Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doing Good and Not Growing Weary!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."  Galatians 6:9-10

Doing the right thing is always at the forefront of our minds as we serve others.  Sometimes we can grow weary in doing the good and right over and over again when we see no results.  We need reminders that spur us on to continue to do the good thing and anticipate a harvest above what we think may be possible.  This past week I saw this lived out in front of my eyes!

Our largest team landed in two groups in Guatemala last week.  One team landed on Friday and went to children's camp to serve a couple of days prior to the medical clinic that would follow.  The second half of the team arrived Saturday and settled in to prepare for a long week of serving in a Mayan community outside the city.  When the two teams met on Sunday the Lord had already begun a good work in our hearts and the two teams became one!  The Father had a plan and He was orchestrating every detail for His glory.

The week was an amazing example of doing good and not growing weary!  The team divided into smaller groups to tackle all of the tasks of the week.  The medical team began to settle into a plan for serving the needs of the people, the construction team quickly planned the best method to accomplish a house rebuild, and the VBS team continued to rehearse the Biblical truths that were to be so vital to the teaching of His Word.  The evangelistic hearts began to organize into a team to share both at the clinic and in homes across the community as the logistics all seemed to find their way into their place in the puzzle.  The pharmacy team settled in to be the final act of encouragement we had to offer to a hurting and desperate community.  All of this would in some way adjust and change throughout the week to form a team of Christ-followers determined to do good and not grow weary.

Through the challenges of Monday and Tuesday, the team adjusted and adapted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting community.  The whole time, this amazing team reflecting the love of the Savior toward one another.  We remembered regularly Jesus' words, " They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another."  We saw countless acts of sacrifice and service that allowed the Holy Spirit to remain powerfully present in our daily journey of faith.  The week came to a close with a wonderful sense of accomplishment and success based on His strength and power He granted all during the week.

In the end, over 1000 patients seen by doctors, 1500 toothbrushes and toothpastes given out with better understanding of how to use them, over 200 children involved in VBS each day and over 120 decisions of men and women to follow Jesus fully.  This week was a great reminder of the joy of serving the Lord along side other believers who are willing to sacrifice and serve for the sake of His Name!  This past week was a wonder picture of continually doing good and not growing weary!

One predominant theme prevailed all week: Allow the system to work and we will see the Lord bless.!  This is exactly what we saw.  We allowed a collaborative system to develop and then let the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the team and the community as we allowed the system to work.  As a result, hundreds of lives have been touched with the love of the Savior.

As the pics pop up on Facebook and the memories begin to become the stories of an amazing week of service, let us be reminded to do the good thing and serve others in the Name of Jesus.  It is through this serving that the harvest comes.  It is through the serving and doing good to all we can, that the harvest of souls will be seen as we continue to be obedient to follow His heart.

Thank you to the team that formed this past week for an awesome week of serving in Guatemala!  Now let us not grow weary in doing good!  Let us press on as we see His hand at work all around us and He uses us to bring in the harvest of souls He so desires to find peace and hope that will not disappoint.  Let us keep pressing on for the prize that is laid before us and know that He will sustain every step of our journey through His amazing grace and faithfulness!  Thank you for reminding me to not grow weary but to press on!

In His Grip,
JT

Monday, October 22, 2012

Follow Me!

Several months ago many of you know we began a journey to a healthier life.  This journey has been tough.  The days have at times been long and difficult to deal with as we have wrestled through years of disobedience.  And yes, that is what it all is...DISOBEDIENCE!

Many times in my life I have recognized an act or attitude or even a thought that is not in obedience with His Way.  Yet, in the midst of that moment I have allowed the flesh in me to overrule the Spirit in me and not respond out of a faithful heart.  So many times in my past I have done the very thing I knew not to do while not doing the things I knew I needed to do.  This attitude of pride and self-reliance manifests itself in different ways in us all.  For me it showed up in my extra 100 pounds I carried for so many years!  For me I allowed food and poor health to control the responses in my life to cover over my disobedience in other areas.

I know the importance of the daily disciplines of my faith journey.  But knowing them and putting them into practice are two entirely different things.  Today, I want to encourage you to do the "do's", and watch what He does with them.  This journey has had two major components that have impacted my life.  Training my body physically has been a major part of this change.  However, changing the way I see food has been equally as important.  There are good things to eat and there are bad things to eat.  We all know that.  We all know the things that we should not be eating.  I knew the things that I should not be eating. I had to learn the right things to eat.  I am learning how to eat the good things as i continue to not eat the bad things.  It takes both! Yet, for whatever reason we choose to do the thing we know not to do.  Why?

Years ago I heard a preacher say, "it is not enough to not do the nots, but I have to do the dos!"  This was long before the Do the Dew campaign for those of you of that generation!   This is so true for me.  I must focus on doing the right things if I want to not do the wrong things.  Eating the right foods has been as important as not eating the wrong the foods.  Doing the things that I know to do will produce what the Master has shown me are the fruits He desires.

Join me today in focusing on doing the dos!  Let us spend our hours today doing the things we know He wants us to do.  Focus your attention on the things He has placed in front of you today.  Look into the eyes of those precious gifts He has placed under your care and pour His truth into their hearts!  Speak today of His goodness and His faithfulness and His Ways.  Follow Him and he will make us into a unique, recreated fisherman who always catches more than expected and shares more than he has in order to experience more of His goodness which empowers him to share more of His glory with those around him.  Let us follow Him in doing the things we know to do and watch Him work miracles around us, in us and through us!

WOW, it is the most amazing thing in all the world that God cares for me as His adopted child so much that He lavishes daily upon me His grace and goodness so that His ways will be made known!  Today I will follow Him!

In His Grip,
JT

Monday, September 24, 2012

November Needs and Future Plans

The summer season of ministry has led us to a tremendous opportunity with our friends in Guatemala!  November 2-4 our friends at Iglesia Jerusalen will be hosting a children's camp for the children of the church and community.  Last year we were able to share the need for backpacks and our supporters blew us away with providing all the funds for all of the packs in a day.  It is a huge joy seeing those packs walking around the community there near the church as children go to a from school.  The impact the church is having on the children of their community is amazing.



Once again they are leading a children's camp and need some help.  This year they have planned the camp to be during the first weekend of November.  the kids will all be just getting out of school for a break which is a perfect time to pour truth into their hearts!  This year several of us are going to be a part of the camp and celebrate with them.

In addition to the children going from the church community, this year we are helping Alma and her siblings go to camp with the church.  Alma, if you do not know, is a fourteen year old girl from Sajcavilla where the church has planted a mission church.  We have been helping her family and providing several essentials for them to help make life easier.  Alma is in a wheel chair and has endured many challenges through her life.  Her family is responding to the Gospel being demonstrated to them and we have been blessed to see the changes in their lives.  We are planning a huge celebration at children's camp for her birthday which is the day before camp begins.  This birthday is the biggest celebration most Guatemalans have for their birthday, age 15!  This will be a big celebration and exciting time in the church.



The costs for the children to attend this camp is $65 for the weekend.  There is room for 75 to attend the camp.  So, there are the numbers.  We are asking for anyone who would like to join us in supporting this camp to help sponsor a child for the camp.  The staff and workers at Jerusalen church have been working on plans and preparing to make this the best camp they have ever done.  I am so encouraged by the church and their commitment to the children and training them up in the Word.  Please join us in this effort to impact every child we can through this camp.  The theme for the camp is Transformers, being transformed by the renewing of our minds we then become transformers as we share the truth of His Word!  How awesome is that!



2013 is coming soon!  We will be posting to the website our 2013 schedule soon.  The new season of ministry brings new opportunities and challenges to see our faith stretched and His hand at work even more around the world.  New for 2013 will be some new locations and returning to some previous locations as we rekindle those relationships.  Pray with us now as we prepare and plan for the future months of ministry.  Begin to look at your calendar for 2013 and pray about when and where you can give 2% or more of your year to serve in another context and join the local church in reaching the world and teaching the Word!

