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

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