Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Beginnings…

If you think it’s too late for “new beginnings”, remember, it’s still January (although not by much)!

I’ve got to say up front… many of you know we sent out an update letter at the end of December, discussing our future ministry plans and requesting that you join us on our journey and help support us with prayer and finances. When the TPI accountant sent us our first monthly report, I was blown away and greatly humbled. I let out a holler and Sandy came running, thinking something was wrong! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Although it is easy to track who is helping us financially, we also want to know who is helping us through prayer, also. We know there are many of you praying for us since we have seen many results of those prayers. Email us ( or, phone us (702-866-9548), or contact us through Facebook (Bill or Sandy).

We are now 3 weeks into this 2nd trimester and it will be harder for us than ever before. Even with her medication, headaches and weakness from the medication, Sandy was fairly comfortable with what she was learning last trimester because she had taken 2 introductory courses in the last 2 years at the community college. Now, however, in addition to the medication, headaches and weakness, she is learning new stuff – it was hard enough without her medical handicaps! Please pray for her.

For me, I have gone from 1 hour of homework every day to 3-4 hours every day. Every Monday I have to explain a current event article to our class; every Thursday I have to present a 15-20 minute bible study; every Friday I have to report on 3 interviews I had with other Costa Ricans (Ticos). All of that in one class – Lenguaje. In Gramática, we are pushing through more verb conjugations and tenses, many of which have no counterpart in English (the subjunctives) and the normal exercises and exams. Plus I will be teaching an ESL class every Wednesday afternoon for some of the Ticos through a local outreach program. No complaints – just a statement of how things have changed this trimester.

We have also moved! Although we had a very nice apartment, and great neighbors, the 8-9 block walk was hard on Sandy. We were able to find a new apartment next to the back gate of the school. Our 18-minute walk with a rest break along the way is now a 2 minute walk! Here are some pictures of our new place (more available on our Facebook page, click here).

Time for a little more homework before watching the Pro Bowl game (with Spanish-speaking announcers!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Next Steps...

We are now in our second week of classes in our second trimester and it is very different than our last trimester. Previously we were learning vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation – the teachers kept stuffing our heads full of new stuff. NOW, they are helping us sift through what they taught us and helping us to USE what got shoveled into our brains!

We think this will be our last trimester and in May we will be able to start working more closely with Training Pastors International (TPI) ( We will leave the protected environment of our school and classrooms and reenter the “real world.” We do not want to go on this journey alone. Although we will be working with Greg Moore, founder of TPI, and the pastors and families scattered throughout Central and South America, we are looking for a group of people, a team if you will, that we will be held accountable to; someone we will need to report back to about what we have been doing and where God is leading us next. We want to share God’s activities in Central and South America with those that can’t go there directly, but still want to take an active role. Does that make sense?

Soon we will need your support more than ever – both in prayer and financial. We have seen the results of your prayers (look through some previous articles on our blog) and we are now asking for you to join us with financial support as well.

Although we don’t know exactly how God will use our talents, we think it will involve promoting what TPI does to other churches and organizations and showing them how they can also get involved. We think we will be making videos, brochures, live presentations, teaching classes, and more. All of this will cost money. We are fortunate that our pension will provide for our basic living expenses so every dollar donated will go directly to the ministry needs!

Let me give you some specifics: when we send out mailings to our support team, it costs about $45 for postage and supplies – maybe you could fund that need for us. If we had 5 people donating $20 every month, that would help with computer and office supplies (ink cartridges, blanks CDs and DVDs, photo paper, software, etc). If we had 20 people donating $50 each month, that would help with our transportation costs to/ from churches in the US and training locations throughout Central and South America. Believe it or not, it is cheaper to travel to and from many Central and South American cities from the US than it is from other Central and South American cities (supply and demand!).

Please pray about how you might be a part of our “team.” If you want more information, you can call us at 702-866-9548 or email us at You can also contact Pastor Shane Critser at our sending church, Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, NV at 702-896-5924.

Please only respond as you feel God leading you; through prayer support, financial support, or nothing at this time. You can send your tax-deductible gifts to Training Pastors International; PO Box 2135; Grenada, MS 38902. Checks should be made payable to TPI; please include a note that it is for Bill and Sandy Stevener.