In His Grip,
JT

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's your story?



To paint an image of Guatemala City, you could start with the vibrancy of its lush green mountains and colorful flowers and fabrics, the bustle of cars and “chicken” buses packed on its streets, or the rampant neediness evidenced by armed guards and barbed wire on buildings everywhere—but at the heart of the city is its people, ever hospitable and full of joy in the humblest circumstances. Indeed, those who are poor in the eyes of the world have been chosen to be rich in faith (James 2:5) as we saw in so many faces and heard in so many stories. Alejandra came to believe in Christ at her junior high school, Kevin played with us at the day care, Berta came running to meet us on the street before we visited her home, 12 siblings sang and danced for us in their home, Alma beamed with joy as we lifted her from her wheelchair to play in the carnival.

Even in the darkness of poverty and of Mayan religion marked by creepy masks, we saw a light shining ever so brightly in New Jerusalen church. There, the church ladies welcomed us with hugs and kisses and invited us into Sunday worship. They cried out in prayer, all at once, with a desperation for the Lord we Americans don’t have, and sang passionately no matter what their voices sounded like. Through the week, we saw the church we read about in Acts alive in 2012. They built relationships with their neighbors and shared the gospel with them persistently. They provided for the needs around them, hosting a neighborhood daycare for kids that almost closed. Pastor Morales and his wife opened wide their loving arms of hospitality to welcome our whole team of around 25 to their home for a sit-down lunch twice, treating us lavishly from silky homemade soup to the frozen choco banana delight to our post-meal naps.

And the church gave us the blessing of fellowshipping with them and, in a very small way, serving with them. We sang and danced with school children from their neighborhood, their faces bright with smiles, before praying over them and teaching them God’s Word. Our team, including our own David Beckham as some kids called Matt Shell, played soccer with Guatemalan kids and youth. We watched as school children in rural Sajcavill√° delighted to see a 60-foot slide inflate for the carnival we hosted for them. We walked down city streets and up vertical mountain paths, led by Mayan women from the church wearing sandals who were not huffing and puffing like we were, to share with and pray over new friends. We were bold to share the gospel that has changed our lives when we visited the homes of nonbelievers. We rejoiced when God moved in hearts to believe in Christ for their salvation. Wherever we went, the Lord was faithful to teach us to love those around us.

When we weren’t out serving, our team was together, eating and sleeping, piling into vans Guatemalan style and voluntarily moving to the back seat to be catapulted at every bump in the road, sitting down to three meals a day together, talking about the Word and also talking about zippers to the point of birthing a business venture, eating and sleeping, playing cards, sitting on our roof and watching the sun rise and set in the mountains around us, eating and sleeping, learning to speak Spanish un poco. The Lord removed our daily distractions of schedules and to-do lists, cell phones and internet, to allow us to be fully be present for our mission and with our community, and He gifted us with 70-degree sunshine with zero humidity and almost no rain in rainy season in which to relish it. Time slowed down. All that mattered was relationship, with the Lord and with those with us. Life was simple. Life was full.

But a large part of the purpose in leaving our everyday context is to come back. We have returned to the mission field around us, to be neighbors to our neighbors, to love on our community’s children, to speak boldly the gospel with those around us, and to share with you, our church, how the Lord is at work in the church in Guatemala.  Ask us our stories. Have us tell you what the Lord has put on our heart to live out his gospel at home, and help keep our team, and our church, accountable to the calling that the Lord has for all us, to make his ways known on all the earth and His salvation among all the nations (Psalm 67:1). Pray for New Jerusalen, for Sajcavill√°, for Guatemala City, for Pastor Morales, for One Way Ministries’ continued work, and for their missionaries, the Brown family, in Guatemala City. And pray for the church, the Guatemalan church, Christ Church, First Baptist of Gulfport (who sent a team with whom we served), the Birmingham church, the American church, that it might be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, for His glory.

This post was written by several members of Christ Church in Birmingham, Alabama who recently participated in a mission trip to Guatemala.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

100!

I have not been as active with my sharing about this incredible journey we have been on as Sheryl has been.  However, today I wanted to celebrate a major marker in my life with you all.  I have been on this journey now for eight months and it has been a tough road.  The Lord has been the only one to sustain me many days.  I have wrestled through many issues in my life during these months.  I have seen the Lord's hand guide me through pain and struggle over and over.

Today I can celebrate officially 100 pounds of sin has left my body!  Yes, you read that right...sin.  My extra weight represented poor decisions and disobedience of many years.  The regular habit of not doing the right things and doing the wrong things had taken its toll on my body and the athlete I once was was covered by all kinds of stuff that had been added out of selfishness.  Today I have been set free from that and that sin no longer entangles me.  Praise be to God the Lord and Redeemer, who has redeemed my life and has given me another chance to live obedience out before my family.

If I am willing to allow the Lord to capture my thoughts and my desires enough to drop 100 pounds from my physical body, imagine what He can do if I will allow Him to capture my every thought and develop my spiritual being into the effective, obedient servant He has called me to be?  Oh how He desires for me to desire Him!  When we allow Him to do His work in us He does amazing things through us.

Today I ran, in Guatemala, one kilometer for every ten pounds He has enabled me to lose.  As I was running I had an awesome opportunity to listen to His voice and speak to Him in prayer about the struggles I am facing, the people He lays on my heart and the issues He is teaching me about.  Today I want to celebrate the joy of freedom from sin and death!

Freedom will come when we allow the truth to settle into our hearts.  His Word is the only thing that has the power to overwhelm our sin and remain in control over it all.  Today, will you join me in celebrating His goodness and His awesome power over the sins that so easily entangle us.  He is victorious over them all!  He will win every time.  He will do a work in us if we will submit to His leadership and call out to the Holy Spirit to teach us, mold us, shape us, make us, develop us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!  Today stand firm in His ability to overcome every thing that tries to discourage and hold you back.  Fight free in His power and know the freedom to walk in His light full of power and strength for the tasks He sets before you!  You can win this battle, because He has already won the war! Run hard, press on and strive to reach the goal set before you....come on celebrate Him today with joy and thanksgiving!

In His Grip,
JT Turner

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back In Guatemala

Back in Guatemala and eager to see what the Lord has for the team.  This summer we have seen some great ministry take place with teams on the ground along side the Browns serving in Guatemala.  The Lord has been gracious to us this summer and allowed us to see many come to faith in Christ.  It is very encouraging to see the hand of the Lord moving in Sajcavilla especially.

The adjustments to home visits in Sajcavilla have been very good.  With so many visits to make, we often do not get to all of them in the afternoon.  So, Pastor Juan has begun to gather the families from one area into a home for one visit with several families.  This is a great move that has proven to be beneficial for the beginning of home Bible studies all over the community.  Juan has become very busy and is traveling a good bit out to Sajcavilla and investing in the lives of so many.

As we prepare for another week, I am reminded of the tremendous opportunity we have to see the Lord move in this Mayan community.  The doors to so many homes and the schools have been opened by His divine power.  We have the privilege of leading a medical clinic in November to meet physical needs that have been seen over and over again.

We need your help with this trip.  We are in need of at least two more doctors and a couple of dentists would be best!  The need is so great and the opportunity is such a God thing, I really want to make sure we do all we can to meet the need.  If you are a medical professional or know of someone who could consider this trip, please connect them with us.  We are in the process now of finalizing the team and working on details for all of the plans.  We do have a great support team forming around the medical professionals.  In addition we have an awesome couple to lead our pharmacy team with experience on the field.  We simply are asking for the Lord to connect a few more doctors to help meet the need.  Please pray with us for the team to be completed soon and the plans to all come together for a successful medical clinic and children's Bible festival during the week of November 3-10!

