Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What's Up with Birmingham in 2014?

Over the past few weeks we have been asked about what is up with the Birmingham plans for 2014.  As we have been discussing and planning the details of the upcoming year, I thought I would share with you all the ideas and plans behind the addition of a new site to our annual trip schedule.  I hope this answers many of the questions and also gets many of you involved with us in our own backyard!

For the first five or six years of One Way Ministries, we focused completely on local and domestic missional efforts.  I have for years and still to this day, operated out of a strong concept of working in my own backyard first as I make my way into the "utter most parts of the earth!"  Some of you have been with me as I have explained the scenario that drives this idea.  As we serve in other contexts around the world and in other cultures, the question always is asked at some point, "How does this work in your community?"  As you can imagine the question on the mind of a ministry partner in another context is whether or not this is the same ministry work being done by the US church in their own communities?  The struggle for many is that the local work of ministry in our own backyards is not nearly as romantic or glamorous.  The pictures from the far reaches of the world seem to tug at the heart strings so much more and the willingness to GO and serve in a foreign context seems to be so much "easier."  Yet, right here in our own backyards, the world has come to see and hear!

You and I both know that the majority of the church is specifically planted in their home context to fulfill the function of the local church within that community.  Yes, the primary function of the local church is to evangelize its own community.  Steve Saint in his book The Great Omission, clarifies the role of mission as opposed to the local church well.  His perspective is that the local church is to reach its community with the gospel.  The role of the para-church or mission team is to assist in getting the church into the communities where it does not exist.  Based on this understanding of the role of the local church, we all should be heavily investing in the reaching of our world that lives right around us as a priority in our daily walk of faith!

In order to return to the roots of our ministry passion and to be obedient to the call of God, we are returning to Birmingham as a ministry to work alongside the local church in missional efforts across the city.  Currently there are several efforts underway serving the Birmingham community in meeting physical and spiritual needs as an act of showing the Gospel.  In 2014 we will partner with several ministry efforts in the city to assist in sharing and showing the Gospel among the communities of Birmingham.  Much of the work to be done immediately is construction related with projects in various areas for those in need.  We have a large population of elderly and widows who are in need of help and we as the church should be the ones they can depend on to help!

Our plans for 2014 are to partner with Hearts in Hands, a local ministry seeking to meet construction needs in the communities surrounding Birmingham.  We are also partnering with a ministry of Christ Church Birmingham called the Eastlake Initiative to assist in home reconstruction, community outreach and ministry effort to local families.   In addition to these two ministry efforts we will connect with many others serving the communities around Birmingham to offer a wide variety of opportunities to get involved in local missional efforts.

We have two main objectives for this opportunity of serving in 2014.  First we hope to encourage the local church to get involved locally with ministry and mission efforts in our backyard.  There are many things going on and more projects than can be accomplished that need attention.  We as the local church need to step up and get busy working together in our own backyard reaching the world and teaching the Word!  The second objective is to invite churches from outside our community to join us in Birmingham and see how to discover, connect and impact local ministry and missional efforts back in their home communities. Through partnerships with local churches and time working alongside leaders within these churches who are serving in their own backyard, we hope to encourage, challenge and assist Christ-followers from outside of Birmingham to get involved in their home community.  We will seek to foster Biblical community while serving together here in Birmingham in hopes that the Body will connect in many other cities and the church will become the source of hope and encouragement to cities across the nation.

We Are The Body!  It is the way we love each other that will allow others to see the Gospel alive and active within our lives.  It is the living Body of Christ, loving each other and those around us that causes the lost soul to sense God's kindness that draws them to a place of repentance!

We are currently seeking to build teams to serve the weekend of January 17-20, 2014.  We have a few other dates during the year we are planning to serve Birmingham that will be finalized as we work out details during the weekend in January.  Our goal is to have an exciting weekend of ministry, mission and building of Biblical community.  If you are local, you can be involved with us right form the comfort of your own bed!  The schedule during the weekend will allow you to be at home each night and serve alongside the teams during the days as we tackle some projects, build some relationships and serve the community.  If you are from outside of Birmingham, we are seeking to house out of town teams within the communities we are serving, alongside those who have invested their lives in the communities through ministry and mission.  Contact us at for more information or to reserve a spot on a team for January!

Join us for this exciting time of serving, showing and sharing!
All trips will include meals, leadership, supplies, t-shirt, and materials.
Out of town teams' housing will be included.
Trip costs are: Local - $95 per person, Out of Town - $125 per person.
$25 per person deposit prior to Dec. 31, 2013, $50per person deposit Jan. 1-10, 2014.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Exciting Days Ahead in Guatemala

As many of those who follow our ministry know we have been investing deeply in a relationship the church in Guatemala for over four years now.  The days have been very productive in establishing a strong mutually beneficial partnership.  This is a critical step in establishing a long-term partnership on the field.  Pastor Morales and the faith family at Iglesia Jerusalen have been wonderful teachers and friends in the process of learning the culture and establishing a vision for long-term impact.  The first week of this month we were blessed with an awesome medical team from several locations that came together to provide our smoothest most efficient clinic ever!  The clinic included medical professionals from the US as well as Guatemala. We also enjoyed several non-medical professionals who jumped into their areas of gifting and blew the doors off with amazing organization and over-the-top service to a people desperate for hope and care.

While on the ground we were able to walk and pray over a piece of land that the Lord has shown Pastor Morales and us as an excellent location to establish a long-term work through the mission church in Sajcavilla.    We have been seeking the Lord's direction for over a year about a permanent home for the church and a place to establish a feeding center for the community.  The Lord has provided!  We currently have the money pledged to help the church buy land for the permanent home for the mission church and begin a feeding center in Sajcavilla!

Jesus shared with us in the Gospels that He did not come for those who were well but for those who were sick.  He clearly came to pour into the lives of those who need nourishment and hope that comes from an eternal hope that does not disappoint!  I am excited about the days ahead in Guatemala.  The hope of a permanent location for the church to establish a long-term ministry in Sajcavilla and the future feeding of thousands in that Mayan village is truly a dream that is coming true.  God has been weighing our hearts down with the need for food, teaching and showing the Gospel in this community since we first walked among the homes in 2009.  Today we see His hand at work in bringing this vision of hope to reality.

We will not be able to do this alone!  We need your help.  Just as we have been dependent upon your support through prayer and finances up to this point, we need you even more now!  The future is exciting.  The reality of long-term impact is upon us.  Now we whom God has blessed with the excesses of His blessings will need to be sacrificial with our giving to fulfill the hope of impacting a people group with the truth of the Gospel through food, worship, teaching and the planting of the Word in this community.

Will you begin to pray now about how the Father wants you involved in the exciting days ahead in Guatemala.  We will need prayer support as decisions need to made and plans begin to become reality.  We will need financial support to progress into the new day of long-term ministry the Lord is inviting us to get involved with as He reaches a people in Sajcavilla.  We will need teams to go to Guatemala and help us build, develop and serve the community.  We will need servants to continue to carry the Word into the homes as we make home visits and spread the Gospel message across the community.  We will need teams to go and teach the children in the local schools the Word and continue to establish a foundation of truth among the future generation of Mayan young people.  We need soccer players to help us establish a soccer clinic this summer for the schools and play the local teenagers as an example of the grace and goodness of God in the area of sports.  We need men to journey with us into homes and share with the men of the community the value of Godly dads and the hope that brings to a family as the dads follow the Lord.  We need young people who will serve as interns to go and invest some time in the future leaders and partners from within the churches to help us establish a leadership base for the future.  And on and on the list goes of what we need from you!

