God Is In Control!

It is hard to believe that I came to the Dominican Republic as a Missionary Intern SEVEN months ago! The year has been flying! Since the summer ended I have been busy. I started teaching English in a local private school and it has been a challenge. So many say that the classes in the USA are difficult but here I feel it is even worse. I have walked out of class completely discouraged and not knowing if I want to continue. Only to receive encouragement and prayers from so many! Teaching English is more difficult than I ever expected!! But the joys come from seeing the children outside of class and them running up to me yelling “TEACHER!” and I receive group hugs and smiles. It makes the difficult days’ worth it! I am still learning how to teach them, and I must be extremely firm with one of my classes. One of the classes I didn’t think was understanding anything and I was discouraged. I didn’t know how to get down to their level.

However, there is this one boy, Oscar, who has showed me that they are learning! One day I asked them if anyone in the class could sing the ABC’s song that I had taught them. Oscar raised his hand and proudly sang the song. His pronunciation of the letters was clear, and he didn’t miss a single letter! Even his teacher said WOW! I was so excited that day! Because it was kind of like God was saying to me, “I have you! They are learning!” God is so good! The school didn’t have the resources to purchase English Books. And with your help He has provided books for all these children, and they were so excited to receive them! I even heard the words, “We get a book??” from many of them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making it possible!

God has been teaching me so much while I have been here. Some days He sends others to speak into my life, some days it is through His Word, and some days it is BOTH. You know that when God hits you across the head multiple ways that you really need to sit up and listen! One thing that He has been teaching me is to truly depend on Him. I won’t lie, this has me nervous at times. I sit here and look at my finances and don’t know how I am going to make ends meet. But God provides! Please join me in prayers regarding my finances. Currently I am sitting at 70% funded for the year and there are living expenses that must be paid.  I am trusting that God will provide, He has brought me here, so I know that He will provide!

Another thing that He has been teaching me is that it isn’t all about Becca. This I feel is a HUGE lesson to learn. In the States we have come to expect what we want when we want it. We just go do whatever we want to do. But here it’s not always the case. We must put others before ourselves and this can be a hard and difficult thing to do at times. God has really been humbling me in the aspect that I have to depend on others and they can’t always stop what they are doing to help me.

Something else that God has been showing me is that to be a missionary it’s not easy! When I came I am honestly not sure what I thought it would be like. Part of me thought oh it will be easy!! We are doing God’s work. But, I have no idea why I thought this. Because when you are living the way God desires you to there are always road blocks thrown up. Because Satan doesn’t want us to succeed in God’s calling. He will do anything possible to stop the work! I have seen this many time since I have been here. With myself and with others. As missionaries and missionary interns, we don’t always agree with everything that is going on. But the thing that at the end of the day we all remember is GOD IS IN CONTROL! He will guide our footsteps every step of the way. We need to just trust and rely on Him.

 

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

Why should I serve in Monterrey, Mexico, with TIME Ministries?

Greetings,

My name is Aaron and I am a youth pastor from the Chicagoland area. I love TIME Ministries. My students love TIME Ministries. Our church loves TIME Ministries. For twenty years now our church has been sending groups to Monterrey with TIME Ministries. From its old location at the Elim church to its new location at the TIME Center in El Alamo, the mission of reaching the lost with the Gospel has remained the same. TIME works tirelessly to see young and old respond to the Gospel and get connected to the local church.

Connecting people to the local church is what I love most about TIME Ministries in Monterrey. Too often we see people come to Christ through the efforts of short-term groups but the organization fails to connect these people to a local church. The staff in Monterrey have connected with a vibrant and growing church called Nuevo Pacto. They are consistently connecting families with this church through their partnership. As a youth pastor I am responsible for leading many trips throughout the year. Partnering with TIME Ministries helps ease the burden of our summer mission trip. With TIME, all I have to do is choose my dates and purchase my airline tickets.

The rest of the logistics are taken care of by the TIME staff on the field in Monterrey. I have lead trips with other organizations which do not make the logistic planning nearly as easy. Since I do not have to take care of any other logistics like transportation, housing, or meals it frees me up to really prepare my students for the ministry we will be part of while on the field. This is a much better use of my time while preparing for the trip. With all of the logistics taken care of for me by the TIME staff, as a trip leader I have plenty of time and space to listen and respond to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me. I don’t just love TIME Ministries because they are connecting people to the local church or because they take care of all the logistics for me.

I also love TIME Ministries because of what God has done in my life through this organization. I have now been on twelve short-term trips with TIME Ministries in Monterrey. Each time I travel to Monterrey God does a tremendous work in my own life. When I was a junior in high school God used the work in Monterrey to call me to full-time vocational ministry. During our March 2017 trip God had some important lessons to teach me. I had the time and the space to be able to listen.

