Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do You Believe?

     Making a list and checking it twice.... but this list has nothing to do with who is naughty or nice....

          We had the opportunity to go out with Pastor Pablo and his wife Stella to deliver Christmas gifts to the children that live in Tobati and come three days a week for a feeding program and gospel message here at Su Refugio. These children are from very poor families and the meals they receive are the only healthy food they get. Su Refugio would like to feed them five days a week but does not have the funds. These gifts were donations from the U.S. and a local supermercado but ultimately they are gifts from the Lord himself and are a small example of what He has given us.

As we were delivering them it reminded me of our traditions of Santa. Even our traditions enforce the belief that we have to earn everything we get. If you're not good then Santa will put coal in your stocking; if you are good you get presents! What kind of message does that send to our children? One of unconditional love? I think not.

     The message of Christ is that we can never be good enough. Our debt it too great to ever be able to pay. The good news is that we don't have too. Christ paid the price for us. He loved us so much that He paid the price for all our sins so that we could receive the greatest of all gifts. How contrary to our human thinking, how un-like us, to give to those who didn't earn it, even to those who will reject the effort. How great a God we serve.
Are your hearts open like these little children to receive the good gifts the Father has for you?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ready, Set, ...

Two garage sales, selling as much as possible: check.
Move the rest into storage: check.
Farewell tour to tell family and friends in the Wild West goodbye: check.
Strengthening Your Interpersonal Skills workshop: check.
Equipping for Intercultural Missions course: check.
House rented: check.

Hey, I think that's it. All our prerequisites are done. What's left? Get on the plane and GO! We'll be flying out Sunday afternoon, December 15, traveling 26 hours before arriving in Paraguay Monday afternoon.

Wow, what a hectic schedule since finding out we would be moving to Paraguay to serve full time with Su Refugio just three and a half months ago!

In that time we have met such a wide variety of people, many who have impacted our lives significantly. The people at our garage sales asking if Paraguay was in Arkansas (minimal impact on our lives); old acquaintances and new friends in Las Vegas and Southaven as more people learned more about our calling (major impact); many other missionaries and their families at the seminar and course we took (huge impact). We are so thankful to be living in this age of electronics where we can easily video conference with others, keep up with people all over the world through Facebook and blogs, deposit checks electronically via email, the list goes on!

We plan to stay with Maximo and his family for a week while we work on getting our permanent residency ($2,000). Paolo (our "handler" to help us navigate the government offices and recorders) should be picking us up Tuesday morning at 8 for our first venture into the process. This is a huge prayer request, as many people will be on their summer vacations and Christmas is the following week. We've got activities planned daily, Tuesday-Friday, to get as much done as possible.

The next week we plan to spend with Pablo and his family at Su Refugio, experiencing Christmas in our new soon-to-be hometown of Tobati; how exciting is that! Being south of the equator, this is their summer. With temperatures around 93 degrees, not much chance of a "white Christmas" for us!

Around New Year's Day we will move to stay with Alcides and his family. Alcides is the main pastor at the church that oversees operation of its own elementary school, Heaven's Kingdom, and the Su Refugio facility. We hope to get his vision for how Sandy and I will transition into their environment. God is doing some absolutely amazîng things at Su Refugio which have the potential to change the entire nation of Paraguay. Suffice it to say we are working in the private enterprise at the highest levels. Stay tuned!

January 5 we head to Costa Rica for more language school. Sandy will be a full time student renewing her skills in Spanish while Bill will likely be working at the attached elementary school, Sojourn Academy, and pick up some tutoring along the way.

We plan to be back in Paraguay full time in early June!

Prayer requests:
-- Praise God for such a clear answer to prayer about where we would be going next
-- Praise God for the tremendously exciting journey He has allowed us to experience
-- Smooth and successful processing for our residency paperwork
-- Strength for Maximo and his family as they prepare for a new baby in late December (C-Section)
-- Peace for Pablo and his family as they face various struggles working at the children's center
-- Health for Sandy and I as we work and study in Costa Rica

Saturday, August 31, 2013

All in In His Time

For about a year now, having left TPI, we have been working where we are, wondering what God had lined up for us next. Were we going to stay in Mississippi assisting in missions and women’s ministries at Trinity and providing computer assistance at Northpoint Christian School (formerly SBEC), or were we going to go somewhere else. We wanted to be sure we satisfied two conditions: working in areas where we have skills and passion, and working in an area where there is a great need. We were using a saying we learned from Vance Pitman at Hope Baptist Church: ministry rides on the rails of relationships.

