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 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!