That specific trip has turned out to be the most influential short-term trip in my life because of the fruit it has produced. If short-term missions is new for you and your church, TIME Ministries is a great place to start. I personally guarantee that you will have a great experience. Not only will God use you to bring about eternal fruit for His Kingdom in others, he will also bring about eternal fruit in your life. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at aaron@growdeepreachwide.org. God bless!

 

_________________

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

Understanding Grace

My dad was a proud man, not arrogant but never wanting to not seem be in control. When in his mid-70’s, I persuaded him to attended Bible Study Fellowship along with me. As my elderly mother’s caregiver and reluctant to leave her alone, my daughters stepped up to stay with her on his evenings away, effectively eliminating any reason not to attend. To my knowledge this was his first ever organized bible study, other than a mandatory class in college years before.

At BSF, if unable to complete the lesson beforehand you were not allowed to talk within your group. Fearing the guys might know he was new to studying the bible, he worked hard on the lessons, answering every question as best he could. As the oldest guy in the group, he felt he knew the least. I assured him nobody looked at him that way and enjoyed having him there. Still, he was careful with his words and rarely asked questions for fear of looking like the new guy.

One night, several weeks into the study while driving home, Dad asked me; “I keep hearing the word “Grace” used and don’t know what it means.”Wow- what a great question to ask me! I explained it was like having your debts paid by someone else for free- like unearned favor. In my father’s typical fashion, he stated he understood, then changed the topic. Having to ask me in the first place was embarrassing for him but I know he pondered my answer.

The reality that salvation is a gift does not go well with some people, especially if you’ve attempted to earn it all your life. It seems the older we get, the more set in our ways we become. To be told the good works you’ve been piling up over the years won’t count when you stand before the Lord can be a hard pill to swallow, and to learn they are as filthy rags almost insulting. We have the natural desire to earn it ourselves and take credit in doing so. But God’s plan is different than ours- to place our faith in the grace of Christ’s death in our place to be saved.

As a salesman years ago, I met an elderly man at his simple rural home. We sat together at his kitchen table while he told me of his terminal illness, not having long to live. He told me of his life, his work done for God, his church affiliation and being a good person. Laying out his resume for acceptance to heaven, he would trust in his good works. I explained the gospel, that by placing his trust in Christ’s death for his sins and receiving Him as Savior, he could know for certain of his eternity. His reply was sobering but honest- he believed God would be fare and he would accept whatever God gave him. When his widow called to tell me of his death a few months later, I was sad but knew God was fare, but finds no pleasure in the death of a man who has not placed his trust in Christ.

When Christ was crucified, two condemned men hung on either side. While one mocked and cursed Him, the other asked Christ to remember him when He came into to His kingdom. Jesus’ reply was straightforward: “Truly truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”As a convicted man, guilty and accepting of punishment, he acknowledged the innocence of Christ and trusted Him for his salvation. Jesus paid the price for his sins, and the reward of eternal life for believing on Him. That very day the thief saw paradise with Christ.

So, did my dad place his trust in Christ? After 20 years of prayer and sometimes frustration, I had pretty much decided to quit asking and to just give it to God. Then one morning while eating breakfast together at McDonalds, out of the blue dad confesses his understanding of grace, that we are save by unearned favor, and that our works play no part in our salvation. He got it, and in God’s perfect timing.

We are called to tell of Christ’s love to a lost world, while it is the Holy Spirit who changes their hearts. Don’t stop praying for those people in your lives. Pride may get in the way, but the Lord can soften the heart. God is patient, not wishing for any to perish apart from His son. Be patient, God has it handled.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  

Scott Longstreet

10/05/18

 

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

A Leader’s Guide to Missions Trip Prepare the Heart

There always seems to be something else that needs to be worked on to prepare for a mission’s trip.  First and foremost, you must select a place and date, and make sure it coordinates with what everyone else is doing in the church.  And, of course, you need to sign up with the mission organization early to make sure they have that date open.  You need to recruit your group, both leaders and participants.  There are meetings to be had to share what you all will be doing, and how to do it, and to practice and prepare the ministry, and how to fill out the paper work, etc.  There is money to raise and travel plans to make.  And yet, you can do all that, and still have a lack luster mission trip.  Why? Because it doesn’t depend wholly on the leader.  One person can do all the above (though if I may offer an aside; think delegation) but the trip is made up of, and depends on, all the people in your group. The key to a successful short-term mission trip is to not only focus on the practical tasks in preparation, but to prepare the hearts of the people going on the trip.

The preparation of the heart can be done at all stages of planning, it can be formal and informal; It can be individually or as a group.  The how is not as important as the what.  The most successful groups help their people know WHY they are going, WHERE they are going and WHO they are going to see.  You might be saying, ‘Great, we can hit all three of those at our intro meeting’.  But it’s not just knowing in your head but knowing in your heart. It’s not just knowing a fact but understanding all that fact implies.  It’s not just seeing the trip through your eyes but seeing it through God’s eyes.