Through a series of relationships that we are confident were orchestrated by God, we came in contact with Latin America Mission (LAM). LAM’s focus is to partner with existing ministries in Latin America, providing assistance as necessary.

After much prayer and discussion, we completed the application process with LAM and know that God is now calling us to work with Su Refugio in Paraguay. Su Refugio is a Christian home in Paraguay that takes in children from abusive and drug-using families. Scott Kvandal, an engineer from San Diego, started Su Refugio several years ago by building a small dormitory, dining area, church and amphitheater, and has recently added a Center of Hope which helps train women with skills to help sustain their families; an elementary school is also being developed.

Bill will be assisting Pastor Pablo with the church on the campus at Su Refugio, as well as home churches that are starting in the neighboring town of Tobatí. Bill will also be working with Pastor Alcides to teach and develop course for the Bible college Alcides has already started. Sandy will be working primarily in the Center for Hope, helping women in Tobatí and another town, Caacupé, learn sewing and cooking, and also with starting practical businesses out of their homes. Together, we will be coordinating visiting mission teams and leading marriage retreats for towns in the surrounding areas.

We have put our house up for sale, plan to sell both cars and most of our furniture and put a few things in storage. We are planning a trip to see family and friends in Las Vegas, California and New Mexico, followed by a four week intercultural course in North Carolina. We’re looking to move to Costa Rica in mid-December to sharpen our Spanish skills, and then on to Paraguay, probably in early June.

These are definitely exciting times for us. Please pray for us, giving thanks to God for making our plans as clear as He has, and that all goes well as we transition to our new lives in Paraguay.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Flow of Discipleship

I have always viewed the Christian life as a stream: although you cannot always see its source, nor where it finishes, you know it is real and it is in motion. You can observe it from a distance and study it under a microscope, but if you really want to understand it, you have to jump in! Only after jumping in can you feel the power of the water, the smoothness of the rocks, and know the many places it will take you!

At times, you are moving swift and steady, enjoying all the sights and sounds.

At times, you feel as if you have no control over where you’re going, but you know the ride is exhilarating.

At times, the motion is bumpy, and you appreciate the times that were smooth and look forward to them once again. At times, you feel stuck, but you know the stream continues and soon you will be moving again.

When you look at the flowing water, you notice it is clean. Why? Because the sediment sinks and the rocks and gravel act as a filter.

When you look at the rocks in the flow, you see that although they are not moving, they, too, are clean. Why? Because the flowing water cleanses them.

You also notice rocks near, but not in the stream: they look like they have been rinsed off, but moss and lichens are growing on them. You see still water off to the side, and because it is not part of the flow, stagnation is occurring and pockets of algae are forming.

What does this have to do with discipleship?

The way I see it, you can be an observer, you can be part of the flow, you can be a rock in the flow, or you can be like part of the stream that is off to the side and stagnant. If you’re an observer, that’s all you can do; you can never fully experience all that God and this life have to offer. You can see it and you can study it, but you cannot truly understand it.

If you are part of the flow, you are living the Christian dream, following where God leads, enjoying all that is around you, even the rough times.

You can be stationary, like a rock in the middle of the stream, and still be part of the flow. Teachers and pastors and other leaders that are constantly building and cleansing the people that go past them are part of the flow.
Finally, you can still be in the stream, in the Christian life, but not be associated with any of the flowing water. Oh sure, you once were, but you may have found comfort in simply being off to the side, oblivious to the flow around you. Be careful: this is how stagnation and mold and algae can form, causing you to lose the beauty of the stream that was once yours.


If you have jumped into the stream, if you have entered the Christian life, you know you have been changed. You now see and understand things differently than you ever could before while simply observing the stream. The longer you are in the stream, the more you experience. The more you experience, the more you are able to share, and sharing is how we make disciples.

It is likely someone shared with you what they discovered after “jumping in,” causing you to “jump in.” Since then, others have shared their knowledge and experiences with you. It’s only right that you continue the flow. It’s even biblical.
The last command Jesus gave His disciples before ascending to heaven was Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.
If that was His last command, what do you think His first question will be when He returns?