Friday, February 19, 2016

Some things you can pray about

The past few months I have been repeatedly given this image of Jesus interceding for me.  This past Sunday it was through this verse in Hebrews 7 .....

24 But He, (Jesus)  because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, 
since He always lives to make intercession for them."

Jesus lives to make intercession for us!  That is so humbling and encouraging.  So when we pray we are not only joining each other as the Body of Christ - but we are joining Him!

Can I ask you to pray for a few specific things over the next few weeks?

Child Sponsorship:   I have the privilege of sharing this weekend at a church that is deeply invested in the ministry of Caroline's Promise.  Their desire is that their people will consider sponsoring a child in one of our projects.  Will you pray that God will speak to their hearts and confirm to those that He wants to sponsor?  We have a new set of kids in the school and in Gerona that need sponsors. 

Business Training:  This feels like something we have been working on for years.  We have always known that one of the ways God would break the bondage of poverty in the lives of our Guatemalan friends is by showing them that they are gifted and able to work and that He would provide creative ways for them to make a living.  The next step in this dream is to offer training to those who want to own their own business.  Some have completed our sewing program, others dream of owning a catering business, but all have a desire to provide for their families.   We are excited to partner with Yobel International to offer this curriculum.   

Will you pray for the team that will be on the ground February 24 - March 2?  Pray for health and their families that will be at home.  Pray against distraction and interruptions.  Pray for God to give wisdom and energy.

Pray for the women who will attend the training.  Pray against obstacles that will keep them from being there.  Pray that they will sense God's presence and hear Him.  Pray that they will feel loved and valued.

Pray for the staff in Guatemala that will partner with us.  Translators, child care workers, caterers.

Pray for Yobel International - that God will continue to bless their ministry!

Gang Activity:  If you read my recent post about the loss of one of our kids, you know that gang activity in the area is a problem.  Will you pray with us that God will use the church to reach the leaders of these gangs, that their hearts would be changed and that the church will continue to be a light in this community?  Pray for protection and wisdom.

Summer Teams:   Our teams are training and preparing for summer ministry.  Will you pray for God to lead us to the ministries that He wants us to do?  Pray for provision for these team members and for changed lives.

We are so blessed to have such an amazing team of supporters.  Thank you for joining us in the most important work - prayer.


Monday, February 1, 2016

When the gory newspaper article is someone you know

My heart felt like it stopped when I finally put two and two together and realized who Delmi was talking about. She had messaged me to say that a 15 year old from the community had been murdered that morning.  I could feel her sadness through the words she wrote but it took my mind a few minutes to connect the dots and realize who it was. 

Emerson. And then the tears came. Like a flood. I first met him in the summer of 2011.  His family lived near the church and school and he and his younger brother, Keiner were constantly hanging out.  We had added them to the sponsorship program and they were attending the school, Casita
Adonai.  Emerson was a charmer with the most beautiful smile.  He and Keiner just wanted to hang out with us and help.  I remember finally asking Delmi if they could help me sort school supplies and I can still see their sweet faces when we finished the last box.  They had given back and they were proud.  The teens on our team spent the afternoons painting and on the final afternoon they let the boys help them.  In celebration everyone smudged paint on their faces and t-shirts.  It was such a fun day!
As I learned a bit of their story I became burdened, but also at peace because I knew they were safe at the school and feeling loved by the people at the church.  The following year my heart broke as I learned that their family had moved and the boys would no longer be attending the school or church.  On my next visit I missed Emerson so much.

In January of 2015 the family moved back to the community and we quickly found a sponsor for Keiner so that he could attend school at Casita.  But Emerson was now in middle school and of course Casita only goes through the sixth grade.  I was happy to have them back in the area but concerned for Emerson for so many reasons.  This past summer I saw him.  He remembered me and smiled but his smile wasn’t the same.  It’s as if the life had been sucked from him.  All I could think was “We have lost him”. 

Sixth months later and he is gone.  We really have lost him.  One of the most shocking things that people see when they first visit Guatemala is how raw the newspapers are.  It’s not unusual to see photos of horrific car accidents with blood spilling in the streets.  This week the gory images I saw were of the lifeless bodies of Emerson and his friend, gunned down in broad daylight allegedly in a gang related act of violence.  My heart breaks for his family.  For Carlos & Delmi.  For his friends.  For his little brother.  And my heart just aches – because although I knew it could happen, I never really dreamed that a kid I loved would be taken from us in this way.

As I’ve processed this week and tried to put into words what I’m feeling, several things have made their way to the surface.

·    *   I read a story about a family that adopts terminally ill children who have been abandoned, and loves them fiercely until they pass away.  (You can read the story here).  One quote stood out to me:

“We invest deeply, and we ache terribly when these kids die, but our hearts are like stained-glass windows. Those windows are made of broken glass which has been forged back together, and those windows are even stronger and more beautiful for having been broken.” 

The tendency would be to back off – stop investing – stop loving, but God calls us to love these kids, knowing that it may mean we experience the ache of losing them.  It is from this investment and love that we become who we are truly meant to be. 

This verse keeps coming to my mind.
            “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
             and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
                                                -Psalm 38:14

I can choose to be crushed in spirit – or I can allow God to comfort me.

·     *  For the past few months I’ve sensed that we should invest more into the young adults who work with the teens at Iglesia Adonai.  The loss of Emerson only confirms this direction.  How can we love, support, and equip these amazing leaders so that they can continue to reach kids like Emerson?

·     * I was sharing with a friend today about how our passion for things goes through seasons.  It’s natural to get tired, lose focus, and wonder if what we are doing really does make a difference.  Sometimes God calls us to a period of rest where we are not dreaming and planning and running 100 miles an hour with hearts full of passion.  To be honest, I was losing energy and passion to raise funds for the third and final floor of the building that serves the school and church.  The dream has always been to offer middle school grades once the building is complete.  But fundraising is hard and sometimes exhausting and I had lost my drive to ask one more person for money.  And then I saw that newspaper article and I couldn’t help but think,

 “Would the story be different if Emerson had been able to stay at Casita for middle school?”

We will never know, but somehow God has used this loss to renew my passion to finish that third floor. 

And so, we grieve, question, cry, and then ask God “What next?”  Please join me in praying for Emerson’s family, especially his younger brother Keiner.  Pray for Carlos & Delmi and for the 15 year olds in the community like Emerson who are searching for love and acceptance.  May we be faithful to do our part so that they find it in Jesus.