Friday, February 08, 2008

Tourists to a Tragedy

"When did we see you Lord?"

Our first day here South of the Border was filled with a variety of events (a visit to the dump site and a daycare facility for children with severe disabilities). K explained our first stop would be to meet two of her friends and drive to the dump site for this end of the Vallarta Bay. We drove through town, passed the harbor where three cruise ships were moored directly across from Walmart and a newly constructed mall. The traffic was fairly light, but as we drove on, the roads began to show the neglect of civil service funding, the concrete crumbled, the potholes multiplied until the asphalt finally finished and in its absence loose rocks, former bricks, and dust became the obvious "road less traveled".

I could tell you the dust rising from the road is the first noticeable transition from a tourist attraction to a terrible trap of impoverished lives existing on the scraps and salvage that create their sanctuary from the elements as well as their small salaries for sustenance.

But what no words can translate, or adjectives culminate adequately is

the smell.

You smell it long before you can see it.

It is foreign, unfamiliar, and not for the faint of heart; because the closer you get to the actual wasteland, the residents begin to multiply. A car coming up in the road in between the endless stream of trucks bringing in the leftovers from hotels, cruise ships, condos and those who discard with disregard, tons and tons and tons of trash (soon to be sorted through for the salvageable) brings out the people. We are a bigger curiosity to them than they are to us.

K explained one of the issues facing the church, is the "ministry" run by a wealthy resort owner. Once a week, visitors are loaded up on a huge tour bus to hand out sandwiches and toys as well as pull out their cameras for the ultimate photo opportunity. "Look what I did on my vacation". They are good-natured, tender-hearted, and well-meaning but...

tourists non the less.

Our life here on earth, with the time He has alotted and numbered must not be spent as tourists. We must be Guides, seeking out the lost, and showing them the Way home. We will be held accountable for those we "gawked" at with pity and sorrow, and walked away from. We did not come here to walk away - we came here to equip the local church, and to "go", even to the ends of the earth (or the dump) and make disciples.

Thank you for praying, for your participation financially in the sending, and for entreating the Lord of the Harvest - to raise up more workers!

Smiling in the sunshine of His service

The Word

"And the Word was made flesh and walked among us" John 1:14

This world is not our home. We can create familiar environments to increase our comfort level, but somewhere in the depth of our soul us matter how much we are able to secure ourselves in materially, the resonance of being a "stranger in a strange land" remains.

This "strangeness", and "other-ness" probably begins with our bodies physical change into adulthood. Perhaps it is the Creators way of training us for the long-haul, of a walk of faith through unfamiliar territory.

Friday night, we met with the young women of the church to give them a special time of fellowship and bonding. Our planned activity centered on transparency, confession, and living free of fear as faultless beauties in the eyes of Christ. That afternoon I took strips of paper and wrote a letter on each strip, forming a variety of words:







Each young woman (including the Pastor's wife and our hostess) were handed a bundle of the strips. On one side, they wrote out things they were struggling with, or something they wanted God's help in dealing with. After they finished, one by one, they stepped out into the fresh night air and sat down at the table.

I explained the Bible tells us to "bind things on earth and they will be bound in heaven" (see Matthew 18:18) and the same is for loosing things on earth. I "cut" the problem and tore it up, placing it in a bag. I handed them their stack of letters back and asked they piece together the letters to form a "word". That "word" was God's word to them. His truth for them for this time and place.

When all had completed the task, been blessed and prayed over, I asked if anyone wanted to share what their word was. It was amazing!

One shared her word was ACCEPTED. She went on to say she struggled with fitting in and tried to "feel okay" about herself. Another shared her word was FORGIVEN. As she spoke her eyes filled with tears but a smile was also on her face as she said, "every time I pray and ask the Lord about one thing or another, I always hear back from Him, FORGIVEN."

Our Father is so faithful, and as the Africans say, "God is good all the time, all the time God is good." I didn't know who needed what WORD or how it would minister to their particular need. But the Father did.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." Hebrews 12:1-21

The King of our Homeland knew how to give each one in attendance a piece and a peace of His care.

That night His WORD, was written on a piece of colored construction paper, and it not only walked out the door in the gift bags we made for the young women, but it is stored in the hearts for the days of uncomfortable and unfamiliar circumstances in whatever foreign land they find themselves in.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Before the Dawn

I knew we were facing the ocean.

When we arrived after 10:00 pm and looked out from the balcony, the white foam of the waves hitting the shoreline were visible in the darkness. The other evidence there was an ocean out there besides the blackness was of course the noise. It was no sound machine! It was the consistence of millions of gallons of water crashing, marching forth with certainty and then abruptly halting just where the Creator said, "you can only come this far..."

"Yes, Me, who made the shorelines to contain the ocean waters. I drew a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. Waves roll in but cannot get through; breakers crash but that's the end of them." Jeremiah 5:22

Waking up in a foreign land is certainly familiar, but no matter how many times I wake up a stranger in a strange land, there are still the moments of morning where I wonder, "what time is it, is it time to get up yet? (often it is the middle of the night at my physical location, but midday inside my jet lagged physique.)