Gracias y bendiciones a todo.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He Believed - What would you have done?

Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:50

How many times have we read stories where Jesus heals someone without being there, and skip right over them because we know Jesus was a healer. I invite you to slow down, and read a little more carefully.

In this event, Jesus was in Cana, the man and his son that was dying were in Capernaum - about 20 miles apart and a two day journey. This man had obviously given up on the local doctors and, while his son was dying, took a two day journey to ask Jesus to come heal his son. After searching for and finally finding Jesus, he pleads his case: Sir, come down before my son dies.

Jesus tells him: Go, your son lives.

Wow! After leaving his dying son back in Capernaum, traveling for two days, worrying about his son's health, wondering if he could convince Jesus to travel with him back to Capernaum, hoping they could get back there in time, and then arriving in Cana and searching around the town for Jesus, he finally finds Jesus, explains his situation, is anxious to get going and Jesus simply tells him: Go, your son lives.

What a letdown that must have been. Keep in mind, this man was not a Jesus follower nor a believer (see verse 53). What would you have done? Continue to plead with Jesus? Give up and go home? The text says this man believed!

He started home and the next day his servants found him (they had also been traveling for a day) and told him his son was living. Surprised and excited, he asked them when the son got better and they told him "yesterday at the 7th hour" (about 1 in the afternoon). Of course, this was the same time Jesus told him: Go, your son lives.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

She Gave Her Testimony

I'm now going through the book of John as part of my morning devotionals and came to this verse:

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all the things that I have done." - John 4:39

What a GREAT example of Jesus' command to us as He left in Acts 1:8 - you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth

Not only did this happen in Samaria, the GREAT thing is that the woman "only" gave her testimony, what had happened to her and what she knew, and many believed in Him! She didn't start a campaign, she didn't start a church, she didn't prepare tracks to pass out - she simply gave her testimony and people believed!

Nothing wrong with those other things, and we need to do all of them, but let's not forget the simple things, or put off doing the simple things, because we have big plans!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Final Thoughts for the Year

Yeah, that’s the title I wanted to use a couple weeks ago, but with everything going on (visiting 4 countries, 9 cities, packing and repacking) I never got this post written. Although we are back in Costa Rica, I still want to make this post and will update our new status (new apartment, new classes, new phase of our ministry, etc) in a couple weeks… stay tuned!

The language school is setup with 3 trimesters of 4 months each; they have a graduation ceremony at the end of every trimester. On December 11th, the graduation of 50+ men and women entering service as missionaries in 13 countries (see photo of part of the graduation program) was truly awe-inspiring. The graduates entered the chapel carrying the flag for the country where they would be serving. As I have said before, Sandy and I are learning so much more than just the Spanish language – we are learning about God’s activities throughout Latin America and the world. Most students are from the US, but we also have students from Canada, England and Korea. We are learning more about our own faith as we deal with health and family issues (see previous posts). We are learning about how God interacts with people as students share their stories in chapel every Tuesday and Thursday.

During Christmas break we were fortunate to be able to visit with “family” in Honduras and Nicaragua. We were in a “sandwich shop” (pupuseria) in a small strip mall in Danli, Honduras, waiting for Gustavo and Manuel. On the door they had the standard PUSH and PULL signs (en español, por supuesto, EMPUJE y JALE). In addition, they had Christian messages (see photos). Busca a Cristo (Look for Christ) and Cristo te ama (Christ loves you). Then, inside the restaurant, attached to their sign by the cash register (caja), was the message: Jesucristo muy pronto vendrá ¿Ya estás listo? (Jesus Christ will come very soon – Are you ready now?).

When Gustavo and Manuel arrived, I commented to them that stores or restaurants in the US would not display such signs because so many people complain about being offended. They said signs like this were normal throughout the country! Is the US moving closer or further from Christianity?

It was great seeing our Hope family. We extend a special thanks to Tom and Mona for providing a place to park our stuff while in the US!

Thanks for following us on our journey – watch for opportunities to get involved! We serve a BIG GOD!