Daily bread

Have you ever asked God for something very specific. Maybe you really sincerely, earnestly, fervently prayed in a way you thought was according to His will, and yet He still didn’t give you what you asked for? A wise man once said something like this: Perhaps the problem is not that God is not answering, but that we are not asking. For instance: When was the last time you actually prayed for God to give you food to eat? Nearly all of us give thanks before a meal, but can you remember a time when you literally had no money and no food, and you actually had to ask God to give you something to eat?Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 11.30.33 AMLast week in our men’s Bible study, one father shared how he arrived home after a trip with not a single dollar. His daughter said “Daddy, I am hungry” He had no alternative but to say “I am hungry too.” They prayed together about it as a family, and decided to go to the bank and see if there were perhaps a bit of money there, but alas, it was as empty as his wallet. They went back to their rented room with hunger and a bit of embarrassment. They are the only Christians in the small building, and they didn’t want to admit to anyone else or let anyone else see that God had not provided. The man began to shed tears as he recounted what happened next: As they continued to pray, the office where he was he was scheduled to work the next week called and told him they were going to spontaneously and unexpectedly give him a 50% advance on his pay.

Yesterday another new Christian, Juan (not his real name) shared with me that they were recently entirely without food. Juan had no money to buy anything, let alone to pay for a taxi to come to church, but they borrowed a motorcycle and came anyway. After the service they were praying about what to do when Juan got a call. He was told “The airport cargo office is open today for a large, special shipment, (which is not normal on a Sunday) but only for 15 more minutes, and you have a box waiting there.” He raced there only for the cargo handler to ask for a copy of his ID (very typical here in Peru). Juan did not even have the 6 cents to make a photo copy, so he told the man that he could not go make a copy, but that he really needed the box because it contained food, and his family was hungry. Amazingly, God worked, and the box was released to them. A few hours later Juan received an unexpected gift of about $17 in His bank account.

How have you seen God answer your prayers recently?

 

 

OH RATS!

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Loren had been telling me for some time that there was a strange smell emanating from the kitchen. At first, she wasn’t sure where it was coming from, but then she became certain that it was coming from the stove. I meant to get to it, I really did, but there just wasn’t time. Then, I had to leave for a trip into the inner jungle, and when I got back I was pretty sick.

It was then, that the rat reared it’s ugly head…literally. Loren was at the stove cooking that morning when the rat apparently wanted to get a look at my wife’s beautiful face…or maybe the food smelled good, who knows? Anyway, it popped up over the back of the stove to see what was going on, and my wife, like any good, prepared, experienced jungle veteran missionary, promptly screamed as loud as she could. I still being sick, heard the scream from the bedroom, and thought we had been attacked by aliens, which was only mostly true. Have you ever seen a gigantic rat peering at you in close quarters?

Since I was still in bed Loren asked our Peruvian co-worker if he would have a look at the problem. He was convinced that the problem was too tough, that he couldn’t take apart our oven, and that we really needed “a professional.” Loren became that professional when she grabbed a screw-driver and went to work. The fellow reluctantly grabbed some tools and half-heartedly tried his hand at the disassembly job. Loren convinced another more “hands-on” type Peruvian to come over and help us. However, eventually I had to get out of bed, feverish and unhappy to take care of the problem. We learned that there was not a rat in the stove…There was a family of rats in the stove. Perhaps some kind-hearted soul would have voted to preserve the lives of the cute little babies. They were so tiny and harmless, right? That, I did not do.

I learned several lessons through all of this that apply to the sin in our life as well.

1. Sin stinks

2. The stench only grows and gets worse

3. Sometimes the root of sin is unclear at the beginning

4. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away

5. You cannot have someone else clean it up for you

6. Sin will affect other people

7. It takes hard work to get sin out

8. It’s difficult to clean up after sin

9. Sometimes sin doesn’t look so bad when you are face to face

10. Sin brings pain

11. A true clean-up must be thorough

12. dealing with your sin is not a one-time action

I shared this lesson several times at different youth events during furlough. I pray that God would allow it to be a challenge to you as well.

 

The new “24”

It was 11am, Thursday, March 26th, 2015, and the countdown was on. Unlike the popular TV show, this was reality, and actually included some sleep, which normal days are supposed to include. This hour included rapid searching and packing of all the crucial elements for an overnight tribal trip, as well as a few extras like: cookies. Missionaries get snack-hungry too, you know.