Although I am in the same time zone as the one I reside in - this morning my mind filled with the same thoughts. It is dark outside and I still couldn't tell the time by the lack of light. I consulted my watch to discover it was almost 7:00 am. "Where is the sun? Is my clock wrong? Was I fooling myself about the time zone? What's up besides me?" (The sun surely was still somewhere on siesta!)

As I made my morning adjustments, slowly and surely (as it complies each and everyday) the dawn began to dispel the darkness. At first, as I looked out across the horizon, the sea still blended into the sky - an unbroken but immense vista. I prayed, I praised, and I kept watching. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, as the sun came up over the Sierra Madras, the sea began to sparkle, what was once a blurred and indistinguishable view, separated, sea, sky, distance in the hills, and movements from miniature people enjoying the majesty of the mighty ocean.

I was breathless. The life we are all finding ourselves in the middle of is "Before the Dawn." Before the day of the coming of the King. The day when we see Him in the clouds and just like this dawn, revealing the beauty of His creation,

I expect I will be breathless.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Clown and Crew off to Mexico

Greetings Saints and Soldiers!

I am off yet again, to do battle for the Kingdom that is soon coming. I am excited that my flight will only take a mere 3 hours and I will go to sleep and wake up in the same time zone!

Tomorrow, my co-laborers GF, KU and myself will be headed South of the Border to Mexico to work with my dear friends K and J, and their local church community to do outreach in the neighborhood among the children as well as participating in some specific local church sponsored events.

This morning I was reading in Exodus 35 on the commands to make the Wilderness Tabernacle, and all the items needed for worship, I was struck by the correlation to our upcoming adventure. Verse 22: "All who are skilled among you come and make everything the Lord has commanded." Our primary focus for this trip is to equip the local believers with evangelism training and tools as well as encouraging the community, sharing the love of Christ among the children, and exhibiting "a light has come...".

When the family first relocated to Mexico and invited me to come, I thought "there are plenty of people doing mission work in Mexico." However, within the community where they are located, the dedicated believers that have started a church for English speakers have little access to Christian mission resources, and few have training in evangelistic outreach. What they lack in training and resources they have made up for with heart!

In cooperation with their "sister" church they have started an outreach in the dump for the locals, sharing medical supplies, cutting hair, playing with the children and offering some childcare services, and most importantly showing and sharing the love of Christ.

I asked K what we could bring (you KNOW I don't believe in traveling light), and she replied, "bring anything... we really don't even know what to ask for".

On the Mount, before teaching the people gathered how they should pray, Jesus assured them " your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.." how reassuring for them, for us, for the believer's in Mexico and around the world, waiting for the answer and the provision! He knows the need - and we are happy to "travel heavy" and "pack to the max" to get it there.

Our biggest concern is Customs! We might look like touristas but we will be carrying in the maximum baggage allowance (a bit strange for a week trip) filled with Spanish Bibles, Bilingual Bibles, children's crafts, games and gifts. Pray we make it through with no problemas! How exciting to be physically carrying the Good News, and planting seeds for a southern harvest!

Our Father is still in Heaven
His name is still above every name - although no Presidential Ballot lists Him
His Kingdom is coming
His will is being done, by the faithful who are spreading the Good News
Heaven is rejoicing and the angels are sent before us preparing our way (they Habla Espanol)
Today, we need your provision, our daily bread is the Word of the Living God
We have forgiven, so we can enter into the work you have set before us
We do not want to be tempted by the concerns of the world
We want to experience and exhibit the Life of deliverance!

He is our King
He is our Power
He is our Glory
Forever and ever!

Until He comes in the clouds - I'm back in the clouds!
In His service

To participate in the southern harvest, financial donations can be made online through the website:

Friday, February 01, 2008

MEXICO - Calendar of Events

Depart DFW for Nueva Vallarta, Mexico

Outreach with neighborhood children
PM Church Youth Program

Outreach with neighborhood children
PM Young Women's Program

Outreach with neighborhood children
PM Youth Evangelism Concert

Worship with Local Believers
Meeting with Pastor and Lay Leadership

Outreach with neighborhood children

Morning Prayer with Local Believers
Depart for USA

I am excited to be traveling to “not so far” a country. In fact, this is the closest mission outreach other than Family Retreats we have ever been involved in! Two team members and I will be headed South of the Border next week to Nuevo Vallarta to join with my good friends and their church community to conduct neighborhood outreaches in the slum areas. Our participation will also include training the expatriates on child evangelism techniques and general mission work, a youth evangelism outreach on Saturday evening, and a special event for the young women of the church. We will be meeting with local leadership to look at long range goals and future participation of Sunshine After Rain Ministries. Partner with us through prayer and financial giving to the glory of El Dios!