you may ask. "I wish I could do what you are doing but..................".  For Christians, I believe the desire to go is wired into our DNA. When we receive Jesus as our Lord, He puts His desire in us and part of that desire is to advance His Kingdom. For 3 1/2 years on this Earth, Jesus promoted the Kingdom continually and in John 17 when He prayed for His disciples He prayed that they and all that come after would be united with Him and the Father in this purpose.

If we are directed to preach the Kingdom and make disciples and we are empowered for the task, why does it seem like nobody can go. The world has filled us with priorities that keep us from going but there are other reasons too. Some people tell me they can't go because of kids or work. Others have a responsibility at home that keeps them from being able to get away. For many the issue is fear of the unknown or maybe a lack of funds. The reasons that limit people are numerous but I want to tell you that God has an answer for you.

If you have a desire to go and a reason not to go, God has a plan for dealing with the reason. If you will commit to following through on the desire, He will show you how it will work. You need to continue pressing forward and let Him fill in the holes in your plan. I have seen people go on missions trips that told me it was impossible.  I have seen finances come in when bank accounts were empty. I have seen people bring young children with them and others have a family member take care of their children for 2 weeks so they could go. I have seen jobs change people's schedules to accommodate. I left for a missions trip less than 2 weeks after my last chemo session. For every reason, God has an answer if you will let Him give it to you.

I am not trying to lay a guilt trip on anyone or tell anyone that they are called to long term missions. I just want to encourage you that it is possible and that God is only waiting for your desire to propel you to action. When you take a step, He will start moving things in your direction to make it possible.

Many of you will ask "why me". Can't someone else go? You believe that it is easier for someone else or that they have more options in life than you. That is not true. Leaving your life for a few days or forever is inconvenient for everyone. There are rewards though. We all have friends and relatives that do not have a relationship with Jesus, We pray for them and even share the Gospel with them but they do not respond. I want you to think about something. The world is waiting to see Jesus in action. They want to see love demonstrated and they are waiting to see people radically transformed by the Gospel. Your family may be waiting to see how the Gospel affects you. When they see you stepping out they will take notice. For many, I believe it will make a bigger impact than anything you say.

The other reason that I think you should consider going now, in the face of all of life's difficult circumstances is that time is short on earth. We each have a finite number of days and when they are gone, we will have missed the opportunity. You cannot go back when it is over and change things. All you can do is encourage others not to follow your mistakes. I did not go on my first missions trip until I was 35 and did not start consistently doing missions until I was 40. I regret all of those young healthy years that I was pursuing my own agenda. I have never regretted going but have often regretted missed opportunities. I pray that you begin exploring you desires to go and remind yourself that God is bigger than any reason you can't.

I love you all and want you to experience the joy of ministering in another land. I am not telling you that you are called to uproot and go. but I do want to encourage you to begin exploring your dreams and desires.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Off again

It seems like it is hard to get settled in these days. Whether I am in Illinois or Guatemala, I know that is a short time I will be leaving. I have been in Illinois for six weeks now and will be leaving again in less than two. I have had a great time here and I love catching up with my family and friends. I have been able to spend time with two of my three sisters, my parents, Church family and many friends. It has been a blessing and is going to be hard to leave. I am blessed to have such an amazing support system here and they encourage me more than I can express. I love all of you.

I am doubly blessed though. While I am leaving this incredible group of people here, I will be heading to another home. I am no longer visiting when I go to Guatemala. God has blessed me with a second family there. I have been taken into the family of Iglesia Galilea and I know that I am loved there as well. When I return, I am still surrounded by the love and support of brothers and sisters. I am reminded that Jesus promsed never to leave us or forsake us. Not only has He sent His Holy Spirit, but He surrounds us with physical manifestations of His love in the people that He brings into our life. I am grateful to have a second family that I know loves me.

When I return we will work with three additional teams this year. First, my home Church is coming and it is going to be a blessing. There is a group coming to work on construction projects and a medical clinic in Membrillal. Then in October we will help another organizations team as they conduct a medical clinic at our shared school in Zapote. Because many do not have access to good health care, these clinics are needed and are often the only time many of these people will see a doctor. Then we will close out November and our teams for the year with a construction team from South Mountain Church out of Utah. We will have about 4 weeks work in the 8 that I will be there.

I am looking forward to closing out the year strong and then relaxing in Illinois with family and friends through the holidays. I believe that it will be a great end to the look forward to sharing many of you.