In His Grip,
JT Turner

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guatemala Mission Outpost

Kevin's Transformation!
A couple of years ago our team met Kevin at Iglesia Jerusalen in Guatemala.  He had just arrived at the church's daycare and could not walk or communicate at all.  He simply lay on the floor trying to survive.  The church had opened the daycare to help struggling mothers with child care so they could work to provide for their families.  Many of our supporters, especially our "31 Ladies" have stepped up big time to support this amazing ministry in Guatemala.

This past week I took this photo of Kevin as he tried to sing the songs and do the motions to songs with a room full of school children from a nearby school!  yes, this child who could barely survive is thriving in this environment of love and encouragement.  The ladies of the daycare offer such amazing love and support to the children every day that even Kevin, severely autistic and struggling with all motor skills, has improved beyond belief.  Later in the day after this photo, I watched as Kevin walked with his mother and brothers down the street toward their house!  Amazed at what God has done, I am reminded of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Many of us walking this journey of faith have been made a new creation.  Yet, we have not realized the dramatic difference in our lives that Paul is talking about.  We have continued to live in a world trying to survive, just like Kevin.  We have struggled to communicate and to do the simple tasks of daily life.  yet all the while the potential for an amazing transformation lies at the root of our very lives as a new creation in Christ!  



As we walked the road and paths of Sajcavilla this summer I was reminded of the vision God has been developing for the church in that Mayan community.  Many people walking up and down those paths are in darkness simply because we have not shared the truth with them.  Every time a team visits a home and shares the truth of the Gospel for the first time in a home, the response is the same...salvation is released on a life and the truth comes to life in their hearts!  This is an amazing reality to watch right before your very eyes.  Those of you who have seen it know exactly what I am talking about.  The transformation of a life that takes place during the conversion of a soul is an awe inspiring event that forever changes us...or at least it should!

Guatemala has proven to be a place where we see God's hand at work every time we travel with a team.  The work of the mission church in Sajcavilla as well as the support ministries of Jerusalen Church and the leadership of Pastor Morales continues to bring about change in these communities.  The faithfulness of those who have been in the field working, like Pastor Juan of the mission church, is very easily seen with every moment we are serving along side our brothers and sisters in this remote village.  



God has given us a huge vision for this community.  The vision for this community is so big only God can bring it about.  Yet, the amazing thing is He is going to use some of you to be a part of making things a reality in Sajcavilla and San Pedro and San Juan.  You see the vision for Sajcavilla is a beginning point to reach the larger communities beyond them on the road.  Sajcavilla is far enough out of the city and away from Jerusalen Church that a mission base needs to be established in order to launch further out.  That is the vision for Sajcavilla.  

The vision is to establish a mission outpost in Sajcavilla that will include many aspects of community ministry.  Out of these ministries will grow evangelists, and teachers, and medical professionals who will carry the truth of the Gospel further out into the next village of San Pedro.  San Pedro is a community of over 25,000 where there is, according to several missionaries and church leaders, "no good church."  The goal is to establish a base of ministry and mission that could launch further into the Mayan community with members of the Mayan community!

To accomplish all that we see God leading us to do, we need your help.  There are so many aspects to establishing a base of ministry that we simply do not know or understand.  We need prayer warriors to begin now praying for land and open doors for the location of this base.  We need workers to go with us into the fields and continue the work of spreading the truth and sharing the love of Christ to assist the church in reaching its community.  We need teams to go and teach the Word to the children of the area so as to raise up a generation of leaders who know and live by the truth of God's Word.  We will need workers to go and help build and develop a ministry base that operates as a refuge of hope for the community to be fed, nourished and strengthened.  We need partners who will commit to long-term relationship with Sajcavilla and the church that God is raising up there as a light in the darkness of Mayan and Catholic confusion.  We need you to join the mission outpost team and carry the Gospel to the nations.



Join us as we pray for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field.  Pray with us for wisdom and strength  as we follow His hand of mercy into the communities in Guatemala.  Pray with us for His Word to reign supreme in a land with little to no nourishment from food nor from the church.  Pray with us as we learn from His Word, "If my people who are called by name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14  Pray with us for revival to break out among the Guatemalan church and spiritual awakening to spread across the region as the church follows His hand obediently into the community!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Are We There Yet?

I recall so many times hearing those words repeated over and over as we drove to our next camp or mission trip as a youth pastor, "are we there yet?"  Then some years later hearing those same words echo from the back seat of our van on our way as a family to visit Georgia, "are we there yet Papa?"  So many of us as parents or those who have worked with young people recall the words and the answers we used to give.  My favorite two as a youth pastor were, "about an inch on the map left to go" and "two more hours!"

I have found the same question slipping into my head as I have talked with the Lord about our mission partnerships in various locations.  "Lord are we there yet?  Have we connected like you want us to connect yet?  Is tis the partner we are to go deep with in the field?"  The challenges of building deep relationships on the field with like-passioned people and leaders is a serious process of discovery and commitment.  However, I have found myself talking with the Lord about these relationships a great deal lately.


We have been blessed over the past five years to meet some of the most amazing servants of the Lord on the field.  Specifically, in Guatemala we have connected with Iglesia Jerusalen and the members of that faithful church.  Led by Pastor Morales, this local faith family has taught us so much about ministry and mission in cross-cultural settings.  As I think about being there yet, I realize how far we have come.  I have this past week looked back over the five years since first returning to Guatemala with a team and am amazed at how far we have come!  The Father has blessed us with really good friends and deep relationships in Guatemala.  The Lord has allowed us to realize a huge step of supporting the Brown family in their move to Guatemala to serve alongside the local church and its ministries.  We have partnered with a church plant in Sajcavilla outside the city.  And we have begun to have an impact on the lives of some special families in this Mayan village up in the mountains.  

As I reflect on getting there, I realize how far we have to go.  The work is beginning to show us how deep the need is for spiritual darkness to be confronted with the Light.  The opportunities for the Gospel to spread among the local communities and clusters of houses is exploding.  The need for more resources and supplies for teaching the Word is growing with every home visit.  The requests for help with home repairs, Bible studies and food bags grows with every conversation in the community.  There is so much to be done and the urgency is so high...how can we possibly meet the needs?  

The response to the question really has more to do with our willingness to be obedient than the location on the map we find ourselves.  Finding ourselves in a place of obedience has more to do with where we are in our faith journey than how many books we have read or how often we are in church.  The place of openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is so much more critical than how much we follow the latest words of our favorite blogger or model our lives after our favorite preacher.  The place we need to seek is a place of unwavering faithfulness to the call of God to show the Gospel in every aspect of our daily life and share the Gospel message in every opportunity the Father provides.  

As I write this blog tonight all over the world gatherings for worship are beginning and preparations are underway to gather with other believers for a time of worship and sharing the Word.  As these gatherings take place, I wonder how many of the people in attendance will be there?  How many of us will be there?  Will you and I be at that place of obedience where God can speak truth into our lives in a way that brings about a response and change in what we do?  Are you at a place where the Lord can send you to the person in your community who needs to see and hear the love of Christ fleshed out in front of them?  

As you walk through the day, where you are greeted by those who have a heart seeking the Lord, will you ask the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the field?  Will you show the Gospel in the responses you have to those around you?  Will you share the Gospel with those whom the Father brings across your path?  Will you be there?  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How Big Is Your Vision?

Today I was reminded of why I have the best job in all the world! The view from where I sat today is so big it sometimes overwhelms me as I listen to the words being shared and sense the gravity of who is saying them. The Lord has shown great favor over the past several years to connect me and 1Way to some amazing men and women of God.

 Today I had the privilege of sitting with Pastor Morales in his home along with Greg Brown and hear this amazing man of God share from his heart.  Pastor Morales is the most humble yet wise pastor I have met anywhere on the field.  Our time today was awesome as we discussed plans for the future.  He began to talk about plans for upcoming trips and ideas for how we can best be used here on the field with teams.  He then was willing to share some of his vision for the church and long term plans.