You see the Lord opens doors for His church to share in the ministry of reconciliation throughout the world.  When He shows you what He is doing in a particular place, that is His invitation for you to get involved with Him in His work!  So, we have some exciting days ahead in Guatemala...will you join us as we follow Him into Sajcavilla?  Will you get involved in impacting a community, long-term with the truth of the Gospel?  Will you pray with us for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field to bring in the harvest that is ripe and ready!  Come on, lets reach the world and teach His Word in Guatemala!

In His Grip,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't Waste Your Best Life Now!

This past week our medical mission team in Guatemala experienced some awesome events during our time in Sajcavilla.  Jerry Flummer, chairman of our board, along with Josh and Ashley Pigford from Birmingham, brought clear vision to hundreds of people as they led our eye care room.  Watching them work and seeing the faces of those coming out of their room was a true blessing!

So many times in the field we find situations and circumstances that overwhelm us.  We so often have very little to offer the family or individual that will affect their daily struggles in this life.  The weight of the struggles we see is very heavy at times and the opportunity to truly impact the daily life is so limited at times, we think maybe it is not work it.  Yet, the events of this past week allowed me to see a fresh new perspective on this whole idea.  

You see this week several men came in to the eye care room who could not even see the chart!  Yes, you read that right.  The big E at 20+ feet was not even clear enough to distinguish.  Over and over I watched Jerry patiently consider whether he could actually help them or not.  In our first world culture we would have said there is nothing I can do to help you.  Your situation needs a doctor or something we do not have.  Although that was not what Jerry did!  

Jerry patiently sat these gentlemen down and proceeded to improve their sight as much as he could.  He would work with them, and ask questions and seek to clear it all up as much as he could.  Josh and Ashley would build a pair of glasses or fit them with readers that made the most improvement possible.  Amazingly these men would shuffle out of the room with a new pair of glasses, not seeing everything perfectly, but seeing more clearly than they came in.  They were happy and very thankful for the limited sight they had and now it was greatly improved.  

How often do we discuss with the creator of the universe the challenges we face because we do not understand "clearly" His will for our lives?  Have you found yourself complaining to Him because you do not see clearly?  Our Father has promised each of us a life full of excitement and fulfillment if we will trust and obey!  You see there is no other way to see clearly than to see what He shows us.  It may not be the full picture.  We may not see the end result or the impact of our actions on everyone around us.  It is possible that our sight may be limited.  Yet, His will is perfect.  His desire for you and for me, is to trust Him with all our heart, even when we can't trace His hand!  

As I watched the work God was doing through our eye care team I was reminded that many times my vision is limited.  I may not ever really see clearly the whole picture.  But my Father is trying with patience and understanding, to improve my vision for His glory.  Am I willing to accept His will and His ways as my full vision.  You see, there is coming a day when, as the song goes,  "my faith becomes sight."

God so desires to use you right now right where you are to impact others' lives with the hope of the Gospel.  Don't waste the life you have wishing for more, hoping for clarity, waiting to see the whole picture clearly!  Now is the best you may see.  Right now is the time he has for you to serve Him with faith sight...not always eye sight!  Are you willing to serve people in a way today that improves their sight?  Will those who cross your path today see Him more clearly as a result of being in relationship with you today?  Will you take the vision you have and seek Him with all your heart in expectation of Him showing you Himself in a real and personal way?  Come on and stop trying so hard to make it all work out in your head and trust your heart as He guides you through His Spirit to see people the way He sees them.  Love with all your heart...even when you can't see the whole picture.  Serve with everything you have...even when it does not seem to make a difference from your perspective.  Follow Him today even if you must close your eyes and fall into His arms so He can carry you through the fire!  Don't waste your best life now...Live for Him and Love for His Glory!  
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living Life On Mission For The King!

On a day when the great land of the USA seems to be more confused about where its heading than ever before, I want to recommit to living a life on mission for the King!  We live here in the US without a realistic understanding of a king in our daily lives.  In fact we look at other lands with a royal family or kings and queens as somewhat less capable than our form of government.  And then today happens and we wonder what is really going on and what is going to happen in the coming days?  The future of the US and the security of this way of life we have lived for most of our lives is quickly being stripped away.  Our loyalty to a central leader or leadership has long been a thing of the past.  And today we have less confidence in even those we chose to lead us than ever before.  

Yet, there is this King who remains the same in the midst of every element of chaos and confusion.  There is this King who has promised to finish what He started in us.  There is a King who is worthy of all of our allegiance and trust and hope.  There is a King whose words are truth and whose character is holy and whose purposes are just.  Yes we have a King and His name is the name above all names and His ways are above all ways and His Word will forever remain absolute truth!

Today, as we search for peace in the midst of the unsettled days in this country I think we need to renew our understanding of the King.  I recall a time when what the Bible had to say to me was more quickly desired than what I could find by searching the internet.  I remember a day when the time I spent with the Father was not interrupted by a FB update or a twitter post notification on my phone.  I remember when the cool weather of fall brought an excitement of revival in the air at church and many were soon to experience freedom through salvation in the middle of hopeless times.  I do remember a day when my desire to serve others was stronger than my concern for what the market was going to do with my retirement funds!  

Yes, there was a day in each of our lives when we found ourselves lost in the mission for the King and allowed no thought of this world's demands to derail our efforts.  Each of you reading this blog post who call yourself a Christ-follower, remembers a day, week, month, or more when you were so dialed into His will for your life and His purpose of serving those around you that nothing seemed to matter except His mission.  That joy and satisfaction found in Him is what we all strive to recapture with every new day we walk this journey.  The issue often is, at least for me, I have taken my eyes off the King and am looking around at the circumstances of life that overwhelm me with despair and hopelessness.  If you will be honest with me, many of you sense the same issue in life from time to time as we walk this road.  How do we sustain the closeness?  How do we remain focused on the mission?  How do we stay engaged in the mission? 

Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God shares that we must "orient our lives to God."  I believe that is the key to remaining on mission.  If you and I will arrange our lives in such a way as to see every step we take, every decision we are offered, every conversation we have is orchestrated by the King to further His purposes and His ways for the sake of the mission, well then we will live a life ON MISSION FOR THE KING!  The goal is to focus on Him and His relationship with us as a child of the King serving His agenda in this world for the hope of sharing the truth of His Gospel with everyone we come in contact with.  

I recall the days of revival in the fall of the year and how much of our conversation was about Him.  You see I think we have filled our conversations with things of this world more than the things of the King!  We all have discussed the latest posts or breaking news with more passion than the glorious appearing that is approaching when Jesus comes to get His Bride!  We need to get back to those days where the primary discussions we have are about His purposes and His ways among this world.  We need to talk about what He is doing around us and how He is transforming lives on a daily basis as we walk together in this amazing grace journey of faith. 

So, whose with me?  Let's not look to the situation of this economy, or the shutdown or the status of the market at the moment.  Let us all with a common mind seek to live this day on mission for the King!  Let us seek to love like Jesus would love and serve like Jesus would serve and speak like Jesus would speak with boldness and confidence in the message of the King who is Truth and worthy of all I have to offer Him!  Let us all live a life on mission for the King! 