We had a rapid lunch with the Blackburn and Nagao missionary families, and then hit the road. We arrived in the river town of Laberinto. We spent a few minutes20150326_143006 searching for a decent place to leave the Blackburn’s nice vehicle, and eventually settled on the police station.
We helped their outlook with some ice-cold Inka Kola. If you have never tried it, you should: it might help your outlook too!

A brief walk took us down to the waterfront, where we began to search for a launch to take us up-river.

20150327_060718We were very thankful to find a rather large boat which was about ready to leave. We paid about $3.25 each for our 2 hour boat ride up river. There may have been a little bit of napping on board: missionaries get tired too, you know. =)

 

 

 

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It was a real thrill to make a few visits with some of the Harakmbut IMG_6547tribal people upon our arrival, and then we were graciously given the key to our deluxe accommodations. Complete with Ocelot skin, baby back pack,

a table, chairs, a solid floor, and leak-proof roof!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the oldest men in the tribe, and also one of the strongest spiritually is named Cornelio. He only has one eye, but He sees what is most important very well. He prays many hours per day.

 

 

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Manuel, pictured here, is one of the older men in the tribe. He is hungry for more spiritual knowledge, and told me on a trip last year “I want to know the Bible so that I can teach it to my people in our language”!

IMG_6564 About 40 minutes before we were scheduled to start, the people starting coming by asking if we were ready. What a thrill! Lord blessed with a great service that night. There were close to thirty people.

IMG_6561 All of us were so thankful for our tiny rechargeable projector, provided by some friends, that allowed us to show them the words, and learn the songs much more quickly!

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Although we may not have slept in luxury and were a bit sore, the morning service was a huge blessing. Seeing the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and the way He has been preparing them was a tremendous blessing. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the trip was the moment when the church-leader, who has had almost no Biblical training asked if we would be able to help train him to study and teach the Bible. Both Joel and his father, Manuel, (mentioned above and pictured at right) are very hungry to learn!

As we rushed to pack up our tents and prepare to go I told the men that we should pray for a boat in order to get back in time for some appointments. As we walked out the door and up the trail to the beach there was already a boat in sight! Within just a minute we were aboard, and on our way back to town! The Lord was so gracious to give us a chance to talk about him even on the boat! 20150327_101121

What a heartbreaker to see the mountains of alcoholDSCN3348

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that enslaves so many people in the jungle, but what

a privilege to preach the Christ who sets us free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking forward to the weekend?

Many of us look forward to the weekend to have a bit of time off, complete a project, or go on an epic (if brief) adventure. Well do I remember the lake days, camping trips, 4×4 IMG_20150306_084114outings, beach excursions, and campfires with friends and family. This past weekend was of an excitingly different nature, however. We awoke early Friday morning to prepare a small bag of gear, and hit the road. The truck has been overheating regularly, so that was IMG_20150306_072113no small concern, and a definite matter of prayer. Dan Nagao, a new missionary, and I were headed up to visit one of the nearby tribes again. We prayed before leaving, but realized that we needed to pray some more about getting some boat transportation once we arrived at the port, and there was apparently no one heading up the “Piedras” river. While waiting for over an hour we took the opportunity to share the gospel with several men who were preparing to go, and gave tracts to the rest.IMG_20150306_072118 Finally we spotted someone who was willing to take us upriver, and we were quite thankful to get in the boat and begin moving in the tropical under the cloudy skies. After about 45 minutes the motor suddenly quit and we began drifting downstream. If you have never ridden in a peke-peke without a muffler, you may have a hard time appreciating the sudden quiet that flooded over us like a swollen river. IMG_20150306_091424The driver began pulling the starter rope, but soon gave up, informing us that the head gasket had blown. We were only about 5 minutes from what we thought our destination was that morning, but God had a different spot for us. We took advantage of the silence to witness to the owner, named Guier, and we were later able to give him a ride back into town. I’m sure that he was upset about his motor, but he seemed to take it calmly and we know that God’s ways are always better than ours. We were able to witness to him for the entire ride back into town.

IMG_20150306_213226In the evening we had the normal men’s Bible study. To be honest, the numbers have been quite low, but we had 11 with us for our study through Acts 7, and enjoyed some great conversation. Saturday I began an evangelistic Bible study with a young tribal man named Hardin who was orphaned at 14 years old. He seems very interested, and I am really looking forward to see what God will do.