My question for you is how big is your vision for your life here in this journey of faith the Lord has you walking?  Have you sensed His stirring lately in your heart for more?  Do you often think about how the Lord can use you to help others realize their dreams and visions for the future?  I do!  I did!

Today I began to catch the vision for some of the long term vision for ministry here in Guatemala.  I recognize that many people consider Guatemala a reached country or a place the Gospel has already been spread.  However, today I was reminded that many of the people of this country have only heard of God from the Catholic community and most of them have never heard things like,"Jesus died for your sins...He will forgive you and give you a new life in Him...God has a plan for your life and He wants to live inside of you and give you victory over sin and death!"  The Gospel has so much power to set people free and yet we are so quiet with this truth in the face of religion.

Today I was reminded of the urgency to spread the Good News through the local church.  Today the vision for ministry just exploded in my head and heart as I listened to an amazing servant of the Lord and pastor of a growing flock of Christ followers share about what he sees from where he serves.  So, are you willing to allow your vision for ministry grow?

In the coming days we will begin to share more details and plans as we develop our part of the growing vision for  ministry in Guatemala.  To begin with i would like to share with you all the opportunity to get involved today in this vision for growth and spreading the Gospel.  Immediately there is a need for pastors and leaders to rise up in Guatemala to serve the communities and churches that are opening up for the Gospel.  Part of the struggle is there is no way to support these pastors and leaders as they do feel God's call on their lives.

To share with you an example of this currently, I would like to share with you about Juan.  Those who have been to Guatemala and more specifically to Sajcavilla, know Pastor Juan.  He has been serving for a few years as the mission pastor planting a new work among a Mayan community.  He has a heart for the people.  He has a desire to sere daily among the community and meet the needs of the flock that is growing there.  Yet, even though he is doing a lll he can, he still must work several days during the week to provide for the needs of his family.  His heart's desire is to serve in ministry full-time.  He needs some folks to come along side him and support him in this passion of ministry and help him continue to reach into the community and teach the Word.

Many other young men and women are wanting to serve the Lord in ministry and leadership in the church.  However, all over the country young people are becoming more and more busy trying to survive and help their families provide.  Meanwhile fewer and fewer young people are surrendering their lives to serve full-time in ministry.  We see a trend here that also is showing up in other countries.  Fewer young people are choosing to serve the church and more are having to walk away and work and try to provide.

What can you do?  The US is blessed for a reason.  Psalm 67 clearly communicates the purpose of blessing is to "make His ways known in all the world and His salvation among all nations."  You and I have been blessed so much!  The purpose is to make His ways known.  The method in which we can be a part of this globally is to support hose young people and pastors around the world who are willing to serve and lead but need to have someone support them.  We have been granted money and resources for the purpose of spreading the Gospel through indigenous leaders and servants who will share and lead and teach.

So how big is your vision?  Can you see beyond the immediate world you live in and hear the cry of those in need?  Can you see the opportunities that await the young leaders in countries like Guatemala when through the support and encouragement of those of us with resources, they realize a calling that has been placed on their lives and the Gospel is spread through young men and women surrendering to follow full-time into the ministry?  Men like Pastor Morales recognize their days are growing shorter.  There is coming a day when someone else will take the reigns.  The issue right now is who will take the reigns and how will they be ready if they are not being prepared now for the task at hand.  You and I can be a part of an amazing opportunity to invest in the future of the church in Guatemala through investing in the future leaders who will reach the world and teach the Word!  Will you stretch out your vision and let it grow with us?  Will you let your vision get big enough to spread outside your box and spill over into the ends of the earth?  Will you give today in a way that spreads the Gospel into tomorrow?  Come on...let your vision get big!

In His Grip,
JT

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Believe!

Many years ago I remember hearing of these quick short stories quoted by a notable man in the media.  I was not really sure of who this Paul Harvey was, but it was rather unique the way he would relate a significant point or truth in a brief story that would always have you hanging onto every word.  He would then take a break and come back on a few minutes later with the "rest of the story."

About ten years ago I was reading a book on leadership and ran across a very interesting quote that stuck with me.  The writer of the book was recounting an interview with Paul harvey late in his life.  The topic of the interview was Paul harvey's beliefs and how that had shaped his world view and his public life.  I will never forget this one specific part of the interview that has been a part of me ever since.  When asked what he believed about God and the Christian faith, Paul Harvey responded, "do not ask me what I believe, watch what I do, that is what I believe."

I have been impacted by that statement for years now.  What I do is really what I believe, because it is my beliefs that drive my behavior.  This is very true among the church today.  What we really believe is what we will do.  I think Jesus talked a bit about this when He discussed obedience in John 14:15 where He shares if we love Him we will obey His commands.  Belief seems to be the critical issue here, would you agree?

In John chapter 20, we see three different forms or types of belief in Jesus.  John runs with Peter to the empty tomb and once going in to see the empty tomb and vacant grave clothes the Bible says that John," saw and believed."  John's belief could be called intellectual belief, he saw first hand the tomb and believed based on what he experienced.  Mary's experience was somewhat different.  She lingered at the tomb after the disciples left to go back to the house.  She actually turned and look at Jesus and did not recognize Him until He spoke her name.  She then out of the emotion of the weekend and especially the moment responded with belief,"Rabbi!"  She heard her name called and responded with belief that it was Jesus, alive just as He said!  A bit later Thomas, who missed the first encounter with Jesus and the disciples stood face to face with the risen Lord and touched His hands and side and the Bible says Thomas responded with a confession of Jesus as, "my Lord and my God."  Thomas chose to respond with the knowledge he gained by the understanding of the facts presented.  He had volitional belief, that which comes from a choice based on understanding.

All three of these believed Jesus had risen and was the Christ.  Each one needed a little different nudge to respond.  Jesus knew each one's need and provided exactly what each one needed.  The amazing thing about that is He still does that today!  Jesus is still about custom conversions today!

Today many of you reading this blog will agree with that we believe in Jesus.  The question is am I responding to what I believe?  Are you doing the things that allow those around you to see what you believe?  As Paul Harvey was noted as saying, the rest of the story needs to be told. You and I have an incredible opportunity to be a part of this amazing work of reconciliation. You and I have been given the powerful Gospel message to share. You and I have been placed in a world that desperately needs to hear the message of hope found in Jesus! Will those around you see what you believe and ask you about it? Will you share the rest of the story? Come on let's reach the world with the Gospel message and teach the Word that sets us free in Christ! In His Grip, JT Turner

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Medical Help Needed in November!



Two years ago Pastor Morales was sharing with several of us as we walked through Sacajvilla about a medical team that had visited a tear or so earlier and how much success they had.  The needs are abundant and the clinic saw many illnesses that needed simple medicine.  The impact on the community and the respect it earned the local church were both amazing.  About a year later, while walking that same path with Pastor Morales he turned to me and said it would be a good idea to try and get another medical team to visit Sacajvilla.  After much prayer and and seeking His direction on when and where, the Lord has opened the door for a medical clinic trip in November of this year!

The relationship with the community of Sacajvilla is growing with every trip we make.  The amazing agricultural community is set in the midst of the mountains outside of Guatemala City.  The region is predominantly Mayan.  The Mayan people are the indigenous people of Guatemala and make up nearly two-thirds of the total population in the country.  They are mostly a simple people group living off the land as much as possible and yet, they are still very under-nourished as a whole.

