Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Was it Faith before?

We come to Colombia bearing a message. What is it? Jesus the righteous one was slain for sinners. He died and was raised from the dead on the third day. He was seen by many people before he ascended into heaven and now he intercedes for His saints. Some day soon He will return to judge everyone. Any and all persons that trust in this message about His Grace, through faith and do not trust in anything in themselves will be saved. This is called "The Gospel" (the good news).
I must tell you we fight a spiritual warfare down here that is harder, hotter and heavier than ever at home. Satan is not happy we are here. It is not because of us, but this message that we carry. Isaiah 52:7-12 states that we are bringing the glad tidings of the good news with beautiful feet upon the mountains, publishing salvation to all that will hear and saying our God reigns! This causes worship and praising for our God in places that don‘t worship him yet. For the Lord comforts His people and redeems them. His Holy arm of salvation has been bared to the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see this Salvation. Depart he says and Go, You shall not go out in haste, for the Lord goes before you, He will be your rear guard. We know that this can not fail. He will do His sovereign saving work through it. Satan can attack our flesh if we live by it. But if, by the spirit we put to death the deeds of the body, then there is nothing to attack. Pray for us to walk this way. We must keep our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of the faith. We must live and fight with this understanding that, we have been bought with a price too high to pay or ever earn. We fail when we look to ourselves to defeat sin with our will power or duty. This is fighting the spiritual things with flesh. Martin Luther said “Sin is man looking inward.” Strength comes to those who trust in the Lord to deliver them. I see that I have, like most I would say, in North America, have spent my life wanting to walk by faith, yet captivated by the things that I knew and could see.
We always say, “God uses Means.” We love and laugh at the two boats and helicopter story that came for the man waiting on God and say, "what a fool." Yet I'm afraid we take too far the other way. A man the other day at US customs asked me, how I could leave my family in Colombia without their Passports. I responded, “God is the God of everywhere.” He said he was a Christian too, but we shouldn’t jump in front of a machine gun. We must be wise, He counseled me. Two years ago I would’ve said the same thing. Now, I feel like The Lord has given me a grace to trust Him more than I could have or ever would have dreamed before. You see in the passage above from Isaiah states, that when we are doing this Good news work The God of Israel goes before us and is our rear guard! I don’t know of an army or king that has ever out smarted this God, do you? We think we are so smart with our lil’ plans and or big ideas. The truth of the matter is, if the Lord doesn’t build the house the men labor in vain. Oh the logic of modern day “Christianity” To hell with this fleshly logic. It makes me sick how I used to walk by “so called faith.” Yet, I always had a back up plan made by the arm of the flesh. Saying I was serving the Lord, yet in reality not giving Jesus full Lordship in my life. Having a hard time going to church “every” Sunday cause I had fun stuff I wanted to do. Not wanting to dedicate to Sunday school just in case I wanted to go camping or fishing through the weekends. I’m afraid I wasn’t experiencing God for the Awesome Joy filled life He had for me. Our life down here for sure, is way less fun and games, yet I have never been so satisfied walking in the world, as I am with walking with Jesus today. My Faith has changed so much I’m not sure it could’ve been called walking by faith before? It is so sweet I wish we could just let go of everything in our lives for real, and then say something like, "Jesus, do you want me to do more?" Some day soon we will stand before The King and give an accounting to our days spent. That drives me. We have what… Ten minutes of life left. Then ETERNITY!
I use to hope that there would be hunting and fishing in heaven. Maybe some hope for lots of family time or golf or… Now I don’t give a rip what’s all there. I can’t imagine looking for a second at the lame streets of Gold or the pearly gates. Do you look down at the pavement now and admire it‘s glory? Seriously, The King of Kings is there! We don’t need a sun… The Lamb that was slain for you, that bought you even while you where dead in sins. He is there…He is the light of the new earth. I am here to tell you He is out here in this faith walk and mission world like you have dreamed of. You can see Him, feel Him and taste Him. He is outside the camp. Will you join Him on the Calvary road and die to yourself. Or will you just wish today there was more power from God in the world. You don’t have to go anywhere, I don’t believe. You just have to repent and get in your heart where God has taken us to. He had to work a little harder on us. He had to send us to Colombia to get our minds and prayers desperate for Him. Will you join Him? A True life of Faith is waiting. I hope soon you could say with us, “Was it really faith before?”
Josh