WHY are you going?  ‘We’re going to share the good news of Jesus Christ’.  Great!  Beyond the fact that it’s the most important news you can share with someone, Why? Don’t you think that there are people in that country that can share that good news, and do it better because they know the language?  ‘But God told us to go and preach the good news and make disciples of all nations.’ Great. Have you shared the good news with your neighbor, or your family or your community?  …Ok, ok, before you stop reading, yes, I know those questions are leading and unfair and probably constitute badgering.  I’m just trying to make a point.  In general, Americans have a high opinion of themselves and the way they do things (our way is best).  We have a bit of a savior complex, as in, we think we need to save the world, which expresses itself in any number of ways in the secular realm.  But this also spills over into the spiritual realm. All I’m saying is, help your group understand that they are not going to save the poor native, they are going to serve alongside their brothers and sisters from another country to try and bring more people into the family.  They are going to share the good news of Jesus Christ as God commands, but they are doing so alongside their family that lives there.  It’s the church helping the church.

WHERE are you going?  ‘The Dominican Republic or Monterrey, Mexico.’  Great!  But what do you really know about these places?  Some people think that deep down, everyone is the same.  That’s true in the fact that deep down, everyone needs Jesus and different cultures share the same spread of personality types. But core beliefs, values and behaviors can differ.  Not all, but enough to make it confusing.  The rule of thumb for a missionary is that it takes three years living in a culture to realize that you know nothing of that culture.  Then you can start to learn.  So, on a short-term mission trip, you are not going to learn everything about that culture.   The good news is, you don’t have to.  Just realizing that it’s different will help.  Just remember: just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong; they aren’t the ones that are different, you are; they don’t speak with an accent, you do. You’re in their country after all. Interesting side note: the one thing that is universal around the world is a smile. Use it extensively.

Who are you going to see? ‘Dominicans and Mexicans.’  Great!  Now look a little deeper.  One of the most poignant stories I ever heard from a missionary was about the time he was driving a group through his city.  They were craning their necks and asking questions about various places and buildings.  At one point someone pointed at group of ladies on the side walk and asked, ‘Are those prostitutes?’  ‘No, they’re people’, came the missionary’s immediate reply.  It wasn’t a sarcastic reply, or condescending. Just a matter of fact answers.  That’s how he saw them.  Not with his eyes, but through God’s eyes.  No labels.  Just people. People who needed Jesus.  Just like us.

Seeing the world through God’s eyes is one of the results of being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  If God is truly in control and he wants us to reach the world for Him, then every encounter with someone is a divine appointment set up from the beginning of time.  He can use every situation for His glory.  The bus/van broke down and we’re all delayed on the side of the road?  You can either feel frustration because things aren’t going according to plan, or excited to see how God is going to turn this around for His glory.  We just need to open our eyes, see the world the way God sees it and react accordingly.

Preparing our heats is making sure our attitudes and motivations are where God wants them to be.  We should have the same attitude as Christ.  Though He had every right, He didn’t play His God card, but took the form of a humble servant to bring the world back to God.

The practical tasks in preparing for a mission’s trip are important, but their purpose is limited for that trip.  The preparation of the heart is invaluable because it’s purpose is for our whole life.

 

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

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This year has been one of the best years of my life.  I had the opportunity to serve the Lord in our TIME for Sports Ministries Program.  God is giving me strength to do things that I never thought were possible.

At the beginning of May, TIME for Sports conducted a baseball camp for 170 kids.  Being able to share the gospel to these students in one camp was an amazing opportunity.  They were eating together, sharing, playing baseball and doing devotions together throughout the whole camp.  This is something unforgettable and something that makes my heart race for the Lord.  At the end of this camp 117 kids accepted Christ in their hearts.  That was the perfect complement for this camp.  God showed us that we can do all things when we give Him the glory and the honor.

I am now praying for Pastor Alberto Felix and his congregation.  The kids for this baseball camp all live near Pastor Alberto’s church.  It was through this congregation that we partnered with and that they can follow up with these kids and their decision for Christ.  I am praying that they can guide them to the truth and a good life with God.

My life is changing day by day with the TIME for Sports Ministry program.  We started this ministry in a good way, because we are thinking about the life of the people and their salvation.  I know God will guide our life and this program.  The Bible says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

That’s why I love to work with children.  You can see the result in their lives.  Please help by praying for me and for the children as we desire to do more and more and more.
That’s why I ask for prayers also for a new ministry partnership with Ina York and the Cercadillo Project. We want to go to Cercadillo on a more regular basis and teach baseball and share more about Jesus with the children and the community.

Please also pray for the Rivera Family and our next trip to the USA.  We hope to visit various families and churches in the States.  We are praying for around USD$3000 to assist us with our airfare.

