We're not a "flashy" ministry. . .

We are not a very exciting ministry.  We are not called to do dangerous things or go into remote places (at least not yet).  The stories we have to tell are often repetitive and at times mundane.  I can't even often show you pictures of cute kids to tug at your heart strings because we often work with adults, or with children whose privacy we guard for one reason or another.

Sometimes I wish we were more flashy, that we were doing things that would be more exciting and interesting to those of you not living here.  I miss the days when I was free to travel around Guatemala, often with Dick Rutgers, and tell fantastic stories of God's provision.  God still provides, even in miraculous ways, but the provision is pretty low key most of the time.

It's easy for me to get my nose out of joint (a fancy way of saying resent) that other ministries often have exciting things to relate on their Facebook posts and get a lot of positive feed back. Much of what causes my heart to sing in ministry is pretty tame.  Who really cares that both boys in school passed all their classes for the first time, that Fidel is friendly and communicative now and smiles more easily, or that Roberto has gained weight so those who knew him in his previous home would not recognize him now.  What do I have to share that anyone really wants to know?

Fidel just celebrated his 33rd birthday and will
complete five years of living in Casa de Esperanza
on Aug. 28
And this is when I commit the sin of comparison which poisons my ministry and my soul.  I knew I was struggling with "something" feeling like we weren't doing enough, but not knowing what to do.  Then I read this blog post by the wife of one of the men I call "Pastor" and it became clear to me.  I compare us to other ministries and find us lacking in our activities.  I even compare myself to other ministry leaders and feel I fall short.

I see what they do to minister, the risks they take, the places they go, even the way they raise their funds (even those that claim they are not fund-raising are doing so by the stories they tell--and there's nothing wrong with that.  We need to make needs known so God can meet them).  And I feel that I am not enough, don't do enough, am not what I "should" be.  And, as Val says in her blog and my friend Judy has warned me before, Facebook can be the biggest instigator of this sin of comparison.

So, my friends, I am writing this to publicly repent and refocus and ask you to hold me accountable to be who God has called me to be, not who He has called someone else to be.  I am asking you to challenge me to hold faithful to the mission He has imparted to our ministry:  "To improve the lives of the poor and disabled, now and for eternity."  

I promise, even if I think things are uninteresting to you, to write more about what God is doing here to bring this about.  Not to bring glory to us (especially not me--please, I am no hero) but to His Name.  I promise to write and share more not to gain the approval of man but to show the faithfulness of the God who called us here.

This year, as I prayed for a word to guide my walk in 2018, I received the word persistence.  I thought, okay, that's like perseverance, right?  But I felt God in my heart telling me no.  So I began to study the meaning of the two words.

Perseverance implies not giving up, to keep on doing even in the face of opposition. Persistence can and often does have a negative connotation, implying stubbornness and unwillingness to change.  It is an inner attitude as well as a outward stance to maintain what already exists.  To keep on even when it seems that nothing is happening.  To stay the course.

I am to persist in following the first mission statement which God gave to me personally in 2010:  "To glorify God by serving the poor and disabled in Guatemala."  I promise to fight the boredom and routine that can be the enemy of this persistence and tempt me to seek out something more novel and exciting.  My goal is to live here each day in peace and joy, in obedience to who God has called me to be.  Can I urge you to do the same?

Why Bibles?

I know some are wondering why, with all the needs arising from the destruction of the villages of El Rodeo following the eruption of the Fuego volcano, we have decided to focus on providing Bibles to those who have lost everything.

The answer is easy.  After much prayer and consultation, I believe this is what God would have us do.

Many organizations and mission groups are providing for the material needs of those affected by the volcano.  Missionaries are encouraging and praying with survivors as they bring aid to them.  There are many ministries better equipped to provide humanitarian relief than we are. So I asked God what our niche would be in relief efforts.

A few days after the eruption, I received this video from our house manager Brenda. (Sorry it's sideways.  That's how I received it.) She and her family were among those in a shelter in Esquintla, having lost everything to the ash and lava covering her village of La Reina.

Her mother, my friend Rosa, worked with the local civil defense agency, and was helping to manage this shelter.

Her father, Roberto, pastored a church in La Reina and continues to try to pastor those in the shelter.

My heart broke watching this video.  Having worshiped with some of these folks in the past at there church in La Reina, I knew most of them would have had Bibles in their hands if they had them.  I thought about what it would be like to lose my favorite Bible.  My heart hurt.

As I continued to pray for my friends and acquaintances in this area (this church sponsored a concert to benefit our ministry less than a year ago), God placed in my heart a desire to replace a bit of what they had lost.  The answer I got was, "Give them Bibles."

So that is what we are doing.  Working with Pastor Roberto and the missionaries who are taking humanitarian relief to the area, we will supply them with Bibles.  We will focus primarily on the shelter in Esquintla which Rosa is helping to oversee, because we have access to the people living there, more than 600 men, women and children.  As these Bibles are given, we hope to discover other, perhaps more tangible needs, which we will try to meet on an individual basis as funds are available.

We have begun conversations with various ministries about beginning small group Bible studies developed by the American Bible Society focused on Trauma Healing. (It was no coincidence that I was in Omaha begin trained to facilitate these groups the week following the eruption.)  We will help more with the process of rebuilding than with the immediate relief efforts.

I believe this fits our ministry's and my unique gifting, focusing on restoration and healing:  Our mission:  To improve the lives of the poor and disabled, now and for eternity.

It allows us to utilize our strengths to meet a unique need--reminding these survivors that God has not abandoned him, and using this window of suffering to draw people to Jesus who may not have known him in the past. These Bibles are our first step.