In His Grip,

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Clear After the Rain!

I am not sure if you have experienced this amazing thing that God has done for us!  This weekend the rain came and as many others I spent my Saturday inside most all day.  Now thankfully there were a few football games to occupy my time and some awesome rest for the family that we all needed.  As I walked in and out of the house a few times on Saturday I could not help but feel the weight of the clouds and rain that seemed to blanket the entire sky.

But then the evening came and the clouds began to break up a bit and the sun poked through right at the end of the day.  This scene of brilliant colors and hopeful sunsets seems to do something to me.  After a few glimpses of this beautiful site I quickly forgot the image and move on to the next order of business...another game and some good food with the family.

But then Sunday morning burst into my life!
Sunday morning I woke up and began to prepare for the day.  My usual routine somewhat disrupted by struggles in the house with poor sleep and little ears that seem to not hear instructions.  After a tough morning getting ready to ride to church, I sat in the truck driving with the kids in the car singing crazily and was abruptly reminded of the effects of the rain.

Some photographer friends of mine have shared that the best time to take pictures is after a heavy rain.  This was never more evident to me than Sunday morning as I drove to church thinking through all the stuff of the day.  The air was clear and just a bit cooler than normal.  The trees seemed a bit greener.  The sky a bit bluer than before.  A freshness in the air that was just a little better than the previous day.  Everything seemed to be a little clearer after the rain!

As I sit this morning to write I am thankful for the clear after the rain.  So many times in my life the rain has seemed more than I can handle.  The weight of the circumstances of life sometimes feel so heavy that nothing can ever lift the burden off my shoulders and I feel like I will go down.  But then the morning comes!    The morning brings a fresh new look at the day and clear air that seems to lift the burdens of daily life just a little to reveal something vital to the journey.  As I am able to peek out from under the burden of this life just a bit I am reminded of this incredible joy that flooded my soul in my days past.  I am reminded of this overwhelming joy that once captured my heart's affection and my minds attention.  I am reminded of this amazing Grace that is holding up the burdens of my life and actually carrying the weight of my struggles!  Yes, the Lord Jesus today is the one who is carrying my burdens. And every now and then I get a glimpse of the clear after the rain as the burden is lifted and my sight becomes clearer as my faith opens my eyes to truth.  Yes, He is right there with me in every step of this journey.  He is my Rock and my Redeemer!  He is the very life that is flowing through my body!  And it is He, the Lord Jesus who is with me in every step of this journey.

As the clouds clear and the rain stops and the blue sky bursts into sight...will you rejoice with me this day for the Lord reigns and will never ever change!  He is the Rock of our salvation and the Redeemer of our soul!  Jesus is the "I AM" that is ever holding our hands in every situation and in every struggle to help us press on toward the prize that has been set before us.  So, that together with the Saints we will receive one day what God has in store for us all at the table of feasting in HIM.  Oh what a glorious day that is coming when we shall see Him face to face and know that every step of the journey was worth every amount of struggle, pain and suffering!  He is worthy, the Lamb is worthy...Come let us rejoice together as He leads us homeward through this day.  The rain is gone and the sky is clear, soak up His glorious presence in your life and press on!

In His Grip!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Medicine from the Master

The need for help around the world seems to continue to grow with every passing day.  Thousands and thousands of people in every country seem to struggle daily with medical conditions and physical pains that overwhelm their daily lives.  Every single day children die around the world because they simply do not have access to simple medicines and care.  Day after day people all over the globe struggle to find any hope at all in the midst of their pain and suffering.  

In Matthew chapter nine we read of Jesus responding to the religious leaders of the day about the sick before Him.  He, while sitting among the tax collectors, shared the truth that it is not the well or healthy that need a doctor but the sick who are in need of a doctor.  We are to follow His example as He went into the world where the sick of heart are living with no hope!  It is up to those of us with a Hope that does not disappoint, to go to those who are hopeless and share the Hope of Jesus with them.  Often times to share the truth of this hope with someone who is hurting you must first address the pain in their life.  In November, we here at One Way are leading a medical team into a hurting world among the Mayan people of Guatemala.  There are many who are sick and in need of medical attention.  We are leading a team that will address the needs among the community in order to open their ears up to the truth of the Gospel.  Last year we saw many turn their lives from the hopeless life they were living to a life of hope found in Jesus.  Our goal  this year is to expand that impact of the local mission church into more homes and lives as we meet physical need and share spiritual hope.  

We are still looking for a few more medical staff to join us on this trip to insure adequate coverage and treatment of everyone who will come.  We need two more doctors, four more nurses/EMT and an optometrist.  We would benefit from an additional dentist and dental assistant as well as a few more folks willing to assist in simple ways as support.  We will present the Gospel personally to every person who comes through the clinic.  The local church will work along side our team to build relationships with those who come and find hope in the Gospel and find healing in the hands of Jesus as medical professionals use their talents and gifts to minister to the hurting bodies.  We will pour into the lives of women and men, children and teenagers throughout the week as the Lord draws many who are hurting and seeking the touch of the Master!  

What about joining us for this awesome trip into the field of harvest?  The Lord taught His disciples to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field to work the field for the harvest is ready.  Will you go with us into a field that has been prepared by the local church and the Master farmer, ready to be harvested by the workers who will obey and go when He calls?  We need you to join us and reach the world with the truth of His Word and teach the Word to those who are desperate for the whole truth of the Gospel.  Join us November 2-9 as we carry hope into Sacjavilla, Guatemala and work along side the local church to bring in a harvest and care for the hurting!  

For more information or to join the team, !   

Monday, August 19, 2013

Plea for Assistance!

Many of you reading this will have already received an email or some other form of communication from the ministry concerning the urgent need for the daycare ministry at New Jerusalen Church in Guatemala.  However, I thought it best to add to the plea through this avenue as the need is urgent and very important for us to draw together support for this vital ministry.

For a number of years now our partner church in Guatemala, New Jerusalen Church in Los Pinos has been offering a free daycare to members of the community.  The opportunity to impact young mother's lives and families' futures has been an incredible opportunity the Lord has provided the church and its leadership.  Through this ministry, several families who were on the edge of falling apart, have been able to remain together and regain a solid position of providing for themselves following crisis or loss.  Some families have been able to rebuild their lives in a way as to no longer need the daycare to provide the needed care for their children as they are able to provide school fees and jobs have become more stable.

This ministry has seen some tough days recently.  The government, in an effort to improve the lives of everyone in  the country, has raised the base level of required pay for workers in every area of the country. Even though this is a ministry of the church and does not fall under the new guidelines, the church has sought to take care of the workers within the context of their living conditions and needs.  The increases in wages has increased the cost of living for some of the workers in a way that has caused some strain on the current budget of the daycare.  In addition the needs of the daycare have continually increased without the church passing those increases on to those like our ministry who seek to support and assist.

The increases have become more than the church can carry at this time.  We are seeking partners to join us in securing the future of this vital ministry of the church and providing for the families in need in the Los Pinos community surrounding the church.  This daycare is also serving as a model for our development of an additional daycare in the Sajcavilla area through the Lantana Mission Church.

