Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Changes with the PNC...

When asked what to me is the most incredible evidence of God in the ministries of IDC, I used tell them the fact that I am a chaplain for the Tourist Police of Antigua. However this past week that all has changed. God is moving.

For the past year and a half, I have been praying that God would open the doors beyond only the Tourist Police of GUA. Antonio and I were never able to get into the central office of Station 74 - the central offices of the Department of Sacatepéquez. During this past week we recieved notice that the Station Commander for the Tourist Police for the last couple of years Oficial Javier Castillo was being transfered to the city and that a new station commander for the Tourist Police was coming in. Oh and by the way Castillo is leaving tommorrow. It appeared that we were in for major changes that would impact this ministry in ways we didn't know.

Here is the fallout. While picking up Bibles from the Offices of Valor and Service, I was handed a letter - informing me of my new appointment under Valor and Service as the Chaplain for the Department of Sacatepéquez. Castillos replacent is a higher ranking officer that loves what we are doing in his new station - his name is Oficial Nelson Lopez. By invitation of Comisario Uluan (the #1 man in Station 74), we are opening new studies that his men are directed to be at. This has opened opportunities to include more people and pastors.

This new appointment has brought other invites from other divisions and Police Academies to begin new study locations teaching Biblical values to the National Police of Guatemala.
Yea God!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Celebration to note...

It never fails that in the middle of tragedy it is so easy to overlook amazing points of progress. April Clark wrote this article. It truly captured the essence of what made May the 14th special in spite of other tragedies the same day. Yea God!

Hello, everyone; I have a wonderful story that I would like to share with you this week. So sit back...relax....and enjoy...:)

About 2 1/2 years ago, a small, enebriated man showed up at a Wednesday night church service. He sobbed brokenly and professed Christ as his Savior that night. This was a man who had on many occasion been seen in the park, intoxicated and propositioning women for sexual favors. Some thought him homeless, many others thought him detestible, the vast majority seemed to think very little of him and even less of his future.

That first night began a long and difficult journey for this man. He did well enough for about six months, then he reverted back to his old ways and began drinking again. It lasted for about a month, then he returned to the church, sobbing, begging for forgiveness. The pastor lovingly received him, told him it was okay, and the man began to volunteer in the church, doing what he could to help out. About 4 months passed, and he had another relapse. Many shook their heads, grumbled that the man would never amount to anything, and asked the pastor why he bothered to waste his time.

After that last relapse, the man managed to get his head clear once more. He returned with new convictions; he began to understand the value of friendships, support, loyalty, and most importantly, how much he was loved by God and how much he needed Him to overcome his addiction. He started attending a new ministry in the church called "Celebrate Recovery". He realized that there were others like him, who were desperately struggling with addictions and who wanted to give their lives in service to God. He made a commitment to persevere, to stand firm, and when all else failed, to stand.

A few months later, the pastor, seeing the vast improvement in the man, as well as his spiritual growth, decided to take a chance on him. He decided to put the man in charge of the cafe in the church, that had up until that time been floundering terribly. The man, seeing the responsibility that was being entrusted to him by the pastor and feeling that this was a chance to in a sense redeem himself and the negative opinion so many people had had of him, eagerly plunged into the new job opportunity. He took over the business with an attitude of thanksgiving for what God had done in his life, and he prospered. He grew the business until, it was more profitable than it had ever been before, bringing in new clientele, new foods, and finally having to hire an assistant because there was just too much business to handle by himself.

Last Thursday night, I had the pleasure of seeing this man, Manolo, celebrate his one-year anniversary of sobriety at a Celebrate Recovery meeting in Iglesia del Camino. I listened as the 60 + people who came to celebrate with him poured out praised to God for the change in him, and also to Pastor Mike, who had put himself on the line because he had believed in him. There were many tears, but they were tears of joy. I got to see an entire family whose lives had been changed by the magnificent Hand of God. And every week, as I sit in staff meetings with Manolo, he never ceases to give glory to God for what has happened in his life.

Now THAT is what I call a testimony...:) Praise God!!!

Much love and many blessings!

A difficult weekend...

This weekend was exceptionally difficult. Last Thursday I received a phone call that a very dear friend and his wife had been killed in a small plane crash. This was hard to hear and more so hard to see in the newspaper the next morning.
Rafael and Claudia were the Directors for Brazos de Jesús - the Guatemalan branch of the International Arms of Jesus Ministry with offices in both the US and Canada and ministry locations in GUA, Africa, The Carribean to name a few -

Rafael and I became very good friends as our respective areas of ministry had a great deal of cross-over. As he put it "at times we were each others shoulder to cry on." As in the GUA custom there was the viewing, followed by the funeral the next day.

