As of Aug 12th I am officially the new Volunteer Campus Pastor at Ichthus, a local boarding school with 130 kids aged 11-17. I am hosting 2 Bible Studies a week and preaching most Sun mornings in a service for the kids, staff and parents.
My first Tues night ministering at the boarding school was very fruitful, more than 40 kids and the school nurse prayed with me to receive Christ. (And yes, I was preaching with a large blue plastic baseball bat)
I love youth camps. I received Christ at the Peaceful Valley youth camp in Missouri in 1990 and since then I have never turned down the opportunity to serve or speak at a youth camp (when it was in my power to do so). I have seen greater and more lasting changes to the hearts and minds of individuals during youth camps than often occurs through a year of normal youth meetings. This year I had the opportunity to be a keynote speaker at several. The video and pictures below show some highlights from the Aug 2012 Cara a Cara con Dios (“Face to Face with God”) Youth Camp.
Our truck before we crossed the border October 17th, 2008
I stood watching, with my 1 yr. old on my hip and my 2 yr. old hanging on my leg, as my favorite couch was carried out my front door. God had called us to Chiapas Mexico therefore we sold our house and one by one nearly everything we owned was sold or given away. Some items were easily discarded but others were painful to release (like our first bed which we purchased sacrificially). Life was really good at the time we decided to take the leap of faith to pursue fulltime missions work. We were comfortable and in the natural the decision to make such a financially unstable move for our family felt crazy (and some even let us know just how crazy they thought we were). We had many concerns, among them was the overwhelming question, “What if we fail?”. Failure would mean moving back to the US, starting over, perhaps living with family or friends until we could get new jobs, etc. We knew it was a huge risk, yet it felt so right… and we decided the possibility of fulfilling the dream was worth the risk.
I truly believe Life=Risk. If you have never experienced failure, you are probably not really living. We all have dreams. Yet many will pass from this life without ever seeing their desires accomplished because fear of failure can be a very intimidating mountain to climb. I want to encourage you to go after your dreams. Don’t let fear stop you from realizing your full potential. True, you may fail… but maybe you will succeed. You will never know unless you try.
Our boys packed tightly into our truck Oct 2008 -- none of us had any idea how much our lives were about to change
A short motivational video about famous failures and the importance of taking risks.
At the lookout over Comitán, Chiapas Mexico with Chris Briles, WIM's Director of Operations
When the Lord began stirring our hearts to raise up a new work on the other side of Mexico, we felt the need to join an organization that would provide a high level of accountability both spiritually and financially while also allowing us to become part of a global network. In response to that need we joined World Indigenous Missions (WIM) in October 2011. It was a great decision. Not only did they provide what we were looking for in an organization, they are also now handling our stateside office admin duties and receiving our donations (as many of you reading this already know).
In early February we received a visit from Chris Briles, WIM’s Director of Operations. Chris had been a missionary in Veracruz, Mexico for nine years during which time he built and operated a large youth center in Altatonga, Veracruz. Ron and I both have a huge passion for reaching youth so we spent hours picking his brain. We had a great time praying together for the city and seeking the Lord’s direction.
Personally, for me his visit was a blessing because he helped Ron cover my “open air” laundry area. Gone are the days of waiting for the rain to stop so I can wash my clothes. It was a short visit but we were very encouraged. We are grateful to Chris for taking the time to visit and to WIM for making us part of the family.
Pheww…after loading a mango truck and the new van with our belongings, cleaning out the rental house in Arriaga, and three trips to Comitán, we are finally moved into our new house. It was a lot of work but the Lord was with us and the entire process went very smoothly.
When we returned from the US in December we still had no idea where we were going to live. We only had time for one short trip to the area before Christmas and, praise God, He led us straight where He wanted us. On our third morning in Comitán we signed the lease for our new home. The listed rental price for the house was well outside our budget but as I talked to the owner (who is not a Christian) she said, “Two other individuals offered me the full rental price but I feel that God wants you to live here” so she dropped the asking price by one third. After that everything moved very quickly. A brother from the church let us borrow his brand new truck, along with a driver and an assistant to help with the move. He paid for all their expenses and adamantly refused any reimbursement. It was a tremendous blessing.
Some guys from the youth group traveled with us to Comitan to help with the move.