I still need to raise about $700  for the rest of this year. I have received several hundred dollars  since my last post but I finding airline tickets unusually expensive for my return dates. While I was able to do everything that I needed to in the first half of the year, I fell about $3,000 short of my overall goal. This kept me from being able to do several of the things that I needed to like going to Spanish school and getting some form of transportation, both of which I will need to address next year. If you would consider praying about supporting me in this work, I would greatly appreciate it. You can contact me at 779-227-3812 or email me at If you would like to send support you can mail it to

Life Church Morris
c/o Guatemala Missions Fund, ongoing
P.O. Box 679
Morris, IL 60450

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Serving with Passion

I have shared with you many of the projects that we are doing. I have written about houses, stoves, schools, clinics, Churches and hydroponics. I have tried to keep you informed of the things that we are doing but today I wanted to talk about motivation. The why behind all of the whats. What is the motivation for leaving the comforts of Illinois and my family and friends here.That is a good question and some days I ask myself that. I will try and share it as    best I can and pray that you are grabbed with a vision for service yourself.

Let me start by saying I do not love every aspect of the work that we do in Guatemala. I hate spiders, snakes, rats, scorpions and roaches but we encounter them frequently. I do not like to be covered in dirt and muddy sweat. Adventure is overrated when it means you could be stuck overnight away from your bed. 100 lb bags of cement are heavy. There are lots of things that we do on a regular basis that are not high on my list of desired tasks for the day. So WHY do I go?

When I get up many mornings I know the work ahead and I know that it is going to be a difficult day. I want to role over and pretend to not be there but that is not an option. I get up and I go to breakfast with the team. Hopefully it was after spending a little quality time along with God but that does not always happen. It is during breakfast that my perspective on the day changes. I begin to see that there is a purpose and a plan for today that has been taking shape since the beginning of time. Today, God is going to show His love to somebody through this group of people that I am with and I am going to get to be part of that. I am much more excited about the day at this point.

When I start focusing on people, God's love, and being a son to my Father the day takes on a special importance. Who knows, maybe that day there will be a breakthrough of love to one of the kids that I have seen countless times. Possibly God will use our team to bring healing and restoration to a person that has been hurt and abused. What if today is the day that someone we minister to with our words or actions would lay down their life at the cross of Jesus and receive all that He has for them. Today takes on a new meaning and importance that is easy to forget in the business of the work we are doing.

When I let God show me the bigger picture I develop a passion for what we are doing. I have God's heart for the people that we are serving. I see myself as blessed for being able to see the love of God manifest through His children to people that He wants to reveal Himself to. I become passionate about what we are doing because my Father is passionate about it. I get to reap rewards that are beyond what I can comprehend because I am working with Jesus and watching Him move in people's lives.

God has called us all to serve Him but not as slaves. He wants us to see the big picture and know what He is doing. He wants to ignite His passion in us for those that He came to save. He wants to partner with us to make His name known. God wants to give us an inheritance and fill our lives with brothers and sisters to share it with. God does not want us to spend our lives in meaningless tasks but wants us to see that whatever He has called us to should be used to draw people to Him. If you are a teacher, carpenter, mechanic or garbage ruck driver, God wants to ignite you with passion for your work and show you how to disciple others through that thing. You can do any legitimate job for His glory and to make Him known.

Are you passionate about what you are doing today? If not, ask Holy Spirit to show you how your role can have a kingdom impact on people's lives. Let Him show you how you can use your skills, gifts, talents and resources to Make Jesus known. You have a purpose, destiny and inheritance. What you do is important to the lives of those you are called to minister to. You are alive today to make known the kingdom of God. He wants you to have a passion for that.

I still need to raise support for my personal finances. I need another $1,000 before I return Sept 20th. I would also like to see several of the school children sponsored before my return. If you would like to help with either of these things you can contact me at 779-227-3812 or email me at If you would like to send support you can mail it to

Life Church Morris
c/o Guatemala Missions Fund, ongoing
P.O. Box 679
Morris, IL 60450

Thank you all and I pray that you find a kingdom purpose and the Father's passion for the work He has called you to today.
Just hanging out with some friends

Replacing a house in Zapote

Thursday, July 30, 2015

If we want to receive love, we must be ready to give it away.

I am sitting at the school in Membrillal this morning watching the Capital Church team play games with the kids and I am thinking about the last 6+ months. I am watching the kids and seeing how much they soak in loving attention from any older person that notices them. I find that I constantly am the victim of hugs, fist bumps and pile ons. I am so grateful that God has opened the door for me to spend so much time at this school and to get to know the kids. They have taught me much about life and about myself. I have learned what our relationship to our heavenly Father is supposed to be. I have come to understand in a much greater way the need we all have to experience love from someone stronger and wiser than we are. It is the very reason for our existence. We draw a sense of security from knowing that we are loved by someone that knows more and has more strength than we do.