Another prayer requests we have is for our future house.  We want to start the foundation of the house.  This is one of our personal dreams to have our own home as a family.

God Bless you and thank you for being a part of our team.

 

JC

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

God Knows!

God Proves himself to us. 

13575905_10208069239987912_1481355585316880438_oI am astounded that God is willing to teach us great and wonderful things about Him. Why does God do this thing called me.  Rick is a complicated and fussing man. God’s oversight of Rick, crazy.  At 58 you would think I could mostly believe what God says. All these years of God proving himself too me and I am still amazed. I think it has a lot to do with my memory. I don’t remember bad things and I must recall the good things that God has provided.  Maybe it’s a gift, my brain and the way it works, I don’t know. I am overwhelmed by God goodness. Take the occasion of Charlotte, my wife. She is a direct upshot of God’s watching over.  I could have never known (in 1984) when I married Char that she would help rid me of my most dangerous enemy. ME!  What a gift! 

God looks over us. 

Screenshot 2018-08-24 09.48.10Take the life of Dorretta Brown, TIME Ministries founder.  Wow!  at 95 she continues to lead and be a big part of TIME’s success. Dorretta leads the entire staff of TIME in prayer. She is completely gospel centered in her life. She understands that prayer is the starting point. She  has complete trust in God to change lives and man, she has seen a bunch people go in and out of her life.  95 years of living on and by faiths supply. No retirement. TIME’s missionary support income and her families help (your support for Dorretta through TIME) is all she has for income. So, she continues to work, Motivated by God, armed with the gospel. 

God’s meaning is not always seen by us. 

I recently viewed a video by one of TIME’s interns explaining why she served as an intern for TIME and what God has taught her this summer.   She quoted 3 John 7. “For they have gone out for the sake of the name”. Even though she had a tough summer and learned that short-term missions is hard, she stilled remember why she came to serve. “For the Sake of the name” I learned from Taylor Gates, God meanings for us and my experiences don’t always make sense. God teaches us that “for the sake of the name” means for the sake of his name.  

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God gives us confidence.  

This God given confidence is why I know God will supply TIME’s need for this fiscal year.  As stated in last month’s letter, Dorretta asked each of you who already give so much, to give an extra $15 to the general fund for the next 5 months.  Praise God some of you have responded. THANK YOU. 

Please would the rest of you, continue to pray about giving. 

Would you give to TIME?  Please consider helping TIME with a gift. Our work for the cause of Christ goes on for the rest of 2018 and we need your help to meet budget this year.  Would you pray about sending a gift? 

Please go to www.timeministries.org and donate today. An extra $15 goes along way. 

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-_________________

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

http://www.morethanmissions.com

Life Circles

“and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him -a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV

Recently, our family had the opportunity to travel to the States. It was a rather quick trip and very quickly planned. We knew that it really needed to be God’s Desire, plan and touch to make this trip work. There was a significant amount of details to work out and just the act of packing for a family of four in a manner of days would be a miracle. There was something inside of us that sensed God working and we kept hearing a small quiet voice say, “Trust!”

It was then, early on a Sunday morning, that we were blessed to board a flight to NYC.  This was the first in our journey, though that quiet voice continued to say “Trust.”  I felt peace as we journeyed to our destination in the West where we were to join friends.  It was there that we were encircled with love, care and friendship.  This friendship was a sweet blessing to me and to our family. We received far more than we could have imagined.

Throughout the trip we were encircled by friends and our children.  I could feel life coming back to my soul. It’s not that the life was gone, though exhaustion had set in. It was through these friendship gatherings and long conversations that our lives became encircled in love and care. The meetings and coffee excursions quenched my soul as I felt so many of our friends spend time pouring into us. I also saw so many others investing into the lives of our children too.

In every location we visited I saw my children encircled by friends and be engulfed with love and care.  Their faces lit up as they played from dawn to dusk.  Time and time again the circle of the trampoline became their meeting place and jump after jump came with more joy than the one before.  One never knows what they may encounter and even more for our children.  The blessings that we experienced filled our souls and our children too.

The true impact became more real as we returned to the field. The joy, love and grace began to overcome me as I realized how impactful this last trip truly was.  I experienced a circle of friends that I may not see every day nor may even talk to them on a regular basis though the life they poured into my family and my soul is incomprehensible.  I have now begun to realize the circle of friends I have been blessed to have around the world.  The power these circles must help us energize and rejuvenate us in ministry is something I haven’t tapped into. This is what I pray I may begin to do.  We all become tired and exhausted with life at times, though it can be through friendship that we can be brought back to life again.  Friends give us another perspective; another outlook on life.  I pray that you also may find these life circles to be re-energized again; to be brought back to life.  May the Lord engulf you in love and friendship where you may have life poured back into you for His joy to fill you.

