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Archive for the tag “Missions”

Evangelism in the Dominican Republic: Day 3

The last night of day 2 and today we had some down time. We were originally supposed to meet with the superintendent for the Assemblies of God for the several countries, but that fell through at the last minute.

We started by going to get our COVID test to determine if we would even be able to come home or if we would have to book a few extra days here. Thankfully, all of us tested negative. A little side note. DR has a very high rate of COVID. In many of the Caribbean and Central American countries, people are dying at an alarming rate. We had the regional admin for Latin America for Oasis with us. She lives in El Salvador. She said that almost every week another one of her pastors is dying of COVID. Frankly, I don’t care where anyone falls on the political spectrum. But it is important to know that when we begin to meet people who have lost many friends or family to COVID, we can’t look at that as a political issue. We need to look at those people in the same way Jesus does, with tears for their pain. If we politicize other people’s pain, then we are no better than the politicians we are trying to speak against. Remember…

Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Our battle is against our spiritual enemy and his demons. That includes those aspects that rule us, such as our pride, arrogance, and bitterness against authority that leads us to sin. As Christians, we need to learn to control our own selves instead of seeking to control others or governments or even other denominations. Something about taking the log out of our own eye first.

Matthew 7:5 – You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

One final note about this. Health care in other countries is not as strong as it is in America. If we think, with our American eyes, that simply telling everyone around the world to live healthier lives, take supplements, and just be smart about how we interact with others, then we are more focused on our nationality as an American than we are in seeing those around the world as brothers and sisters in Christ or even as seeing them as those who are made in God’s image. Other countries don’t have the comforts of our rich lives that we do. Even here in Dominican Republic, where it is a fairly rich country, there is a wide chasm between what “rich” would look like in America and what it looks like in the DR.

Something I preached on yesterday continues to ring true to me. I preached through 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 yesterday as we ended our gathering. I was speaking on how we can improve our ability to show compassion to others as we evangelize. And this led me to share with everyone that the people who are most open to truly receiving the Gospel are those who realize that they are missing something in their life. Yes, they could be poor or sick or lonely and that becomes the impetus for opening a pathway to God. But, just as much, they could be rich and just as lonely. They could be rich and just as sick. They could realize that even while they have more wealth than they need, they still have a God-shaped hole in their heart. Trials happen to both the rich and the poor.

And when it comes to trials, one of the major truths I learned is that, especially for Christians, God doesn’t care about the trial as much as He does about how we respond to it. If we spend all our energy focused on the trial itself, then we risk responding to the trial in way that is not pleasing to God or bringing Him glory. How will you respond in trial? Will it be with faith or unbelief? Humility or arrogance? Forgiveness or anger? Hope or despair? Remember the words of James 1:2 when we are faced with trials:

James 1:2 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds

And don’t forget Romans 5:

Romans 5:3-4 – Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope

So, regardless of the trial, for the unbeliever it is an avenue to leading to faith. For the believer, it is process of refining our faith.

Job 23:10 – But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Ok. Enough preaching.

We had a chance to go throughout the historic city and I want you to know that I want to come back to the Dominican Republic with Mimi just to walk through the historic city! So much to take in! Enjoy the pictures for the rest of this post and thanks for following along in this journey.

Evangelism in Dominican Republic – Day 2

Romans 10:10-11 – For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Today we started the day with a review of day 1. Yesterday we had close to 200 pastors there and today another 50 or so came and joined the group.

After the review, we teamed up again, this time with different people than the previous day, and went out and hit the streets. Today, in about an hour, another 130 people gave their lives to Christ!

I want to preface something here, though. I went out both days with someone in our group who spoke some English so he could help me translate into Spanish. The first day, I failed miserably at leading people to Christ, and even talking to them at all. It is a very different thing when you are evangelizing in a country that you don’t know and don’t speak the language. Today, I was able to lead 3 people to Christ. I don’t say that to boast or to say “hey, look at what I did.” I say that because it isn’t easy. One of the big excuses I hear about why people don’t evangelize is because they don’t feel equipped to do so. The first day, I definitely felt that way. I had the tools. I had the desire. But I didn’t have enough compassion on the people who are made in God’s image to break through my comfort zone and give them Christ.

Today, however, I was told God I was available for Him to use me no matter what. Then I spent time in prayer before we left, asking God to give me the power of the Holy Spirit and compassion of Christ. You see, you don’t need fancy tools or seminary education to lead people to Christ. You simply need to be available and accept the power of the Holy Spirit and desire to have a heart like Christ’s.

I am nobody special. I am simply a guy who say “Yes, Lord” when asked to step outside my comfort zone and who wants to grow to be more like Christ daily.  If God can use me, He can certainly use you!

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

We had another visit with denominational leaders, presidents and superintendents and, beginning next Saturday, ALL of the churches, regardless of denomination, beliefs about end times, beliefs about women in ministry, or beliefs about Arminianism or Calvinism are unifying together to evangelize the surrounding 25-30 miles of Santo Domingo. That will be almost 6 million people reached with the Gospel of Christ! And every single one of them are using a testimonial way to reach the lost.

