Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and the arrival of the New Year have all come and gone. It is fun having all of these celebrations close together, but it can also cause them go by in a blur. I hope you and your families were able to slow down and joyously celebrate these holidays according to your faith and preferences.
New Year’s Resolutions. No January article is complete without at least mentioning the dreaded (for some) New Year’s Resolutions. I recently did an internet search using the phrase “new years resolutions 2015” that resulted in 46,800,000 results. The first page of search results shows the usual resolution topics including better eating, getting more exercise, drinking less alcohol, and better management of finances, time, etc.
These are all worthy pursuits that many of us have had to make at some point in our lives. Perhaps some of us need to revisit these topics in 2015. Eating less and getting more exercise is certainly something I need to reintroduce into my life! As important as these most common resolutions can be to our overall well-being, I recently rediscovered something in the Bible that goes beyond the common New Year’s resolutions. Properly understanding and applying this rediscovered principle in our lives will do more than improve our looks; it will truly transform our lives.
In the letter to the Philippian church written by the Apostle Paul we find this:
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” (3:13)
Forgetting. Am I the only one who owns a past with things that I wish I could forget? I know I’m not. Even as I write this, certain memories are popping to the surface that I wish I didn’t have. By forgetting Paul isn’t speaking of some kind of mystical memory erasure that eliminates our memories of past bad choices and mistakes. In another letter Paul writes that in his past he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor against the church. Two sentences later he sums it up by describing himself as the foremost of sinners. In another account while on trial, Paul testified of imprisoning many who believed in Jesus, of forcing other believers to reject Jesus, and standing by and condoning the stoning of Stephen (see 1 Timothy 1, Acts 7, and Acts 26 for the full text). Paul obviously had full recollection of his past mistakes, and they were pretty serious.
Reaching. Paul had plenty that was worth forgetting but what did he have that was worth reaching for? Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, in both His death and His resurrection was worth reaching for. Paul knew that one day he would die, and that there was only one way for him to be resurrected, and that way was to know Jesus Christ. And not simply by knowing of the name of Jesus, or knowing some facts about Jesus. Paul had to personally know Jesus so well, that he would be willing to be conformed to His death, meaning that Paul was willing to die to himself and live for Christ, in order to obtain resurrection from the dead. Jesus is the only person in history who has risen from the dead and stayed alive forever. Jesus miraculously raised other people from the grave, but those people eventually returned to the grave. Jesus rose from the grave, made numerous appearances to hundreds of people over a period of about 40 days, and then ascended back into Heaven to sit at God’s right hand. Paul came to understand that this was worth reaching for.
Here is how Paul applied the forgetting and reaching principle in his life:
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)
In between the time that Paul was putting Christians in jail, or worse, and the time that he wrote all of the amazing letters that have been recorded for us in the New Testament, something significant happened that helped him understand how to forget the past and reach forward.
While on the way to Damascus to imprison more Christians Paul had an encounter with Jesus. In this encounter, Paul realized that Jesus was in fact the Lord, whom he had been fighting against. Paul realized that everything he thought he knew about God and religion was wrong. Paul had to admit that he was wrong by acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord and Savior. Paul then had to stop doing the things he now knew to be wrong, and start obeying Jesus. And this must take place in order for us to begin to be able to apply the principles of forgetting and reaching in our lives.
As soon as Paul met Jesus, he knew that there was something, or rather someone, worth reaching forward for. Paul learned that in order to reach forward to obtain something better he was going to have to leave the bad choices and mistakes previously made in the past.
This is not easy for anybody to do. There is nothing recorded in the Bible stating that Paul got a “do-over”. There is never any account of believers whom Paul had jailed being released just because Paul later realized he had made a mistake; and from a physical perspective, Stephen stayed dead. Paul lived with these consequences for the rest of his life but he did not stay stuck in his past. He pressed on for the goal of knowing Jesus more and more.
