For That Is The Reason We Are Created

Time, or I guess I could write TIME, what a valuable commodity. It crawls or flies depending on the day, the year, or on whom you ask.   At the recent TIME Ministries board meeting we were reminded that this year marks anniversaries with the ministry for several of the missionaries. Five, ten, fifteen, even twenty-five years for some and many more-70 years in ministry for TIME Ministries founder Dorretta Brown. For me 2017 marks 10 years here in Monterrey with TIME Ministries.  To use the often-quoted phrase it’s hard to believe ten years have gone by. I hope that as this year continues I pause to take more time to reflect on these years but I will do a little bit of that here in this post. In the last 10 years I have worked with at least 10 churches or missions in Mexico and many more churches from the US, met hundreds of people who have a heart to serve the Lord and have given of their time and money to come and be a part of short term missions in Monterrey, as well as many strong and faithful servants of God here in Mexico and seen others come to know Christ as there one and only Savior. I have worked hard to try and learn and understand a different language and culture, have lived in 5 different houses or apartments, met people who are some of my closest friends, met and married the man who became my husband and partner in ministry, and gave birth to a beautiful daughter who just turned two.

There have been times of overwhelming happiness and times of great sadness and pain, times of complete carefreeness and times of intense fear, days where everything is in order and moments of overwhelming stress, times where my faith has never felt stronger and times where I think I’m barely holding on. But even in the midst of all of those times I know that God remains faithful. Ephesians 3:20-21 states, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (NIV) This is one of the principle verses God used to get my attention and set me on a path that led me to live in and serve Him in Monterrey. God is able to do so much more than I can think or imagine, for me that included pulling me out of my bubble and comfort zone and strengthening and equipping me to leave my home and family and move over 1900 miles away driving my faithful Jeep Liberty from little Lebanon, Pennsylvania through the Midwest, to Dallas, and then down to Monterrey, Mexico. I am by nature somewhat shy and reserved and looking back now at some of the events that have happened over the last 10 years it’s hard even for me to believe that it was the same shy farm girl that lived through them all. But with every turn God has shown His faithfulness. The following verse has often brought comfort to my soul. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:2-3a (NIV). No matter what He is present.

As I reflect on the last ten years it leads me to dream about the next ten years. What might they look like? Where will they lead our family? Where will God take the ministry here in Monterrey? I can say I honestly don’t know. Over the last two years especially we have stepped out in faith believing that God continues to have a plan and mission for TIME Ministries in Monterrey. It may not look anything like the city I moved to ten years ago. What we do and how we do it may not look like those first summers I served but one things does remain the same; there are countless people with a need for a savior-the one and only true and sufficient Savior. The need remains. We have moved to a new location better suited to hosting groups who desire to participate in partnering with churches in the city to meet that need, we have new partner churches and are praying and looking for more. Ten years ago each day and week with a group had a similar flow, but today no week or tour looks the same as each church has a goal of reaching their community with the gospel and how we can partner with them to help do just that. That may mean we help run a vacation Bible school or day camp or help plan and lead a retreat for youth or a series of workshops for youth or families, or take a group of college students to the public state university to practice English with language students. Last year we had contact with 50-60 students and daily were able to share the Gospel through practicing English. Sometimes it’s physical work getting our new TIME Center equipped for groups. Or helping a small mission church who meets in one of the members homes redo some electrical work to give better lighting and make it safer or clearing land and bringing down a dilapidated old structure in order to make space to host a vacation Bible school. Our prayer is that God continues to use us, the partner churches in Monterrey, the sending churches from the states, and TIME Ministries not just to lead run of the mill missions trips but to be More Than Missions-to be and do what we can to reach others for Christ, to be vessels molded in God’s hand and used by Him for His glory. For that is the reason we are created (Isaiah 43:7).

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

Until Blocks Should Separate Them

As the group would connect the wooden panels with screws and nails, Zeral Brown with TIME Ministries would tell them, “This chapel will stand until it is replaced by a block structure.” This was the concept as Zeral Brown began TIME Ministries in the Dominican Republic. A few months ago I had the privilege to visit several churches along with a very dear friend whose church had built various chapels here in the DR for many years. We saw that our work for the Lord has not been in vain!! In 1995, almost 22 years ago, the foundation for a chapel was laid in Quisqueya. As we traveled to this community, I was surprised to find pieces of the chapel leaned against a mango tree. But instead of sadness, I was overjoyed to see a beautiful block church standing where once the wooden chapel had been erected. In speaking with the young pastor, Miguel Martinez Piantini, we learned about the progress of this church and about the importance of that wooden chapel. It was in that chapel where Pastor Miguel heard about Jesus. Miguel explained how he was a testimony to the fruit of that chapel. For it was in that little chapel where the former pastor, Henry Montes, led young Miguel to Jesus and then discipled him.

We also met an elderly lady who recalled the day the wooden chapel was erected. She was so grateful for the labor of that short-term mission team. Our trip to Quisqueya was an emotional one for me. To see Zeral’s dream become a reality was a moving experience. The name of the church, Iglesia Bautista Misionera, (Missionary Baptist Church) also caught my attention. I realized that Pastor Henry had done his work and then trained Pastor Miguel who continues the ministry through the next chapter of this chapel’s life. The chapel provided a home for the congregation until the construction of a larger block building could take place. Both Pastor Henry and that first chapel served as “missionaries”.