You see, there are really 2 ways to lead people to Christ:

  • Doctrinal

I am going to walk you through Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 5:15, Roman 10:9-11, and Romans 3:20. I will ask you what those verses mean to you and then I will ask you if you believe what you just read and then bring you to a decision.

There are so many reasons to use this method and they are all good. They get you comfortable with leading people through the Bible. They get the evangelized used to reading the Bible. And this method uses the truth of God through His Word to reach the lost.

  • Testimonial

This is basically my story and how it relates to coming to Christ. This is the method we used in Dominican Republic. A lot of people, and I used to be one of them, knock this kind of evangelism because, on the outside, it seems like it isn’t really biblical. You aren’t using the Bible to lead the person to Christ, you are using your story of coming to Christ to lead them and only giving them the Bible if they want to hear more.

But let’s take a look at an example of this in the Bible. Look at Mark 5. I am not going to post it all here, so I am going to trust that you will stop reading here and turn to Mark 5 and read it yourself. Focus on the story of the demon-possessed man in verses 1-20.

Mark 5:19 – Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Jesus removes Legion from the man. Afterward, the man asks Jesus if he can join His team. Jesus tells him no. But he also tells him to go back to Decapolis (the 10 cities or towns around where this man lived) and “tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

This is testimonial evangelism. Jesus didn’t tell him to go back and walk people through God’s Word. He told him to return and tell his story.

If that style of evangelism is good enough for Christ, it is good enough for me!

So here is how we evangelized. If you are near Friendship Community Baptist at the end of this month, I will be teaching about testimonial evangelism during the 9 and 10:30 services. It would be awesome to have a lot of people come and learn.

  1. Permission

May I have permission to ask you a question. Start with “I am working on an assignment…” You are, right? God has given you the Great Commission, an assignment for all believers!

Then, when they say yes, ask them, “What was the greatest thing that ever happened to you?”

Most people will say their family, their job, or their success financially.

Make small talk with them a little about that and be encouraging of their blessing.

Then ask them, “May I share with you what the best thing was that ever happened to me?”

  • Before Christ

You aren’t going to mention the name of Christ just yet. This is going to be an introduction to your story. Say something like, “Once in my life, I was broken, hurting, and lonely.” Choose 3 adjectives that described your life before Christ.

This whole section should take all of about 10 seconds!

  • Turning Point

This is where you will introduce Christ to them.

Here is mine version of this, “One day, I had some friends come to my door and say to me, ‘we are here to build you up.’ I listened to them and they told me about someone who could take my loneliness and pain away. Eventually I wanted to know about the One who could do that. And when I realized that Jesus Christ died for my sin and rose again, I asked him to heal my heart so that I could experience it.”

Start with “One day….” And tell what happened. Then explain to the person what happened when you realized that Jesus died and rose again for your sin. What did you do at that point?

This whole section should take about 20 seconds.

  • After Christ

In this section, you will show how Christ reversed all of the adjectives you listed in section 2. So, again, here is mine. “After I accepted Christ in my life, He took my loneliness away from me. The pain from my past is gone and I was able to forgive again.”

This section takes only about 10 seconds.

  • If I never met Christ…

In this final section, you explain what your life could look like if you had never made the decision to follow Christ. Here is mine. “Without Christ, I would have been drifting from place to place, getting caught up with the wrong people. Seeking fulfillment in women. But I thank God that He took that empty life away from me and gave me purpose and peace.”

Another 10 seconds.

This is where “reading the room” is very important. If the person doesn’t seem interested in what you are saying, end it. Do it this way: Thank you for listening to my story, I just want you to know that this Jesus Christ loves you very, very much.”

But if they are looking for more or asking questions, this opens up the opportunity to go deeper with them. Say something like, “May I show you how the Bible says you can be sure you’re going to be saved?”

And follow you’re ABCs.

  • A – Admit

I have done wrong and my sin separates me from a holy God (Romans 3:23)

  • B – Believe

Jesus Christ died to forgive me and rose again, proving He is the One True God. (Romans 10:9-10)

  • C – Confess

Confess I have sinned and ask Jesus to save me and be the leader of my life.

If they understand those ABCs, then ask them “What would stop you from totally surrendering your life to Christ today?”

Then, when they say yes to that, pray with them. Pray the ABCs with them and have them repeat it. Many people call this the sinner’s prayer. And it is controversial. A lot of people like it. A lot of people hate it. It is biblical. But please note, the prayer is an open communication with God, but the prayer cannot be the end of the conversation. Once they have prayed, give them your email and phone number and get theirs. It is up to you to be the Paul to their Timothy. Get them connected to a growth group or small group in the area. Help them find a church. Immediately direct them to John 3:16-17 and ask them to start reading the Bible in the book of John. One chapter a day for 21 days.

You can do this! If I can, you can! The important thing is the compassion. If you look at them simply as lost, you won’t have the compassion. But if you see each person made in God’s image and as sheep without a shepherd, then, perhaps, like Christ, you will be moved “to your bowels” as the original language says, to seek out the lost everywhere you go.

Proverbs 11:30 – The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.