We must do the same. As soon as we accept that Jesus is the risen Lord and Savior, and that it is only by His death on the cross that we can be reconciled to God our sin is forgiven.
“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 5:7)
This is the good news, that through Jesus our sins are forgiven. The bad news is that nowhere in the Scriptures does it state that the consequences of our sins will be magically removed. Like Paul, there are consequences of the bad choices and mistakes we have made that we can’t undo. We don’t often get a “do-over” either. To borrow a golfing term, mulligans in real life are very few and far between.
So on the one hand, we have Jesus, who wants us to forget about our past and look forward to growing in our relationship with Him. On the other hand, we have a spiritual enemy, who would rather that we wallow around in guilt and self-pity, and spend all of our time remembering and reliving every mistake we ever made.
If we give in and follow the enemy’s path we become paralyzed in the past. If we follow Jesus’ path, we can forget and move forward in our knowledge of and relationship with Him. It sounds like an easy choice, and yet we often struggle to make the easy choice. We sometimes prefer the guilt, self-pity and loathing. And then we wonder why we are just spinning our wheels, kind of muddling our way through life. We wonder why we don’t experience any power or victory in our lives. If you are a true believer in Christ, you have the power to be more than a “muddler”.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also, and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)
“These things (all of chapters 14-16) I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Deep regrets from past mistakes are hard to leave behind; especially if the consequences are very near to you on a regular basis. But Jesus overcame the world. Not the world except for this or that. He overcame everything, and gave you as a believer, the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome your past. One last important thing, you have to give the Holy Spirit permission to unleash this power in your life. God loves you so much that He respects your right to make wrong choices. He loves you so much that He will not force you to do anything, even the right things.
As 2015 begins, rather than making resolutions, I would like to strongly encourage you to spend time alone with God. Ask Him to help you forget your past in the same way that Paul forgot his past, and then ask Him to reveal anew to you just how fantastic and amazing He is. Once you realize this, you won’t want to do anything else but forget and reach and press on, just like Paul.
(article written by Greg Hines, published in The Book Club Magazine, January 2015 issue)
So much has happened in La Campa this summer. Here are some of the highlights and ways you can join us in prayers and praises.
During one short-term mission trip this summer 41 more Lenca people became followers of Jesus as a result of the door to door evangelism and prayer walking that was done. Please pray for these new followers, and for Pastor Jose Maria to follow-up with them and help them grow in their new relationship with Jesus.
Construction on our missions home, which with a little furniture rearranging will also be used as a small group training center, has progressed very well during the summer. Finishing the walls is a two-step process and both processes have been complete so the walls are ready for a coat of primer. All of the wire has been pulled and the plumbing is completely roughed in. The concrete slab for the floors is in the process of being poured right now and the ceramic tile and grout is on site. Pastor Jorge is the pastor of a church in Caiquin as well as a woodworker-some of you reading this have met him before because we did medical clinics at his church in 2013. He is building all of the doors and windows for us right now. In the first picture below you see Eddie and Antonio (left, standing), these are the men who have done most of the wall finishing, please pray for them. Antonio is a strong believer who attends Pastor Emilio’s church with his family. Eddie’s family attends but he does not, at least not yet.
The next big milestones will be cabinets and counter tops, then setting all of the sinks, tub and toilets so we can connect water to the house. At the same time this is happening we will also get electricity connected. Our goal is to do all of this between Thanksgiving and Christmas. About this same time we’ll pour the driveway and hang the fans and light fixtures. All of that said it looks like it will be ready for us to move into as early as January 2015.
Over the summer the Lord blessed us with enough donations to go ahead and purchase our first pick up truck. It is exactly what we have prayed for; 4 wheel drive, diesel, double cab, manual 5 speed and slightly used. The people we bought it from put a new set of tires, a new battery, and a new timing belt on the truck for us right before we picked it up. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your generosity that made it possible for us to get this truck!!