Many people here in the US are familiar with a Guatemalan or two and have noticed that most of them are small in stature.  The main reason for this is not a genetic requirement for the region.  It is mostly due to what is called "stunting."  The cause for this stunted growth is lack of nutrition in the first 1000 days of life.  The majority of the Mayan people experience this condition as they are struggling to make it each day with enough food for their families.  Even in the midst of all the crops surrounding their homes, the people of Sacajvilla are still very hungry as most of the food grown around their homes is taken into the city and sold.  Much of the Mayan people work theses fields across the country to support the export of fruit and vegetables sent to the city or even to the US.  For example, next time you grab a bunch of bananas at the market look at that sticker and notice that many of them say Guatemala!



This past November walking that same road with Pastor Morales I committed to bring a medical team the following year to do a clinic.  The vision had begun to come clear in my heart and now we needed to take some first steps toward obedience.  November 3-10, 2012 we are hosting a medical clinic in Sacajvilla to serve the needs of the people in the village and schools.  We are in need of a full medical team for this trip. We need four to five doctors who will guide the clinic and offer their services to the people.  In addition we need five to eight nurses and practitioners who will support these doctors and offer additional services and training during the clinic.  We are in need of a pharmacy team to help with collection, transportation and distribution of medications during the trip.  We are also looking for some physical therapy folks who will help with several handicapped members of the community.  The time we have walked through the paths in this village has allowed us to see much need for medical care and general medicine to impact in a major way the health of the community.

In addition to the medical team, we will be hosting along side Jerusalen Church and the mission church they have planted in Sacajvilla, a FBI!  The church in Guatemala is very successful at the Festival Biblical Infantile - VBS for us from the US!  The exciting aspect of the trip is that we will be hosting the entire event at a school on the main road in the village.  It is highly visible and a major point of contact for the entire village.  The relationship with the leadership of the school has proven to be a vital aspect of reaching the needs of the community.



WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We need to staff this medical team with some quality servants who will help further the impact of the church in Guatemala and open doors of hope in this community.  The opportunity is amazing!  The privilege of utilizing this facility and in this location is definitely a movement of the Lord.  We need to take advantage of this opportunity and provide the best we can to the people of Sacajvilla.  If you or someone you know would be a good fit for this team please connect them to One Way through email or the website.  We will follow up and look forward to the Father developing an amazing team!  Come on and go with us as we reach the world and teach His Word!

In His Grip,
JT Turner

Monday, May 21, 2012

Now What?

Many of you know that we as a family have been on quite a journey over the past six months. The issue of sin takes on many forms in each persons life and looks different for each occasion of life. The area we have been dealing with lately, the love of food more than the love of Christ, has taken us to a new place in our journey and it is good! The joy of knowing my passions are getting back in priority has brought me to a new set of issues.

I have come to a place of asking "Now What?" I have reached a place where I know I am going to be with my weight. I may lose a few more pounds and I am sure i will continue to make adjustments as I continue to be obedient. However, I am at a place where I am comfortable with the weight loss to this point. I am also becoming more comfortable with my running routine. I have moved from 3.1 miles five days a week to 4 miles five days a week. I have a few long runs here and there and am pushing beyond the 10K barrier every now and again. Yet, I find myself asking that question about what now more and more.

I have begun to see this question from a different angle over the past few weeks and would like to pose the question to you. Have you come to a place in your faith journey that you feel comfortable with where you are? Have you reached a daily routine that seems to be where you need to be? Have you been working to get yourself in shape and seem to be at a good place? "What Now?" I would challenge you to ask the question a little bit differently. "Lord, what do you have for me now?"

I am certain when I look back on my journey, that the Father guides me through experiences that are designed to prepare me for the next chapter of life. I also know from my past that the training of the body does equip you to do something more than you had done before when the challenge arises. So, what is the next challenge in your journey have you been in training to be ready to take on? The Lord is always at work in our lives to ready us for the next step of faith we will be asked to take. Do you see yours on the horizon yet? Have you begun to see the next level of faith and obedience the Spirit of God is preparing you to step toward?

The Gospel of John was written by a disciple who saw a great deal of stuff. He was a young man when he walked with Jesus. He grew to be an old man before he finished his work of writing the inspired words that the Father had penned on his heart. As we grow older in this age of fast food, faster internet and 4G phones, let's remember the faith of those who have gone before us. John shared his experiences of being an eyewitness to the journey of Jesus many years after they took place. And yet, John's passion was every bit as hot as it was the moment he saw the miracles take place. What is coming next will be what the Lord has in store for each of us. The question is not what is it going to be? The real question is am I ready to live my faith out with the same passion I once had when I realized the freedom He bought on the cross for me! Am I ready and willing to live out my faith with such a passion that the whole world will see and believe? How about you...are you ready for what's next?

In His Grip, JT

Monday, May 14, 2012

Forever Changed...




The following is a post sent in March by Scott Boatwright after returning from Guatemala with a team from his church, Summit Crossing in Madison, AL and a few others from Georgia and Alabama.


I just keep saying WOW, it seems that every where we turn we are reminded of our trip. This past Sunday our Pastor preached on Reaching the Nations, I'm not sure but I think God is trying to tell us something here. I have been told from several people that have been on mission trips in the past to hold on to the high and I must say I know exactly what they are talking about. It is extremely difficult at times to do that being back in our every day lives. I've got to say for Charlene and myself we will be forever changed as a result of the Holy Spirit using this trip to change our hearts and lives. We know that God has something in store for us and are praying for direction for what that is. I will share a little about how our group got to this point and some of our greatest moments. I have been leading our small group of 16 for the past 2 years or so, we had started praying in Dec of 2010 for God to direct us where to get involved missionally in our community and he lead us to the Homeless. Not long after we started working with the Homeless we lead me to start this book series called Radical (anybody heard of it :), and then Secret Church happened so not only did that turn our little group upside down God had us do Radical Together next. We knew then that we had no choice, that we are all commanded to GO and after a lot of prayer and God connecting us to One Way we ended up with all of you guys in Guatemala. I have already started talking with several in the Group about where we are going next.
 
Now for me some of the moments that stand out was definitely the last 2 1/2 days. This was such a humbling experience to watch this family go from complete worry to joy in just a couple of days was overwhelming for me. To know that we have so much here and to see them so happy with just some new tin over their heads really put things into perspective for me. To have the kids serve us drinks on the 1st day to helping build their home the 2nd day by helping carry the tin. But the greatest moment was to watch Juan get on his knees with Dave and Roger and pray to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior will be that HIGH that snapshot that carries me forward to know that now he can lead his family spiritually is joy to me. I had struggled a little earlier in the week with not being able to spend more time on home visits etc., but God told me during that last day that we had been on a 2 1/2 day home visit and to just trust him and he showed me the end result. Another moment for me that I continue to reflect back on is our time with Pastor Morales and his church on Sunday. The presence of the Holy Spirit was just awesome, being able to worship our Lord with other believers from another country like that was just wonderful and something I will always remember. I could just keep on going but I will end by saying I enjoyed serving with all of you and hope and pray that we will have the opportunity to do it again. 
 

In Him,

Scott Boatwright

Every time we are obedient the Father uses our time on the field to challenge us, stretch us and teach us in order that we will be more effective at sharing His Gospel in our own backyard!  Scott and the small group from Summit Crossing are doing that very thing.  They are very involved locally in their own backyard and at the same time willing to be stretched by going to the nations to share, learn and grow.  The Father has a glorious plan of using the Body of Christ to each the world and teach His Word!  


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Divine Appointments

This post was authored by SueEllen Button of Summit Community church in Huntsville, Alabama. She went to Guatemala in March of 2012.

I have been having flash backs all week as I try to operate in an American Christian Private School and long to be back at a Guatemalan Public school where I had more encouragement and freedom sharing the Gospel with the students.

One of the church members at Summit asked me this past Sunday what was your favorite God moment and I immediately told her about the pastor from Lantana (Pastor Juan) praying with the blind man we went to visit. I remember when we were brought into the blind man's home along with the other ladies from church at Lantana and Pastor Juan. It was a small room and Charlene and I shared a wooden bench. Pastor Juan sat on the other side of me and to his left sat the woman from his church who had developed a relationship with this family after she saw the man and found out the difficulty the family was having because of his blindness.