As you pray for the leadership of the church, our full-time staff ( Greg and Kathy Brown) on the ground in Guatemala and the support team through One Way Ministries, please pray for the Lord to show us His plan for this daycare and His provision for its needs.  We are praying for the Lord to raise up additional supporters for the daycare itself as well as for individual families and children who attend.  Will you pray with us that God will show us His provision and how best as a ministry to support and encourage this vital ministry through New Jerusalen Church.  

Thank you for praying with us and seeking the Father's heart concerning this matter.  We look forward to watching His hand at work through the Body as He directs this ministry effort in Guatemala!

In His Grip,
JT Turner

If you have questions, would like more information or want to join the support team for this area of ministry you may contact us through the website or email or

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Emergency, Emergency

Okay, it's NOT an emergency, but there is a great need for a medical clinic again this November in Guatemala.  Last year's trip was the first of its kind in Sacjavilla, and it was a huge blessing to people in the community as well as those who participated in the trip.

Make no mistake...this trip is centered around a medical clinic...but the TRUE core of the time is sharing the Gospel!  People have to sit and wait to go into the triage area...sit and wait for the assigned doctor...and sit and wait for the pharmacy.  Who wants to wait alone...NO ONE!  Enter those people who will pour out their lives for the sake of the Gospel.  From holding a baby so a mom can hear a clear presentation of the Word to playing a Scripture memory game with kids...taking temperatures of family members, dispensing medicine in the pharmacy, checking vision, showing people how to brush's all a vital part of the outreach to the community.

But, this is not done in isolation apart from the church.  In fact, New Jerusalen Church (in Guatemala City) planted the mission church in Sacjavilla over three years ago.  And, that mission church has started Bible studies not only in their community but now also in the town of De Zet.  It is a community of believers reaching out to share the Gospel.  And, we get to be a part of that.

November 2-9 of this year will be the official dates of this clinic.  And, we are seeking God's plan for the following:

Doctors (preferably 4-5)
Nurses (4)
EMTs/Physician's Assistants (2-3)
Dentists (2)
Dental Hygienists (4)
Optometrists (2)
Pharmacists (2)
Pharmacy Technicians (2-4)
Physical Therapists (2)
Administrative Team (8-10)
Evangelism Team (6-8)
Children's Ministry Team (12-15)
Construction Team (6)
Community Outreach Team (6)

Can you help?  Do you know of someone who can?  We are asking you to pray and seek God's great wisdom as to what He would have you do.  For more information contact Sheryl at!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The God Who Pursues

This post was penned by Marina Provenzano, our semester intern from Samford University.  She accompanied us on the trip to Guatemala in March and is a pure delight!  

One of my favorite snapshots of the trip was during a home visit. Prior to entering this particular home, the ladies of the church told our group we were going to pray for a woman who had a brain stroke and was in a coma for a while. The ladies of the church have been visiting her often and praying for her. LIke many other visits, I was expecting to walk into a home and step into an environment that is in desperate need of Jesus.

However, it was just like God to far exceed my expectations of His power. As my group walked through the door, we saw the sick woman sitting up in her bed, fully aware that we had come to visit. Not only did the Lord heal her, but the reaction from the ladies was none like I have ever seen.  The ladies were smiling, clapping, crying, and singing. They immediately turned to Psalm 145, praising God for what He had done. 

At that moment, I saw the body of Christ at work and the glory of God being revealed. I saw how these women intentionally cared for those within the community by visiting them, praying for them, and sharing the Gospel. The ladies truly live out Matthew 28. Despite the weather conditions, the long walks, or the reactions they receive from the people, they are persistent with these visits. Their lives reveal who Jesus is -  God who continually pursues his people. 

As much as I thought I would help change lives in Guatemala, I am the one who came back changed. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

A True Gift

Humbly and patiently, she introduced herself. She was from Xela and would be our translator.  I had never used a translator before, so this would be a first.  She seemed genuine and compassionate. Her name...Patty.

We weren’t expecting a translator, but God arranged our schedule in such a way that we arrived at the orphanage at the same time as a team from our home church.  We adopted our Jett there.  She quickly became our friend.  Family, in fact.

Trip after trip to Guatemala, she has been by our side.  Patty has walked with us through the dump, into rat infested homes, along winding paths in Sacjavilla, in the mountains of Solola, and through the sewage of life. She has stood by my side listening with compassion to stories of abuse, neglect, brokenness, and shattered lives.  We have seen the enemy at work.  We have journeyed today in watching God’s glory made known.  There have been many tears shed, hugs given, and lives changed.  

It has been good.  Very good.  And we are sisters in Christ.  Family forever.

She has always been the translator, as if that title defines her.  It does not.  She is more.  She is a woman of God.

The church asked for two women from our group to give their testimonies at a women’s conference.  Wow, I could use so and so, or I bet that lady will do it...those were my first thoughts.  Then, God spoke sweetly to my soul.  Ask Nellie...and Patty.  Lord, I don’t think Patty wants to do this.  Don’t make her.  Yes, Lord, I will.

I called to her and she came to sit on the end of my bed.  I had her name written on a sheet of paper.  I slid it to her and said that God gave me these names.  I was hoping she would just agree without seeing her name written there....she got wide-eyed and asked me to verify.  I did.  She quietly said yes.  I could see the hesitation, and I worried.  

Then, I sat in the room and heard her begin.  Trembling and nervous, she began relating her journey.  Her mom was 16 when she had place to where to belong.  Tears streamed down her face like a waterfall, and I found myself thinking of the day I walked into the orphanage to see my son’s face for the first time....WANTED, PURSUED, LOVED....Patty is all those things though she never thought it.

Stuck between two worlds...American and Guatemalan...never fully fitting in with either one.  Always desiring to belong but not finding a place. Then, God brought her to translating where the two worlds are NECESSARY for her to interpret well.  It was all God’s plan...all along, it was His design.

As I wept for my friend and sister, I heard God’s goodness and graciousness in her life.  He had woven her story in such a way that only He could get the praise.  Today, I sit in awe knowing that Patty Ajanel is a gift from God to the world. And I just get to unwrap it every now and then.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sewage is not my favorite word, yuck, uuggh....I can't even think of proper words to describe it, but it kinda makes my skin crawl.  I like to think that sewage goes out of the house and disappears.  It helps me to process it better that way...out of sight, out of mind, you know?

But, sewage is a part of life, and it is necessary.  Getting it out of my house is mandatory...for my sanity and health too.  We all have it...we just don't like to talk about it, do we?

In a community outside of Guatemala City, Sacjavailla, there lived a single mom whose life involved sewage daily...and not the way you and I deal with it.  She had to work daily since her husband was long gone.  Her three kids stayed home without her and played and worked.  They lived IN sewage.  IN it, people.

They lived at the bottom of a dirt path on the bottom side of a hill.  All of the sewage from the homes above them flowed down to their tin shack.  It was in their yard much like a stream.  It made its way into their water supply and they drank it, cooked with it, and bathed in it.  It was their life.

Grateful for your clean water yet?

Then along came a team of men last November who tore down their old house and built them a new one.  The kids even got bunk beds, which they proudly showed off to me yesterday.  More importantly, they have a concrete path to their house so they are not stepping in sewage daily.  And, they have a clean water more poop in the dinner.