I was blessed to be asked to officiate as part of the grave side services. With several hundred in attendance I thought it incredible that the Gringo was asked. It was very heavy to see their five children looking at both of their parents in boxes. This cemetary is in the GUA city. And is one of the most serene locations that I have seen here. The landscape is filled with statues of Jesus, praying hands, sheep and live peacocks.

Sunday afternoon an additional memorial was held at the school that Arms of Jesus operates in the community of Parramos. Thursday through Sunday both Nancy and I had very heavy hearts in saying goodbye. At the grave side I had focused on Philippians 4:6-9 as scripture of comfort taking away the memories of all that was good in our relationship. God is good.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Team Visit - Suncoast Bible...

This week we had a return visit from Suncoast Bible Church - Pinellas County, Florida. This was a group of college age students plus their leaders. They came, they served, they rocked. The team is seen here with other IDC team members.

Their focus was with the malnutrition center but also gave much needed assistance to further children's ministry in Pastores and the homeless shelter in Antigua. Yea God!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

La Dia de Madres...

Mother's day is an event no matter which country you might be in. As the Chaplain w/ Valor and Service, it was my responsibility to make an event happen for the women serving in Sacatepéquez. Fortunately there was a gentleman in our church that wanted to help.

So here is what happened.
Of the 50 potential women working in the Department Sacatepéquez 30 arrived accompanied by their sub-station Officials. We showed the movie "Fireproof". We gave away a bunch of foo-foo stuff that my assistant Ana made happen with the help Rosendo Morales getting some jewelry and a free stays in hotel. The food was cooked on the man grill provided for use by Rusty Johnson and served to the women by their bosses. Very Cool.

The entire leadership for the National Police in this department were present all the way up to the #1 position. The day was very good. Yes, we were late in the celebration. What can you expect from a bunch men planning the event.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Handing Out Mores Bibles...

Today after church I had the honor to ride with Official Guerra once again and Officer Mynor Merida who served as translator when I found myself in a pinch - to deliver more Bibles completing every station in the Department of Sacatepéquez. There was another escort carrying his Israel rifle. The GUA's preferred weapon over the AK-47. Today was short day - only 3 hours and 5 stations later. As well we were able to provide Bibles to a handful of GUA Soldiers giving support to the subsStation of Alotenango.

This is view from the city of San Miguel Dueños just out the door of the sub-station. This is a community literally in between three volcanoes. Absolutely stunning.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wednesday Night...

Meet the setup crew that come faithfully each week to get us ready for Wednesday nights...

Cecilio, Lanri, Lodo, Amner, Carlos, Wilder, Reyna, Marta. Yea God!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ministry Expansion...

This past month we have been blessed to expand our police studies to include the Pastores Security Unit. Approximately 20 men and women (seen in the photo are only a few of them). Yea God!

Friday, May 1, 2009

FBCH Team Visits...

We have been blessed to have a ministry partner in the Florida Baptist Children's Home. As an organization they are focused on the well being of children. Their International Childcare focus is no different. Since last August when we first met Jerry Hagg, the president of FBCH and his wife Christen, FBCH has had 2 scouting visits and two full teams. They have been very intentional to partner with us with a focus for children's ministry. The most evident is their work at the Malnutrition Center in San Juan, Sacatepéquez.

With their direct help, massive changes in upgrades and renovations to the facilities have happened. Much needed help has been given to assist the staff in spending time with the children. With the leadership of their VP of International Childcare - Ron Gunter, you see the passion, and heart for children.

Working with a few of our local team members, the FBCH teams have been getting it done. The progress during their two weeks of teams is visible. The center has water pressure, updated filtration for the kitchen water, hot water for the bathrooms, new gutters and soffets for the exterior of the building and a fresh coat of paint for a significant portion of the interior. There is much more to do, but they have made great strides in the total sum of the projects.

I speak first hand for their work here in Guatemala. It is wonderful. They post a blog for their mission team participation - you can read more here!

We anticipate an additional 5-6 more weeks with them during this calendar year - con gusto! Thank you FBCH for your help and work with children here in Guatemala.

The G20 Follow-up...

This past month Pathways Community Church, Largo, FL sent a team to get the job done. But prior to coming the church raised some funds to give direct assistance to the Malnutrition center. It has taken a little bit of time but the results are in. Two of the investments have started their return - the other will take a little more time as the trees need to mature for the fruit to get started.

But of the first two - The children are now sleeping on better mattresses, and the chickens are producing eggs, I understand at least 10 a day. Which is sufficient for the present needs of the children.
Thank you Pathways and the G20 team. Take a look at the photos.

Both Chickens and Eggs - We choose where to start!

Juan Luis, the Center Volunteer (He is looking for more support $$ to stay a volunteer), Juanita, Ana Luisa - The Center Director.

Some of the kids loving their new mattresses.