I realized that us being there was no accident and that this was an intentional appointment that had been prepared by much prayer and service of a faithful believer named Veronica. During our time of sharing Pastor Juan took notes and followed along in his Bible as we shared Scripture. So thankful for our interpreter Patty who was always ready to communicate the Gospel. She was also very encouraging to those local believers who had such a heart for those who were lost around them.

During the visit I was constantly reminded that I did not even know the name of the man who lived across the street from my family. What needs does he have? Does he know Jesus?

Thankfully through our visit we were able to share the Gospel and encourage the blind man to acknowledge that God promises to forgive all of our past sins at the time of salvation. As we prayed with the family Pastor Juan left his chair and went over to the man and laid hands on him and prayed for him as the man cried and released so much hurt and self persecution.

When we left we were encouraged by this man as he told us goodbye and that although he may never see us on earth he will see us in heaven. As we walked back to the van I asked pastor Juan if he had known this man before today and he had not. This was the first time he had been able to visit him. He tries to go and pray with all of those in his community who request prayer.

One other moment was after our first home visit in the community near New Jerusalen Church. The visit did not go exactly the way we had hoped. We ended up doing 4 visits in one but figured that was the way God intended it to be (did a lot of that thinking when things didn't go exactly the way I thought they should go). After the visit we went back to the church to wait for the other teams. Because of the language barrier we really were not able to talk with the ladies from the church and because of their quietness it would have been easy to just sit and not talk and rest but decided we should share our testimonies with each other with the help of our interpreter Roger.

After Laura shared her testimony we asked the ladies from the church to share their testimony. During one of the ladies' testimonies Roger realized that he had taught her sons when they were small and had been a catalyst for drawing her back into the church. In spite of her not wanting to come to church her children and husband came without her. Just seeing the "light come on" in Roger when he remembered that time showed me the true reason we were there was to come alongside the Christians in Guatemala to share the Gospel with their neighbors and to encourage them in their own walk with the Lord.

It was so awesome to have Roger translate for me during VBS in the schools. By the end we had a rhythm to our presentation. In one class we had finished our presentation and craft and it was time to go. I kept wrapping things up but Roger kept working with the kids. I hated having to finally tell him it was time for us to go. He is a very gifted and talented young man and I greatly appreciated the sacrifices he made to be our translator for the week.

Could go on for days but will stop here. The End!

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Extended Home Visit

I couldn't have imagined a better experience. Several people came to know the Lord. We had an awesome worship experience. We rebuilt a house. We built a roof. We installed walls and doors. We spent time sharing our faith and living out the Gospel. It was awesome!

The highlight for me was the 2 1/2 days we spent with a family of 14 in desperate need of better living accomodations. I thought going to Guatemala that we were going to work on the roof. Little did I know that meant roof plus the walls that support it. The family went from looking at us with a bit of distrust to smiles and true feelings of togetherness in the Lord. On the last day, the father knelt and prayed with two of the team members. The women in our group got to do several home visits where people were saved, but the guys were working on this house. The fruit came on the last day when the father was praying. I was so involved in working that I failed to realize we were doing an extended home visit!

Another thing that I will treasure forever was spending time trying to communicate with members of two different families. My Spanish is poor at best, but I had a blast trying to converse with the children. It solidified what God had been saying to me for a while that it doesn't matter where you're from, people are just people. We all have basic needs and we all are in need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I also thought it was great that the trip wasn't just focused on helping others but was also about working on our own walk with the Lord. I enjoyed the recaps each night, hearing what God was doing in and through each person. I pray that I have the opportunity to return to Guatemala.

This post was written by Chris Button of Huntsville, Alabama, who traveled to Guatemala in March of 2012 as a mission trip participant.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Humbled to be a part..

The following post was written by Laura Dunham from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. Laura and her family participated in a mission trip to Guatemala in March of 2012.

First, I want to say that God orchestrated a phenomenal team for this trip-including our wonderful translators! God used each of you in different ways to teach us & to grow us in faith! We came home with new, sweet friends-something we didn't anticipate. I cherish the spirit filled, real talks I had with members of the team. So thankful to have been around God seeking people who desire to know Him more and live for Him.

I wasn't sure what to expect on the trip. I knew I wanted to serve- the key word is "I." I did have prayers and hopes for the trip, but wasn't sure how it was going to go. God used the trip to talk personally to me, to confirm some things He has been doing and working on in my life and also to encourage me and confirm me as I parent my children.

We wanted to take the children so that they could be exposed to what we talk about and what they hear preached on Sunday mornings. The boys were resistant to going. At the end of our trip, they didn't want to leave. They now ask "When can we go back?" They want to do it more of it! When I asked them what impressed them the most, they talk about having joy apart from our circumstances and being broken by the pain and suffering they witnessed. When Natalie speaks of Guatemala, she is full of emotion- not only due to what she saw but for the people there. God is developing a heart for the nations in them! I can't wait to see how He grows it.

Personally, I had many moments in which were highlights for me:

-being the recipient of the warm, friendly smiles in the faces of the children and adults I got to meet and talk with

-watching Benji being a part of one of the PE classes, seeing the boys playing with him and the HUGE smile on his face as he played with them (he was scared to go and had been prayed over by his small group before and during the trip)

-meeting Alma and watching how she has adapted and learned to get around in her home despite her physical limitations- and doing so without complaints or a poor attitude, actually with a sweet smile on her face

-playing ball with Mark Antonio; that was really a sweet time. An 18 year old boy, who didn't want the Americans coming to help his family, playing catch with me and his younger brother, laughing and smiling.

-seeing Juan, that father of the large family, laughing with Caleb one day

-food bag deliveries/home visits- watching it unfold, seeing God work, being a participant mostly in observation, praying over women and feeling inadequate to offer up words of encouragement on their behalf but trusting the Spirit to intercede on my behalf for them, loving every minute of it

-Tabitha House- hanging out with so many children who are craving love and attention, not being sure I had anything to offer and then being obedient by sharing some things I don't normally share with a group on women who I can't communicate with, being the recipient of a huge blessing and being able to pray over some sweet women who, more than likely, depend on God in a much more mighty and powerful way that I do

I don't feel like I did much, but I feel like I received so much. I came home heavy hearted. Satan tried mightily to sabotage the intimacy that developed with Christ, the desire to want more of it and the trust that grew over the week. Two kids were throwing up & one had lice. There must be something that went on that God is going to use & is using for His glory....humbled to have been a part of it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Maria's Room

The guest blogger today is Lee Griffin of Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. He and his wife Laurie participated in a mission trip to Guatemala in March of 2012.

Many thoughts and memories come to mind but one that comes to mind in particular involved Maria, the elderly lady from our construction day/night near New Jerusalen church. She was so happy to see us and kept showing us a picture of her and a teenage American girl who had apparently visited her on a previous mission trip. Anyway, Bobby, Chris and I built a “room” which was essentially a box with a door around her little bed. When she was brought back to see it, she sat on the bed and wept. We had to put in the door hardware but she didn’t want to leave her new room. It brought tears to my eyes thinking how a little material item (to us) meant so much to someone when brought in the name of our Lord.

The beautiful children at the school where I got to spend half a day were fantastic. So open and friendly! Also, the power of prayer evident during our trials in getting the house built was amazing. I am certain that we would not have gotten through the communication barriers to complete the job had not the hand of God been upon us. Also, the bonding and fellowship among a group of believers that largely didn’t know each other prior to the trip was a wonderful blessing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reflecting on Guatemala

This post was written by Melissa Kuenzli from Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. She traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip with her husband in March of 2012.