When I go to the school every kid knows my name and most or the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders clamor for my attention. They are saying “Do you notice me?” You cannot get away from the feeling that your attention is of vital importance to some part of their lives. Sadly, by the time that they get to 4th Grade many of the kids, especially the boys have begun to retreat from many of the adults. They still will interact but it is not with the same degree of enthusiasm as the younger children. It is obvious not just that they are getting older but that they are also closing their hearts a little bit to people. They are not as receptive to the attention that they craved just a year or two earlier.

Many of the children in this community come from single parent homes for several different reasons. Others come from homes with alcoholic or abusive parents. Many come from loving homes but they have a dad that is gone several days at a time to make a living in a low paying job in another region. The reasons that the children have come to isolate themselves from authority are numerous but the results are usually the same. They are not limited to this small community in Guatemala but are everywhere. Kids that feel abandon, neglected, abused or forgotten will gradually begin to shut down to receiving love.
I am beginning to see that through much of my life I have done the same thing. Where I once craved attention from authority figures and older people, I eventually began to resent them and try to stay under their radar. I developed a mistrust for their attention to me. I became defensive and did not want to be accountable to them. After all, who are they to tell me what I can or cannot do? This attitude did not show up in 4th grade but I suspect that it start to take root then. As I felt the sting of criticism from one of my teachers and began to develop my first ulcer. I am sure that it progressed as my parents, out of love and concern kept me from some of the things that other kids were doing. While today I can see that their motives were for my benefit and protection, at the time I just felt resentment. I felt like an outsider and it became a self-fulfilling view. The more I felt that way, the more I acted in ways that separated me from the people that I wanted to be like. There were times that I resented everyone and was angry at the world but only my family saw it of felt the resentment because a good Christian guy does not act out how I was feeling and to show it would just bring more isolation and resentment so I wore a mask.

For most of my adult life I have been actively involved in youth ministry. I loves kids and wanted to pour into them. It has not been until recently though that I have learned that what they need from is that I learn to receive the love of Jesus and allow that to fill everything I do. When I am doing a difficult or dirty task, I have learned to remind myself that I am l a son loved by my Heavenly Father. When I am spending time with the kids, I have learned to ask Jesus to fill my heart with His love, not just for them but for me. I realize that a person that is lives in and is aware of love filling their lives is able to serve much better. I have begun to serve from a desire to see the love that is filling me more daily to fill others too. Jesus loves us and it is in receiving that love that we are really able to show the world the power of God to bring transformation. I want Him to use me not just to transform individuals but towns and a nation so I need to live continually in the awareness of His love.

Jesus wants you to experience His love in real and deeply profound ways. He wants to fill you so that you can go and pour into others. He wants to use you in ways that are beyond anything that you can imagine and bring fulfillment to your lives. I also have come to believe that you will never experience more of God’s love until you let Him show you an outlet to release it. Love cannot flow into our lives unless we have a place for it to flow through. What is your outlet? How is God leading you to share His love? Are you called to join me or others in foreign missions? Maybe He is calling you to visit the sick or elderly in the hospitals and nursing homes. Possibly you are called to reach out to the young people in your community or lead an exploratory Bible study or Alpha group for your neighbors. I do not know what the specifics of your life or but I know this, If you want to receive the love of Jesus Love cannot flow into our lives unless we have a place for it to flow through. What is your outlet? How is God leading you to share His love? Are you called to join me or others in foreign missions? Maybe He is calling you to visit the sick or elderly in the hospitals and nursing homes. Possibly you are called to reach out to the young people in your community or lead an exploratory Bible study or Alpha group for your neighbors. I do not know what the specifics of your life or but I know this, If you want to receive the love of Jesus you need to let Him show you where to give it away.

I will be returning to Guatemala on September 20th and will be followed a few days later from a group from my Church. I need to raise about $2,500 in order for that to happen. I already have ticket to go but need my return ticket and living expenses for 2 months. I would like to ask you to pray about partnering with me in this. God is faithful and I know that He is the one that has called me to what I am doing. He has always provided for my needs but He often uses people. I do want to make it clear that this is only for my personal living expenses. I am glad to provide you ways to give to our projects also but that is not what I have asked for here. In the tabs of the blog there are tabs for ministries that you can give through to support our schools and projects.
Thank you all for your prayers and support in the past and I would love to get together with any that would like to hear the stories and see the pictures of what we have been doing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Friendship, Ministry and Life

The last few weeks have been busy and filled with lots of work, friendship and fun. Early last Saturday we took the team from Hinton to the airport and said goodbye to our friends. They continued working right up until Friday evening. Because of their hard work, computer desks were built at both schools, one of the walls of the Membrillal Church is closer to completion and the playground on the Church roof now has a roof of it's own. They kept going right up until it was time to pack up and go home.