Evangelism in the Dominican Republic – Day 1

Matthew 9:35-38 – And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

It has been exactly 1 year since I last blogged about anything. It isn’t that I ran out of things to say, just ask my wife or anyone that I work with and they will tell you that I always can find something to say about anything (FYI…not always a good skill to have).

But I felt I needed to get back into the blogging scene when I decided to take a mission journey to the Dominican Republic. Let me back-peddle a little.

A while back I virtually met this guy Tom. Tom is looking to expand his non-profit, Oasis World Ministries. The organization does to big programs: water wells around the world and evangelism training for pastors. This intrigued me and I wanted to go on a mission journey with him.

Originally, this was planned for November. We would be going to Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, and South Korea. It was to be 12 days long and we would get a few days in each area. Then Tom went and blew his Achille’s. That ended that trip and postponed it into 2022. The next trip would be in January, but I was already planning on a vacation with the family. So that left February.

The plan was to go to Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Well, COVID had other plans. Both Jamaica and Puerto Rico wouldn’t allow large groups to gather. This effectively ended the evangelism training we were going to be doing, so those countries were removed. Then Haiti continues to descend into more and more danger if you are a visitor. We were asked not to come because of the danger by the Haitian government.

That left the Dominican Republic. Our trip went from 10-12 days to a long weekend. I would leave on 2/10 and return on 2/14.

So, on 2/10, I boarded a Delta flight for ATL where I would officially meet Tom, and then we both went off to the DR together. When we arrived, we were met by 2 men, Javier and Pedro. Javier is a pastor and the country manager for Oasis World Ministries. He doesn’t speak any English, so that is why Pedro was accompanying him. Pedro speaks English, French, and Spanish.

We headed to the hotel and met up with CiCi. She is the country manager (along with her husband) for El Salvador and the Latin America administrator for Oasis World Ministries. She works directly with all the country managers to make sure that all their paperwork is in on time.

As you can gather, Oasis is pretty big. While they have a skeleton staff that works in Minnesota, they are currently in 51 different countries and have country managers in most of them as well as administrative assistant in many of them.

Once at the hotel and checked in, we had a pretty awesome dinner at the hotel and then Tom, CiCi, and I gathered together for a couple hours more to discuss the weekend as well as an idea for large-scale summits in Asia, Latin America and Africa throughout 2022.

Friday morning came way too quickly and we were off to the church to spend the day teaching. We were going through the program called 5-Star Evangelism and the tool, One Minute Witness.

The 5 stars of evangelism are:

  • Compassion
  • Equipping
  • Application
  • Discipleship
  • Multiplication

The entire day was spent explaining each point and how important they are.

  • Compassion
    • This is the fuel for the tank of evangelism. Without compassion, you can never lead the lost to Christ.
    • You can’t have compassion if you don’t have tears for the lost.

Psalm 126:5-6 – Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

  • The best way to have tears for them is to befriend the lost.

Luke 5:32 – I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

  • Equipping
    • Most Christians don’t feel equipped to share their faith. This provides a simple, replicable tool.
  • Application
    • Once they know the tool, it is time to use it.
    • This is where the One Minute Witness comes in.
      • May I have permission to ask you a question?
      • What was the best thing that ever happened to you?
      • May I tell you what the best thing to ever happen to me was?
        • There was a time I was (pick 3 adjectives to describe your life before Christ)
        • But (what happened to turn your life to Christ)
        • When I learned that Jesus died and rose again for my sin, I (did you commit your life to Christ, etc….)
        • Since coming to know Christ, my life has changed (3 ways that your life has changed)
        • If I never would have come to Christ (what would have happened?)
    • The entire One Minute Witness is meant to direct people to Christ in 1 minute.
    • Once you do that, then if they seem like they are tracking with you, ask them “If you were to die tonight, where do you think you would go?
  • Discipleship
    • Be someone who is trained to train others on sharing their faith.
    • This is simply building the skills necessary to share your faith. Practicing over and over again.
    • Your mission field is wherever you are at that time.
  • Multiplication
    • Once others are sharing, the Gospel math is about multiplication, not addition.
    • The 2 parts to multiplication are:
  • Be filled with the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit

  • Go. Remember, your mission field is wherever you are.

Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Once we walked people through the One Minute Witness, we went out into the streets to try it for real. In that hour, 48 people came to Christ! Many more were prayed over for their hurts, hang-ups and trials.

We ended day 1 with a meeting with leadership from 12 different church networks or denominations representing thousands of churches throughout the Dominican Republic.  By the end of the meeting, several of these bishops, presidents or superintendents committed to training people to use this tool to reach the lost.

Many people are opposed to systematizing the Gospel. I used to be one of them. But the older I get, the less I remember, so it makes it easy on me if I only need to remember the highlights of my story that brought me to Christ. Plus, most people will only give you a minute or two to share your faith anyway. Having a tool that can help you get the Gospel in a person’s ears quickly is beneficial.

Tomorrow, we go back to the same group. We complete the day with more detailed training for them, more on-the-street practice, and I will be sharing a message that targets the compassion aspect of the 5-Star evangelism.

Looking forward to seeing how many people God brings into His kingdom tomorrow!

