Friday, August 18, 2017

Identity and Overcoming

It has been a long time since I have written. As I have been in this  transition stage, many things have changed and are still changing. I rented a place just before I left but there were problems with the water and electric. Micah has been there working on it and as of yesterday, he was assured that things would be hooked up and turned on soon. It is exciting for me because it a little place on the back of the property that he is moving into with the boys. It was not always easy to schedule times to get together with them to have a Bible study or talk about life but that should be easier now, as least location wise. The downside is that I will now be living across town from much of the work with the Church.

Two girls from Membrillal at the clinic
I am hoping that there will still be plenty of opportunities to work with the Church. While I have not always like some of the jobs, I love the people that God has allowed me to work with over the last 4+ years and I love that many people have seen the love of Jesus demonstrated through that work. My favorite part of these last 4 years has been to spend time with the kids in the schools, build friendships with them and watch them grow. I am excited for what God is going to do with them and hope to be able to have a role in it for many more years.

The primary change is going to be in who I am hoping to serve. God has been reminding me of the call of the Church to minister to orphans and widows. [Jas 1:27 ESV] 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. In Guatemala, there are 300,000 kids that are orphaned, abandoned, neglected or abused by family members. For 95% of them there is no help in sight even though the Evangelical Church claims about to be about 40% of the total population. Not everyone can take in children and the adoption process in Guatemala is very difficult to navigate but we must act to rescue these kids. This has become my heart. God says that He is a Father to the fatherless but He has given us the task of making that known to them and of showing them His love in physical, tangible ways.
Two friends shared posts on facebook just yesterday that I believe will help you see the nature of this crisis and the role that the Body is called to play in ending it.

from Micah Leier:
Something very sad has happened in Guatemala, but I am also saddened by how many Christians reacted. Everywhere I look at people demanding the death of the attackers, or even torturing them and worse. I have had these thoughts too, and I get angry for what happened, but the God I serve is not a God of hate and death, but love and life.
Instead of looking for revenge, should we ask ourselves how we have failed as much as church?
Because there are so many people with no hope that they are looking for her in drugs and alcoholism, because there are so many without a family that is looking for her in the gangs, and so many without love to find her in the brothel
The solution will not be found in hatred, killing is not solved with more bloodshed. These young people often have not seen any alternatives, they do not have education or hope for the future or often food. They're looking for a way out where they find him.
Now I ask you, in a country where you are supposed to be between 10 % and 60 % Christian, how can you find a gang before you find Jesus and your church? How have we failed so much that although Christians are more than gang members, they " evangelize " more and " serve " more to the poor?
Then before we throw away our stones, let us know if we are truly loving as Jesus sent us. What are we doing to help these people, physically and spiritually? How can we give them hope? And how will we share the love and truth of Jesus?

From Greg Giagnocavo:
This Father tried to Kill his 6 Children with Poison.
This happened right near us.
Here is the TL;DR version.
Mother was sick, and thinking she was going to die, gave away her one-year-old daughter. Simply approached the neighbor lady and gave her the child.
Mother dies.
Father is drunk most of the time and decides he doesn't want the other 6 children so he puts rat poison in their food, with the intent to kill them . Oldest daughter age 11, (who is more less in charge of the children ) notices this and tells her siblings not to eat the food.
Father takes up with another woman, aka, stepmother.
Stepmother doesn't want the children , now ages 5 to 12, so she kicked them out of the house and won't let them back in.
Father allows them back in but tells the children he doesn't want to see them anymore and that he's going to find people to give them away to. He gives 5 of the 6 children away, one by one, to neighbors or friends of neighbors.
But he can't find a family to take the Marvin, age 5.
Stepmother refuses to feed Marvin and kicks him out of the house ; Marvin lives three days by himself on the street.
Neighbor lady notices Marvin and brings him into her house; but she already has five children and simply can't take another child into her one-room house. So she approaches her neighbors, a childless Guatemalan couple.
This childless couple are friends of ours, and have desperately desired children. That same day, Martin moves in with them. That couple came to visit me on the weekend. They brought Marvin along - very cute and very well-behaved.
They really want children and I have been working with them to help them with the paperwork to go through the Guatemala government agency to adopt a child ... but it will take at least 18 months
The couple came over to talk privately to me asking how to do they "take in", or "adopt", Marvin .... 'as legal as possible'.**
Marvin already calls them Mom and Dad and loves playing with his new cousins who live nearby. He coincidentally has the same name as the "new father" and looks similar.
After our talk, the couple decided to keep Marvin and raise him as their own.
So happy for them and for Marvin. And, happy that the other children in the family -- now have loving families to raise them. 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦

** You might wonder why we don't call social services.
First thing, there really isn't a proper social services department in GT, and people are not allowed to adopt anyone they have met before. Stupid and crazy rules.
So if the drunk biological father was reported, the government would take all the children and, you wouldn't be able to see them again. They would be separated and who knows where they would end up.
So there is a very large inter-family sort of informal "adoption system" in in which children are basically given to other people to raise as their own. Not a great solution, but after 40 children died in the government children's home six months ago, many people have a distrust of the government's handling of children.

Amalia's daughter in Zapote

I know that this is long but these stories illustrate the problems that we face. Without a sense of identity found in Jesus and without families, kids are growing up unattended, unloved and fearful. They turn to gangs, drugs, illicit sexual encounters and crime to give them a feeling of empowerment. They are destroying their nations because it is only in destruction that they feel they have a voice. Only when they are feared as much as they fear do they feel a sense of worth. God has been telling me that it is time to step in and break this cycle. I o not know exactly how it is all going to work out or what my role in all of this will be but He has given me a jumping off point for this next adventure. I am excited to see how it is all going to unfold and even more excited for how I will get to see God loving the broken. neglected and abandoned.

I have seen an increase in my expenses as a result of moving out of the Church property. I will now be responsible for my food and housing expenses. I also have an increased the need for a car because I am farther from many of the things that I am doing. Please pray about how you can help out. I know that you all have 30 people asking for money or other help so there is no pressure. Just ask God to direct who to help and how.

If God calls you to support financially, you can send checks to;
Life Church Morris
P.O. Box 679
Morris, IL 60450
In the memo of your check write:
Mission San Lucas

I am also grateful for all of your prayers and for those that maintain contact with me while I am away. Thank you and may you be blessed for your faithfulness wherever God directs you.