Wow! What an amazing time of worship, fellowship and service we had with you all! Our week started with an amazing Sunday worship service. The Holy Spirit was powerfully felt in that place. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Lillian, who is studying English. We passed notes so we could get to know one another.....it was cool! Her first note started out like this...."I love Jesus. Do you love Jesus?"

The top 3 things that keep coming back to me as I reflect on my week in Guatemala are:

1. Spending the day with the kids at Tabitha House and then sharing a beautiful time of fellowship with the moms in the afternoon. Prompted by the Spirit, we shared our testimonies with them and they shared theirs with us. We shared things with these ladies that surprised us...I personally was surprised at what the Spirit prompted me to share. God can and does use our past for His glory.

2. During the home visits on Thursday, we got to see God work in a mighty way as the Gospel was shared and received by an entire village. Our first visit that day was to a woman who was already a believer but struggled because she was the only Christian in her community. She asked for prayers of strength because her family was against her faith. As we left her home and prepared to visit the next...we were surprised to find out that our next visit was just outside her door on her front porch...with her family! This was the family we had just been praying for to receive Christ. Charlene did an amazing job of letting the Holy Spirit speak through her as she spoke of God's love and forgiveness and his gift of Jesus Christ. Each home we visited that day accepted Christ. It was truly amazing to see that God had been there ahead of us preparing hearts, that God was there with us as we shared the Gospel, and that God will continue to be there as discipleship continues through the amazing people of the church of Lantana.

3. The growth and cohesion that developed in our small group. We all have such different backgrounds and different personalities and God uses us all for His Kingdom. I enjoyed getting to serve alongside you all and getting to know the ladies in our group on a much deeper level.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Back Yard

This post was written by David Dunham of Chelsea, Alabama. He and his wife, Laura, attend The Church at Brook Hills and are the parents of four awesome kids, Natalie, Jacob, Caleb and Benjamin. Their family went to Guatemala in March of 2012.

First, let me begin by saying this was the most amazing mission trip I have been on. I really appreciated One Way’s emphasis on early morning Bible study and evening briefings to keep one’s proper perspective on why we were on the trip. It is very easy to get so busy doing that you miss what God is doing and His blessings. To begin a week of servanthood by worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ was phenomenal. The Spirit of God was palpable; you could feel the unity of the believers in the Spirit. Although we didn’t know the language, there was no sense of embarrassment or worrying about anyone looking at you. I spent most of the worship service crying like a baby. We as the “American Church” have a lot to learn from our Guatemalan brothers and sisters. Like Brother David Platt began his sermon this last Sunday, “Our worship of Christ is a reflection of our belief in Christ. What we think about Jesus will determine how we worship Jesus.” Worship reflects belief. Well, those brothers and sisters in Guatemala left no doubt Who their object of worship is.

This was the first trip Laura and I have gone on together and the first for our entire family. The boys and I were blessed to share the pool house with Bobby, Dave and Andy. I can’t begin to tell you guys how grateful I am to you. As a dad that tries to teach and live as an example to his boys, it was awesome to have such Godly men to reinforce the Gospel and the importance of missions to my boys. Every topic was a reinforcement of this, so, thanks again Bobby, Dave, and Andy.(Bobby and Dave were participants from Georgia and Andy was from Huntsville.)

As for how the trip affected us as a family:

Laura and I have tried to explain the physical and spiritual need of other parts of the world to our children - how a great percentage of people of the world (outside the U.S.) live on less that $2 a day. Nothing drives that home better than witnessing it for yourself.

Benji commented, “It made me sad that these kids were living in a dump; I wanted to cry.”

Natalie said, “My favorite part of the trip was meeting Alma. It was sad for me to say goodbye to her; she gave me strength when I saw her struggle.”

Caleb said, “The people we so humble. They didn't have anything, yet they were joyful.”

Jacob exclaimed, “They have nothing, but they are happy. They are happier than we are and we have everything!”

Wow... what insight! My children got to see poverty vs. abundance. These are the lessons you can’t teach; they have to be experienced. My kids got to see that kids are kids anywhere you go. Despite the language barrier, they were able to play and just have fun with the local children. It impacted them that these kids had little, but they had joy. I think they understand that “things” don't make us happy. God, family, and relationships are what is important and give us joy.

As a result of this trip, our family has decided to become more intentional. We are going to get to know our neighbors and live the Gospel for them. We don’t have to get on a plane and go around the world to share the Gospel (although some of us are called to do just that). The nations start right in our own back yard. And who knows, around the world may just be our back yard one day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gleaning in the fields

This post was written by Charlene Boatwright, a participant on the mission trip to Guatemala March 3-10, 2012. Charlene is from Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama.

There was no better way to start the week than with our Guatemalan brothers and sisters in worship on Sunday. Translation was not needed as we felt the Holy Spirit in our midst as we worshipped our Lord together.

Being able to share Jesus in the schools with the beautiful, well behaved and attentive children was a complete joy. Tabitha House was amazing, and not at all what I expected, which was sad and needy children... which is a testament of the terrific job they are doing there with these children and moms. A huge reminder that at the end of the day, although circumstances may vary, we are all very much the same, with the same wants, needs, and struggles.

Watching our men on the construction projects was so inspiring, knowing that each one of them was doing all in their power to make the lives of the families better by the changes they made, from a small wall to a whole house. They're home visits were so much more than just construction projects, and in that final hour at the home on Friday, when the dad knelt to pray and received Christ in the middle of the home they had reconstructed, was worth all the sore muscles and frustrations of the week.

The home visits was the highlight for me....from the grandmother and grandson that accepted Christ on Monday, to Wednesday when the family where the father was blind, and was so desperate to hear that he could be forgiven of all his many sins, and to watch the repentant tears turn into tears of joy while we prayed together, and the pastor held and encouraged him and committed to sheppard him and his family. When we were leaving he promised to look for us in heaven because he wanted to see our face and to thank us for coming to share with him. (That was worth every sacrifice to make our trip possible). On Thursday when we went to the community that our teams went one house to the next was truly a picture of Ruth gleaning in the fields at harvest, I have never felt that more than that day. The church members as well as the Holy Spirit were already at work. When we started at the first home of a believer who really needed encouragement to continue in her faith because she was alone in her family and community in her beliefs, that soon turned into a day of rejoicing on earth as well as in heaven. When the very next visit was her very elderly parents and her sister as they accepted Christ, and from there, home after home people came to receive Christ, and as we left each home, I will always remember watching her face and she smiled and walked behind us to each and every home. It was almost hard to focus on the next visit for wanting to watch the celebration of their decisions. Our teams lead 16 to the Lord that day in that small area....that's a church plant in my book!

The many visits that these gracious people welcomed us into their homes, and listened to us share Christ and His love for them, and although there were some that did not receive Christ, I know that every visit was God appointed, and the seeds were cultivated, and in His time those sweet people will come to accept Him as their savior. It is most encouraging to know that the church there is doing the work of spreading the gospel and making disciples, and that all the visits will be followed up on. Although we know we will go back, as this was just the beginning of a relationship with the beautiful people of Guatemala.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Leaving Guatemala

It's early Saturday morning, and the guesthouse is stirring with activity. People are packing to go home...others are studying God's Word...some are just sharing life for one last time. Three of our girls are already sitting at a gate bound for Miami. Our hearts are full.



For the first time EVER in mission trip history (well at least with One Way), there has not been ONE person on the trip to complain...not once. No complaints when God has changed our plan for the day to His plan. No arguments while we waited patiently on His timing. No huffy breaths when we were stuck in traffic or couldn't get somewhere on time. No whining about food, bugs, lodging, other participants...none. Can I just get an amen or perhaps a chorus of angels singing?



The Bible reminds us to do EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing so that we may become blameless and pure children of God. Wow...I've seen that lived out this week. And, my heart overflows with gratitude for this team. They have shown the love of God in so many ways this week. They have been the hands of feet of Christ. They have seen God's glory revealed. They have listened and learned.