Commander of Tens

Deuteronomy 1:15 – “So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes.

I was recently given an opportunity to spend time with a couple people I love.

Paige and Stalin Solis came from Peru, where they lead ministries and missions, to the states to get some much needed rest and fundraise. When they came to visit Maryland, where my family and I live, they were at 34% of their monthly giving need. When they left they were at 53%!!!

I would ask that you all support them.

While they were in town we ate some great food (American and Peruvian), went sightseeing in Washington D.C. and spent a lot of time discussing and contemplating the Word of God and sharing life stories.

During their time here, we found out that Free Wheelchair Mission, the primary mission ministry that Paige & Stalin work with, was sharing a documentary on the distribution of their ONE MILLIONTH WHEELCHAIR! This documentary was filmed in Peru, with the church people and the church that Paige and Stalin belong. Paige, as a matter of fact, was one of the people in the video!!!

As we were watching the video my eyes filled with tears. I saw many people I know: Clever and Lisa Sobrino, leaders of a ministry that works with developmentally and mentally disabled people, Robert Barriger, the Senior Pastor of the church that sponsors the wheelchair mission in Peru, Miguel Chiang, one of the leaders of the wheelchair mission on the Peru side, and Nick Balcombe, leader of the missions groups that come to Peru to distribute the wheelchairs.

I’ve been to Peru 5 times in with my church, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. Every year we take down a very small team to Peru to do service projects, including building and distributing wheelchairs. As I was watching the Free Wheelchair Mission video, I was thinking to myself that we have done so little in Peru.

Then I started adding up the numbers.

Exodus 18:19-22 – Listen to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.

In 5 years, our church has distributed 441 wheelchairs.

That is .05% of Free Wheelchair Mission’s worldwide total! That is also 2.1% of all of the wheelchairs distributed in Peru during that time frame!!!

I started thinking about the Old Testament Bible verses about the commanders of the armies of Israel. They were broken in several different command groups. There were those who led the armies of thousands, those who led the armies of hundreds, those who led the armies of fifties, and those who led the armies of tens.

In the Old Testament times the armies were physical armies that fought physical battles with enemies of the kingdom. Today Christians fight an invisible enemy, one who has attacked every fabric of life in the world. In this fight, the command structure is still the same.

Our enemy is fighting us in a physical way. He is attacking our friends, our families, and people we don’t know with sicknesses and ailments. It is up to the church to lead the charge to provide support for those who have been injured during the battle.

In this segment of the battle, Free Wheelchair Mission is the “commander of thousands.” They mobilize teams and people internationally to take wheelchairs where they are needed most.

Then there are the churches and organizations like Camino de Vida, where Paige and Stalin serve. These are the “commanders of hundreds.” They mobilize teams inside of Peru. Paige leads 30 missions teams from all around the world every year. Each team has about 10+ people in them and distribute thousands of wheelchairs a year.

Then there are the sending churches, like Chesapeake Christian Fellowship, my home church. They are the “commander of fifties.” Over the past 5 years we have sent about 40 people to Peru, close to 100 people to Haiti, and close to 75 people to Navajo Nation.

Finally, God showed me that I am a “commander of tens.” Each year I lead a team of up to 10 people to Peru.

I have always wanted to lead God’s church. I’ve wanted to be a pastor. I’ve wanted to call my “job” pastor. I desire to wake up and drive to church and call that my place of employment.

But when I realized that God has made me a “commander of tens” for doing a mission to Peru I came to the conclusion that if God never uses me for another thing in this life that I have been used to make a difference for Him. God could never call me to full-time ministry and I would be content in knowing that God’s glory has been seen through my leadership.

I don’t say that to boast.

I say that knowing full well that this opportunity can go away at any moment and it is only by the grace of God that I was given this opportunity. I pray I never take that lightly. And I pray that the commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, and commanders of tens never take their position lightly. God granted it, God can take it away if we don’t treat it as He would desire.

But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy my time as a “commander of tens” and lead as God would have me lead.

I may never lead thousands.

I may never lead hundreds.

I may not even lead fifties.

But I am leading tens. And that is enough.

If it were the last day of your life

This week has reminded me about how fragile this life is. On Easter morning my passed into eternity. Each holiday, my mom would make would make an amazing spread of food.

This year the job fell to me.

In the past years, my kids, wife and my wife’s kids would travel to PA the weekend before Thanksgiving to have an amazing meal prepared by her. She would make ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, cherry cheesecake, and many other things.

So this year I started planning the dinner the week before and I baked everything off Saturday and cooked everything after church on Sunday.

But it wasn’t the same.

We were missing someone.

Afterward I thought about what it would be like if I knew it were the last day of my life.

My mom taught me one thing, live life to the fullest!

She enjoyed life and she enjoyed the people that came her way. She wasn’t one that would be seen out in the mission field but she would be seen out in the community. She cared about people and everyone knew that.

I got to thinking, though. What would my life look like if it were the last day of my life?

Would people look back on it the same way I look back on my mom’s?

God has called us to live this life. We aren’t to live a past life, our past has been redeemed. We aren’t to live a future life because we are never promised anything beyond today.