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He Giveth More Grace

Sorry I haven't written in a while, it’s been kind of crazy. Actually it’s been the most difficult time in my life in a lot of ways, but also the greatest, if that makes sense. God has been doing amazing things in the ministry as well as in refining our hearts, but it has been a painful process. It’s not so much that the living conditions are consistently less than ideal, because we expected that. It’s the intensity of the spiritual battle day in and day out. The hardest part about being a missionary is having the recesses of the wickedness in my flesh brought out. Life's pressures here are intensified both in duration and intensity. I struggle with anger and frustrations that I didn't even know existed a few months ago. If left unchecked, they quickly turn into slander, gossip or other thoughts and conversations that should not leave the lips of anyone, let alone a follower of Christ. Most days, I find myself desperate for the Lord's help and forgiveness in one way or another. The devil seems to take a lot of cheap shots, and here I don't have the luxury of not being prepared for battle. If for some reason I miss or have to cut short my time with the Lord in the morning, I'm in trouble. The armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6, which I memorized in Sunday school years ago, has taken on a whole new meaning. In fact, many of the Scriptures that I have known for years have become so real here. For example:

Mathew 6:34

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Luke 9:23-24

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Most importantly, God has opened my eyes to the magnitude of His mercy and grace that He has extended to me, a vile sinner. Mercy, by definition, is God withholding what I deserve. I deserve nothing but wrath, destruction and judgment for my wickedness. Grace, by definition, is God giving what I don’t deserve. Not only does God withhold the Hell that I deserve, he lavishes me with new life in Christ, salvation that I do not deserve. Hallelujah, what a Savior! The fact that the Holy, Holy, Holy, Just God of the Universe, would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for sin-saturated creatures like me is overwhelming. The only way that I can continue to serve God here in Colombia is because I know that the righteousness that He demands, He has provided. Jesus lived 33 years in perfect obedience and fellowship with the Father. The Holy Law of God that I break constantly, not only in word or deed, but in thoughts and heart, Christ obeyed and fulfilled perfectly! There was never one fraction of a second that He did not love God with ALL His heart, soul, mind and strength or fail to love others as Himself. Rather than the pure glory that He deserved, my Savior was ridiculed, mocked, beaten, spat upon, and crucified by wretched men like me. Rather than save His perfect Son from the cruel cross that He hung on, God the Father poured out the cup of His Holy Wrath against every sin that I would ever commit, to save me. Jesus Christ drank the Hell that I deserve. Proving that His payment for my sin was received and paid in full and that I was justified in His sight, God raised Christ from the dead. By pure grace, my sin in all of its perverseness was placed upon Christ on the cross of Calvary, and by more pure grace His perfect Righteousness was given to me. In spite of my sin, I can now serve the King of all Kings as a righteous man because of that exchange. Unthinkable, yet true! This Gospel is the reason I am here. This Gospel is the reason I can continue and will continue to serve God as long as His grace sustains me.

Along with the Scriptures that have become more vivid here, I often remember some of the Hymns I learned as a child. One Hymn which has been a comfort to my soul more than once here is “He Giveth More Grace”.

He giveth more grace, as the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength as the labors increase.

To added affliction, He addeth His mercy.

To multiplied trials, his multiplied peace.

His love has no limit.

His grace has no measure.

His power has no boundary known unto man.