For those life circles you may have in your life, may we thank our Lord for those who are a well of His loving, living water to us and a refreshing drink to our soul.  I pray that we may be rooted together in His love, grace and care.  Also, that our relationships may grow in the months and years to come. Thank you for the life-giving circles that we currently experience and those in the future that we may be blessed to encounter.

 

 

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

http://www.morethanmissions.com

A Morning of Wins and Fails

Yesterday morning Sam, I and the girls as well as some friends of ours from the States and their son were able to share in an English class in the public university here in Monterrey. We’ve taken TIME Ministries groups there in the past and we want to keep active the connection even when we have no college groups. We go to help expose them to native English speakers and allow them to practice listening and speaking. But our goal is that we can keep going, get to know the students and introduce them to a true relationship with Christ. Although this is something we love to share about and hope you will join us in praying for this project that is #morethanmissions and we hope will continue next semester, this blog really isn’t about that ministry.

The connection is that our topic yesterday was on being an expat, what it’s been like to move to another country, learn a new language, and adapt to a new culture. Of how some things that should be not too difficult become much harder than expected but are necessities of living and serving in another country. A section of our presentation was some funny anecdotes of our wins and fails as expat missionaries. Today we experienced a morning full of wins and fails that would have been perfect to share. I hope you can read my attempt at tongue in cheek humor of our rather frustrating morning.

Our children have the blessing of being able to have dual citizenship. The paperwork, lines, and time spent to get those documents is not so much a blessing for their parents. When our youngest (currently 3 months old) was about 5 weeks old we went to the US consulate to apply for her a birth abroad birth certificate that grants her US citizenship and get her US passport. The application includes needing to list all the time we as the parents have spent in the US. Unfortunately, I didn’t know 10 years ago when I moved to Mexico I would need to remember the dates of every quick day trip up to the border. But thankfully this time I didn’t also need to include every date and location that I was outside the US like I did with our oldest daughter. At the consulate, after a relatively short wait we turned in paperwork at one window, paid at another, registered and paid for the messenger service that would deliver her documents at another window, another short wait, a quick interview, another visit to the payment window and the messenger service window, back through security and we were on our way a record hour after arriving. A surprising 10 days later we had her documents, with our oldest the process at the consulate was about 2 and ½ hours and the wait for her documents close to 6 weeks.

I’ll leave out the details of the process of getting the Mexican birth certificate. Something we thankfully could do at the hospital before being discharged but includes needed to have a copy of Sam’s birth certificate that is less than 6 months old. (A common request for documents here although I don’t think I will ever understand why a birth certificate has to be recent. Usually the dates and information surrounding a birth don’t change as time goes by, but maybe I’m wrong. J)

Today was the appointment to get the Mexican passport. The process includes filling out an application online, having the child’s birth certificate, CURP (like a social security number), a recent letter from the pediatrician, and ID from the parents. We had all the documents, had made the payment and were out the door by 7:40am with both little girls (one of who usually doesn’t wake up till 8), made it into the city and arrived 10 minutes early to our appointment thanks to an abnormal experience of flowing morning traffic. Win. After turning in all the documents and required two copies we waited while they confirmed the documents online. There we discovered that although we had the physical official copy of her birth certificate and the paper with her CURP someone hadn’t entered them into an official computer database so they couldn’t verify them and therefore we couldn’t finish the process of her passport. We needed to go to another government building across town and got someone to enter her information into the system. Fail.

So off we go, frustrated mom and dad and thankfully cooperative toddler and infant (win!). By the time we got to the other building the infant was no longer feeling so cooperative but baby carrier for the win and she went back to sleep once she was strapped next to mom’s heart. Once inside we surprisingly found no lines. Win! This place is notorious for taking up to 3+ hours of your day to get one procedure done. After speaking to two rather grumpy and not very helpful government workers we found a more approachable worker who couldn’t tell us why our daughter’s information wasn’t in the system even though just a few weeks earlier Sam had spent an hour and a half there with our toddler getting the CURP for our youngest because it wasn’t online. But he did tell us they will supposedly put it in the system within the next 10 working days. The exact number of days the passport place granted us a pass to be able to go back and get her passport. Fail.

There was one more win for the morning. We did all that and got tacos (the screaming infant demanded we stop and all have breakfast J) and made it home in about 3 hours. Unheard of for a trip into town considering it takes 40-45 minutes one way and without traffic to get to the places we needed to go. Hopefully the next time we go will be just as quick and that that time we’ll come home with a passport.

