Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whose mission are you subject to?

The volcano at the left is Fuego at dusk on a very active day. We drive right around it to get to Zapote.
I am in Illinois and reflecting on some things from the last few years of ministry. There is one thought that stands out and I wanted to share it with you. We are all called to a mission. The church and each person has a call from God to make Jesus known and to make disciples. Each of us has a unique role in that call and for each of us, our role falls under someone else's supervision. Our calls are layered and one person's call is built on another's. None of us has a stand alone call.

Because we are not called to an individual call but to a unique role within the corporate call, we are also called to submit our place to the larger vision and to the people that have responsibility for shepherding that larger vision. There are people that have a larger responsibility and an understanding of the bigger vision than we, as individuals have.

When I am in Guatemala, I work with a team. That team is led by Pastor Merari and more directly in the field by his brother Tono. These two men have received a clear vision from God for how they are to proceed to work and reach the people of the communities that they work in. I have been given a love foe Guatemala, the team that I work with and for the communities that we work in. I know that I have several roles and they vary based on the need of the moment. Some of the tasks that fall to me I love. Some are just work and I wish someone else would do them but they are mine. The work needs to be done for the overall goals to be achieved and I am the one that needs to do them. I remind myself to ask God to keep His plan and the bigger picture in front of me at the times that I am doing these things.

Two girls at a school assembly in Membrillal
I am not writing this so you will feel sorry for me. I am writing them because I need to confess that when I am feeling these things, it is my attitude that is wrong, not the task. I agree that God has called me to serve the people of Guatemala and that He has called me to do in under the vision of Pastor Merari and Tono. They are the ones that have been given the larger picture that my calling fits within. I cannot fulfill the role God has called me to without being submitted to the mission of another. My place falls within their                                                                                                            mission.

Fairhaven team in Membrillal
I hear many people that come on short term missions and they have a plan. They have decided  what they will do without ever having talked with the people that they are coming to serve. I see it in Churches also. People decide when they come to a Church that their role will be X without ever having talked to leaders and hearing the vision and direction of that particular congregation. They want to serve their vision and call but they never ask how that fits into the bigger picture. It is common in this time when we personalize everything to miss the bigger picture. It is easy to reduce the whole thing to the role that we feel called to fill and miss out on the bigger picture.

Girl playing at the clinic in Zapote
Today, I am asking God to expand my heart and to break it over the selfish motives that I so often feel. I am asking Him to help me go back and trust the people that He has entrusted with the bigger vision. When we build houses, paint a building, build a stove or shovel gravel, I want to see it as serving the vision God has given for discipling communities. I want to honor God by honoring those that have been put in positions of authority over me. I want to see God's visions fulfilled by doing what He has called me to do inside the mission that is bigger that He has called others to as well. I do not want to be solely subject to my own mission because I want the greater vision to be accomplished. I am ready to go back to work but not just to serve my own plans.

I am exited to see where Zapote and Membrillal will be in 5 years, 10 years and way out into the future. I am excited to know that I have a role in it but mostly I am exited to know that my role is only a small part in the grand scheme of God. I pray that you too know you are called to go and to serve. Even more, I pray that you know you are called to find where your call fits into the bigger picture and you are able to gladly subject yourself to the ones give responsibility to lead in the bigger picture.

Pharmacy at the clinic in Zapote

Boxes of medicine for the clinic.


Waiting to see the doctor

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Finding the Motivation

I have been planning to write this update for over a week but my days got longer than I anticipated. Late nights do not make for good writing. Sorry for the delay but I hope that you are blessed by it.

A couple of weeks ago I took a few members of our team from Ohio to Zapote. Most of the team had been there numerous times and opted to stay and work in Membrillal but  a few had never been and wanted to go see the Church and school.A few others came to take care of a few things that they needed to do. I was helping Steve Smith work on a pump that he had recently replaced. After they completed the things that they came for, the group went on with Carlos Fernandez to see the work that he is doing in Tabacal. Steve and I finished our work and I struck up a conversation with  a new worker at the school in Zapote.

