Friday, November 10, 2017

Ruth




These last few months I have been doing a bible study through the book of Ruth (Ruth... Loss, Love, and Legacy by Kelly Minter) . I am falling in love with her story. I thought I knew the story about Ruth, but I have learned so much by digging deeper in this love story. 

Today I want to share with you a small portion of what I have been learning. we are going to jump in in the middle, so just hang in there with me. 

Ruth 3: 1-6 
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barely tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garments and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you should notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what to do." And she said to her, "All that you say to me I will do." So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. 



There is a lot here that can be dissected, but we are going to focus on one part, "put on your best garments". 

Wow! Ruth was very brave to follow as her mother-in-law told her, given all that she has been through. She has lost her husband and is putting herself out there now. How vulnerable! 

It is not very clear as to what "best garments" is referring to. There are many different opinions from many different scholars. We can draw from this is that Ruth is dressed for a new day.  

Scholar Daniel I. Block has some interesting insight about her garments: "It appears that Naomi is hereby advising Ruth to end her period of mourning over her widowhood and get on with a normal life.  ...It may well be that until this time Ruth had always wore the garments of widowhood, even when she was working out in the field. Perhaps this was the reason for Boaz's inertia. As an upright man, he would not violate a woman's right to grieve the loss of her husband nor impose himself upon her until she was ready. We know to little about how long widows would customarily wear their mourning clothes, but it may be that Naomi is now telling Ruth the time has come to doff her 'garments of widowhood." 

We cant be certain of what Ruth had on, but we know it signaled a change, a readiness, an availability to Boaz and to God for the possibility of something new. 

Although not all of us have experienced a time of widowhood, we have known a time when God asked us to remove our clothes of mourning, clinging, grasping, wishing, hoping, striving, even praying for something... and move forward. 

I feel like God is asking this of me.  I want to go back to the days before Julie had Cancer. Back to when we were living together in Honduras, when we were establishing our home, when we were preparing to take in children, when things were our crazy normal. I have been clinging to the past and wanting that for the future. That is not going to happen.  Things are never going to go back to the way they were before the cancer, and God is making me ok with that.  But first I need to remove my "mourning clothes" and look forward to what God is laying before me. 

Don't miss understand me, I know that all things are possible through God, but I am wanting God to turn back the clocks and take me back to live in those times. And to not only turn back time but to rewrite the future and make it to where Julie never gets cancer. That is not going to happen. I need to come to to terms with that. When we are wrapped in garments of mourning we are unavailable for whatever else God has for us.  

Times come and go. I am glad I enjoined them and I will always have those precious memories. It is time for me to move on from that and focus on what God is doing now. We will be going back to Honduras it just wont be with Ben and Julie and that will be alright. 

Isaiah 43: 18-19 says 
" Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." 

There is something about where are minds choose to dwell that can keep us in an old place even when God is doing a new thing. Isaiah 52:1 says "Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city." Jesus is calling us to the same awaking he did for the Israelites. Do not dwell on the past. We all have our Moab stories, our past losses, aches, and strains; but let us not cling to our old clothes in a new life. 

Is God telling you you to throw off some weighty garments? Unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, discontentment, jealousy, mourning, or anything else that might keep you from moving forward with God? 

Take off the old, put on the new; take the risk of being available. 


In Him, 

Taylor







Sunday, October 22, 2017

A New Beginning in an Unlikely Place

Hey there! It's been a while since I (Austin) have written a blog, but I'm here today to share with you something really exciting, and how God has been working. So sit back and enjoy.

Let me start off with Acts 8:9-25
But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.”11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John,15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Now without diving deep into this specific passage we can see that Simon was a hypocrite, and was not truly born again but merely going through the motions followed with "baptism" or more accurately in his case a bath or swim.  


Now let me pause right there and tell you about another man.  This man is 23 years old.  He was "saved" at a young age, and he even took a warm bath but called it baptism.  He played church for years and years, getting better and better at it fooling many people including himself.  He went on several mission trips, and was pretty involved in the church.  This man put his comforts and career to the side to become a full time missionary in Honduras.  This man WAS me.