My struggles seem to disappear quickly in light of what Josephina and her family face daily.  How about yours?

PS  This family is generously sponsored by one of the guys who met them in November.  Look for opportunities in the coming weeks to help other families in desperate need!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Climb that mountain

A new day...A new area...a new challenge.  That pretty much summarizes our day.  The afternoon was spent in sector 5 of Sacjavilla where the mission church has just started to build new relationships.  

You see, that’s the key.  The local body of believers MUST be the ones who initiate the new work.  We just get to be a part of what God is already doing in this area.  And, that’s what we are doing...walking alongside the church to begin a new work.

Today, we venture into the community and are greeted by large pigs on one side of the ravine, construction in the middle of the road, and smoke pouring out of a tin shack across the way.  “Let’s do this Lord.  Show me Your ways that I may walk in them.”  Okay, walk up the mountain.  Yeah..a real mountain.  We were huffing and puffing and every time we rounded a corner, more of the mountain was revealed....Lord, is this really what You want.


Keep walking.  Will this mountain ever end?  Wait. Call one of the other teams.  What?  We need to come DOWN the mountain?  You better be kidding.  Nope.  Okay, Lord, what is Your purpose?  To teach you My become patient...learning forbearance.  

Got it, Lord.  That lesson was for me.

As it turns out there was another home visit at a home at the bottom of the hill.  A recent believer needed the encouragement of fellow Christ followers.  This sister needed surgery because of some female issues, and who did God send her way?  Another woman who had a similar situation.  Praise God for His ways!

Let that be a lesson to me...God’s ways are higher than my ways ALWAYS.  And His plan is great.  I just get to be a part of it, and for that, I am grateful tonight.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hearing, anyone?

We arrive at the mission church in Lantana to lead a women's afternoon Bible study, but God orchestrated another meeting first.  A weary and frantic mom, Lily, relayed an urgent prayer request for her son.

Antonio is a six year old adorable young boy who cannot hear.  He had hearing aids that were provided by a local charity that lasted three years.  The aids must have worked somehow as he can make a few sounds and mimic sounds.  However, his hearing improved dramatically with the hearing aids.  Plus, his mother could actually understand him.  They could communicate.  What a precious gift for a mother!  (Side note....isn't that something we all take advantage of daily????)

Hearing aids are expensive especially here in Guatemala...$900 for a pair.  How is a family with no father and little income supposed to pay for that?

God's plan is for the body of Christ to provide for one another.  So, a need was presented.  And, a member of the body stepped up.  Hannah.  She heard the need and God prompted her heart to provide. God is good.

That's good stuff people.  Really good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Be Careful What You Pray

The quiet time devotional was written by one of our staff members, Joseph Duckett, many weeks ago.  God had a plan for those thoughts that were penned to paper.

Just this morning I read Ephesians 1:1-3 and studied the material provided.  God used those words that Joseph had written to draw me to Himself.  He reminded me that patience, gentleness and humility come from Him alone...and that I do NOT possess them.  So I prayed that God would give me a heart like His... a compassion for His people.  Always be careful what you pray....'cause those thoughts originate with God and that means He has a plan for using the prayers He gives you anyway that become your prayers...clear enough?

After lunch I found myself standing in the mission church in Lantana waiting to share the Gospel with women in the community.  I was prayed up and prepared to share the Word.  But, then the pastor asked me to go to a home in the area for a special home visit.  I was confused.  "God, I'm about to share the Gospel in its entirety to all of these women...why are You sending me elsewhere?"  Why do I EVER doubt His sovereignty?????

Megan, Patty and I made our way through the community with Pastor Juan to the home of a mom and her girls.  You see, we had met this young lady back in November when she came to the medical clinic in Sacjavilla.  A fourteen year old with unexplained stomach pains.  Please stop reading now if you are under the age of 18 or do not have the stomach for the ways of the enemy.

An ultrasound revealed a baby.  Conflict.  She had not been with anyone.  Surely this wasn't another immaculate conception?  Clearly NOT!  Talk to the local pastor.  Talk to our pastor (Morales).  Talk to the translator (and my adopted sister, Patty).  Walk away.  Come back.  Talk some more.  Truth revealed.  Attacked and violated by father.  Mother knew.

Whew...I am still in tears over all of it and have a very difficult time articulating this situation adequately.  Trust's more than I can bear.  Dad left.  Mom left to raise three girls (14, 11 and 3).  Teenage daughter trusts in God's sovereignty and wants to keep the baby who is due in May.

Mom makes 15 Qs a day by washing and ironing clothes.  That's LESS than $2 a day.  Her family is pressuring her to give the baby away because it will be too hard to love it.  Um, "God, WHY DID YOU BRING US HERE?"

To have a heart like mine.

I can NOT do this.

I can.

What am I suppose to say?

Read my Word.

And so we dive into His Word and share from Ephesians and Psalms and Romans and James.  He gives us His great Word to share, and it is GOOD.  It is ENOUGH.  I just get to be a mouthpiece for the great I AM, and He does the work.

I am grateful for a Father who loves us in spite of who we are.  He is more than enough, and I have no more words.  Praise His Holy Name!

Monday, March 4, 2013

How Important is a Short-term Mission Team? Part 4

In an effort to continue this discussion of short-term mission teams here is discussion number four!  I have seen over the past several years such a decline in focus on short-term mission experiences, that the topic seems to come up everywhere I go.  I guess the key word there is "I" as I bring it up.  My desire in writing these posts is to stir the thoughts and ideas about why we need short-term mission experiences to help fuel passion to go and experience  cross-cultural short-term missional experiences.

For a number of years now, we have been leading short-term mission trips with a passion for Gospel focused and Gospel driven ministry alongside local church partners who are actively involved in reaching their communities.  These years of walking with the churches and with individuals through this process of missional experience has taught us some valuable lessons.  My desire is to pass on some of what we have learned in these years of ministry and mission in order to motivate the body to get involved.

The primary place we find our motivation is the Gospel itself!  One of the major issues we face in the "church world" we all live in today is the concept of false conversion.  The simplicity of a sinner's prayer in the past has led to many false converts because the response to God's offer of grace has been the primary issue discussed.  The issue really is, no understanding of the Gospel is complete without a clear picture of our sin and separation from God due to our sinful state.  No understanding of this can come to the mind and heart of anyone without a clear understanding of the Law of God given to expose our sin.

Again today, reading one of my favorite authors, Ray Comfort, I was reminded that the reason we discuss the law in our homes is to help our children gain a clear understanding of the need we all have for a savior!  Without first understanding my own need, I can never really understand how desperate I am for a Savior to redeem me from this fallen world I am doomed to follow!  I am under the wrath of Almighty God and have no hope until my heart is convicted of my sin debt that only a perfect Savior can redeem!  This reality in my own life must become the motivation to GO!

Short-term mission teams are critical to the spread of the Gospel because it is through these teams that Gospel focused and Gospel driven work is accomplished within the local communities where the church has been planted.  The drive of the short-term team is to help the local church carry the Gospel into its community with boldness and passion.  We often need the local church to stir our hearts with compassion for the lost around them in order to see the lost around us!  You see it is through the willingness I experience on the field to assist in the sharing and showing of the Gospel message that I gain an understanding of the need in my own community to share and show the Gospel.  It is often times on the field in the midst of a cross-cultural experience where the Gospel is being shared that the Lord speaks to you and to me about our willingness to speak the Gospel in our own community without any language or cultural barriers.  It is in walking alongside the local church in another context that I gain insight into the working of the Holy Spirit in this great transformational work of conviction and conversion.