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,

He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

Even as I type these words, my eyes are swelling with tears. These promises that I have known in my mind for so long are proving themselves true. He giveth more grace! His grace all sufficient shall be my supply! Even on the most difficult days here, in the most difficult moments, I find a steady, inner strength rising from within. As the doubtful thoughts creep in and I wonder why I am here, I find my spirit saying with the Apostles, “to where would we go, you alone have the words of eternal life”. I am here because my Lord and my God called me here. He is the One who purchased my soul with His precious blood. I would go anywhere for Him! Apart from His grace, I am lost, ruined, without hope. But in Christ, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. My deepest longing is that He will get the glory He deserves from my life.

All for the Matchless Name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Mike


1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Typical Day

Many people ask what life is like here in Colombia. My answer is usually something like, “hot and busy but fairly normal.” In an attempt to try to help you all, my family and friends see what life is like here I have decided to describe a typical day.
A typical Colombian native starts their day anywhere from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here on the farm our days usually start around 6 or 7 depending on the work scheduled and when kids wake up. Monday through Friday we are blessed to have a cook so we no longer have to start our day out in the kitchen. Instead of having to cook first thing in the morning I am able to clean up our rooms if I wasn’t able to get to it the night before. Cleaning our rooms consists of sweeping, moping and making sure the kids have all their stuff cleaned up. It also gives me some time to start laundry or at least get in line for the washing machine that we all share. We are so blessed to have the washing machine as it makes washing so much easier and quicker. After washing in the machine we line dry everything. We are in the rainy season right now so it sometimes takes the laundry a couple days to dry. If it is a sunny day the laundry dries much quicker, sometimes in just half a day. It is nice when you can hang it out to dry but right now a safer bet is to hang it in the “laundry room.”
School starts at 8:45 so the rest of the morning is spent helping the kids get fed and ready. We school our children and the children living here on the farm at home. It has been a process of figuring out what kind of structure works best and doing our best to implement it. It is still a work in progress but it is going well. After school is lunch and then the kids have free time to play and do their daily chore. Chores include things like sweeping, moping and dishes. While kids are doing these things there is time for more laundry, supervising play time, and sometimes email or other study. Evenings are a busy time with dinner, clean-up and a “quiet” time activity. The kids go to bed by 7:30 or 8:30 depending on their ages and the adults get some much needed quiet time.
Some miscellaneous information that you may be curious about is that we are blessed with clean water from a well and we have electricity, although we do lose power some days for most the day. We do not have hot water, air conditioning or carpet and we do not flush toilet paper.
Life here on the farm is anything but dull! Please pray with us as we work to fulfill God’s purposes here at El Nido. I hope this update helps you all catch a glimpse of what life is like here on the farm. I look forward to updating you soon on the other events of the past month in the newsletter. May all the glory be given to God.
Stacy

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Journey Begins

So it’s my turn to write on the Colombia Grace Foundation blog! Having a deadline has certainly helped me take some time away from all the madness to sit down and truly reflect on all that has been going on. So as I have learned in Colombia that it only takes 1 rock to scare away 2 or 3 stray dogs, I am going to write this blog for the beloved readers of the Colombia Grace Foundation blog AND the 1 or 2 people who actually read my own blog Hands and Feet. (Love you Mom!).

I am a punk of kid who is loved by an amazing God. He planned for me to be born in a sketchy Colombian orphanage, but adopted as a baby by an awesome Christian family. I was taught to walk in His ways and revere Him. And even through my own personal rebellion, He captured me. Though I enjoyed a superficial walk of faith for many years, by His grace I am being refined. As He stripped more of me away, a call to missions was placed on my heart. He never let me forget my past and therefore a burden for orphans and the poor has come forth. I returned to this country as a teacher in a very needy village outside of Cartagena. Last year, at a random pastor conference in the city, God introduced me to 2 guys who possessed a passion and vision my heart burned for. I left this divine appointment knowing God was calling me to join this ministry.