Now let me tell you about a third man.  If you notice in the last sentence of the previous paragraph i have the word "WAS" in all caps.  Why? Let me tell ya!  These last couple of months at our church we have been going verse by verse through the book of Acts.  And specifically these last couple of weeks I have been having an internal struggle, a struggle for the truth.  You see I had lived such a long time as a hypocrite, I had convinced myself that I was a born again believer.  I started doing some real down to earth soul searching, and examined my heart.  I came to the realization that I had never actually accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Now for the exciting part...last week Oct 15, I started a real relationship with Jesus.  I couldn't be more excited, and can't keep this contained!


But wait..."you are a missionary in Honduras, how can you be a missionary and not be a christian?"
"you grew up in church all your life, isn't that good enough?" etc, etc.

John 14:6
“Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Jesus is the only way.
No "if", "and", or "but" about it.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

That was literally me and my life.  "But Lord, I went on all these mission trips in your name, but I was the sound guy at church, but I was a full time missionary in Honduras, etc"




Praise the Lord I now KNOW Jesus, rather than know about Him.  


I am really glad i got the opportunity to write this blog and share with you this awesome step in my life! Yall have a good one, until next time!

In Him,
Austin Agee



Sunday, October 15, 2017

From Sleepless Nights to Prayer Filled Mornings


As some of you may know Emma no longer sleeps through the night.  Since we have temporarily moved back to the states, Emma's sleep pattern has been out of sorts.  We have linked her lack of sleep to multiple things such as:
1. She is in a new environment and needs to adjust.
2. She needs to sleep in a different room.
3. We need to keep a constant bedtime routine.
4. She is having trouble breathing through her nose.
5. She is teething.
6. She is hungry.

For each one of the things listed above we have a solution for:
1. I think she has had time to adjust at this point.
2. We have placed her in a separate room to sleep.
3. We have tried to the best of our ability to keep her bedtime routine as constant as possible.
4. We were referred to a ENT Specialist and found out her adenoids are swollen, so we currently have her on medication to help shrink them. (she can breathe better).
5. We give her medicine to help with teething pain and/or Oragel.
6. I feed her.

And still she is awake throughout the night, so I walk her around and try to get her to go back to sleep and I pray "God why is she not sleeping?"  Here I am trying all these things to help her sleep and she continues to wake up.  God didn't answer me on that question, but he did help me to think maybe there is a reason  I am up at this hour.  Now whenever Emma wakes up and can't go back to sleep I will pray.  (I don't know about yall but that is not my first reaction when I am awoken from a good REM sleep.)  I will just pray for whoever God brings to mind, and I've got to say it helps me!  It is easier to get up with her and I have more energy during the day.  Only God can do that because anyone who knows me knows sleep is very important to me.

It also helps with my prayer walk. I feel during the day I am more mindful to pray.


I challenge yall to be more mindful and pray.  It doesn't mean you have to wake up at 3am and pray (unless you feel that is what God is wanting you to do) it could be as simple as praying when you brush your teeth, when you are unloading the dishwasher, when your waiting in line at the store, or whenever.  Make it a priority to  pray.  The results will be life changing.



In Him,

The Agee Family

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What Every Missionary Needs



Being a missionary on the mission field it is easy to become so involved in the work of God.  There are times when we become fully immersed in the tasks that we forget about ourselves.  When we serve and care for others we sometimes tend to put our own needs on the back burner.  Don't get me wrong we love what we do and we are willing to do anything to help others.  But missionaries need recovery time.  It is common for missionaries to become burnt out and tired.  It is important for missionaries to take time for a personal, mental, and spiritual breather. When we take time to care for ourselves, we can better care and serve those God puts before us.


A dear friend of ours, Melyssa who is working with 61 Isaiah, put out her newsletter about how her summer had gone. For most missionaries the summer months are the busiest of the year and 61 Isaiah had a full calendar.  After the last team had left the staff were blessed to receive a gift from a man whose ministry is to minister to the ministers.  Leave it to God to place specific people in your life to help. 


Below is what Melyssa had to say in her news letter...