In June Jean, Cathy, Karen, Kim, and Cesia were blessed to lead women’s ministry for four days in two different churches in the area. Typically there has been not a lot of women’s specific ministry available. Usually the ministry activities of the local churches are focused on the entire church or the children. Women are heavily involved in the children’s ministry but they rarely have time to gather as women to study the Bible. The Lord has opened up doors for us, more specifically for Jean, to help the women grow as followers of Christ. The women there are very eager to study the Bible together so Jean is very excited about this opportunity for ministry once we get there.
If you’ve read the By Faith post then you know what our biggest prayer request is right now.
We have family health issues that we are dealing with, particularly with Jean’s mom, so please pray for her and us as we work through all of the things that have to be worked through with an elderly parent with declining health.
We also have a lot to do as the transition time gets nearer and nearer. We don’t have a firm move date yet, meaning we haven’t bought the one-way ticket, but we are expecting to go sometime in January or February 2015. Many more decisions still have to be made, sorting through our “stuff” and deciding what to do with it, finishing the house and getting the “stuff” we’ll need for it are just some of the concerns we are facing.
Please pray for our residency paperwork to be completed. We turned everything in to the government the first week in July. Based on what our attorney has told us we are at the point that we should be hearing something, or getting our residency cards. So far neither has happened. We will have to pay the attorney his fees upon delivery of the residency cards so please pray for the Lord to provide the money we’ll need for this.
Please pray for healing for a pulled muscle in Greg’s back. As of this posting, the healing has progressed nicely but there is still a little ways to go before he will be back to 100%.
Please pray for more opportunities and partnerships with local churches. There are three new churches we are sharing with right now that we really hope will put teams together to come work with us next year, please pray for these churches.
We are praying about and considering different small business opportunities in La Campa to help us generate some of our ministry support. Please pray for wisdom for us to choose wisely, then for the Lord to bless our efforts.
We are most thankful to all of you who are praying for us. I know we all have busy schedules but I can’t tell you how encouraging it is just to get a quick phone call, email or text message that lets us know you are thinking about us and our ministry. It is the prayers of the believers that causes this ministry, or any other ministry for that matter, to bear fruit. Let’s continue to be diligent in our prayers for one another and watch what the Lord accomplishes through all of us.
The feature photo on the fall newsletter is Pastor Jose Maria, his wife Martha, and their youngest daughter. Pastor Jose Maria and Martha have 6 children, the youngest daughter (in this photo), and her younger brother (not home at the time), still live at home with them in Santa Teresa; the 4 older children live in and around San Pedro Sula with their families.They are a very kind, gentle, and sweet-spirited family. We visit with them every time we go to La Campa but we never tell them in advance that we are coming.
Like many of the Lenca people, they are a very hard working family and lead very simple lives. It has been a struggle for them to make ends meet. They are also extremely loving, friendly and hospitable. The phrase “give you the shirt off their back” is not just a phrase to them; hence the reason we never let them know when we are coming to see them. If we did, they would prepare the last of their food they had to eat for us. If you’ve never experienced that kind of hospitality before you have no idea just how humbling of an experience it really is.
Through the generosity of Frontline Missions supporters things are changing for this sweet family. In the smaller photo in the newsletter you see Pastor Jose Maria with a cow. This cow has been providing milk for this family that they could not previously afford to buy. They have also been selling the extra milk they can’t drink to other families in the area. About a year or so after they received this cow Frontline Missions was able to help them obtain a pregnant cow so now they are raising three cows. At the bottom of this post you will see a picture of some turkeys. It turns out that Martha is very skilled at raising turkeys. And again it was through the generosity of others that Frontline was able to purchase the first couple of turkeys to get her started. The turkeys are multiplying so they now have more protein in their diets than they’ve ever had before and they are starting to have extra turkeys to sell.