Jessica Olmedo – Site Director, Mexico

 

 

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

http://www.morethanmissions.com

Women, Practice Your Faith Ministry

“God always fulfills His purpose.” Psalm 138:1-8

“I will praise You, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing Your praise.                                                                    I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your unfailing love and Your faithfulness, for You have so exalted Your solemn decree that it surpasses Your fame. When I called, you answered me; You greatly emboldened me.  May all the kings of the earth praise You, LORD, when they hear what You have decreed.   May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.  Though the LORD is exalted, He looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, He sees them from afar.   Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.  You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand     You save me.  The LORD will vindicate me; Your love, LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of Your hands.”  (NIV Bible)

Thanksgiving ought to be an integral part of our praise to God. This theme is woven throughout the Psalms.  When we thank Him for His material and spiritual blessings, we also need to thank Him for answering our prayers! Do you recall when David asked God for His protection, strength, comfort, patience, love and other special needs and He gave them to him?  Don’t think that God will always give us everything we want, nor will He grant us all we request.  But we can be certain that He will complete His work.  (Bible Diario Vivir- Daily Living)

We all dream and make plans.  We labor arduously to see our dreams and plans become realities. But in order to make the best of this life, we need to include God’s plans among ours. Only He really knows what is best for us.  Well, I have so many reasons for gratitude to You, my LORD! (Bible Diario Vivir – Daily Living)

The favor of God has always been around you who are reading these words and around me.  His favor never fails.  His desire is that you and I always thank Him for what He does.  The Christian life is not simply praying, having a good relationship with others and having good Bible reading.  We need to be              grateful.  I Thess. 5:17

The purpose of this letter is to give thanks to God for the annual program of the Woman, Practice Your Faith ministry.  The project of WPYF 2018 is being fulfilled.

Each month we have a pastor and his family for whom we pray.

Every first Sunday of the month our WPYF staff gathers to pray.

We make visits throughout the country for Mothers United in Prayer.

January 10th, a reunion for Mothers United in Prayer.

February 11-16thtraining for counseling in Indianapolis

March 15thWomen’s Program in Boca Chica

April 7thWomen’s Retreat in Quisqueya

January 2018

Every first Sunday the staff meets to pray, have breakfast together and plan that which we’ll do next.  It’s a way we can pray for and interact with each other.  In this way we get to know each other better, forgive each other and serve others.  Our team is very involved in the activities which we normally do.  And this causes the Woman, Practice Your Faith staff to be stronger in Christ.  Thank God we have been meeting to pray specifically for pastors for three years already.

We have received answers and plans from God.  We had our gathering and more women were involved in the ministry of Mothers United.  We have seen our petitions answered and countless praises for what He has done. For this reason, it is very important to give thanks.

In Cuba there have been marvelous answers to prayer since my visit there to share about Mothers United.  I have received four letters telling me about activities in different parts of Cuba.  There have been up to 50 to 60 ladies in attendance in each gathering and many prayers have been answered.  We are infinitely grateful and to You they will sing of the ways of the Lord.  Psalm 138:5

February 2018

This was a month filled with blessings!  I received counseling classes at the 3rdlevel.  This is one manner of reinforcing the ministry of Woman, Practice Your Faith by helping the women with counseling. Thank you to all who in one way or another prayed or financially supported me in this trip which was a blessing. I was able to share with different ladies.  They helped me visit Philadelphia where I shared about Woman, Practice Your Faith and they were very excited.   I also was in Florida where I shared with other churches.  God provided grace for them to hear about the testimony of the ministry of Woman, Practice Your Faith.  Oh, God, thank you for listening to the voice of the humble.  Psalm 138:6

March 2018

An activity with the ladies from several churches in Boca Chica. Originally, we had planned to have a retreat at Quisqueya in March.  However, the date was changed to April 7th.  Instead we had one evening in Boca Chica on March 15thwith a team from Westchester EFC in Des Moines.  I shared about Mothers United which was new for the ladies there and we presented Days for Girls along with a program of music.  The church was packed!!

April 2018

As I mentioned God changed our original date and plans.  But His plans are not ours.  Thus, the purpose of this blog entry is to thank God for His plans! The activity in Quisqueya was marvelous, with a theme chosen by their leader and the need of the women: “Look to Jesus”                                                            We shared.  This was our second year to celebrate the fruits of the ministry of Woman, Practice Your Faith.  The speakers were:  Vernon Figueroa, Noe Figueroa and Anyoly Rivera.   57 ladies were in attendance who were touched by God’s Word.  Allow me to share one testimony of a lady who accepted Jesus.

Last October our sister, Sherry Winters, and three of her USA friends invited me to visit various chapels that their church had helped construct in the DR.  Thus, we were able to invite some leaders to attend the conference in November.  The result was that we visited a lady with whom I shared the Gospel.  That day we sang “Hay Libertad” (There is Freedom) and she accepted Jesus.  We congratulated her.  And then after several months we met again in Quisqueya where I greeted her, but she did not remember me.  However, later during the conference when we again sang “Hay Libertad” (There is Freedom) this lady’s mind began to recall and she told me, “You are the person who helped me find Jesus Christ.  What a blessing!  My life has been changed.  Jesus changed my life and my heart became joyous.”  Thus, I give thanks to the Holy Spirit because He is the One who convinces. And I praise God for His marvelous love for having allowed us to share with the women of Quisqueya.  You have revived us!!  Psalm 138:7

I can say “Ebenezer, until now the Lord have helped me serve Him in the school at Los Girasoles.” This is the beautiful testimony where He initiated a work to sow the Word in 238 children.  For three years we’ve been working giving classes on Mondays from 8:00-9:00 am.  About 20-30 children have accepted the Lord Jesus.  He is the One who reaps, and I know He will do it because many of us are the fruit of that harvest!