Have you ever let guilt, shame, fear, or inadequacy suffocate something beautiful the Lord was trying to do in your life? I almost did. After I met Josh and Mike, I left that church beaming like a 13 year old who just found out that Sports Illustrated makes a swimsuit issue. I could not stop praising the Lord for such an answer to prayer. The exhausting 2 bus, canoe crossing, and motorcycle taxi ride back to my “pueblo” had never passed so quickly. Yet, just like the infamous disciple of Christ, I began to pay attention to outside things and began to freak out. However, God is sovereign and continued to use adversities of living third world style and my personal struggles to refine this wretched heart. This year I began working with the gang just every weekend and in these precious moments He nailed some pretty tough convictions on my heart. So I took a step of faith that was leaving my teaching job to truly commit to work for treasures that will not be destroyed. I have no intention to looking back. I am exactly where He wants me to be and just saying those words brings a tear to my eye. God is worth everything we can offer Him. The only shame I have now is that it’s taken me so long to truly understand that.

So what the heck is going on here lately and what am I doing?

For you people who are probably reading this on my blog, the orphanage is called El Nido de Gracia (Nest of Grace). The Lord brought 2 families all the way from somewhere “in the sticks” of Oregon to a small village outside of Cartagena, Colombia. These wannabe “rednecks” have amazing hearts and are truly known by God!

The property at El Nido is coming along! Supposedly a free bulldozer will be coming soon to help us prepare the plot of land that will be Mike and Stacy’s house. The wood has arrived so the testosterone is flowing. I am betting Josh will be growing out his beard soon in order to prepare for this new manly task and I have noticed that Mike has been wearing a lot of cut-offs lately. So I think I either need to start smoking or letting my Colombian mustache capability take flight. Having this house built will then open up 4-6 beds in the main house for orphans.

Stacy and I have been working to organize the “El Nido School.” Things have been improving each day but we have all been praying about help in the school. Our “Spanglish” skills can only take us so far when we are teaching Colombian children who can barely read themselves. However, the Lord is faithful by giving us grace in these moments and by also bringing us help! Please pray for 2 amazing woman who are and will be doing a tremendous work with these kids, their names are Luz Mercy and Darlys.

God is continuing to strengthen His church here in Turbana. Please join us in prayer as we ask the Lord to reveal a place within the pueblo that we could possibly have hold services. Seeing the van just broke down today (broken axel), I might be unable to pick up the regular 50+ people this Sunday. Having a place within town will be a tremendous blessing and so we have been asking the Lord to provide this. Also a cool story was that Luis Fernando was super sick last Sunday, but just like when Jordan had the flu in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Jazz, he came out and “lit it up.” The Lord is using this little guy in such a mighty way. Please remember Him as he continues to recover from this illness.

While there is a million cool but not important things to share like how the dogs we have enjoy eating our chickens, how I learned to ride a very stubborn donkey, Josh had to get a few stitches in his knee from a run-in with his machete and the assortment of things that bring color to this ministry, nothing is more worth writing about than the two brothers named Geiner and Carlos who just recently were brought to us and what the Lord is teaching us.

We have known about the possibility of them coming to live with us for a while. Without going into all the wretched things they have seen in their short 7 and 10 year lives, they have been abused in ways that make me want to scream. They bear physical scars to remind them that this world is cruel and evil. Yet, nothing compares to the hurt and distrust that lies within their heart. These children are broken.

On my blog I thrive to be transparent and honest. So even though I am giving an update for the Colombia Grace Foundation blog as well, I desire to continue in this manner. This ministry is incredibly hard! I wake up each day on my knees asking the Lord to show up. I have been given the task to have primarily responsibility over these fragile gifts and I am over my head each and every day. As we say here “if the Lord does not show up, we are done!” While this comment could go much deeper, I will just say that for the first time I understand what it means to “trust in the Lord with all your heart. And lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).” While I have gone through tough adversity and trials, I have never been in this situation. What I see has happened is that I have finally moved directly behind the Lord in this journey to be His hands and feet among the nations. And when you stand behind the Almighty, you can’t see what is in front of you. You simply have to follow him step for step and have faith in Who is leading you. Working here in Colombia is a blessing. I am humbled to have this calling. However, this is more than I can handle.