We met this pastor and his family about three years ago and have been blessed to assist them with starting two new churches so far. We also think Pastor Jose Maria and his small body of believers is our biggest discipleship opportunity once we get to Honduras. We have been encouraging Pastor Jose Maria to identify and train young men in his church so that they become prepared to pastor new churches. He is starting to really understand that this is the biblical model for church planting and missions. Churches should start churches and Lenca men along with their families should be leading these churches. Our role as American missionaries is simply to help them catch this vision, then encourage, guide, and support them as much as possible, or more importantly, as much as they want us to. Thank you for taking to time to read about this family. Please pray for them, for their animals, and for the ministry God has given both to them and us.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Putting aside all of the rest of the promises and assurances God gives us throughout the Bible and just focusing on these two short verses I find myself wondering why it is so hard to let go and exercise real faith. As we continue on our journey towards life and full time ministry in Honduras it is becoming more and more clear that either we have faith or we don’t. Either we have faith that the Lord is in control and He will guide and protect us or we don’t. Either we believe that the Lord will provide our needs or we don’t, and so on. There is no middle ground and it is a choice that we have to make time and time again.
The Apostle Peter found himself at a moment where he had this choice to make. He and the rest of the disciples were in a boat in the middle of a storm and they were very afraid. At a certain point they saw Jesus walking on the water towards them but they weren’t sure if it was really Him. Jesus told them to stop being afraid because He was there for them. Based on the account in Matthew there was still some question about who was walking on the water because Peter then said “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (Matthew 14:28) Fortunately for Peter it was the Lord so Peter made the choice to get out of the boat. At that moment he became the only person, other than Jesus, to successfully walk on water.
Without a doubt each of you reading this has had at least one moment in your lives when you realized you were riding in a boat, a boat that was secure, safe, and familiar. You may have even had the feeling that it was largely because of your control that the boat was safe and secure. And then you saw the Lord a little ways away, and He said to you, “Come” because He had something for you. If you wanted to see what He had for you, then you had to get out of the boat and go to Him. The safety and security of the boat were not bad or wrong, the Lord simply had something else prepared for you. It was your choice to get out of the boat to find out what He had for you. He didn’t force you, you had to choose.
The time is here for us to choose to get out of our boat. Our boat has been the safety and security of Jean’s regular paycheck. The time is here for us to prove that we believe that the God of the Bible will provide all of our needs instead of just saying the words. We wish we could report to you that we are completely bold and courageous about this, not scared at all, but that wouldn’t be exactly true. And yet we know that we have to take this step of faith. We not only have to believe Philippians 4:19 and Hebrews 11:6 but we also have to put them into practice, by our faith. Would you please pray for our strength and faith to grow, and join us in praying for the Lord to provide all of our needs as we take another big step towards our life and ministry in Honduras?
In March a large group of volunteers from an association of churches north of Louisville came to La Campa for their first time to serve the Lenca Indians. These churches have been a blessing to the nation of Honduras for many years in many other areas so we were very blessed by their joining us in La Campa this year. Better than that, plans are already being made for return trip(s) in 2015!! Thank you Kentucky Team!!!
In March we had two construction projects underway. First, the new church for Pastor Emilio. Pastor Emilio’s congregation has outgrown their existing church building so the Kentucky team raised money and came to help them build the new church building. The primary activity was laying blocks for the walls. By the end of the trip the walls were nearly complete. When I returned in April the walls were complete and all of the trusses were in place. Besides accommodating the growing congregation, the new building frees up the original church building to be used as a teaching and training facility for the surrounding churches and the community.
The other project is the missions house. In addition to building the walls for the church part of the Kentucky team came to help with the roof. By the time they went home all of the lumber was on the roof so the house is no longer a convertible house. Since then the metal roof covering has been installed and all of the overhead wiring has been pulled. Next up is finishing the electrical work, roughing in the plumbing and finishing the walls. It is getting built slowly but surely.
Pick Up Truck
Several of you know that we have need of a reliable, used, 4*4 pick up truck in Honduras. The Lord has been faithful to provide, through the generosity of others, almost half of the purchase price for a Mazda truck we found that suits our needs perfectly. It has relatively low miles, 4 good tires (a big deal in Honduras), cold A\C, and has been maintained very well. We’re praying that He will supply us with the balance needed to purchase this truck in June. A huge THANK YOU to all who have helped us with our future transportation!!