My life changed drastically about 6-7 years ago and since then I have done everything possible to live in the present.

But what about you?

One thing Americans do well is hide away from life.

We wake up early to get in our cars and drive an average of 30 minutes to work (if you live the DC area where I do, that time is increased to 52 minutes average). At work, we hide ourselves away in our cubicles or offices as we focus on a computer screen that only has work stuff and Facebook on the screen. When work is done, we get back in our cars and drive home only to have dinner in a disjointed way. The kids have to get to work or sports, so they ate early. Your spouse may or may not be home because, if you are in the 69% of American families, you are a dual-income household. After eating, you turn on your laptop to get on Facebook or turn on the TV and watch the Big Bang Theory until it is bedtime and then you start the whole thing all over.

If you are one of the people who enjoy exercise, you go to the gym and spend time in your zone exercising and not really in community with others.

But we have been designed for so much more!

We have been made in God’s image!

Just what does that mean?

It means we should not…we cannot…go on living our lives for ourselves!

There is a God who sustains us. He owns us. He defines us. He rules us. One day He will judge us.

To that end, God has given us some guidelines to living a life that is given over to Him, enabling us to live a satisfied and content life without the drama of the world system.

I wish I could say that I came up with these five ideas, but I have to give David Platt a lot of props here. He came up with 5 principles for living a life that will be lived to fullest for our purpose, to worship an eternal God.

  • Work diligently

In the beginning of Genesis, God created man to work the garden. God gave man the duty to work even before sin entered the camp. That means work is a gift of God’s grace! But we don’t see it that way. We see it as something we haaaave to do, not something we are ordained to do.

Genesis 2:15 – The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

We, including myself (especially myself), do everything we can to lessen our amount of work so that we can do other things. Do you believe that going to Bible study at church is more important than the job God has ordained you to do? If you see it that way, then you might be legalistic and pharisaical in your thinking.

I’m not saying Bible study isn’t important. It is. But so is the work we have been called to do.

  • Live Simply

Money is not evil. Money in the hands of a sinful people (which is everyone last time I checked) is.  Most people, including most Christians, believe that money is a blessing from God. The Bible tells us that money can be both a blessing from and a barrier to God.

Money is like the water in the ocean. If you get thirsty while in the ocean, you might think that the water around you will sustain you. Since it is high in salt, it won’t. The more you drink, the more thirsty you become. Eventually you dehydrate, which leads to severe headaches, dry mouth, and low blood pressure. Your heart rate begins to rise. You become delirious, go unconscious and die. In drinking what you thought would bring life, you find death.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Where do we draw the line in our lives that says, “I have too much ‘stuff.’ I need to stop saying ‘I need’ when in actuality it is really that ‘I want.’”

Stop letting your “wants” drive your purchases. Look only to what you need.

  • Give sacrificially

2 Corinthians 8:15 – as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

The Corinthian church would give sacrificially of themselves to see everyone had what they needed. Imagine what it would look like if all Christians around the world, all the Christian communities, would do the same! We shouldn’t give from our comfort, we should give from our discomfort. Unfortunately, most Christians do not know what it means to give sacrificially. They, and I include myself in this, give after they have already paid the bills or after they have factored in how many triple shot skinny half-caf mochas with no whip they can purchase. Around the world there are many without clean water or food. Even here in our own communities there are people who are losing their homes, children who are going to school hungry, and elderly who are finding they cannot afford their medications. We should give sacrificially to others, like the Corinthian church. If the most corrupt church in the New Testament can be graciously giving sacrificially, then today’s church, and Christians, certainly can!

  • Help Constructively

We cannot neglect those in need, but we also cannot subsidize them to stay in need. We cannot simply help people get through their day without teaching them how to get through the rest of their lives. Paul explains that we need to take care of the widows, for example, but goes on to say that not every widow in truly in need. We are not called to simply give a hand out. Commitment to helping get someone out of need is to share life, not just a meal. We also need to look at diversity as we understand why people are in need. Poverty and need cross all racial, ethnic, religious, and other boundaries. Yes, people can say that one group is more prone than another to being in need, but the truth of the matter is that there are people all around us in need and those are the people we are called to help, regardless of color, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc…

  • Invest Eternally

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus gives us a choice. We can spend our money on this earth’s pleasures that will not last or we sacrifice our resources for a long term treasure that we store up in heaven. Think of the story in Mark 10 of the rich young ruler. Many people think Jesus is calling him to simply sacrifice everything he owns. Truth is that Jesus is calling the man to satisfaction. Jesus isn’t calling this man away from treasure, He is calling him to eternal treasure.

Think of it this way: If you have $10,000 and put it in the bank, in about 20 years you will have about $100,000. But now, if you took that same $10,000 and gave it to a church planter or missionary in Peru (hint hint, Paige and Stalin Solis: https://www.modernday.org/field-workers/solis-paige-solis/) you could see hundreds or even thousands of lives changed! That is truly the investment we need to be making!

So if it were the last day of your life, would your treasures simply fade away or would you leave a lasting legacy of Jesus that would continue to receive compound interest long after you are gone?