Life recovered… an update after summer 2017


This was originally written for the 61 Isaiah newsletter, but I would like to share it with anyone who will read it on here.  God bless y’all.
Since it has been a few months since our last newsletter, there is a lot to update you on.  I won’t be able to update you on everything in this short amount of time, so I hope that I can see you in person one day or that we can talk via email or Facebook.  Let me just say that God is so good, and yet again He has shown His love to all of us in many ways this summer.  Among the crazy and busy, event filled days starting from June to now, it has honestly been an unforgettable summer.  God moved in many people’s lives, and for me personally, these last few months have been a time of God getting a hold of me and my heart again (for lack of better words).  As I write this right now even, I am realizing how God has brought this summer full circle.  Let me share with you a little bit about that.
In June, all of us (even Edith, yay!) got to go to the US and participate in Super Summer.  It was my first ever Super Summer, and I really enjoyed it.  As you know, Shannon was the main speaker for the session that we attended, and I want to share with all of you that Shannon did an amazing job proclaiming the mystery of the Gospel and sharing with hundreds of students practical ways that they can share the Gospel to the people that they are around every day.  It was also at Super Summer that I met and heard of a man named Jimmy Storrie, who’s ministry is called Life Recovered.  To put it simply, what Jimmy does is he ministers to ministers.  The things he shared about ministers burning out, running on empty, and having deep, tired souls really resonated with me and I felt like someone understood how I was truly feeling inside.  I reached out to Jimmy and that’s what started the journey of recovering my soul in Jesus.
Fast forward a few weeks and we hit the ground running in July with hosting 11 mission teams in about 5 weeks.  I mean it when I say that it was a wonderful summer.  I greatly enjoyed walking with the people from FBC Sanger, Turner Memorial Baptist Church, FBC Zavalla, Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church, FBC Marble Falls, Central Baptist Church, FBC Gordon, The Gathering, FBC West, FBC Teague, Waxahachie Bible Church, Primera Iglesia Bautista Waxahachie, Ranchhouse Cowboy Church of Maypearl, and FBC Red Oak. A friend of mine from college, Gabe Gonzales, also came to walk with us, and that was an awesome time.  In some of the villages that we all ministered in, we saw individuals accept Christ as their Savior and other individuals were baptized.  In other villages, there were events like a medical brigade, and in others a Marriage Conference to build relationships with the people but ultimately to help them grow in their relationship with God and their spouses.  In other villages, the women were focused on and ministered to in a deeper way.   In other communities, the need was to pray for specific pastors and leaders to answer the call to share the Gospel in their area.   And as always, we focused on the 9:38 prayer, asking God to send Honduran workers into the harvest.  Overall, our time with the mission teams was incredible.  Each person that came got to utilize their gifts and share the love of Christ with our friends in Honduras, and they encouraged each one of us, as well.
At the beginning of August, I moved into a new apartment, and that was and still is a HUGE blessing from God. Along with moving apartments, I gained two roommates, Ellie and McCayla.  They are both awesome women, and it has been a joy getting to know them more and make our little place our home. McCayla just arrived a couple of weeks ago, and she is the newest team member of 61 Isaiah.  She is an answered prayer and already fitting right in.  She has a huge heart to serve anyone and in any way. I am very thankful for her, and I’m very thankful for the whole team of 61 Isaiah – Shannon, Kristi, Frank, Edith, Cathy, and all the board members stateside.
This brings me to the weekend we just had.  After a packed summer, together as a team we got away for a little bit and regrouped.  Jimmy Storrie of Life Recovered came and led us through a staff retreat, and his ministry to us was invaluable.  Jimmy led us through getting to know each other better by looking at our different personality types, and he also led us through a very important spiritual discipline of resting in God.  This retreat definitely helped me get to know my teammates better and appreciate the way that God made them, but it also helped me see that for so long I had been running on empty.  Jimmy likes to say, “The journey starts when you take the first step.”  I say that God brought this summer full circle because it started with me being deeply tired in my soul, but through the ministry of Life Recovered, I got to hear that there was hope. I really believe that God helped me take that first step in reaching out to Jimmy at Super Summer, but God continued to keep going after me all summer.  This season may have started out tired and running on empty, but it ended with being recovered and rested in God, and I am very thankful for how He used Jimmy to help me with that.  The purpose of being recovered though is so that I can continue serving the Lord and telling people about Him and how much He loves them.
If you have made it this far in my update, I want to say thank you.  Thank you for your prayers.  I mean that with all of my heart.  Thank you for your love for Honduras. God is a big, loving God, and what a privilege it is to walk with Him and walk with all of you as part of the same big family.  God bless you all.

I challenge you to be in prayer for the missionaries out on the mission field. Pray that God will send the harvesters to assist them. 