In March we met Jesus Larios; he is a teacher at the middle school in La Campa. Among the many topics he is responsible to teach, English is one of them. This has been quite a challenge for him since he is not fully bi-lingual. The English he speaks he speaks very well but he doesn’t know a lot yet. Needless to say he was thrilled when we explained who we were, that we were coming to live in La Campa, and that we would like to come teach his students English using Bible stories. We did our first sessions with the students in March and they are quick learners. This is something we have desired to do and now the Lord has opened this door of opportunity for us. By teaching them Bible stories in English they will not only gain a skill they can use to earn a better living, but they will also gain valuable insight about the true and living God of the Bible.
There are too many blessings to count, but we’re most thankful for good health, good medical results from recent tests, for our very lives, and for amazing friends and family who are a BIG part of what God is doing in Honduras. He is not doing it just through Jean and me, but through ALL of us!
When faced with a task the first question usually asked is “What will it take?”. I’m not sure this is the best first question. Perhaps the best question to ask first is “Who will it take?”. Some undertakings require less people than others, but at some level, people are always either required and\or affected. Therefore, people are our most important consideration regardless of the task.
But you say, I’m a computer programmer, or an architect, or an accountant, I work by myself all day. Being a former accountant there were lots of times I worked by myself-just me and the numbers. But it took many of us, laboring seemingly separately at times, but actually working together as a team to fulfill our role in the “big picture” of the corporation. It took not only the right amount of people, but the right people.
Looking at the writings of Paul in the New Testament we see that this is very true in the life and ministry of the Church. I’m defining the church as it is articulated in the New Testament, as the body of believers working together to be ambassadors for Jesus, to be His hands and feet, loving and serving our fellow men, women, and children. (see how it is always about people) In this way the church, when healthy and functioning properly, fulfills it’s role in God’s big picture.
When Paul wrote letters to Timothy and Titus instructing them how to “do church” he did not focus on the building, the chairs, the carpet color, the sound system, etc, etc. He focused on people. He gave very clear instructions for the type of people who were needed to serve in the different functions of the church. He gave characteristics that each of these people should have and how they were to interact with others.
Does all of this mean the “things” are not important? Of course not. Depending on what country and culture you live in, some things will be more prevalent and important than other things. But behind the “things” are people. Buildings don’t pop up by themselves and sound systems don’t magically appear and function on their own.
When Paul and Barnabas left for their first missionary journey they were prayed for, commissioned, and sent off to go teach and serve other people. They were going to serve people and they were supported by many people while doing so. People were their focus but they had need of things too. The same is true for us as we go further on this journey God has set for us. The Lenca people are our focus, but we too have need of people to support us and for “things” that can be provided by people.
Our needs aren’t terribly different than Paul and Barnabas’ needs were; transportation, food, clothing and shelter are the primary needs. Paul and Barnabas needed money to pay for ships to take them across the Mediterranean whereas we will purchase some airline tickets and buy a pick up truck. Paul and Barnabas stayed in various places along the way but Jean and I will have a permanent dwelling where we will stay (most of the time). Food and clothes are food and clothes. If I (Greg) eat more like Paul probably did I’ll need less food and smaller clothes-these would certainly be good developments. But I digress.
Like Paul, we are seeking gifts from people to help us go further on our journey with God to Honduras. Like Paul, we understand how God’s economy works, meaning that the giver of the gift is blessed at least as much, if not more than, the recipient of the gifts. From personal experience we know this to be true and we desire the same experience for each one who joins us in support of our ministry. Also like Paul, we will engage in business activities to help provide some of our own support. When we help the Lenca materially nothing is free for them so it seems this principle should apply to us too.