At 5pm we began our weekly youth meeting, and by the end of the meeting we had 16youth there. I showed them the movie 180 which is an amazingly powerful short film about abortion and eternal life by Ray Comfort. If you have not seen it, I would strongly encourage you to do so. Several of the youth asked questions and commented that they would be thinking about these important topics

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The ladies have their meeting every Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Loren started a two-month conference this week for the first time. There were 18 ladies present, and we praise the Lord for several first time visitors.

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Sunday morning we had to add a row of chairs, and then another, and then another: we 11026592_938195249558190_2129461425_nwere thrilled to have the problem of lack of space! This was probably our highest attendance on a non-holiday, as we were approaching 100 people total. We invited our friends, the SebastianIMG_20150308_141945 family, over for lunch, and had a great time catching up and learning a few new Yine words.

While I realize that having more people or a large crowd does not prove God’s blessing, it was an encouragement to us, as we have been asking God for growth both in maturity and numerically. May all the glory go to God as He continues to build His church.

1-800-HELP

I don’t know about you, but I hate calling a help line and being told that I need to wait. I have several times spent more than an hour on hold only to finally get cut-off. Perhaps you and I are less likely to make the call for help because of our bad experiences in the past.

There is one help line though, that is always answered, never puts you on hold, and even allows you to talk to someone who actually has the power to help you fix the problem! You and I know a lot about prayer, can probably quote verses on prayer, and maybe have even taught on prayer. But if you are like me you don’t make a practice of talking with God as He intends.

How do we know that He actually wants us to approach him Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 11.03.15 AMrepeatedly and urgently about our needs? He tells us so! Matthew 7:7-11 is very clear about God’s desire, and His promises!

I heard several years ago that ministers on average spend only a few minutes a day in prayer, and studies seem to back that up. It would seem to be true among many missionaries as well.

You may not be able to decipher the writing in this small picture,IMG_20150107_064152 but those are actually dates: hundreds and hundreds of dates grouped on 3 x 5 cards. Perhaps they seem unimportant or meaningless, but let me assure you that for us, there is almost nothing more valuable than what these little papers stand for. These are the records of the prayers of a faithful Christian who has prayed for us literally almost every day since we met during our time of deputation. This dear friend continues to pray for us, and continues to add, little-by-little to her collection of cards. When we stayed with them during our recent furlough we were given this beautiful collection: like bowls full of incense offered before the Lord, more valuable than an alabaster box of ointment, though costly it was. Thank you friend, and thank you to all of our friends who are pleading for us with the Lord.

What are you spending quantities of time on every day? What is distracting you from the prayer God desires?

Turbulent waters and uncertain ground

For those who may not have seen our Facebook posts or Loren’s IMG_20150208_064706blog : We have had a very interesting week. The nearby storm drain which takes rain water from the entire northern section of our town and dumps it into the river was overwhelmed by the amount of water and collapsed a few days ago.

IMG_20150218_113312At first it simply appeared that the area nearest the river would fall away, therefore the squatters in that area (over 100 yards from our property) began evacuating. I went to help them carry their items out to a municipal truck that came, and we felt that was going to be the end of the story.

That, however, was IMG_20150219_153628not the case. The next day we awoke to find that the hole was penetrating further towards us rather than widening, as it looked like it would do.

The following day the growing canyon continued the threatening advance closer and closer to our property. Those who had been given emergency shelter in government tents once again had to move, as they were in danger of falling once again.

IMG_20150221_060018It was at that time that we began to send out updates and ask for prayer. We had already been praying, but we realized that we needed more people interceding for us.

Our neighborhood contacted the city municipality which promised to send out a topographer and engineer to see about a different drainage system. In order for them to see lay of the land, we had to hack down some of the tall grass, so they called a work-day Sunday morning from 6-7am. My friend Scott Blackburn came out with his brush cutter and was a big help. We are still waiting to see what they say. IMG_20150221_065253

We can gratefully say that we have had very little rain since everyone began praying. It rained a few minutes last night, and it has rained for less than an hour today, but we still have about a month left in rainy season. However, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.” (James 4:17)

Moving into this house we have been overwhelmingly graced, and are grateful. We view God’s kindness to us around us every day as we lie down, rise up, stand, and prepare to go. But God’s kindness to us has been evident, and perhaps even greater, in another way. He has put within us the definite sense that it is all temporary, and it is His. He has worked in us in order that we could say “Lord, if you want, we will gladly sell it and give the IMG_20150221_070009~2money to someone who needs it more.” Now it seems that instead it could all be taken from us, but we can joyfully say that we are casting our cares on Him, and He is certainly caring for us. (1 Peter 5:7)

Although it seems far preferable to sell a house and give the money to the poor rather than watching it fall into the river, the most important thing is to remember that it all belongs to God. If He wants to take it through a sale or a fall, that is up to Him. Daniel 4:35 tells us

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
    and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
    and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
    or say to him, “What have you done?”