She was telling me about her experience in coming to Zapote. When she was first made aware of the need, she said no, She was not the one to fill that need. She was woken up the next morning with a question resonating inside her. "Why not?" As she struggled to answer that question she knew that she was supposed to say yes, she would be the one.

Many of you have had similar experiences. You have been asked by God or, more likely by people to do a task that was completely beyond you. It was not just out of your comfort zone but completely unrealistic, a pipe-dream at best. You had to say no because it was the only reasonable thing a person could do. How would you raise the funds? What about your job? Who would take over your responsibilities in the Church? Your family is depending on you being there for................ For every reason I could give you to say yes, there are 50 reasons why it will never work.

I want to suggest something to you. When God allows you to become aware of a situation, it is your invitation to join Him in His work there. That is not to say that everything you hear is God's call but there are things that strike you at a deeper place. They are not just a thing that you have information about but they pull at your heart strings. The thought about them linger long after the conversation or presentation ends. This is God's invitation, His call to action. What will you do about it? If you reason it out, you will never do anything. If you just pray about, you will find that the urge will diminish over time. I want to ask you to consider another option.

When you feel the first pull on your heart, begin to pray but also begin to explore. Make plans like you are going soon. Get yourself in a position to go. Talk to people about what you are hoping to do. Learn about the culture and the difficulties of living in it. Talk to people that have been or are there. Write ministries working in that place. Keep taking steps toward going. Ask God to help you move forward. Keep going until you have a definite "why not". Let God close a door if this is not for you but until then keep pursuing. There is a reason that this particular thing connected with you. Keep going until you know what that is.

I did not come to Guatemala for more than a few weeks on the first time that I was asked. It was actually the third time before I committed to more than a short period. At the same time, I kept returning and exploring. My friends got tired of hearing about this place. While I did not relocate the first time an opportunity came up, I kept moving in that direction. You ask, why is it important that I go. God wants to bless you with the opportunity of partnering with Him. You probably are not called to Guatemala or Central America. Maybe you are not even called to leave the U.S. but I know that you are called to make an impact for the kingdom of God by living in obedience to Him.

The day after my conversation in Zapote, I was at the school in Membrillal. The students were doing a presentation for the team and it started out with Esdras and Brenda leading in worship. I looked up and saw a Third grade girl lost in worship. Many were singing but I could see she was captivated by Jesus at that moment. I do not know what her relationship with Him is like but at that time, she was experiencing fellowship with the Holy Spirit. God was real to her in that moment. I got to see it and be blessed by the work that God was doing in her life. My reward is that God is moving and I get to rejoice in being part of what He is doing. He is making Himself known in a rural mountain community in Guatemala and I get to see it happen because I simply said yes.

I love to spend time with the kids. I love that they hug and high  5 me on a regular basis but even more, I love that they are getting to know Jesus. They are being led into relationship with Him. God has brought pastors, teachers, administrators and school staffs to them to make Him known. He is building His kingdom in Membrillal and Zapote through the lives of the young people. He is doing it through people that have made themselves available to Him. I get to be a small part of that and witness His activity in their lives. That is worth more to me than any job I could have, any paycheck I could receive. That is something worth giving my life to.

These last two weeks we have been pouring columns and beams at the Church in Membrillal. We build 3 houses and 2 stoves in Zapote. One team painted most of the outside of the school in Zapote. We played games and had fun with the kids. All of that was just the icing in the cake. The most important thing that happened for me was that I got to see a 10 year old girl encounter God in worship and that makes it all worth while.
Soon I hope to post a page of pictures from ththe last 2 weeks..

Let me ask you: "Why Not?"

I am still in need of support for this year. I have about $5,000 left to go on my living expense goal of $12,000 for the year and I still need to raise $5,000 to purchase a vehicle. I have received about $7,000 so far this year. If you would like to help with these expenses, you can support me by sending a check to

Life Church Morris
P.O. Box 679
C\O Mission San Lucas
Morris, IL 60450

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.