This team has become real friends over the last 2+ years. It is always good to spend time with them and work with them. They encourage me to work more, try harder and be more available to people that come to work with us. I am thankful for them and am already looking forward to their return next year. I am hoping that they are able to bring back a few more of their team from past trip.

While Hinton was still here the His Hands Support Ministry team came to begin the evaluation/registration process for the Membrillal school for next year. Because of the financial concerns at the school, they left with some unanswered questions but they still took time with each kid as if the expansion for next year is going to happen.The kids love the visit from them each year and there are always lots of hugs his week. I have to admit that I had a good time with these crazy ladies myself, though I might have blushed a few times.

My favorite part of the time with His Hands is that I get to spend more time with the kids at the school than any other week in the year. While I drive them around, I also got to interview kids and to play with them during their free times. I was able to laugh with them, get high fives, hugs and fist bumps frequently and occasionally pulled around the playground. This is an important week because it reminds me that I need to keep my focus on the kids and communities that we serve and that the call is to make the love of Jesus known to them. Sometimes this can get lost in the business of the work when we are doing construction.

I am excited for the future of both of the schools here and for the Churches that serve the communities. As I get to spend in these communities I see the heart of the Father for the people that live in them. Looking at the kids, I see the need that we all have to know that we are loved by a perfect Father and that this love is perfect, unconditional and free. If I can see His love in this way, I am sure that it is way greater than I an fathom. If His love is this great for them and for me, then He is going to bring breakthrough in the lives of the families in Zapote and Membrillal. He is going to bring healing and and deliverance to them and as long as I am obedient, I am going to get to see it.

Than you Jesus for your love to me and for that same love reaching to the communities that you have led me to.

Soon I will be returning to the States for a few weeks and while there I will need to raise the funds needed for my return. I will be spending another 2 months here this year and will need to raise $2,500 to $3,000 more to complete the year. Many of you have been a part in my funding already this year and I am grateful for that. I would love a chance to talk with many of you and share all of the things that we are doing here. The vision is much bigger than one person, Church or group and all of you can play a role. Thank you and see many of you soon.
Interviewing families for Source of Hope

Joyful faces of kids at play

Monday, July 6, 2015

To say last week was interesting would be an understatement. Friends from the Hinton Alliance Church from Hinton, Alberta are here for a two week stay and we have been doing everything that we can to scare them but so far they have come through very well. We took them to work into Zapote to work most of the week and it has created some interesting situations.

 On Monday as we were returning from work, the skies opened up and the rain came down  at probably and inch or more an hour rate. About the time that we got to a straight section of road where we could go a little faster the wipers quit working and I could not see to drive but I also could not see to safely pull over So I continued the last 6 miles home with the help of others telling me what I could not see. We made it but my knuckles were white. I was able to get them fixed when we got back.

On Tuesday We went back to Zapote. The drive is downhill the whole way and finishes with a 5 mile dirt and gravel road that requires 4 river crossings. When we came out of the first river the brakes went out. We still had to go 4 miles to drive into Zapote and 25 miles to get home. I had to drive home pumping the breaks so that I could have any break pressure but still the pedal was close to the floor the whole way. Once again we made it home safely.

On Wednesday we had to split the team up. While a few went into Zapote to work on the next house we were going to build I kept half of the group at the Church to work on projects around there. We had to have the mechanic work on the breaks. The break fluid had become contaminated, the pads were cracked and the shoes were completely worn out. The ones that went into the Zapote got to see a show. Fuego, the volcano that we have to drive around to get to Zapote began erupting. We could clearly see the smoke and Ash from 20 miles away. They were only 3 miles from it. In the evening we all went on the Church roof to watch the lava as it shot a few hundred feet above the cone. It was a spectacular show.

In spite of all of the adventures, God protected everyone and we got home safely each night. We also were able to build 2 houses and 2 stoves as well as get the playground at the Church painted with 2 coats and get a roof over the upper level. This team, like the team from Risen Life, works hard from the time they get to the job until the time that we are finished. Not stopping has  allowed us to accomplish a lot for being a team of 7. They have been working hard. The good news is that we still have a second week of work and that will be mostly focused on the Church at Mebrillal.