In him, 

The Agee Family

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Transitions


More than a month of good night kisses and early morning cuddles has passed
since we drove the precious Agees to the airport in San Pedro Sula and returned
home to Gracias instead of Santa Rosa de Copan and to 13 children instead of
the 11.  Becoming foster parents again was unplanned and unexpected, but isn’t
that how some of our greatest blessing begin? The unplanned and unexpected
privilege of caring for J and M has been such a gift. Before we arrived, we made
plans in our hearts. Knowing that God establishes our steps and seeing the fruit
of following His leading has been a tremendous blessing, even when the plans
we made in our hearts look a little different as we walk down this path. God truly
does write the best stories.

Our first night with our two new little people was a little stressful, and we
expected it to be. J was confused and M was very fussy, and the rest of the kids
did all the things that kids do when new people are added to the family – testing
boundaries, vying for attention, and making sure they’re still our greatest earthly
treasures. There’s a shift about and shuffle that has to happen to make room for
all in hearts and home and for everyone to find their place and feel safe and
secure. Over the next several days and weeks, we got to work shifting and
shuffling about and have reached a new norm that seems to be working. There’s
a peacefulness and happiness at home that we know is from God and we are
thankful. Praise Him!

Dean and I long ago affectionately divided our kids into three groups: the littles,
the middles, and the bigs. It helped us to organize and tackle the work of learning
to parent 12 children, but there are times when one group or the other wasn’t as
happy with the groupings. I can’t tell you how happy our littles are that there’s
another group one step down from them – the babies! Actually, everyone loves
the babies, and the babies love the attention and affection they are showered
with every day. Baby M gives us the biggest smile when someone sits down to
play with her. She enjoys so much being held and rocked and cuddled. J loves
to play trucks and blocks and read books with the bigger kids. If he sees
someone getting ready to leave, he grabs his shoes and says, “Zapatos?
Zapatos?” It’s so adorable that people go out of their way to take him with them
when they leave. We are just amazed at how well they are both doing.
Now that we’ve settled in and have adjusted to life in Gracias, we are looking
forward to getting to know the folks over in Mercedes in the coming weeks as we
connect with churches and continue the relationships begun by Ben, Julie,
Austin, and Taylor. It’s been pretty neat to meet pastors who’ve come to the
house to visit the bookstore and buy Bibles. Our bigger kids love to help make
change, write receipts, and pack Bibles into bags. We’ve shared with them how
the Bibles travel up into the hills of Honduras in the hands of pastors who spend
their days sharing the gospel. They love sharing a small part in this work and
praying for people who will receive the Bibles and read the good news.

One of my favorite things to do these days is to sit in the rocking chair in the
adorable Bright Beginnings nursery. It’s the perfect spot to rock a baby and pray.
This morning as I was rocking Baby M, I was praying when one of my favorite
songs from my teenage years came to mind. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path.” The chorus is straight out of Psalm 119:105. There
are many unknowns right now and the path ahead looks different than we all
expected it to, for the Agees and for the Robinsons. The light on the path is
bright, though, and the lamp unto our feet gives us courage to step forward into
unknowns knowing that God loves us and that He is faithful.

Gracias means "thank you" in Spanish, which suits us well. We are so thankful
for the opportunities we have here to magnify the name of the Lord and to love
and care for others in His name.  "Gracias" for your continued prayers and
support.  We know we couldn't do this without them.

Tamara Robinson

Saturday, August 5, 2017

From Ashes to Beauty

This is a raw, real, and eye opening look into the lives of  Honduran children before they have been taken into the care of Legacy of Hope Foundation (our partnering organization). They have come into the care of this foundation because they have been abused, neglected, and/or abandoned.

Click on the link below and read about these children's stories and see the healing hand of God restore their brokenness.

     



In Him, 
Agee Family 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Ministry is Expanding

Sometimes as Christians in the USA, we forget about the power of prayer and we get focused on doing what God has called us to do.  Sometimes we get so focused on doing that we even forget about Who it is that called us to do it.  I know as a person who tends to be goal driven, I have been guilty many times in my life of following God into a calling and then getting busy "doing" the ministry "for" God.  THAT IS NOT WHAT GOD WANTS!  God wants us to walk with him and trust him each step of the way as he guides us through each twist and turn.  Only through prayer and study of the word of God is that possible.  Unfortunately, it is human nature to handle things ourselves when things are going well and to rely on God when things are not.  I can tell you this.... there is nothing like a diagnosis of advanced cancer that will cause you to rely on God.  Today, I want to share with you one example that demonstrates that prayer is so much more powerful than actually physically doing the ministry......