Peru 2017 – Key Learnings and a Call to Action

I’ve been thinking over the past week in Peru as I have been sharing the journey with you that I haven’t been posting a lot of Scripture. It can easily make one think that I wanted to show off what we were doing and not draw it back to God.

That isn’t the case at all.

I’ve wanted to share Scripture with you but, honestly, I simply haven’t had the time to research it a lot and when I share the Word I want to make sure it is done in the proper context.

Now that I am on a flight home, I have a lot more time to think about the past week and how God moved throughout it.

And that is the first thing I realized, time is rare. In the States, we don’t have enough time because we tend to fill it all with stuff that isn’t Jesus focused. Not that any of it is necessarily bad, but as a missionary, you are at the whim of the country’s or city’s needs. You could get a call at any moment that a flood has destroyed a large section of the city or a fire is raging through the downtown of the city and won’t be put out in over a week.

Most of our days were 14-15 hours. When we got home, we had very little left to give to anything else but sleep.

I understand why full-time missionaries have a tough time communicating with their sponsors or family back home.

The next thing I noticed this year is how much God has grown me as a leader and as a Christian. I remember my first year going to Peru and we were building a house for someone and I looked down and saw an area and told our host, pastor Nick from Camino de Vida, that someone should plant a church there. He said that sounds like a great idea, simply trying to placate the mission tourist. But I wouldn’t let it go. I continued. I was saying it over and over, trying to get anyone to listen to me and finally Nick told me to calm down. I felt a little dejected. But after seeing the church in action that week and in others, I now realize that he was simply trying to help me to look honestly at the situation and focus on bringing God to the moment we were in, not to the potential future. The time I wasted trying to be heard could have been spent doing actual evangelizing that would have more of a lasting kingdom effect.

Since then, I have started looking through the eyes of our hosts, Camino de Vida. I still have my “gringo eyes” and until I immerse myself into the culture those won’t go away, but I can honestly say that God is showing me much of what the team at Camino de Vida is seeing and giving me a burden for the people of Peru.

I know I am not called to Peru, as much as I would love to be. But I have a serious burden for the people of Peru. I now know more about more people in Peru than I do people in America. My job is to bring people to Peru and let them get a taste (of the food) of the people of Peru and the highly developed third world country that really has a large part of my heart.

There are so many people that when I think of them, I start to smile.

People like Stalin and Paige Solis. She is from Arkansas and he is from Peru. She met him on mission and they fell in love and started serving at Camino de Vida. Now Paige leads the groups at the church and he teaches Spanish lessons to the church interns.

I met Paige and Stalin a couple years ago when I was in Peru and they have become good international friends, people I trust implicitly who I can talk to from time to time. They don’t take a salary from the church in Peru at all other than the money Stalin makes from teaching the interns Spanish (which he makes $10/hour to do it).

They are without healthcare insurance and are missing some things to help them do ministry better. I hope to help them get funded for at least their healthcare insurance. They need $300/month for insurance, $3,600/year.

I am going to ask my followers to support Paige and Stalin. When I think of the people in Peru whom I truly love, Paige and Stalin are at the top of the list. They have been amazing with the groups I have brought down there and have taught us all a lot about missions in Peru.

They go through an organization called Modern Day for their funding. Modern Day is an organization that connects missionaries to those who are supporting them.

From their website:

Our Vision is to help thousands of people, young and old, pursue their dreams of reaching the world for Jesus; one person, one city and one nation at a time. Our desire is to form partnerships that pave the way for people to serve in another country for both short and long term periods. We are currently working with over 250 missionaries. Since the summer of 2008, Modern Day has facilitated endeavors in 50 countries and new ones are being added on a regular basis.

I am looking for 36 people to offer up a ONE-TIME commitment of $100 to Paige and Stalin. With that money, they can afford healthcare insurance, something I think is very important in this world. If you would like to support them more than that, please do.

Please, people, prayerfully consider supporting them. Because of the work they are doing in Peru, hundreds are coming to know Christ! For a Christian, you can’t ask for a better return on your investment.

Here is the link to support Stalin and Paige:

http://stalinandpaigesolis.squarespace.com/

If you do decide to send them a gift, please drop me a line at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com. I would love to send them a note about the people who supported them.

Thanks everyone.

Peru 2017 Day 6 – The Final Ministry

We woke up REALLLY early today, 4:30 AM. Our job was to go downstairs at the Dream Center and make 2,000 sandwiches so that we could make 1,000 bags of food (2 sandwiches per bag) for the people of the hospital we went to last night. We were also making them cups of oatmeal to have with their sandwiches.

The bread came around 5:15 and we started in by breaking into 4 groups of people. The first group would cut the bread. Group two would butter the bread. Group three put on the jelly. And group 4, my group, would package the sandwiches and place them in the containers for shipping.

It took us until about 8:30 to get all the sandwiches made and packaged.

After that we loaded everything into the bus and truck and headed to the hospital.

We set up in 3 different areas. The hospital was definitely much more busy than it was last night! In my area, we gave away about 425 sandwiches and cups of oatmeal.

After we were done, we had an opportunity to pray with people.

