Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Even in the Tough Times

I have been having a hard time trying to figure out what to write this week. We spent the last week helping The Oasis staff and a medical team from Texas with a medical clinic in Zapote. It was a difficult week for many. Normally this group was led by the team coordinator Josh Ma. I have helped them with 8 or 9 clinics and he has been the lead on all but this one. He was not able to lead this time because he was very ill. He has been battling stomach cancer and it spread to most of his other organs. He lost a lot of weight because the tumor was so large he could not eat. He had a feeding tube placed in his intestines to try and get him some nourishment. Unfortunately the tube did not seal and leaked into his body cavity causing severe infection. On Thursday one of the Kid's Alive staff got frequent prayer updates and they culminated in the news that he passed away at 3 p.m. 

In my home Church there is a man that has been faithful to attend and pray for many years. He was an encourager for all that were there. He always had a hug and a smile for everybody. When he prayed for you, you knew that you were loved. A few months ago he was diagnosed with cancer as well. He had been going through treatment and when I was in Morris for Christmas I thought he looked good seemed to be doing well also. Chemo destroys he immune system and he got sick. He wound up in ICU a few days ago. This morning he passed away also.

Other than the fact that they were both Godly men and they both had families, their lives were very different. One was young, had left a professional position to pursue missions. The other had worked hard and lived in the same area most of his life. One had a young wife, a small daughter and another child on the way. The other lost his wife to cancer several years ago and his children were now adults with families of their own. Thy were different in many ways but the end of their life journey here has had a singular impact on me

The effect of these two deaths has caused me to question the direction of my life. I am missing time with family and friends in Morris. Someday I will loose people closer to me than these two friends. Will I regret not being there the last few years?  Will I be able to be at a funeral for a close family member or friend, knowing that I was not there when their time on earth ended? I have asked myself this question before but it seemed like there was a greater urgency to have an answer this time. Fortunately, God is faithful to let us know when we are where we are supposed to be.

At Josh's funeral on Saturday, a friend< Doug shared how Josh was ready to go and be with Jesus. He had held on for his wife and children but his heart was ready to be at rest with Jesus. If he was not to be healed, he wanted to go. That type of assurance can only come from a close walk with Jesus. He loved his family but was in the place that he knew Jesus could care for them better than he could.While he wanted to be there for them, he had confidence that Jesus would walk through this with them, comfort them and care for them in the future. He was ready to hear his Father welcome him home into his reward.

We all are going to go through difficult times. We have families that may suffer when we cannot be there for them. Life on this planet can be difficult at times and we are all touched by the brokenness that surrounds us. We have to know the love of Jesus and be confident in the course that He sets for us. Even more I think is that we have to know His love and care for our families. We have to learn to trust Him with their care. He can do what we cannot. He can give them life, both now and for eternity.

I need to remind myself frequently that I am not called to live for this world. That includes the people and relationships that are dear to me. I am called to live for eternity. That does not mean I cannot have real and deep relationships here but that I cannot let them be my motivation. If I follow Jesus I can trust Him o take care of the people that matter to me. My best reward will be eternity, filled with the people I love. I cannot get them there Only God can do that. I can pray for them and share truth with them but He is the one that draws them to a life giving relationship with Himself. As for me, I choose to let go of the here and now so that I can rejoice for eternity with those I love. Who knows,  if I do not obey God's voice one of the testimonies that He desires to use to draw them may not exist.

The best way to get through the tough times is to remember that we are not called to live for this world. The best way to find the courage to follow God in tough places is to focus on eternal rewards and not immediate gratification. Remind yourself that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow so we need to make our choice to obey today. God may not be calling you to leave your country but He is calling you to a risky and costly role. Obedience to Jesus will cost you but the rewards will be worth it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

When Life Gets Busy

It has been a busy month around here. We have had a team of women come and begin the dialogue about ending a culture of violence against women and children. We had our friends from Ohio and Pennsylvania come and help us get started on the construction of the new Church building in San Lucas and we had a group from McKinney Christian Academy in Texas come to build houses and also reach out to the kids in Zapote with the love of Jesus. Each week was different and good in its own way.