The bottom line is that we need your help. We can’t do this alone. I was reading this week about Barnabus and Paul and it really hit home with me that mission work is the easiest act of obedience to God. The hard part is asking for help. Everyone who loves the Lord can play a key role in sending missionaries like us out into the field. Praying for us is pure gold, serving on a team with us in Honduras is incredible and giving to help us live and serve is our request.
Greg & Jean
Where Exactly Will You Be?
We will be living in the department (state) of Lempira, in the town of La Campa, in the southwestern mountains of Honduras, very near to the borders of El Salvador and Guatemala. Some maps actually show La Campa, but nearly all of them show the city of Gracias (yes, the city is named thank you 🙂 and La Campa is just a little bit south of Gracias.
Who Are The Lenca?
The Lenca are an indigenous people group who live in the area described above. They have largely lost their original language so they speak Spanish. It is estimated that there are 133,000 Lenca, all residing in Honduras. They are considered an engaged but under reached people group. This means that there are less than 2% of the Lenca considered to be evangelical Christians, but that there is an evangelical church planting strategy in place. This information was obtained from http://www.peoplegroups.org, February 2014.
What Are The Lenca Like?
The Lenca people are very intelligent and resourceful people. They have learned to do a lot with a little since they don’t have much, at least as we in the U.S. define having much. Their economy is primarily agricultural; they grow a lot of corn, beans, and coffee. They are a very peaceful and friendly people. They are shy and reserved at first. They’ve been exploited by different groups over the years so they wisely watch and learn before they trust.
How Do You Get There & How Long Does It Take?
We fly into San Pedro Sula and it takes about 3.5 hours from Atlanta on a non stop Delta flight. There is one flight daily to and from San Pedro Sula and Atlanta. From San Pedro we drive 4-5 hours depending on traffic, number of stops, etc. 4 hours is the best time we’ve ever made, 5 is about average, it took us 9 hours one time. That is a story you’ll probably see in this blog sooner or later…
What’s The Weather Like?
San Pedro Sula is hot and humid; think Atlanta in August, but worse, for about 10 months out of the year. La Campa is much more temperate since the elevation is about 3,900′. During the warmer season temperatures run roughly 80s/60s, during the cooler season roughly 70s/50s. March and April are the warmest months, November-January are breezy and cool, June-September are rainy.
Is It Safe In Honduras?
Is it really safe anywhere? There is risk everywhere you go, even in the U.S. The fact that Honduras has led the murders per capita statistic for at least the last couple of years draws a lot of media attention. And it is a horrible statistic in which to be a world leader. While not minimizing the tragedy and danger there are a couple of important observations to be made about this statistic. First, while not easily quantified, it is recognized that the vast majority of these murders are by and of gang murders revolving around the drug trade. Innocent people are getting caught up in this without a doubt. But it is largely rival gang members murdering each other. Second, there are areas of every large metropolitan city in the U.S. where we don’t go; the same goes for Honduras, there are places we don’t go.
How Are The Roads?
Generally they are in poor condition. However, there are at least 3 major road construction projects currently underway or recently completed we know of (as of early 2014) and these projects are being done very well. There were also some nice repairs made in late 2013 but it remains to be seen how long they will hold up. Driving in Honduras is an adventure to say the least!! The speeds are not very high because of the condition of the roads and the vehicles but it is still dangerous, and seemingly chaotic, even by Atlanta area standards. I guess you could sum it up by saying that whoever is willing to go first gets to go first. There is not an abundance of road signs or streetlights. The road signs that do exist are merely suggestions, people pass each other everywhere and go as fast as they can. Driving after dark is not recommended so we generally don’t. The closest paved road to La Campa is about 45 minutes down the mountain to Gracias. Otherwise, we are surrounded by dirt and gravel roads.
What’s The Food Like?
The Lenca diet consists mostly of corn, beans, tortillas, and queso. They make some very good tamales, and there is some pork and chicken available. Like most other places in the world, the amount of meat consumed depends on your level of wealth; but regardless of wealth, there is not as much meat consumed there as there is in the U.S.