The short-term mission team offers the local church an opportunity to spread more seed into more places as we walk into the fields that are white unto harvest with them.  At the same time the short-term missional experience stirs within the heart of the team a passion and desire to reach their own community back home, where they have been planted and need to grow.  See...this whole thing is designed to work together in unison as the Spirit moves in our lives as the body and knits us together as one Bride fit for her groom!

So, the bottom line here is the time we spend preparing our hearts and minds with the understanding of the whole truth of God's Word (Law and Grace), is time invested in Kingdom work that develops within us a compassionate heart for the lost and a passionate drive to see redemption come to those who are without a Savior!  This two-fold purpose of short-term teams will strengthen the body in both the cross-cultural context we serve short-term and the local home community in which we live.  Our goals must be to BE the church not to simply talk about it or even act like it...BE the church and reflect His glory to everyone we cross paths with along this journey of faith.

In His Grip,

Monday, February 18, 2013

How Important is a Short-term Mission Team? Part 3

As I began thinking through all that the Lord has been teaching me about short-term teams a few weeks ago, I had no idea He would have me blog this over the course of several weeks.  I am in the middle of nearly six weeks of reflection and writing about short-term mission teams.  The next few weeks will be focusing on aspects of the the team and short-term trips that are critical to mutually beneficial partnerships.

This week the thoughts are leaning in on the team itself.  Often times the group of people who come together for a short-term trip are not all on the same page when it comes to missions.  The range of perspectives is overwhelming.  The thoughts of many as to their role and why they are on the field vary with the same degree of diversity as body types and hair color.  Even to the level of some hair color is nowhere near the original color!

The diversity of the body of Christ is an exciting thing.  The differences in our personalities, abilities and preferences all can be used to strengthen the body.  We as the body of Christ have a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and His amazing work of grace in our lives.  The key to this diversity becoming a strength and not a liability is in team development.

Every group of people who gather for a specific task or event has active dynamics that drive the group.  The issue is how these dynamics drive the group toward or away from the Gospel centered task of sharing the Good News.    As the team develops it is crucial that an information gathering process takes place to equip the leadership in maximizing the team's strengths and weaknesses within the context of the trip.  This process will help determine the levels of understanding each team member has in regard to the purpose of the trip, the focus of the team and the impact the trip will have on their own lives.

Within the missional community most of the emphasis throughout the years has been on the work the team is going to do.  Again, as mentioned in a previous blog post, this is mostly due to the benevolent nature of most mission trips with the team bestowing upon the mission field blessings and resources.  I would propose that the focal point of a short-term mission team is as much, if not more focused on the team itself.

If we develop mutually beneficial partnerships on the field, then every time we journey to the field both the team and the partner church benefit.  The obvious benefit of the local church is the resources and opportunity for ministry events that come with the team's arrival.  However, the team itself is also a focal point of growth and benefit as the ministry of the field partner impacts and challenges the team.  One pastor shared prior to a trip to an international location, "My folks need to share the Gospel and see result...hear people pray and call on the Lord for salvation and forgiveness.  It is so hard here in the US because they hear no, or feel rejection so often when sharing the Gospel, my folks need to see God's hand at work in lives right in front of them."

The impact of a short-term mission experience can be life changing for the team.  The opportunity to walk along side people whose lives are tough and see the grace of God at work in their daily struggle of life can alter the future of one's life.  Spending time with people who survive off of less than two dollars a day and seem to have joy in their faith can teach some powerful lessons to a blessed mission team.  The journey along side a mission pastor making visits in a rural mountain community and watching him pastor people can stir within the heart of a team a desire to reach their neighbors with the Good News.

So much focus is on what we can do for others who are less fortunate, that we miss the plan of the Father to impact our lives with the work He is doing around the world.  The issue comes down to understanding that God is at work and has invited us to join Him in what He is already doing.  When we commit to step out of our normal daily context and see what God is doing around the world and in other contexts, the Holy Spirit is able to shake us loose from our agenda of life our way.   It is through the uncomfortable parts of a mission trip that the Lord often times shows us the areas of our own faith journey He is working on to change our perspective and focus.  He is using the circumstances around us, on a trip, to speak to our heart about the issues we are reading and praying about.

If short-term mission team leaders will focus their energies on assisting the team in experiencing a life-changing trip in their personal lives, the Lord will use the team to impact the nations through the partnership with the local church.  After all it is the local church the Lord has purposed to use in reaching their community with the Gospel and teaching them the Word.  If the short-term mission team will focus on the relationship it has with the local church and pour itself into the ministry of that local church, then the Lord will use both the team and the local church together to accomplish His work.

So, the challenge is to lead short-term mission teams in a way that promotes life-change in the team as a result of being on the field along side a local church family that is doing the work of reaching and teaching in their own community.  The team itself must be a primary focus of short-term mission team leaders  to maximize the long-term impact each trip has on the team members.  The hope is that each short-term experience develops a passion for the lost, a compassion for those in need and a commitment  to make disciples at every point along the way of this faith journey.  When the leaders of short-term teams focus on the team the team experiences growth over the the course of the trip in a way that brings about life-change and missional living.  These types of mission teams are vital to the long-term work of the Gospel around the world and in our own neighborhoods!

Monday, February 11, 2013

How Important is a Short-Term Team? Part 2

Over the course of the past fourteen months I have been on a journey toward a healthier lifestyle.  this journey has taught me many lessons.  As I ponder the future of the short-term mission team in our current Christian culture, I see many things the Father has been teaching me this past year.  As in the last post, I believe the short-term mission team is critical to the future of evangelism and discipleship among the nations.

In Mark 6 and Matthew 10 we read of Jesus sending out the twelve.  These twelve men represent a short-term experience that we all can learn from.  The primary objective of the twelve being sent out was the communication of the Gospel message concerning repentance.  It is clear that the message they were to share was about repenting of sin and the Kingdom of God being present to be dealt with by each person they met.

So many times the short-term mission team is built around a good work.  There are so many things that need to be done around the world to care for the needy.  Many of us have been a part of a team leading a VBS or a children's ministry program.  Some of us have been a part of a construction project to improve the living conditions of families in need.  Some have been with medical mission teams and orphan care teams.  Some have led Bible studies and some have taught life skills.  All of the teams I have been a part of have done good work.  All of the work was needed and helped improve life in some way for the people we were ministering to.  Most of the work being done is extremely important and needs to be done my the Body as we serve around the world.

However, as I have read more of His Word and listened more to His heart I have come to realize the value of a short-term mission team with only one primary focus...GOSPEL!  All of the things we do on the field are good.  All of the needs on the field need to be met.  All of the desires we have to help and improve the lives of those we are serving are good.  Yet, the vital element to our passion must be the Gospel message that has been shared since these first twelve men were sent out by Jesus!  We must lead short-term mission teams to make sharing the Gospel the most important element of every short-term missional experience.

One of the greatest barriers to the Gospel presentation being primary in every effort has come from the absence of one critical question in our partnerships on the field.  "How can we help you reach your community?"  This question must become a primary element to our develop of mutually beneficial partnerships.  Our heart's desire must be to join our brothers and sisters on the mission field in reaching their community with the hope of the Gospel.