Geiner, Carlos, and all of us need Jesus. He is our only answer to everything we are experiencing. God is making it clear to us that the children we will most like be caring for are not the adorably thankful children seen in other ministries. These are shattered abused children that have already been selling drugs, been involved in prostitution, and have learned to trust no one. But even in that tough sentence, I smile, because I already have seen the Lord working in ways I can’t explain. May He receive all glory and honor as He fills their deep wounds and rebuilds there precious hearts. I promise to write more about “my boys.”

I can’t believe this is most as long as Josh’s last blog…! Please pray for me, Stacey, Mike, Josh, Julie, Fernando, Daiver, Erianis, Geiner, Carlos and the rest of the family and friends whom the Lord has brought to El Nido de Gracia.

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:10

Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Eric

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord"


“Thou shall not tempt the Lord.” When we considered the calling of God on our lives, to come down and serve the Lord in Colombia, many well meaning people have used this verse, in the list of why we shouldn’t go. Let us observe for a bit if it is used in true form.

One of us would say. “So we feel like God has called us to go to Colombia, to start a church and a home for displaced children and widows.” The response often was something like this. “Wow, Colombia,why there? You know that is a very dangerous place. Are you you planning to take your family down to such a risky country?” Many well-meaning people would say. To that we may respond,“God will be our shield and our protector.” Then, this would almost always come, “Don’t you think that is putting the Lord to the test?” Hmm? “Don’t you think that is putting the Lord to the test?” Is that statement true? Please labor with me for a short thought on this subject. We are going to take a look at some scenes in the Bible and church history to see what God shows to us about risk, and when is it ever right. Also, I think we will see clearly what the Lord intends from this verse.

What is the final command of our Lord before he leaves this planet and ascends into Heaven? Mathew 28:18-20 -And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all 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 have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” So you see our commissioning has been made clear here as well as who will be with us in this work, Jesus himself. Do you believe this Josh? Is the question I had to ask myself before I could make a commitment to move from everything I know and move to a country that is unknown and not the safest place to raise our white families? Putting yourself at risk is easier for a young man, I do it every time I get on a motorcycle or go on a lone hunt in the wilderness or ever time I would drive too fast to make it to an appointment on time. But throwing my kids and wife in the back with me, it becomes a different type of risk. I studied the life of missionaries and ministers that have gone before me. Men that are still recognized just by there last names, like Taylor, Judson, Patton, Carrey, Bunyan and Luther. Then I looked at our beloved Paul as well as the first martyr of our faith, Stephen. I studied the life of these men and found that they all had one common denominator. They served under a Great God for a greater purpose then the common man lives for in this life, and because of this, God was with them in power. They had as Jonathan Edwards said” Eternity, stamped on there hearts.” They risked it all for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel. They all left behind loving families and friends. Many of them left behind good paying jobs and or successful ministries as well as would have “lives of ease” in the country side. Many never saw there fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters ever again this side of heaven. Some lost numerous children in the field, wives and there own life’s for this cause, a cause that has very little to do with themselves. It offers no gain this side of eternity. Why would they do this? Was it worth it? Then I looked at the great and first cross-cultural missionary, Jesus. He came from Heaven to earth. I would imagine that was a large culture shock. He came to a people group that for the most part didn’t want Him to come. He came with one Great purpose in mind. To set the captives of sin free and pay a great debt that wasn’t his own, but the debt was paid in full for all that turn to Him in repentance and faith. Also, He came to show us all how to live and love others. Why, so that we who believe in Him would spend our lives making Him known and glorified to all the peoples and nations, and that this all could be done “to the praise of his glorious grace.”