Violence in Guatemala is a major problem. Some of you may have seen the story from the government run children's home. Over 30 girls have died as a result of a fire that they set in an attempt to escape this place. They were locked in their dorm rooms like prisoners. The stories of abuse and overcrowding have been hard to read. On Monday night many of the children decided to take action in response to their living conditions. They rioted and 60 or so escaped at least temporarily. The children were returned to their rooms and locked in. That is when the fire was started. I will not share the rest of the story here but will say that you can read about it all over the internet. It is the biggest story here currently. I will say though that it is just one more sign of the need for healing in this country that can only come through Jesus. The conversations that this team of women started is a step in that direction.
Buses bringing people to celebrate

After this team of ladies left, we dedicated the new property where the Church building will be built. We had people from Churches in Zapote, Santo Thomas, Magdelana, Membrillal and Chimaltenango come for the celebration along with 2 teams that were here and leaders from the community and from the CMA. They came on 8 buses and there was between 700 and 800 people. When this building is complete, we will have a much better ability to reach out and help meet the needs of the San Lucas area. It was an exciting day.

Our Fairhaven team from Pennsylvania and Ohio came next. Every year when they come it is a time for celebration. There has not been a project that Galilea has undertaken in the last 17 years that this group has not been a part of. Their history in Guatemala and their friendship are invaluable. This year they worked on numerous projects to begin  the new Church building in San Lucas. They built a storage building with a living area for a guard. They removed many trees, helped establish the grade depth for the foundation, tied columns and footer grids and poured the first footers for the building. They also welded the new gates that will sit at the entrance.. Along with all of that, they encouraged all of us with their presence and their words.

Finally we worked with many of the senior class and  some staff and chaperons from the Mckinney Christian Academy.. This group returned for a second year and they built three houses in Zapote along with a stove. They also went to the school and had after school activities with the kids for three days.They had opportunities for several to share their testimonies with the kids as well as play games and renew some friendships from last year. This group was generous in every way and I would like to thank them for coming and working with  us
In the midst of all of this, God showed me a couple of things clearly. The first was for me personally. If I am not spending time working on my relationships, first with Him and then with the people that I am with, the work is not that important. It is in relationship that our work gains value. If my relationship with God suffers because I am to busy, I am no longer working with Him and it just becomes labor. The value is exponentially diminished because the one who it is for is no longer in the middle of it. If it does not build relationships with the people that the work is with and for, it also looses value. If we are not building relationship, how can we live in the unity that Jesus called us to. We have  just begun to work but without any of the things that give our work value.

The second thing that He was showing me was a different mindset that exists  between a son and an orphan. One leads to  a type of prosperity and the other to poverty. A son knows that he has a father, is loved and has  a reliable source of provision. An orphan feels abandon and needs to try and scrape by on whatever little they can claw out of the world. A son knows that their father has enough and that they do not need to be jealous of others. An orphan always feels like someone else's success has cost them. Orphans cannot rejoice at what someone receives because they feel left out. A son knows that all they have is a blessing from father and he is faithful not just to them but to all that will receive his provision. Not all prosperity is financial but it is all in a mindset that is content, knowing that their needs are being met by someone that loves them. Orphans,in spirit always feel like they lack something no matter how much they have. Their mindset locks them into looking at and comparing their  worth to others and they always come up short. I sometimes fall into the orphan category and am grateful for all of the reminders that I am a son and have received a spirit of adoption.

I am hoping to begin to send out support and prayer letters in the next couple of months. They will be more specific than the blog and will tell you how you can support and pray for me, Galilea and all for the work going on in our projects. If you would like to receive this, send me a message with your contact info and will get you on the list. Thanks