We have been in Comitán a little over a month now. Most of that time was spent getting out of boxes and entertaining visitors (we also took a few days off to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s and Caleb’s birthday). With our house somewhat in order, we are ready to do what we came here to do, “Make Disciples”. Ronnie has a few ongoing projects in various indian villages that will be the subject of future posts. However, we believe our main focus in the future will be ministry here in the city. We are making new friends here in Comitán but we greatly miss our church family in Arriaga and have been truly blessed by those who have already made the effort to visit us. And for anyone else interested in visiting I have added a new page to our website providing more in depth information about the area where we live.
Saturday night Ron and I were on our way to buy our much needed ministry van. We were $100 short of the asking price and the owner of the van had already dropped the price $500 adamantly stating he was not going to budge from the amount he quoted over the phone because he already had another committed buyer lined up. We made the trip by faith anyway praying simply that the Lord’s will would be done. Thirty minutes later we were checking the van out, driving it around, and asking questions. Never once did we bring up the fact that we were missing a $100 dollars. As we began the normal husband and wife discussion to buy or not, the owner said, “I’m going to take a $100 off the price”. God is Faithful! Here He was showing us once again that He always takes care of us.
The other day someone said to me, “I don’t know if I would have the guts to do what y’all do” Well, I don’t know about guts, or smarts but we do have faith. This new journey has many needs but on countless occasions we have seen God’s provision in the past so it would be foolish to fear that He will not provide again. His resources are not limited by the struggling economies of any country. While many are worrying today about the future, let us remember that God is the fountain from which everything we need flows. He is our source. He is our security. He is the one that will meet our needs if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Concealed in every crisis is an opportunity for God to be glorified. Don’t be afraid to get out of the boat and walk on the water at Christ’s calling.
Here is a picture of the Life Mission’s ministry van. It needs some TLC but we are happy to have it 🙂 For those who have been standing in prayer with us about finding a vehicle for moving teams… Thank you – God answered our prayers. Now let’s keep believing for everything else on our list… and yours.
It was one of the most painful days of my life. I had been dreading Sunday, September 4th 2011 for weeks. After serving here as a missionary on the coast for nearly six years with The Lighthouse of Hope (three while I was single and three more with my family), we were saying goodbye to our church family here in Arriaga, Chiapas Mexico.
Ivonne and I were happily married, had a nice home, good paying jobs, and 2 beautiful boys when the Lord originally touched our hearts to move to southern Mexico. In the natural it seemed crazy. We were comfortable and we knew it would take a small list of miracles in order to happen. But where God guides He also provides. In spite of the poor economy and the multitude of houses on the market in our area, God told Ivonne that we would sell our home without a realtor (or paid advertising) and we did. The third couple to inquire about the house bought it!! We arrrived in Arriaga October 19, 2008 debt free and ready for a new life serving the people of Chiapas.
It has been wonderful to be a part of the work here in Arriaga. In the last three years we have seen the church where we serve (pastored by Bill and Tammy Woods) grow, and the youth group we lead has doubled in size. We have developed many great friendships and a real sense of family with the people here. Yet, several months ago we started hearing a small voice once again saying, “Go”.
We will be in the States for a few months. In early December our plan is to begin raising up a new work in the area of Comitan, Chiapas (about 4 hrs. from our current location). We will greatly miss being with the people here in Arriaga but we are excited about what is coming next. God has already opened doors for us to immediately start working with two indigenous groups the Tzetal and Tojolabal. Just like the first time we again have a long list of needs/miracles, but we are confident in the Lord’s faithfulness, and grateful for your financial support and prayers. We rejoice in faith over what God will do. Ready to share testimonies of his healing power and salvation through Jesus Christ.
Thank you for opening this new chapter with us. Together we shall see the Lord glorified among the nations.
We came home for a month to rest, visit family, enjoy good times with friends and share about what God is doing in Chiapas. So far on the trip, we have stayed the night in 7 homes, visited 4 churches, had dinner with 14 families, driven 1,200 miles and stopped at 8 different McDonalds. We are looking forward to the rest of our trip. We greatly miss our family in Mexico but it feels good to be visiting the USA. Caleb and Josiah are having a lot of fun.
We had 55 teens join us this year at Youth camp. We had 3 goals, to grow closer to God, get know each other more and have fun. As you can see we accomplished all 3 of these goals. God is so faithful. There are so many things trying to rob these youth from the life God has for them. We stand with them and encourage them to seek after that abundant life that Christ has for them.