I am so grateful for the many people that God has brought into my life in the last few years. This team from Hinton is now here for the fourth time and they have become great friends over the last few years. It is always great when they come and we enjoy having them come visit and work with us. It is always good when teams come but it us my favorite when they come back.
Ash shooting several thousand feet in the air on the next day after it calmed down.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


It has been longer than I intended since my last update. I was planning on posting right after the team left but unfortunately my body would not cooperate. I spent most of last week in bed or asleep on the couch with the flu or something like it. I had body aches, chills when I was not roasting, a nasty cough and no energy. I wanted to do things but every time I stopped or sat down, I was sleeping in a few seconds. Needless to say, writing was out of the question.

Happily, I am fully recovered now and would like to update you on the team and the work that happened in early June. The team from Risen Life Church in Utah arrived on Friday evening and they began helping out immediately. There was an evangelism event that was Scheduled for Saturday morning and they went to the streets along with Church members and they blanketed much of the town. They went to the park and to neighborhoods handing out the Gospel of John booklets and looking for opportunities to share about Jesus. Even though they were limited in their abilities to communicate, they all had a great time and were excited to help.

On Monday we started the construction week. The team began the prep work for constructing the Church walls in Membrillal.  They cleaned the area, tied re bar for the beams and began to get the block work started. This is the first team that has done significant block work because it is one of the more difficult jobs. We took a break from work in Membriallal to go work in Zapote for two days. The plan was to work there Wednesday and Thursday and then go back to finish the block on Friday in Membrillal. They were going to build a house and two stoves, not a hard two days work but enough that they would know that they had been busy. They finished it all in one long, hot, tiring and dirty day.

Most of the team went back to work in Membrillal a day early. Rudy took 3 with him back to Zapote to finish tearing down the old, dilapidated house while the rest of us went to continue working on the Church walls. By the end of Thursday we were a full day ahead of schedule. The block was almost completely done up through the first 5 rows, where we were going to stop and pour columns and beams. On Friday, our bonus day we were able to pour them and the Church was starting to shape up. You could now see what it was going to look like.

Risen Life worked hard and I was once again impressed by their work ethic and determination to finish more than anyone though was possible. In their week of work we had 4 days of monsoon rains each afternoon. It poured so hard that the water was making rivers running down the streets. They kept working through it all. Tono told me to clean up because we were done so I started collecting tools and cleaning up the garbage in the rain. Two hours later they were finished with all the work that they wanted to accomplish. They were not going to let 2" if rain falling in a 3 hour period keep them from finishing. They worked hard and they never complained.

I was impressed by how hard the team worked but even more by their attitudes and their view of the work they were doing. They did not come to Guatemala to build buildings and stoves. They came to advance the Kingdom of God and were going to do that regardless of the tasks that entailed. Their work was primarily to honor and glorify Jesus. They did that in Guatemala and they will be doing that in Salt Lake now that they are home. They understand that the call is to be faithful to God's purposes and plans wherever you happen to find yourself at the moment. They made eternal progress this week that goes beyond the number of blocks set and the projects finished. I pray that they are blessed and that Risen Life reaps blessings for all of the sowing that they do.
Jarrod fitting block around a roof drain.

Greg working on the wall near the stage.

Monday, May 25, 2015


As many of you have probably figured out by now, I love Guatemala. When I am here, I miss my family and friends back home but I love this place. I am pretty sure that Heaven will be a lot like it without all of the noise, pollution and corruption. What I am saying it that the mountains and much of the Latin Culture draw me in. I know that God has created me for a place like this. There are some things that are challenging but they are nothing compared to the love of God has put in my heart for Guatemala.

We do many different things and I have written about all of them at one time or another, things like stove building, house construction, the Food Machine, outreach and evangelism events and I love them all. Of the things that we do though I love the schools and Church construction the most. While the other things all help individuals or families, these two things have the power to transform a community. As people begin to understand that God created them with a purpose and in His image, they no longer want to settle for just getting by. They want to do something with their lives that impacts the world. Educated people who know that they are created with purpose and in God's image can transform a country. That is the goal of the Churches and schools.

Right now, Guatemala is in a difficult time. Violence has seemed to be on the rise recently. There are bus driver shootings and other murders being reported in the paper almost every day. The government is also in a state of turmoil. The vice president was forced to resign a couple of weeks ago because she has been tied to a corruption and bribery scandal that was led by her personal secretary, who is still on the run. Many other people have also been  named in this scandal, the head of banking, the director of SAT (the national taxing body) The customs director and numerous other government officials. There have been protests every weekend for the last month in several locations calling for an outside investigation and the resignation of the president. To date he has denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the involvement of several cabinet members.