One of the strategies that we have in Honduras is to engage the pastors of the local churches and to train them to properly understand and teach scripture.  Right before we got our diagnosis and returned to the USA for treatment, we were developing a deep relationship with the pastors in Mercedes, Lempira, Honduras.  Mercedes is the mountain village that is about 1 hour from Gracias that we tried to take our Board of Directors to in June, but couldn't get there because of the rain.  The 24 churches that their head pastor supervises are in the mountains up to 3 1/2 hours surrounding Mercedes -- very remote villages that are very difficult for us to get to.  We were working towards developing this relationship with a purpose of working through the church in Mercedes to train the pastors and leaders in these other 24 churches, but we had to leave the field before that happened.  BUT GOD was already at work in the lives of these pastors to bring about this plan!  I received a call from Russell Sowers while he was at Pastor Training the first week of July and Pastor German and Pastor Melvin from Mercedes had approached him about contacting me about helping them set up a first year pastor training in Mercedes for 30 pastors from their churches.  Pastor German and Pastor Melvin are two of our mentors in the regular pastor training that we are doing and are doing an excellent job of teaching and mentoring other pastors and they want to teach their pastors, with our help with oversight and accountability and helping with the provision of the study Bibles and dictionaries.  The format will be different, but the material will be the same.  While God was doing this in Honduras, He was also in Kingsland, Georgia working in the hearts of Pastor Brian and their church to partner with us in Mercedes.  Brian will be taking a team down in September to teach in the normal pastor training, possibly participate in the new training in Mercedes, and look at some possible construction related projects in Mercedes that the Sowers need some help with.  This is way more than I ever imagined would happen in such a short time.

So how do you know you are doing the will of God?  Well, there are a lot of factors and it doesn't always work out this way, but one way is when you start a spark through the leading of God and then you fan the flame of the Holy Spirit through prayer and the fire spreads, you will know it was the work of God and not your own.  This is especially true if you are fanning the flame from another country.

What is the most important takeaway from this message for you?  PRAYER IS POWERFUL!  Our ministry is expanding in Honduras when we are not even there right now and I believe with all my heart it is because there are so many people praying -- praying not only for Julie's healing but also for the advancement of our ministry and calling in Honduras.  This has already re-taught me what I already knew -- when we go back to Honduras we must keep prayer our priority over the day-to-day "getting by".  We must not allow the problems of the day to drag us down and keep us from the prayer time that is so powerful.

So as you pray for us and our ministry here are just a few things you can specifically pray for:
  • Full and divine healing of Julie's body
  • for the pastors we work with around Gracias
  • for the continued advancement of the partnership in Mercedes
  • for the Robinson family, who is taking care of our home, vehicles, and foster children
  • for "J" and "M" (our foster children in Honduras), who have been sick this week and running fevers
  • for Dr. Maria (our family doctor in Honduras), who is an amazing Christian lady and is praying about possible opportunities in her life.
  • for the other missionaries we partner with in Gracias (Hopkins family, Powell family, Sowers family) and all of the missionaries, interns, and teams that work with all of them
  • for the Slyker family, who will be moving to Gracias in August
  • for Legacy of Hope, who we partner with on foster care
  • for us to find (and have money to purchase) land in or near Gracias to begin our next phase of ministry.  It is our hope that when we go back we will have located land and purchased it and are ready to begin the building process.
  • For us to know when we should return to Honduras after Julie is cured.
We thank you from the bottom of our heart for all of your prayers, notes of encouragement, and financial donations.

We have been posting "real-time" information on Julie's personal blog at Godisuptosomething.blogspot.com and haven't been cross-posting information here, but I do want to give a brief summary of her status.  She is having chemo every Friday -- just completed her 3rd treatment.  So far, the only side effect has been fatigue and it is primarily concentrated on Sunday and Monday.  The blood counts that they track to watch her immunity have been good each week (they drop on Sunday and rebuild during the week).  The cancer marker has begun to drop.  This next week is a busy week with a new biopsy on Wednesday, port installation on Thursday, and Chemo on Friday.  The following week will be the PET scan on Tuesday then chemo on Friday then we should be pretty much back on just Friday treatments through September followed by a likely surgery to remove the tumors.

In Him and to His Glory,
Ben