In and around La Campa, most of the foods are natural, we would refer to them being “organic” here in the U.S. Overall, the food supply is healthier in the rural areas; there is plenty of junk food available in the major metropolitan areas. Many familiar U.S. chain restaurants are easily found in the big cities too.
We have already planted several fruit trees on the missions property, these are in addition to the already producing mango trees and pineapple bushes, and there will be more planted in the months ahead. We intend to do quite a bit of gardening and chicken raising to provide as much of our own food as possible. Of course we will grow some of our own coffee. All of this will eventually reduce our dependency on financial donations.
How About The Water?
Don’t drink from the faucet or sing in the shower!!! They are used to their parasites, we are not. They would have similar problems drinking U.S. tap water. We are expecting to have a filtration system in our home so our water will be safe for us to drink from the faucets. There are great soft drinks available there, and they are all made with REAL sugar. None of that corn syrup stuff. We’re not claiming them to be healthy drinks, but they are not quite as bad for you, and they taste so much better!!
Why Are You Going To Do There?
We believe that churches should start churches, not the missionaries, and that the nationals should lead their churches, not the missionaries. So now you are really wondering what we’re going to be doing. We will continue to work with two national pastors we’ve built relationships with for the last 4 years to help them identify and train leaders from their churches to pastor these new churches. While we are doing the training and teaching of these men, we will also be coordinating the efforts of short-term mission teams who come to help us start new churches in villages where there is no church. And once the village is ready for a church, we will help them obtain resources and work side by side with them to build the church.
We are currently aware of approximately 20 villages where there is no evangelical church. This means that the people are going a long way to hear the Word and live in fellowship with other believers, or they are missing out on this altogether. There is a small house church movement in certain parts of Honduras that we will be respectful of in our efforts. Our goal is to work where nobody else is working, not to build buildings just for the sake of it or to steal church members. Everything we do is intended to make God’s name known by making the reality of redemption known by more and more Lenca. We want do our part to contribute to every nation, tribe and tongue giving worship to God for all eternity (Revelation 7).
We will also help families meet physical needs constructively following the teach a man to fish rather than give fish principle. There are some popular books available such as Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts that you can read to get a better idea of our methods to help families in a long-term, constructive manner. Of course, Abundant Life Coffee, www.abundantlifecoffee.com will continue to play a role in bringing economic hope and opportunity to Lenca families by helping them start their own coffee growing businesses and then doing what we can to help connect them to the profitable international coffee market.
Please read the blog post titled Why Go? for even more information about why we do what we do.
How Long Will You Be There?
Good question, we don’t know. We estimate that it will take at least 5 years to help start the 20 new churches we are already aware of at this time. We think there are plenty more opportunities that we do not yet know about. The better answer, we suppose, is that we have not signed up for a short-term assignment so there are no plans to move back to the U.S. soon; and since our ministry philosophy is that we should be trying to work ourselves out of a job we also can’t say with certainty that we’ll spend the rest of our lives in La Campa. How long we are there is completely up to the Lord.
From a practical standpoint, we will help train and support leaders for as long as they want, we will help start new churches and be involved with the new churches for as long or short as they want, and then we will move on. First and foremost, the churches are God’s churches, but after that, they are Lenca churches, not the American missionaries churches.
Are You Going There Independently?
Absolutely not! We are missionaries serving with Frontline Missions, a small missions agency based in Fairburn, GA. While most of us come from a Southern Baptist background, we are a non-denominational agency working with many different evangelical churches. Please visit www.fmusa.org for more information.
We are members of Kennesaw First Baptist Church who has been a strong partner with us in Honduras since 2011, please visit www.kfbc.org for more information.
What Will You Do For Money?
All of the Frontline missionaries are a combination of faith supported and tent making missionaries. By faith supported we mean that we depend largely on the generosity of others who believe in financially supporting Christian missionary work around the world. The Apostle Paul was a tent-maker by trade so in addition to receiving donations, he made tents to earn money to help meet his needs.