I thank God for allowing my family and me to serve with TIME Ministries through the years. I personally have served with TIME for over 25 years and I continue to be amazed by HIS grace and mercy. TIME Ministries has provided a great help in spreading the Word of God! Please, keep praying for us! May God continue blessing you richly!


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

More Than Missions

At times, the world seems like a very organized and orderly place. We all live, we all die, sun up, sun down, breathe in, breathe out, spring, summer, fall, winter, repeat, repeat, repeat. Other times, though, the world, even in its simplest things, is chaos and complication; people and things and situations going their own way, doing their own thing, with no defined boundary or purpose. We live in the midst of both, of course.

One of the great wonders to see and be part of is when that chaos and complication, often contained within interesting, sometimes disparate things, comes together to produce amazing outcomes (I’m looking at you, jalapeno jelly.) I’m thinking of those two polar opposite people who got married and against all odds have a fantastic relationship (everyone knows at least one couple like that.) Or how God can take faithful servants from different cultures, different backgrounds, and bring them together to work naturally side-by-side for a common purpose in His Kingdom. That doesn’t seem like “just” mission work, does it? It seems like so much more.

About a year ago, Rick Jacobsen, Dustin Damitz and I sat down in my office to try and look forward and find some fresh ideas for marketing TIME.  We needed to hash out a slogan or branding that TIME could use for the next 3-4 years. We pulled up some chairs around a table and Dustin (our Marketing Director) started asking, “What does TIME do?  What are some buzz words that are thrown around on the mission field? How would you describe TIME using the least words as possible?” We quoted TIME’s mission statement and we broke that down. We played with all the words in the statement as we had Dustin write on a white board all the words that describe what TIME does.

As we talked, my mind naturally drifted to classic rock for inspiration. I started hearing songs with the word time in the lyrics. The Rolling Stones, “TIME is on my side, yes it is” or “If I could save TIME in a bottle” by Jim Croce.  How about Chicago’s “Does anybody really know what TIME it is”? (Although, that might have been less about looking for a slogan and more about looking forward to lunch).  We started visualizing the word TIME. We quickly diverted down the old and well-tread TIME clock logo road, and abandoned it just as fast. We reviewed the great TIME T-shirt that says “Drink the Water”. This brain storming session was beginning to fade. We needed coffee, we needed inspiration.

We continued. We came up with words and phrases and then broke them down, patched them up, moved them around and expanded them looking for a brilliant brand.  Words like: Short term missions, internships, sports ministry, construction, missions, the great commission, sharing the gospel and more (we could have started a word bank for a Jesus-themed crossword puzzle at that point).  We tried word acronyms, which were very hard and probably not a good thing to have tried at this point. We blathered on about the history of TIME and the people of TIME; all the Dominicans, Mexicans, Americans, Haitians and Cubans that have worked with TIME. We talked about all the groups who have taken tours with TIME. We discussed all the youth groups, churches, schools and the many organizations that have used TIME as their short-term missions’ outlet.  We imagine what they would say about TIME.

Dustin filled the white board up and then erased some and wrote more. We prioritized the list, then started over. We talked about all the stories and people God had changed with the gospel of Jesus. Individuals who answered the call to go work for the Great Commission. “To go ye therefore and make disciples”. What a high calling, is there in any higher calling? We talked about all the children and adults who have believed in Jesus and come to follow him over the years.

Then someone, I don’t know who, said it.  “MORE THAN MISSIONS”. Boom! That was it. It’s more than just missions. Not that missions is not enough, it’s clear that TIME’s mission to promote the gospel through the local church anyway we can, by using short-term missions is a noble and inexhaustible pursuit. But MORE THAN MISSIONS is about all the little idiosyncrasies that turn into providence the only God can arrange.  It’s the coming together of chaos and complication, those disparate things that combine to produce amazing results. Like when Pastor Carlos Abreu’s congregation at Pica Pica in the Dominican Republic is praying for TIME and the American churches they partner with in ministry. Or when Pastor Doug Gibson’s bilingual church in Monterrey, Mexico finds a way to not just cross languages but often cultures and social barriers to have them unite as one community. Also, I think about the many pastors who work full-time at their jobs and then come home to be a pastor to the communities where TIME is helping.

“More Than Missions” is about how God places all the parts of the body of Christ working together to make the gospel work through short-term missions. Like the mother whose child attends Centro Educativo Manantial de Vida School in Santo Domingo and while helping her daughter memorize God’s word, she realizes her need for Jesus. “More Than Missions” is about people connecting with Jesus to share the Gospel.

When we, as Gods people connect with Jesus through missions, it’s More Than Missions; it’s God economy at work. It’s Kingdom come stuff. It’s people like you and me worshiping alongside the angels in heaven and asking for their help to make Jesus known to all people.  It’s all the things we don’t see, as God takes you and me, as natural people and makes us supernatural. More Than Missions is about God moving people from taking a short term mission trip, to leading one, to jumping out of the private sector and selling everything to become full time missionaries in a foreign country.

When you and I embark on a short-term missions trip, think of it this way and let there be no doubt about it:  it’s supernatural, it’s mystical, it’s weird and it seems improbable. It’s chaos and complication and the opportunity. In that, you and I can do the wondrous; we can do the amazing and the unbelievable. Why? Because it’s More Than Missions.    



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