No Power?

We arrived back in the jungle of Peru on Friday evening. It was so niceScreen Shot 2015-02-12 at 5.12.47 PM to be back, but of course, the muggy heat was here to greet us. We agreed that we would use our air conditioner for such a rare, special occasion as a return to the jungle, but alas, sometime during the night I awoke to find myself drenched in sweat. All of the windows were closed, of course, and the power had gone out, leaving us in bit of a sticky situation (pun very much intended).

Little did we realize that was the beginning of 3 days with no electricity. I’m ashamed to admit that we actually had been given money for our stolen generator, and I had delayed in purchasing one. You can surely imagine my chagrin. However as we were talking about the lack of power, my mind began considering how many of our activities were tied to electricity, and the option of running or charging electronic and mechanical devices. Although they are important, and certainly helpful for daily life, I came to remember that even those things we view as necessities are not really to be considered as such.

Our real, true necessity is that of Spiritual power. If we are not walking with the Lord, we truly have no power. Jesus told us “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bright forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Unfortunately we often view the Christian life like a cell phone which can be charged up and then run on it’s own for a time. It would be much more beneficial to think of the Christian life like a fan (which we really would have enjoyed last week). A typical fan does not give any benefit unless it is plugged in to a valid power source.

What about you: Are you living with no power, or are you connected to the one source of power that really matters?

 

2014 in review

Activities:

This year we hosted numerous teams, beginning the first week of January, nearly through the whole year. P1010301Some were with us for as long as three months, while others were with us for only a few days. We held numerous outreach events, such as evangelistic campaigns even including medical and aesthetic elements, holiday outreach, school evangelism, and several tribal trips.We, of course, continued the work of the ministry in the local church: teaching, preaching, and discipling. Perhaps one of the most exciting things last year was the opportunity to begin training one of our own tribal men for future full-time missions ministry.

Goals:
We view mission teams and visits as a long term strategic move, for though they obviously require a great investment of time and resources, they sometimes result in new co-laborers, and they often result in more prayer warriors.
We have many goals that are long-term, such as: more co-laborers, reaching those who have never heard, and having a mature church body.
Others are hopefully more short-term, such as: Beginning a Bible Institute, strengthening our mens’, ladies’, youth, and childrens’ ministries, reaching souls for Christ, baptizing new believers, and establishing and strengthening our ties with the tribal groups in the Peruvian jungle.

Progress toward specific goals:
This year we began our Bible institute during the second semester season. We had hoped to have a first semester class as well, but of course, we were not there. We also began coordinating another big medical campaign with ORH, which should take place in July in our town and nearby communities.
The ministries for each group have been strengthened, especially in that many of our lay people are now leading different aspects of the various ministries.
All praise be to God that many people made decisions to repent and follow Christ this year. Some of those people have now been baptized.a381
We praise the Lord for those whom have made a commitment to come work with us: specifically the Cross family. There are others who are currently considering God’s plan for them.
One of our co-workers, Daniel Nunez, has been lead begin a new outreach through his house, which has now become a series of Bible studies. Lord-willing this will be a full fledged church-plant in the future, and we rejoice for our small part in this endeavor!

Needs:
We continue to pray about a church property, a pastor, and a mature and committed church body. It looks as though a property could now be purchased for around $100,000. Our church has been able to save around $9,000, and we have almost $7000 in the land fund at BWM, meaning that we currently have roughly $16000 to put towards the purchase of a property or construction of a building.
We also need to purchase a newer truck. Although ours is only 13 years old, it is quite worn. We have been given $5000 towards a truck, and with our vehicle fund and the sale of the old truck we should be close to purchasing a newer model.

If you would like to help with the need for a church property, please contact our mission at 256-353-2221, or email: office@baptistworldmission.org