Now this next story I simply need to share. Last night, one of our group went off on his own and ended up in a hospital room that had about 50 beds in it. In one of the beds was a 17 year old girl and her dad was sitting next to her. The man, trying to get his daughter to smile, was telling her about the “white angel” who came from America to see her and pray with her.

The girl was brought in and hadn’t eaten in almost 2 weeks. She had severe stomach issues and was simply sick. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She has been bedridden for much of that two weeks!

Fast forward to this morning. I went with our group member who prayed with her last night. We were going to try and give her some of the breakfast we made with hopes she would eat it. When we got there, she was sitting in her chair. She was smiling and joking around and told us that she was better and was going home soon!

Yesterday she was unable to eat and was confined to bed and today she is scheduled to go home!

I know that my agnostic and atheist friends will look at this differently, but that was all God!

Our God heals!

We prayed with her and started to leave.

But then Mimi happened.

I had forgotten that my wife had brought a suitcase filled with toys and games for the kids in the pediatric unit. I followed her over there and watched my beautiful wife in action. She was so happy making children happy!

I love watching her with that big smile across her face and seeing children flock to her, hugging her, and loving her.

After this was done we went back to the Dream Center to relax, eat lunch, and get ready to leave tomorrow. Tonight we head to church one more time before heading out and then we leave for America at 3 in the morning.

In my next post I want to share a little of my heart about the people I have met over the past 5 trips here and what I would like to see happen for my friends. I’ll also share a little about how I’ve grown and how I hope to grow in the future.

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Peru 2017 Day 5 – Wheelchairs and hospitals

This morning we were able to spend the morning doing the wheelchair ministry. This was the first ministry I did when I came to Peru in 2012 and I fell in love with Peru at that moment. Last year  we didn’t get a chance to do a large wheelchair ministry, but we did house to house.

When we learned our schedule for this week, we were told we would be doing house to house wheelchair ministry. When we arrived, we were told we would be doing a mini distribution at a central site. That’s the best of both worlds! We get to hand out a lot of wheelchairs but not so many that we lose sight of the personal touch.

We transported the boxes of wheelchairs from the Dream Center to the build/distribution site and we started building.

As the morning progressed, we met the people and started handing out chairs. It started with a man named Clever, he is part of the wheelchair ministry in Peru and was leading this outreach today. Clever spent about 15 minutes explaining the chair they would receive.

After that, I had an opportunity to get up and, through an amazing translator, was able to present the gospel message to them. I saw quite a few people raise their hand for accepting the gospel, but as I went around the room later, almost everyone told me that they knew Christ already.

Then we handed out their chairs and modified them for their specific needs.

Once that was done, everyone wanted pictures. The people who received their chair would get their phone out and ask someone to take our picture. We spent the next 30-45 minutes just getting our pictures taken by everyone (and, of course, taking their picture with us as well).

Afterward, we helped people get into their tuk-tuk or taxi, loaded the bus and headed back to the Dream Center for lunch.

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One of the amazing things I heard Clever explain to the people is that the wheelchair is a gift from God. As I was talking to people later, I heard one person explain that the wheelchair is a physical explanation of God. God gave His gift to us in the form of His Son. Unfortunately, we can’t see the physical form of God right now, but we can provide a glimpse of Him through the work that we do.

To many people, God is seen in the form of a wheelchair when we go to them.

Of course God is not a wheelchair, but that is a physical example, something they can touch and feel, that will remind them of the gift that is God.

Once the wheelchair distribution was complete, we headed back to the Dream Center to prepare for tonight’s ministry. Our plan was to prepare over 300 dinners to take to the hospital here. The first thing we needed to do was sift through the quinoa and make sure there were no stones or stalks in it.

After that, we had time before the food was cooked to do some work around the Dream Center. In order to keep us busy, we went through all the toys for the children’s ministry and separated them by gender and age.

Once the food was cooked, we placed it into take-out containers and then into large transporting bins. We got into the bus about 7pm and headed to the pediatric hospital.

Let me explain this. Hospitals here are nothing like hospitals in the states. The sanitary conditions are significantly worse and there is no desire to make the person, or their family, comfortable as they wait. Some people come and wait outside in the courtyards waiting for their family member to be healed or to die. Many have come from far away and have no source of income. Since Peru is a “pay to heal” environment, those family members either need to go home and continue to work or they need to find work in Lima during the time they are there.

It is all very heartbreaking.

We provided meals and took time to spend with the people there.

As it is almost 10 pm here in Peru right now, I am heading to bed as we are going back to children’s hospital tomorrow to serve over 1,000 breakfasts and have to be up at 4 AM.

Peru 2017 Day 4 – More Relationships

Today brought about a lot of amazing things. Yesterday we went to many places I have been before. Today we went to places I have never been before. And on top of that, we ended with a party that turned into church.

We started our day going to a refuge that takes care of mothers and children with HIV. We made 20 gift bags for the mothers and had a lot of care packages for the kids. As soon as we got there, we were able to hand one out but then found out the house mother was understaffed. We started right in doing the day to day tasks that need to get done. We cleaned rooms, swept the hallways, prepared lunch, checked in the produce order, and whatever else needed to happen.