For far too many years we, as the US church, have been the benevolent giver of all good things to the poor struggling third world church family.  As a result we have assisted in the development of a dependent relationship that is based on our resources and generosity with our money.  This has allowed a response from the field to always be a "yes" response to anything we ask of the mission partner in order to keep receiving the support, money and resources.  Often times this "yes" comes with a price after the team leaves!

The long-term ramifications of this have become detrimental to the mission field.  The dependent relationship is limiting, restrictive and eventually leads to no passion and no progress.  Without a clear commitment to the Gospel remaining primary in every aspect of the missional partnership, the relationship becomes a business agreement.  Eventually the bottom line will not allow the relationship to continue.  Only the Holy Spirit powered, Gospel driven partnership will remain through the persecution and trials that will come.

So, as we focus on the short-term mission team and its vital role in the reaching of the world, let us not lose sight of the primary commitment and motivation for going to the nations!  The whole truth of the Gospel is the primary focus of a short-term team.  As the mission team shares the Gospel, along side the local church, the opportunity to show the Gospel will present itself to the local church and they will seek assistance in meeting the needs of their community in order to share the Gospel more openly and with more passion.  This is where the partnership finds depth, strength and longevity.

As in the Gospel accounts of the twelve being sent out, today our short-term mission teams must be sent out with a clear, concise and compelling message of the Gospel that will transform lives and grow the Kingdom.  When we see the Gospel settle on the hearts of men and women of peace, the church takes root in a community through a single household.  It is at this point that we see the excitement of the church growing and the Gospel advancing.  This is the point that the short-term mission team can be most effective in assisting the planting of the Gospel where the church does not exist.  Seeing God at work around the globe is motivating us to go and join Him at reaching the world and teaching the Word!

In His Grip,

Monday, February 4, 2013

How Important is a Short-term Team?

We are navigating the waters of missional efforts in a day when the emphasis is not on the short-term team as much as it has been in the past.  More and more of the focus of churches, mission agencies and organizations is on mid-term and long-term efforts to difficult, unreached areas of the world.  The Father's heart is for all people and these areas of tough ministry are in much need of long-term commitment by Christ-followers to carry the Gospel message with passion and patience.

The short-term team is vital to the long-term commitment as it is the foundation of a life called to serving the Kingdom and showing the Gospel.  Over the course of nearly twenty-seven years of ministry I have maintained a commitment to short-term mission trip experiences as the building blocks of a missional life.  It was through a short-term trip that I was exposed to the needs of migrate workers in North Carolina and Native Americans in southern Arizona.  It was through these week long experiences that God began to develop an awareness in my heart of the difficulty many face around the globe in daily life.  Through watching my parents and other mission leaders model serving and sharing the Gospel on the short-term field God birthed a passion for the lost in my heart that is still burning hot today.

At the core of the short-term experience is an opportunity to gain first hand knowledge and on the field training for evangelism and discipleship.  It is from these basic building blocks that the Lord developed the passion of One Way Ministries, Reach the World and Teach the Word!

Reaching the world is a task that is God-sized.  Only through a clear understanding of our role in God's work of reaching the world with the truth of the Gospel, can we then join Him in His work by sharing the Gospel message and showing Gospel in serving others.  Henry Blackaby developed a clear view of how we fit into God's plan of revealing Himself to the world through his book and study Experiencing God.  This resource has helped me put feet and hands to the truths we learn in the Word.  We are all called to reach the world.  Every one of us who call ourselves a Christ-follower has been commanded to share and show the whole truth of the Gospel.

On the short-term mission trip we are given the opportunity to see the Gospel at work in the daily lives of the local church and the Christ-followers we serve alongside.  This short experience is used by the Lord to challenge us and stir our hearts for those around us on the field.  The importance of the short-term team experience is to open our minds and hearts up to the needs we see all around us and the work that God is already doing to meet those needs.  It is when we come home from a cross-cultural experience that the real work begins in our own backyard.

The short-term mission experience is a building block for a world view that is God-like.  God sees the world much differently than you and I.  His perpsective of people and cultures and cities and countries is very different than our perspective.  The short-term experience helps us open our eyes and our heart to the global view that God has of the people around us.  When we begin to look at the needs of those on the field as needs we can do something about, God begins to draw our attention back home.  The goal is to help us learn while on the field how much more we can do right at home to reach the world!

Imagine if every local body of believers were to take the call to reach their world right around their community serious and focus everything they have on their local community with passion and patience!  How much of the world could we reach if we all focused at the same time on each of our communities?

How important is a short-term mission team?  I believe the short-term team is vital to reaching the world and teaching His Word to every disciple.  Without the short-term team experience, we will not see young people shift their world view to a Biblical world view and hear God's voice as He calls them to give their lives in service to the King!  Without the short-term team we will see a drop in college students taking their summers and occasional semesters to give their lives in another context for the sake of the Gospel.  Without the short-term team we will not see young adults abandoning the dream of a big house and nice cars and comfortable lives for the challenge of a crucified life utilizing their talents and skills in areas where people have never heard the Gospel.  Without the short-term team we will see families remain inwardly focused and never see the impact of a Christ honoring family on a community without a model of a family to show the Gospel while serving the Body of Christ.

I think the realities of a missional approach to reaching the world without utilizing short-term teams to introduce, educate, challenge and train individuals, small groups and families for long-term global impact are incredibly devastating to the spread of the Gospel.  So, will you allow the Spirit of God to stir in your heart as you search for the opportunities He has placed before you to join a short-term mission trip this year and experience His life-changing impact in another context that will drive you back home with passion and patience?  Will you consider who you will journey along side this year to experience the mission field in another context and out your back door?  Will you seek to reach the world and teach His Word this year with at least 2% of your year?  Will you trust His heart and allow His hand to guide you into the field that is so white and ready for harvest?  Will you go and make disciples?

In His Grip.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beyond Our Ability

Several years ago the Lord birthed a vision for ministry in my heart that has been slowly coming to a reality.  The challenge has been to remain faithful to the vision in the midst of slow development of the actual hands on areas of the vision.  Yesterday, I had a great meeting with a friend in ministry that reminded me of some key points of this faith journey.  I thought I would share some of these thoughts from the journey.
  1. When God calls you to a life of ministry, He calls you to a lifelong journey that never stops growing and changing in its shape and appearance.
  2. When given the opportunity to impact people's lives with the hope of the Gospel, life never lacks joy in the midst of the daily tasks of life.
  3. The needs around the world are directly in proportion to the blessings He pours out on the Body!
  4. His heart always is trustworthy even when His hand is unseen!
  5. The future is always full of more hope than the desperation we see in front of our eyes.  
  6. The Father always knows what you need right when you need it!
  7. This journey is where I am to focus because my destination is secure!
  8. I have been re-created to walk this journey in community with others, no solo hikers.
  9. The Father uses other members of the body to help us hear His voice, listen to those He has placed around you for that Word you need.
  10. When God shows you what He is about to do that is His invitation to you to get involved in His    work. (from Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God)
There are days in our journey when the road seems too long and too tough.  The way we have chosen seems to be more than we can handle.  The journey seems to be much harder than we think we can endure.  If you find yourself in that spot, as I have on occasion, do not loose heart!  Sit for a moment and reflect on the amazing grace that has transformed your entire world.  Think for a while on the incredible blessings He has poured out on your life.  Ponder the length and width and depth and height of His love for you.  Seek Him in the midst of the struggle and see beyond your own ability to endure the day and press on!  He is able to do so much more than we can even measure in our lives...let us rejoice in the victory won on the cross and let us walk with confidence in His ability to finish what He started in our hearts!  