The schools and Churches need to be at the forefront of change in this country. Pastor Merari and others have had a vision to see that happen and has been working, along with other pastors, Church staff, Kid's Alive International  and short term teams to see that happen.  Bringing the light of Jesus into the lives of kids and their families is the reason the schools exist. In Zapote, it is going very well. The school at Membrillal is not doing as well right now unfortunately. That is something I want to ask you all to be praying about.

Each year, the schools grow by adding one class. The kids that start will be able to continue in the school until 8th grade. Last year Membrillal had 1st through 4th grade. This year a 5th grade class was added. That added about 20 new students and a new teacher. There were some unsponsored students last year and now there are more because of the addition of an extra class. The sponsorship cover almost all of the expenses for a student if they are fully sponsored. Right now there are about 30 students that need sponsors. That is putting a serious financial strain on the operation of the school. We need to change this situation soon. It is critical for the school to be able to continue to enhance the lives of the students and to be an instrument of change in Guatemala.

I love these kids and the impact the the school is having on their lives and on their families. Next year we are suppose to add another class but that is going to take some people getting involved and sponsoring children. I am asking you to do three things.

  1. Pray that God would bring in all of the needed funds. Ultimately it is His school and we are just stewards of His property and the children.
  2. Pray about what, if anything, God would have you to do personally. Maybe He is calling you to make a one time gift or to sponsor a child. I do not know who gives and do not want you to feel pressure from me but I am asking you to ask God if you are called to help financially.
  3. Share this blog post. If many people read and pray, God will move the hearts of the ones that He has called. Share it on facebook and email it to friends. Got the word out.
Thank you for being obedient, however God calls you to respond. You are all greatly appreciated.

This does not have anything to do with my own personal support, it is only for the schools at Membrillal. I want to thank you for those that have generously supported me while in my time here. You are a blessing and I am eternally grateful for your partnership in the work God has called me to.

If you want to support the school copy and past this link or you can click on His Hand above in the links tab and give through this organization. They are one of the two partner organizations that we are working with to find sponsorships for all of our children.

You can still support me by mailing checks to
Life Church, Morris
C/O Guatemala Missions
P.O. Box 679 
Morris, IL 60450 

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I have been thinking about something for a few days now and I believe  that God has put it on my heart but along with this idea, I have heard a 1,000 excuses in my mind. I am not ready to share the idea just yet because I need to talk to a few people and also I need to ask God to more fully develop it so I know what the next step to take will be. What I want to share right now is the issues that try and rob a God given vision.

When I started to think about this thing that God was putting in my heart, I got excited. It would open doors for many that right now seem to be closed. After my excitement, I got hit with reality. This would cost a lot of money and would require a big time investment from many people. I got frustrated at the difficulties that were ahead and wanted to complain and run away. I let the idea begin to die before Holy Spirit had a chance to develop it in me. I know that it was from God but I also knew that I felt far short of the task.

God began to speak to me about His Kingdom yesterday. In Matt 6 and Luke 12, Jesus tells us that the Father knows what we need and that we should not spend our time chasing after these things. He continues on to tell us to seek His Kingdom and He will take care of our needs. In Matt 16, He goes on to tell us that He is building His Church (Kingdom) and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.. It sounds like God has a plan for all that needs to be done and He has provision to make it happen.. I need faith to step into the plan.

What I am realizing is that it is God's job to direct us, provide the resources for the work and provide for our needs as we walk in obedience to Him. My job is to become intimate with His voice and to obey what He directs. If I am trying to figure out all of the logistics of a thing, I am stepping into His territory. My plans keep me form His best, His provision and His prosperity. I can get my best and come far short of what He intends. I do not want that.

When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we pray "Your kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven." but do we mean it. In Heaven their is one agenda, the purpose of God. We often want to direct God into our purposes to act according to our will. If we want His Kingdom manifested in our town, country or even the world, we have to lay down our agenda and work on His. The good news is that when we do this, he is responsible for providing the needs of money, workers and resources. In Heaven there is no shortage of anything. His Kingdom manifest on earth also has no shortage even though we might not always understand how He supplies or may have to wait on His timing to receive it.

I am not talking about a prosperity Gospel. To often that is about the kingdom of self. God has not interest in or intent to build my kingdom. He fully intends to build His kingdom and when we set our hearts and minds on obeying His direction in that call, He will pour the resources of Heaven into that endeavor. He is building His Church (Kingdom) and nothing can stop that. Our choice is to get on board His plan and get to see it happen or to fight for our own plans and get crushed at the point where the Kingdom of God is in conflict with the world.