In this month of April, I was invited to participate in an Olympic event where many activities took place: singing, modeling, literature, information on how to start a business, dance and many other things.  But what most caught my attention is how the Word of God remains seeded in their hearts.  Many of these children do not have Christian families.  Despite this, however, they have decided to serve God, and this is the will of God.  In this same month we could provide a medical clinic where about 140 people participated. Among these, 5 decided to receive Jesus in their hearts and one of them is now attending a church and others are in the process of doing likewise.   I have decided to serve Him and sow the Word.  The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  Our desire ought to be to do His will, love people, and He will make the changes in their lives.  There are so many things we can do for His glory.  I don’t want to turn back!  I want to follow the Master doing that which He did here on earth.  And I will follow Him!!

Thank You Lord for all You did, have done and for that which You will do.  Your love is deep, and we experience it each time we enter communion with You.  Thank You for the mercy You’ve had with Woman, Practice Your Faith.  It has been a great blessing to be able to do these activities for Your honor and glory!!

No fear ought to come into our lives!  Only God knows about the future!  These words of thanksgiving have given me the strength to continue the purpose of God in my life – the ministry of Women, Practice Your Faith. I am not afraid!  He will always provide!  He is Jehovah Jireh.  My plan for this next conference in November is “Rest in Him and He Will Do the Rest!”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Apoyes” (lean) gives the idea of putting all one’s weight on something; resting and trusting in that person or thing upon which one finds support.  When we have an important decision to make, sometimes we feel we cannot trust anyone, not even God.  Nevertheless, He knows what is best for us.  He even judges better than we regarding what we really want!  We ought to trust in Him completely in all decisions we make. This does not mean we should stop thinking carefully nor scorn the reasoning ability which God has given us. It means, nevertheless, that we should not view ourselves as wise in our own eyes.  We should always be ready to listen to the Word of God and what wise counselors advise.  Take your decisions to God in prayer!  Let us read the Bible as a guide and then continue in the direction that God gives. He will make your paths straight as He guides and protects us.  (Bible Daario Vivir- “Daily Living”)

REST in HIM!  Giving thanks to Him always because He never will abandon the work of HIS hands!

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

http://www.morethanmissions.com

Never Played Bass for James Brown

I love almost all forms of music, from polka to rock, funk to fusion, country to soul, even elevator music (yes, I may be guilty of riding up an extra floor or two if the groove is right).  And music is powerful. The right vibe can change my mood, help me recall good times, provide a tangible defense against those not so good memories, and can in general set things right with the world. Music is also magical, it can superimpose me onto a stage where I am playing bass for James Brown or Tower of Power or even back to the 70’s when I desperately wanted to play bass for Rick Derringer or Ted Nugent. I love music.

For my wife, Charlotte, music is like a time machine. She can recall her weight, age and what she was doing at that time from just hearing an old song. I’m not kidding! I’ve been married for 33 years and her ability to recall certain things just from hearing songs is amazing. Some of her best memories of her mother who died in her early teens years can be recalled with a song. It’s kind of crazy how her mind works, or maybe, it’s more on the amazing side.

Perhaps that’s why music is on my mind today, it’s the potential of it. It can do so much. It can turn back time, it can be a friend in low places, it can change the world. Those are things music can do, what it is at its peak, at its highest potential. So, because it has the potential to do so much, we come to expect so much from it. And with great anticipation, great potential, comes disappointment when that potential isn’t met.

You recognize this, right? It’s why you’ll bounce from station to station in the car, giving each only a few seconds worth of judgment, until you land on a tune that fits the vibe of a windows down, sunglasses on kind of day. When you find that one song that fits, it caps the moment. Failure to find it can often kill the mood. What a waste of the breeze coming in the windows! What a waste of a perfectly good volume knob that has a few more cranks in it! The stage was set, missing the right tune was a serious waste of potential!

Of course, this isn’t just about finding the right song on the radio and music doesn’t have the market cornered on having the potential to change the world in any number of positive ways. In fact, where we recognize music at its most potent is where it is the soundtrack to the amazing things people do when they are pushed to make the most of their potential. And yes, when I say “people” I mean us as a collective group of skin and bones roaming the lands under God’s good purpose, but as members of that group I also mean you and I as individuals. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the potential things the team can do that we forget that we are all individual contributors who, by living up to our greatest potential, bring everyone up with us.