As already stated, we will rely, more heavily at first, on donations from other people and churches. We also already mentioned that we will do as much of our own food production as possible to meet our needs, and we think there will be some other opportunities for us to combine work with donations to support us and our ministry.
One last comment about finances; we receive 100% of your donations made by check, no money is taken off the top for any reason. The only time we receive less than 100% of a donation is when you make donations on-line because the PayPal credit card processing fees have to be paid out of the on-line donation.
There is so much in the Bible about prayer and there are many different ways and reasons to pray. And many of you, no doubt, already have a pretty full prayer life. So on the one hand, we are hesitant to ask, but on the other hand, prayer is the fuel for life, so we do humbly ask you to join us in prayer. And as we join together in prayer, let’s start out remembering the main reason for prayer-it is the primary communication channel between us and the heavenly Father. It is also the way we join together as the body of Christ while we are scattered across the globe.
There are many “things” we will list below that we will ask you to pray for. These “things” will be provided, or the Lord will show us better “things” that He wants us to ask Him about. But there are a few prayer requests that will never cease, and we would like to start with these first:
Now the “things”:
There is much more that we could list but this is a good start. In addition to these requests we know the Lord will lead and guide each of us in our prayers. Many of these prayer requests can be prayed for you too! And please know that we will pray these for you. Please share that you are praying for us. There is no better way to be encouraged in life than knowing your friends and family are praying for you.
A common question we have heard over the years goes something like this, “Why are you going over there? There are plenty of people here in the United States who need to hear the gospel.” That is an honest question deserving of a well thought out and honest answer. In an attempt to provide such an answer, we will turn to our authoritative source, the Bible. There are many Scriptures that could be referenced explaining why anybody goes to a different land and\or people group, but here are the foundational Scriptures for us.
In Genesis chapter 12 we meet Abram, later to change his name to Abraham. God speaks to Abraham and tells him to leave his country and go to another land that God will reveal to him when he gets there. In a sense we’re already ahead of the game since we at least know where we are going. In the first three verses God makes a covenant agreement with Abraham in the form of promises. God promises to make Abraham the father of a great nation with multitudes of descendants, in addition to giving him the land. But there is a purpose statement, God didn’t do this just because He could-God promises to do all of this for Abraham so that Abraham would then be a blessing to the other nations. Being a blessing meant that Abraham would help the other nations, and more importantly, that Abraham and the nation of Israel would draw the other nations to the Living God. That was always the purpose for the nation of Israel, to show others what it meant to have a covenant relationship with God so that they would desire to then have the same covenant relationship. God’s plan from the very beginning was to include all the nations. This is our purpose too. In Galatians 3:6-9 Paul explains that Christians, by faith, are included in this Old Testament covenant.
“Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham, the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”
The Great Commission In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus commissioned all believers to communicate the gospel every person everywhere in the world. There are many more in-depth applications than we can’t go into here but here is a short analysis. First, Jesus has been given all authority on the basis of His death and resurrection. On His authority we are to go. And it is to be understood as going to a location different from the one in which we have lived. Then He gives us specifics of what we are to do when we get there; we are to make disciples of all the nations by baptizing them and teaching them to observe Jesus’ commands. This process is much more than imparting factual knowledge. We must live with and demonstrate the kind of life Jesus lived. This is what will draw people to Him. It requires time, it requires relationships. It is more than a classroom experience. This leads us to the Great Commandment.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Steven Hawthorne summarizes how these work together, “We cannot evangelize the peoples without excelling in love. And we cannot consider our evangelization complete unless people are growing in love for God and obeying Him by loving their neighbors.”
The Covenant, the Great Commission, and the Great Commandment; by faith, through Christ we are in a covenant relationship with God; based on Jesus’ full authority we have a mandate to go, teach and baptize, making disciples of the nations, and we are commanded to do it simply by loving God and loving others. Why? To bring God the glory and worship He deserves as the Sovereign Creator of the universe.