Lets take a quick look at another. John G. Patton headed to the New Hebrides’ Islands in 1858. He took his new wife and a few belongings. Just 19 years after two young men, John Williams and James Harris went there to be missionaries. These two men were killed, cooked and eaten in the sight of the ship before they got out of the Harbor. Needless to say, this was a dangerous mission field, that nobody ever lived through. They were known to be the South Sea Islands of the Heathen Cannibals. He was told by many of his strongest Christian friends that he was tempting the Lord by taking unneeded risks, such as taking His young pregnant wife, you will be eaten by Cannibals, they would say. Why would you leave a successful ministry here? The Lord has really blessed you. He heard the call from God and he had to go. He lost his wife and newly born son early on. His own life many times was near an end with the same sickness that took his wife. Over and over He was on deaths door. The enemy tribe’s men would follow him around with loaded musket and point it at him as he did his chores around his house, day after day. What would keep this man here? Doesn’t that seem to be tempting the Lord? He trusted His Sovereign God that the musket hammer couldn’t fall down unless God gave it permission. If God gave it the Okay then he was satisfied with it. God numbered his day before he had one. He states that, “I am immortal till my masters work with me is done.” OH that God would be pleased to raise up these kinds of followers today! He is not tempting the Lord my friend he trusted Him. He worked for regeneration from The Holy Spirit in faith not just a decisions. In the end of his life’s hard labors among the Island people in trial and deep trials of faith, he left behind a legacy that still holds today, of Christ lovers and Reformed Presbyterians churches on every Island that the old Cannibal people dwell. They profess to be over 80% Christian. Was it worth it? Now it is easy to say yes. It seemed as though he may have been tempting the Lord by undo risk to some. But based on the purpose of the risk, Patton risked nothing.

Now let see what Happens with Stephen. He is a young Deacon in the church filled with the Holy Spirit. One thing I have learned in the scriptures is that anytime that someone was filled with the Holy Spirit you knew they were going to do something that was would be for the betterment of the Kingdom and the Gospel. He was doing exactly what God had commissioned him to do and he was captured by the leaders of the day. They put him under Blasphemy charges and put him before the council of the religious rulers of the day. He lays forth for them The history that they all hold to and fulfills it all with the coming of the righteous one Jesus the Christ whom you killed Just as your fathers did the prophets. They in anger and pride take him out and cast him out of the city and stoned him to death as a young man named Saul held the coats for them so he could be killed. Like His lord he cried his last “Hold not this sin against them Lord. “ This raised a great persecution to the church in Jerusalem. The people of the church were scattered about the country side. Do you know what they were doing as they went? They were making more Disciples. This killing of God young faithful man spread his Gospel to whole country side. Latter on one of the young men in that crowd of Killers was saved. I’m sure there was a memory from that faithful saint’s testimony as well. Saul became Paul and then becomes the Greatest Theologian with hands and feet that the world has ever known. Was it wise for Stephen to be preaching in the Synagogue of the Jews? I mean it was full of haters of Jesus. Is that Tempting the Lord? Jesus said, “I send you out as sheep into a mist of wolves.” When doing things in the service of the Lord, there are always dangers. We must walk by faith and be wise oh yes. But friend don’t let wisdom keep you form from walking in faith. Prudence is more prevalent in Israel and the church I’m afraid, then real faith is. OH church, how many times will you doubt your Gods ability to act for those who wait for Him and walk with Him?