While there were many lessons taken away from this week, some of the ones I remember are these: (1) God told me not to speak and I obeyed. (2) God showed me that I didn't have to be in charge to accept what He was going to do (3) God told me how to be a more loving wife and mother back home. As I listened to the ladies share the lessons God taught them, I was overwhelmed that He is kind and patient with us as we learn. He is gracious to teach us, over and over, from His Word!



While I am sad to leave this team, I know that they will be a part of our extended family now. God has done a marvelous work in our lives and has allowed us to be a tiny part of His plan here in Guatemala. All praise and honor and glory to Him alone forever and ever!

Friday, March 23, 2012

His Ways are Higher...

Just three weeks ago the Antonio family of 12 lived in a 15 x 15 room with a larger outdoor area for cooking and gathering. Twelve people...one bed...kids with disabilities...a baby... The walls were rusted tin, and the house filled with water every time the rains came.



A team came (from Alabama and Georgia) and used new tin to construct a home suitable for a family. The children had NEVER seen new tin...they kept looking at their reflections in the new wall. The father took off work to make sure he helped build his house. On about $50 a week he provides for his family. He and all of his family gave up their food so they could buy Pepsi for the crew. Their gratefulness was overwhelming and humbling.



God showed Himself faithful in their lives and drew them to Himself. The father gave His life to Christ because God drew him to Himself. Juan saw men and women living out their faith in a way that ministered to his soul. And now he is a brother in Christ.



Fast forward to this week when our group tours their home. We stand on dirt floors surrounded by dirty children, a tired momma, a weary father, two turkeys, numerous dogs and cats and a team humbled by God's provision. The father describes how he is going to concrete the floors this week so that the water will no longer flood their home. (Concrete was provided by the generosity and obedience of fellow believers). Juan is beaming as he shows us his new home (something we would consider a shack in the United States).



Move ahead two more days and I find myself riding up the mountain to Sacajvilla again...this time with Pastor Morales and one of our team members, Grace Ann. Most of the ride is quiet as we anticipate the joy we are about to experience. A box truck is following close behind us with four full sized mattresses inside. The iphone charges to make sure we can record God's work in action. The family has NO idea. We are told this bit of news on the way. My skin bristles...and my stomach starts to form butterflies.



Pastor Morales allows the box truck to turn down the dirt road first, and we slowly get out of the car. We tread carefully down the wooden steps into their home and find Juan on his knees smoothing concrete in one of the rooms. Children appear suddenly (I think I counted 9 the first time) and there is a sense of anticipation. The formal greetings occur and I can't even hear what they are saying. Grace Ann begins to video the event so we won't forget...I don't ever want to forget.



Pastor explains that I would like to share something. My mind blanks and God reminds me that He provided for them...just tell them that. I obey. God has provided some new mattresses for you...would you like to see? They all follow up the steps and down the road to the back of the truck. As I hold one daughter's hand, another daughter, Gloria comes beside me to hold my hand so tight I can hardly move. The smile on her face is HUGE...I think her cheeks are going to burst. She clings to my left side and is about to overflow with excitement. Juan stands patiently looking to see what's inside the truck. They have never seen new mattresses...EVER. The workers part the doors and my mind explodes. I have never witnessed such unadulterated joy before. Smiles and thank you's all around....Gloria tightens her grip (can a young girl break my hand?)...she looks up at me and doesn't say a word. Her face was beaming, and I think it stayed that way for the next hour.


Juan says that he is worried about how much money we spent, and he is reminded that God provided, not us. He is overcome with gratefulness. We are humbled to witness God's divine plan for the Antonio family.



The workers carry all of the mattresses into the home and stack them in the kitchen area. We all watch (yes, 30 eyes staring at them) as they assemble on the mattresses. They explain to Juan how to set up each set. We wait for them to leave so that we can all really see what a new mattress will mean to their family.



As soon as those workers hit the door, the children sheepishly sit on the bed. They are amazed. They are seeing something for the first time in their lives..a new place to sleep that doesn't involve dirt or cardboard. I am reminded of my selfishness and lack of gratitude for everything God has provided. And, God shows me PURE joy as Gloria bounces up and down on the end of the bed.



We stay with the family for a while and there is always a child close to the new mattress. I catch a couple of kids pretending to sleep and giggling as they see me watching. At one point six kids have found a spot on the bed and are the smiles are still glued to their faces.



For Americans the amount of money spent was very little...but it was the obedience of believers who gave of themselves that made a difference in the life of this family. Last night they slept...really slept. And God reminds me that He never sleeps nor does He slumber because He has a people to reconcile to Himself. I am one thankful child right now.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

God is Provider!




It's the end of another day here in Guatemala, and the team is tired...worn out from the ministry opportunities we have been able to be a part of today. But alas, we debrief the day anyway...why? We talk about the day and process what all we have seen so that people can SEE and HEAR God's work among His people. Oftentimes we miss what God is doing because we are too tired to even think about it...just too busy to even mention it. So we meet and talk about the day.



The first question I ask is this: "What is the one snapshot you take away from today?" And they almost clamor over one another to tell what God did in each of them and with the group today. Amanda talks about their last home visit where the dad had just lost his job. A food bag (full of oil, sugar, oats, milk, rice, beans) was a blessing to the family who didn't know where their next meal would come from...God provided. Sara tells the group about holding a sweet two month old baby while listening to the grandfather describe how hard life has been after his stroke. The man yearned for the opportunity to be in fellowship with other believers but had been unable to go due to his health. There was a great longing for biblical community...God provided.



Natasha describes sharing the Gospel message at a school at Sacajvilla. The children said missionaries don't come there often, and they wanted to know about Jesus. They WANTED to know...God provided. Erin tells about a home visit where a lady was encouraged by believers. She needed to hear God speak to her....God provided. Loree describes many home visits where people were Christ-followers but had left the church. They were all longing for restoration...God provided.



God is our PROVIDER. He provides us what we need...not what we want. He draws us to Himself, and He brings Himself glory. What a day of seeing God's name lifted high, His followers encouraged, and His great glory proclaimed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No Room to Complain




Complaining is not for her...not our Alma. She NEVER complains or grumbles..well, almost never. Sometimes she does complain that the pain is too much or one of her siblings is pulling her hair or she really needs to go to the bathroom. But, she perseveres. Sweet Alma is 14 years old and is confined to a wheelchair. From her waist down doesn't work....so she can only move her upper body.

Yesterday, we had the privilege of walking into her home. It's a great honor to be invited into a home in Guatemala, so we gladly went. Alma was lying on her bed. Let me stop to describe her bed so that you don't get some pre-conceived idea. There's a straw mat which is slowly coming apart at the edges because animals and siblings are pulling at the loose strings. Then there are 2 foam squares which are covered in an old cloth lying on top of that..maybe one inch thick. Something has been gnawing on one of those as well as foam is scattered about her head.

Chickens and cats come and go in the house and walk all over her. Some cats lie down beside her as if they are somehow guarding Alma. She pets them and smiles. But, she is in a lot of pain. You see, she went ot the bathroom several weeks ago and fell. She has to pull herself on her arms to the steps and then scoot her body down a full flight of concrete stairs. She fell going down those steps. And she was wounded on her rear. She is on round 3 of an infection.

A few of us stayed to help clean the infection yesterday, and I have to tell you that I almost vomited in front of everyone. This is not a band-aid sized infection. It is the size of a doughnut but about 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep. It looks like a doctor just shaved off part of her and sewed up what he could. Can you imagine? How is she supposed to keep that clean?

But, she doesn't complain. Instead, she smiles at us and sings a song about faith in the Lord. I cry. We all cry. She has unspeakable joy. That only comes from the Lord. What are you complaining about today?