It was great. The relationships we made were not with the moms and kids as much as it was the team at the refuge. We were able to connect with Carol, the house mother, and some of the seminary students she had with her.

 

We were there for a long time and realized we were on a time schedule. The Peru/Colombia game was tonight and we had to be back before dinner or we would be stuck on the streets for hours. Lima is a city of almost 10 million people, so having a game like a World Cup Qualifier round 2 blocks from where we are staying means that the roads will get congested.

We went back to the Dream Center, picked up lunch, and headed to our next destination. This would be a short stop before moving to our final destination, but it was well worth it. We stopped by a church that Camino de Vida, the church we support in Peru, is getting ready to open in December. It was an old theatre where plays and musicals would happen. They are leasing the property and totally renovating it to fit their needs. It will seat about 900 people. We met up with Nick Balcombe, one of the pastors, and he gave us the tour. They need $250,000 more to get the place renovated and opened. If you are interested in supporting the vision God has given Camino de Vida for the new church, please check out their website at www.caminodevida.com

After the tour, we went to a place that was extremely special. When we were coming down, we were asked to bring down some feeding tubes. I laughed when I said “some” because I was expecting maybe a small case of them. No, we received 6 cases which turned into 2.5 suitcases of feeding tubes. We went in and got a short orientation and then went to visit the kids. Those kids are beautiful! If no other reason, the purpose for those children on this earth was to show us gringos just how to love. They have so much love in their hearts!

I really enjoyed spending time with Augusto. He is blind and has several developmental disabilities. The way to interact with him is to rub his back. Every time I did and said his name he would smile and laugh. A few times he would reach out and hold my arm as best as he could.

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Nate, on our team, fell in love with this one kid. He is musically inclined and that gave Nate an opportunity to love this kid with the gift of music.

We left there in order to get back before the traffic got too bad. When we arrived, we starting making blankets our project on Thursday. We grabbed two very large bolts of fabric and cut the blankets. Altogether I would say we made about 60 blankets. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to make more.

Then the night really started. Tonight was the Peru/Colombia World Cup qualifier match. Peru needed to win or tie. They tied.

A few of the women who live in the house we are staying and their friends came over and we watched the game together and afterward we partied.

Then after we were all partied out, we ended the night in worship.

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This day couldn’t be any better.

The goal of missions is relationships. We may never be able to end all the hunger or homelessness in the world. But we can feed people the Word and end the homelessness in their hearts. We might never be able to provide clean water to everyone but we can provide people with the new wine of the Spirit.

We built long lasting relationships with people today and I love that!

Tomorrow we will be doing one of my favorite projects here in Peru, a wheelchair distribution.

Peru 2017 Day 3 – Relationships

We got a late start to the day today.

Praise Jesus!

After yesterday’s 15 hour day, it was nice to start a little later in the morning.

We started with our devotional that focused on God’s purpose for our lives and that we don’t need to be in Peru to be in mission. It is important to understand that fact because God blessed us with being in a great country with decent incomes and a lack of persecution for our faith. You don’t have to feel guilty for living in America. God is sovereign. He has a purpose for placing you where you are.

After making sandwiches for lunch we headed off for the hour and half journey to Grace House, a home for women who are broken and have addictions or disorders.

This is a very safe, walled house that is lush and green. It is a partnership between Camino de Vida and Hillsong. It is a home that holds 20 women and they are mentored to find their identity in Christ. As they find that, they realize their hang-ups and their brokenness become their testimony and they have the power to overcome what they are struggling with.

In the pictures below you can see several of the testimonies and the motivational words that are used for healing in these women.

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After spending the morning at Grace House, we got in the bus and headed almost 2 hours to Hogar de Ninos, a children’s home. Now the children here are not very young. They range in age of up to 20 years old. Once they reach 18 they have the option to go into the leadership program or they can leave.

As we got there, we got the tour and the chance to meet the kids. Then the guys started up a soccer (football) game. Let’s just say that even with the kids going easy on us gringos we were outmatched. I was sweating and breathing heavily and the kids were just moving from one side of the ball to the next with no effort.

We then played several other games and just decided to hang out with the kids until the tutors walked in with a cake for one of the kids named Milargo, whose birthday it was today. We enjoyed cake and singing Happy Birthday and then got on the bus to head back to La Victoria.

When we returned, the place was quiet. Our dinners had been made by the team there and left for us to eat. Lomo Saltado, one of our team’s favorites! Then, in one of the back rooms, there were a whole bunch of materials for us to put together gift bags of food and personal hygiene items for women at the HIV refuge.

Tomorrow we leave early in the morning to head to the HIV refuge and then to an orphanage for children with special needs and developmental disabilities.

Since it is only 7:30 at night right now, I am going to take this opportunity to finish this post and head to bed early. Tomorrow night is the qualifying round for Peru in the World Cup. The stadium, which seats 60,000 people, is 2 blocks from our sleeping area. If Peru wins, Peruvians will be partying in the streets for 24 hours straight, so that will mean no sleep for any of us.

So good night and pray for us to get some sleep.

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