What I am realizing is the only thing that stops me from walking in God's plan is my own agenda. God is moving with me or without me. The idea He put in my head will happen but I may not get to be part of it. I guess it is time to embrace the work of the cross, let my own plans and agenda die and get on board with what God is about to do.

I want Your Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Teach me to seek that daily instead of my own desires  and plans Jesus. Your plans and your Kingdom rule are better.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lost in a Dying World

    It seems like Guatemala has become more violent in the last few weeks, or at least my awareness of it has increased. As we approach Holy week it seems like the devil and his forces are on overtime. In the last week, I have heard of three events that really drove this home. A Canadian team was working in the Antigua area last week. They were not one of our teams and so I have little information but some of the team had gone to play soccer with some of the local people and a gang robbed them at gunpoint, taking their shoes, money, phones and other valuables. They were not harmed, only robbed.
     Another incident happened in the city. Some friends there minister to a group of people, sharing the love of Jesus with them on a regular basis. They get to know these people and develop relationships with them. For most, my friends are the only light that Jesus is able to shine into their deception. Earlier this week. One of the women that they have been ministering to for many years was murdered.
     Finally, I went out to pick up supper last Friday night to a little restaurant down the street. I ordered and waited at the pick up window for my food. The guy that walked in behind me had a gun and robbed the place. (Not me. I am completely fine). He had 2 accomplices that stayed outside, one was a lookout and the other was a the getaway rider. Right across the street is a crowded park where there was a basketball game going on with probably 50 people watching.  All three left on a 125cc motorcycle. After they left, I spent the next several minutes reassuring the women that was the only other customer in there. She was shaken and was sure that she was going to die.
     As I walked home, I pondered all that had just happened. I was not nervous of fearful or even angry. I did take some time to pray though and God spoke something right to me. The world needs the light. The darkest places need it the most. Where there is violence, crime, prostitution, murder, those are the place that the Church needs to be running to not fleeing from. We cannot have the luxury of looking for the safe places to go minister. The safe places already have hundreds of sources of light but in the darkness, there is very little. If we do not go to those places, all of the people there will be lost for eternity and we will have to answer for why we did not step in.
    Guatemala is a country steeped in religion. There are 13 million people. Many would claim to be Christian but they have held on to Mayan beliefs blended with Catholicism. They do not understand that the Gospel is about transformation. Their understanding is that if they are good enough and perform the right rituals at the right time, they will probably be okay. We need to show the light and the love of Jesus to them. There are many local Churches that are working on that but the job is big. We need to be the encourager that come alongside and support them. It is not our job to take over the evangelism efforts but support our brothers and sisters that are already doing the work of the Gospel where they are. My role is to be here in active support. Yours may be that or something different but the world needs us to find and fulfill our roles.
     Out of my incident came a great story. The Church that I attend here had a planned evangelism day set for the next day. After people going door to door for several hours, there was an outreach event in that same park where the guys had been playing basketball the night before. There was worship, a powerful skit portraying the freedom and life that comes only from relationship to Jesus and a short Gospel message. The woman that was in the restaurant with me came. She talked for several minutes with one of the Church woman and then again at the end of the presentation they were talking. She was sharing the story of the previous night as I left to go home. I pray that events of Friday helped draw her to new life in Jesus Saturday.
     I have read a quote that says "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." It is by Nelson Henderson. When we leave our comfort zone to share the Gospel we are bringing light to darkness but we are also doing something bigger. While we are changing the world, we are planting trees for future generations to rest under. We are leaving an inheritance of a better world for the next generation. If people understand that the true nature of the Gospel is lives transformed by love, the world will become a much friendlier place. Everybody wants to be loved but few have experienced it in the depths God meant for it to be experienced. When we tell somebody, they may not hear us but when we go out of our way to demonstrate the love of Jesus, it will make a lasting impact.
     Are you changing your world?  Have you thought about running into dark places? Are you ready to see how much of a difference you can make? Now is the day. Take a risk. Grab your sword and run at the devil. Jesus has won the victory so we cannot loose.

I was standing near the counter of Pollo Granjero when it was robbed.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What are you giving?

This has been a tiring few weeks. We have had teams, moved countless wheelbarrows of dirt down a hill only to he to walk back up and shovel more, had  a concert with Peter Furler, and poured a Church floor in Membrillal only to have the portion over the cistern collapse and have to be re-poured. I am not complaining. As a matter of fact, I have enjoyed most of it. I especially enjoy every day that I get to go to one of the schools and spend time interacting with the kids. I get to do that often. I am just saying that I am tired.