In His Grip,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Through Him All Might Believe!

In the first chapter of John's Gospel we read of a man sent from God to prepare the hearts of men for the coming of Jesus.  6"There came a man sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe." John 1:6  John was sent to be a witness of the Light that was coming and to prepare hearts for the future.

We all think highly of this man named John.  We all have a great respect for the man even if we do not fully understand his ways.  He was a bit odd and out of the norm with his behavior and appearance.  His message was a very unique message.  His words were very simple and clear.  He was very much straight forward and to the point.  He did not sugar coat the message of shy away from speaking the truth.  He boldly proclaimed the whole truth of the message God had given him.

As I ponder the reality of this one verse of scripture, I catch a very important concept.  Through one witness, the Bible says, all men might believe!  I want to be a faithful steward of all that God has given to me.  I want to obey His words of instruction and learn to be a fully devoted follower of the Christ.  I want to be a faithful witness that helps every person I come in contact with believe!

God has a plan for each of our lives.  He knows who He will bring across our path and who will need to hear a word of truth from us.  God is actively orchestrating every step of our journey.  And at this point you are all with me...right?

God is also orchestrating every encounter I have each day for the glory of His name.  Every time my life touches another life on this planet it is for the glory of God.  If I spend time with other believers, He is glorified when our conversations are about His goodness and His ways and His discipline in our lives.  If I encounter one who does not know Him personally, He is glorified when I speak to that person boldly and compassionately the whole truth of God's Word!

Today, I would challenge you to consider how you can make decisions about your day, your week, your month and your year, that will allow God to bring many people across your path who need to believe in Him.  Are you planning your days in such a way as to impact those around you with the hope of the Gospel in every occasion of life?  Are you seeking to put yourself in situations where God can use you a that witness for His glory?  Will you be a witness through whom all who cross your path might believe?  

John was that kind of witness.  John's life was not very long and his ministry years were very short.  Potentially, his ministry was the shortest ministry of all the prophetic men in all of scripture.  Yet, Jesus said that of all the people born of a woman, there is no one greater than John!  This is the crowd God has allowed us to be named with!  The Father has chosen you to be a witness through whom many people will believe.  Now let us be about our Father's business and boldly share the message of repentance and hope to every one we can!  Come on let us reach the world and teach His Word together!

In His Grip,

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Mexico

As we begin the 2013 year I wanted to share some big picture ideas with you.  My desire is to help those of you reading these posts get a big picture concept of how you can be involved in the efforts to walk along side a ministry partner and help accomplish ministry goals together.

Tohatchi Baptist Church is about 30 minutes north of Gallup, NM on the Navajo Nation.  Pastor Aaron Jim is a Navajo native of Tohatchi pastoring and ministering among his own people for the sake of the Gospel.  The church has an older building that houses the sanctuary, classrooms, kitchen and bathrooms.  There is a barn for storage along with a storage shed (built summer 2012).  In addition they have a bunkhouse, a bath house and food pantry.  The church is in need of a few more bunk houses and a renovation of the barn.  A primary ministry is to the children and adults who cannot come to church if they are not picked up by the church vans.  The challenge of drivers and fuel is always present with Aaron bearing that responsibility often times himself.

Some of the ministry opportunities for teams are construction projects for community members like roof repairs, steps and ramps and renovations of rooms for more effective housing.  In addition we have helped the church with VBS in their own community as well as a community just north of the church with a family from the church.  There is also a boarding school across the highway from the church where young teens are in need of some outreach, fun and some authentic love through Gospel presentation, skits, crafts, songs and games.

There is much need among the Navajo for truth to be shown as much as it is shared.  As you pray for Pastor Aaron and the Tohatchi faith family, pray for the Lord to send teams who will commit to multiple years of work and develop some long-term relationships that will show the Gospel every time the Gospel is shared.  Consider how the Lord may use you this year to impact a Native American people group in need of the Truth!  Contact us for more information on trips, opportunities for ministry projects and a list of items you and your church can collect for the Navajo people.

2013 can be the year you join us for an exciting week of ministry among the largest Native American people group in the country.  This year you can walk with others as we share the love of Christ and show the Gospel in the high desert of New Mexico.  Come on let us reach the world and teach His Word together!

In His Grip,

Monday, January 7, 2013


The early morning hours before daybreak are being filled with many more people on their way to work out and get fit.  The typical new year's resolution is in full swing today as many people are getting into their new routine for the year.  This morning as I was slinging some weights and grunting in pain with some new friends at Glory To God Crossfit in Alabaster, I began to consider the whole concept.

This past year has been quite the journey for us as a family and we have seen amazing results in our obedience to the Lord with our health.  I personally have seen some numbers on the scale I have not seen since before Sheryl and I were married.  This has throughout the year caused me to think about my early days in college and ministry formation and how that is being played out in my life today.

I had some awesome opportunities early in my ministry career, if we can call it a career, to be taught by some great men of God.  I realize now that I had no idea how important some of those lectures and classes would be in the formation of a Biblical world view and solid ministry foundation.  The days I was stretched beyond belief by Dr. Edwards in Greek class or the pushing of the walls in my box by Dr. Joines.  The deep pondering that followed Dr. Bowden's philosophy class or his challenge in a discussion on world religions and how to know what I believed.  The amazing insight that came from listening to Dr. Whirley share from his years of experience on the mission field in Africa opened my eyes and heart up to a world I had never known.  Over and over the training came day after day class after class.

As if that was not enough, the Lord then allowed me many years of ministry work along side men who knew the Lord and loved people!  I also had the privilege of walking the road with some great men of God in the business world at the Chick-fil-A corporate office.  Over and over the Lord placed me around men and women who were pouring into me lessons of this faith journey that were forming a ministry outlook that is alive and active.  Again the Lord added to my formation by allowing me to attend seminary and learn from men who challenged me in every way possible with my knowledge and understanding of the Word.

All of this to bring me to this morning's workout and the light bulb in my mind!

                                            How fit am I really for the cross this year?  
This is a serious question we all should consider.  What am I doing to be fit to carry the cross?  How is my life being trained and challenged daily to improve my stamina and endurance to carry the cross at home and around the world?  Is my daily life an example for my children to follow and find the cross and His wisdom that comes in the joy of knowing His sufferings?  Can those who come behind me call me faithful?  Will there be an impact from the cross on my daily conversation, behavior and responses?

I am doing all that I can to be physically fit to carry the cross literally into the world the Father is sending me.  Am I dong all I can to be fit spiritually and in obedience to the whole truth of His Word to carry the cross?  This year I want to do all I can to carry the cross into every situation I find myself.  I want to be CROSS Fit for His glory and to make His ways known and His salvation known!  How about you?  Will you get fit this year to carry the cross with me?  Come on, let us take up our cross and carry it in such a way we can reach the world and teach the Word!