It’s hard to start, or to even see things that way. Everything seems like a bummer. The problems around us are too big, too heavy, too much. And that’s just the problems themselves and doesn’t account for having to try and corral and lead various rowdy groups of people who are making matters worse by doing too much of the wrong thing or, most likely, nothing at all. Where we lack hope, potential seems a far-off dream. But we have no right to lament as if we have no hope, we are the followers of principal Maker and Dealer of Hope. Where hope has died in Christians, it’s dead to the world. That mustn’t be! There is most certainly hope, which means we have a proper foundation to reach our potential, even as we look out at the complicated world that surrounds us.

That’s the complication, perhaps, even the distraction. Potential is local. It’s personal. It’s being faithful in the means that God has set before you and trusting Him with the rest. It’s recognizing that your means and your situation may be different than someone else’s. Your job is to reach, to squeeze every ounce of action and love and steadfastness out of the situation you’re in; to walk willfully and confidently under the grace of God and the boldness of the Spirit. We can’t carry the world, God must do that. And He’s on the task, choosing to use those who are in His service as the means through which His will shall be done. That is the output of our potential. Could there be a greater honor than to be part of this Kingdom of priests, used to bring wandering image-bearers of God back to right relationship with Him?

In western Church culture (Christianity) we have displayed great propensity to both shine brightly at the apex of our potential and cower under a basket, hiding it from view. However, what is more and more prevalent is a potential that is widely acknowledged and celebrated but never actually pursued. It is lukewarm, the kind of thing Jesus spews from his mouth. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the potential that fills half of the books on our shelves, the ones that we read so we can know how to witness to our neighbors, how to fight for the least of these, how to get our finances in order so we can be a blessing to others. We devoured the contents, made notes in margins, talked about them over coffees and Rice Krispies Treats at small group. Yet, we’ve still never even invited the neighbors into our homes for a meal, let alone introduce them to Jesus. We’ve started to notice the least of these more but used it as merely a reminder to make a plan on how to help them next time. And things just keep coming up, there just hasn’t been the right moment to be a blessing to someone else. Such potential! But it’s lukewarm.

Just think what it could be like if we lived our lives within the good potential that our Heavenly Father has stored up for us. It really is possible! It is what the Spirit is to help us do! Often times we feel the gap rather profoundly when we go to church. We’re there to recharge but instead find ourselves filled with guilt around the obvious distance between who we are created to be and who we are living as; the potential we have been blessed with and how we are currently using that blessing. The core thing here is that living is a verb, it’s an action. You can’t live up to your potential without doing anything. Our faith isn’t solely one that lives in minds and hearts. Jesus walked the earth so that we might be saved and to leave footsteps for us to follow as we walk the earth after Him.

So how is it done? How do we make the most of our potential? Let’s look at Jesus to test this thought. Jesus gave us a great pattern to model our lives after:

  1. He walked according to the will of the Father
  2. He cared for people
  3. He preached the good news
  4. He formed leadership to carry on after he left
  5. He gave everything to accomplish the mission

You see it. All we need to do is prioritize our lives around these 5 attitudes.  Can you think of a better way to live your life then to live in faithfulness to God and for the betterment of others? Those two things are the focus of the 10 commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and Jesus’ summation of what the whole Law was getting at. Whether a person knows Christ or not this push to better others will have tremendous transformative impact on our culture. Good News changes the world, that’s a guarantee.

So how can you be the soundtrack in the lives of those around you? How much higher can we reach cultivating the better in the lives of everyone in our community? Each person you connect with in your life has crazy wonderful and possibly frightening happenings in their lives every day.  Go connect with them.  Find out who they are and what makes them tick. Build good things into their lives and share your life stories with them. You will be astonished how similar your story is to the stories of the Bible.  The Bible is full of God moving people forward. Think of all the men and women in the Bible. They suffered kept moving, the protected kept screwing up, yet God gave them a vision of potential to be a people of greatness and backed that up with a Savoir/leader in Jesus.

As we move forward in faithfulness, striving to win the race and not only reach our full, blessed potential but to bring it out in others, lets:

Accomplish the mission.
        “You shall love the Lord your God”

Connect with other along the way
         Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Influence other to do the same.
        Use all your heart, all your Soul, all your strength and all your mind

 Oh, and remember, sometimes in order to have the right song available at the right time, you have to bring it with you. Preparation isn’t a lack of trust, it’s a commitment to not miss out on an opportunity to make the most out of every moment. You keep a Tower of Power CD in the car in anticipation of a sunny day, you keep your bass playing chops up to snuff in case Rick Derringer calls, and you keep the love of God and the Good News of Jesus ever on your lips as you most certainly will meet someone who needs to hear it.

 

RICK LEE – TIME President

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

http://www.morethanmissions.com