I wanted to share a revelation this morning that I received while listening to a message by my pastor back in the States, Jon Nebbeling. He was talking about the feeding of the 5,000 men plus all that were with them. I was struck by Andrew as he shared the story. We have all heard it countless times but it impacted me this morning as a new way. Andrew brought a boy that have 5 small loaves and 2 fish to feed thousands. I am sure the disciples laughed but not Jesus. For Him, it was the launching point. He said, "Tell them to sit down".

This story got me thinking about the need around me and what I have to offer, or more correctly do not offer because it seems so small. How many times have I held back because what I had seemed barely enough to meet my need let alone that of anyone else. Whether I am in Illinois or Guatemala, I am surrounded by people with such large needs that I feel completely inadequate. I let that feeling keep me from offering to God what I do have. I am stopped by what my senses dictate.

Do you ever do that? Do you ever hold back because you know that there is no way you have what is needed for the task? What should our response be?

As I was thinking about this, I came to a conclusion. The things God is calling us to will always leave us feeling inadequate. We will never have enough to accomplish it. Our gifts, talents and resources will never be enough. You might ask why that is. If I can do it without God, I can take the glory for it. He wants to do things that we cannot do in our own strength. But, He also wants us to participate in what He is doing. The way that we do that is to bring whatever we have and offer it to Him completely. When we offer the little we have, He tells the people to sit down and then begins to multiply our little to meet their need. God is the one who multiplies. We are only called to offer Him what we do have. He knows our limits but those are the very things that He uses to bring Himself glory.

What area are you feeling drawn to today? What frightens you about going into it? Step out. Offer God what you do have, knowing that it is completely insufficient to meet the need and then watch Him multiply your offering.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

When the Rewards Come

Last week was a rewarding week. Along with the team from Hinton Alliance, we went to work in Zapote. We had two houses to build in three days. The first house was full of rocks and we thought that there was no way we would get two houses done because the digging took so long on the first.  By the end of the first day all that we had done was to set all of the support posts. While some of us went to that house a second day, 2 others went with Rudy to the second house to begin tear down and digging to prepare that lot for building. That was when the fun began.

The second lot had rocks but that was of little consequence. It also had numerous boulders that were 2 to 3' in diameter. They must have weighed a ton each. Kelvin and Rudy spent the whole day there digging around one that could not stay if we were going to build on this tiny lot. When we came from the first house at 3:30 to help them, they were trying to move it out of a
2 1/2' deep hole with large breaker bars. We strapped it with a tow strap and pulled while they pried. after about 10 more minutes, we had it moved 20' and out of the way.

When we went back the next day we encountered many more of these massive boulders. We tried for a couple of hours to move them but eventually realized that we would never finish the house if we continued this effort. The decision was made to bring in several truck loads of dirt to level the lot. While some did that, others began building. even though we had such a late start, I am happy to say that at 6 o'clock Wednesday evening we finished and dedicated it also. These accomplishments were rewarding but there was something else that was the highlight of the week for me.

Before we began the first house, Pastor Jose Louis told us the story of the family that we were working to help. The mother was a widow with four daughters. One had a young son that also stayed with them. One of the daughters is wanting to study accounting but needed to work and save money so she could go to school. This is an uncommon thing in this remote village. Last year, she did not go to school but when to work in Peten,  a northern department 12 hours away by bus so she could save money for school. Around Christmas time, she was robbed and severely beaten. All of the money she had saved was robbed and she was in very bad shape for over two weeks. She still has the remnants of scars and swelling in her face.

Milvia, the girl that was attacked and robbed.

When she came home, the family called Pastor Jose Louis to come pray for her even though they were not part of the Church. As he ministered to the family, The Holy Spirit moved. As a result of all of this, 17 people in this family surrendered their lives to Jesus. There was a transformation. The girl that was beaten seemed to be at peace. She did not seem at all anxious around us strangers and was helpful and talkative. You could tell God was at work in her life healing and restoring all that the enemy had tried to steal. I think every one of us also felt like we were suppose to be part of the restoration process. While we never give money to the families we serve, we all felt the prompting of God to give to her. In order to preserve the ministry and not create unrealistic expectations, we gave it to Pastor Jose Louis to give it at the right time. She has now left to return to work and is still planning on going to school next year. Please keep this family in your prayers.

It is stories like this that make this whole experience worth it. When we get to see the love of Jesus flow into people's lives as a result of the ministry that the work makes possible, joy is natural. I feel so blessed to be part of a ministry that keeps men like Pastor Jose Louis in the field. He is able to minister in ways that would not be possible without the resources that come and allow the love of God to be seen in tangible ways. Thank you for your support and prayers. This story is part of of what you all make possible.