God never told Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. That is the answer, Josh and church. Let’s see what the word says; Ps 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Ps 91:12 “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
God says in the passages that the Devil twists in use against Jesus, that He commands his angels guarding you in all your ways. You see the ways are the ways of life and service to and for His Glory. Not jumping in front of a moving train, no. But, preaching the Gospel in a foreign land, yes. What about jumping out of planes for a rush? No, the promise is not for that. But flying into Dangerous countries and parachuting out under the cover of darkness to hand out bibles, yes.
John Calvin’s Bible commentary on Mathew ch 4:
“When Satan wickedly tortures Scripture, does Christ give way to him? Does he allow him to seize and carry off the Scripture, with which he formerly armed himself? On the contrary, he quotes Scripture in his turn, and boldly refutes Satan’s wicked slander. Whenever Satan shall cover his deception by Scripture, and ungodly men shall labor to subvert our faith by the same means, let us borrow our armor exclusively from Scripture for the protection of our faith. Satan twist it to say, If you expose yourself to death, contrary to the will of God, angels will protect your life." It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” The reply of Christ is most appropriate. There is no other way, in which we have a right to expect the assistance promised in that passage, than when believers humbly submit themselves to his guidance: for we cannot rely on his promises, without obeying his commandments. God is tempted in many ways: but in this passage, the word tempt denotes the neglect of those means which he puts into our hands. In short, whoever desires to make an experiment of the divine power, when there is no necessity for it, tempts God by subjecting his promises to an unfair trial.”

So what I have learned about this topic so far; you are not tempting the Lord by going anywhere he calls you to, if the calling is for His name sake and not some crazy idea in your own head. You see it’s not about weather there is high danger or safety. You may die in the service of the kingdom, and then you join the ranks of many fine men and woman before you. Hebrews 11 tells us the world is unworthy of ones such as these that give it all for the faith. And in the end you will hear “Well done thy good and faithful servant. “ If you shut the mouths of lions and put foreign armies to flight by faith and Plant 20 new churches and win a nation to faith for Jesus? You will hear “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” Why? Because walking by faith is walking for God no matter what it calls for or where it is or what it cost you. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. God has provided something better than this life. A Resurrection to glory. The question is will you join Him on the Calvary road to death to your self. Hebrews 13:12-14 “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” My brethren it’s not about earth. For here we have no lasting city such to prepare. Look to the Kingdom. Ask God, “God stamp eternity on my heart.” I have, and it has changed everything!

By:Josh

Monday, August 8, 2011

CGF Newsletter August 2011


Friends and Family Newsletter August 2011

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
TO GLORIFY THE NAME OF GOD IN COLOMBIA BY SHARING HIS LOVE WITH ORPHANS AND WIDOWS AND BY PLANTING A CHURCH THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST TO ALL WHO WILL LISTEN, BY THE POWER OF HIS SPIRIT, TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE!

God is so good! Much has happened here at El Nido de Gracia (which is the name of the farm meaning “Nest of Grace”) since the last time we were able update you all. Most things do not turn out to be the way they are first envisioned and this has been the case with our internet connection. Most of you know that our internet does not always work and many times, mid-email will cancel our connection, many times we simply cannot connect at all. We have also found ourselves yoked with many different projects and this at times has distracted us from our commitment to keeping people updated through this newsletter and especially through our blog. Thankfully the Lord is able to use us despite all our shortcomings. We will continue to strive to be better at communication and keeping you all updated.

These past two months have been filled with many experiences. One experience was helping a young teen and his mother who was and still is mentally unable to care for her son. The teen now lives here at the farm and we are pleased by the changes we are seeing in his character. He grows and changes every day and we’re excited to see who he will become. Our preteen girl is doing well also, healthy and happy. We are looking forward to welcoming some more children to the farm in the next couple weeks. It has been hard waiting, but paperwork and preparing the rooms has taken a lot of time.

We were also blessed last month to have a church from home send a mission team. Wow! You would not believe all the goodies they were able to pack in the 11 storage totes they brought and left here for us to store things in. A million thank-you’s to the team who built a roof on our tool shed, among many other things. We were especially blessed by the fellowship you brought into our home.

One of the biggest accomplishments of the past couple months has been receiving our VISAS. The process had many curves including multiple trips to Florida for Josh and a 2 week stay in Florida without family for Mike. In the long run both families and all our kids had to fly to Florida to apply for our VISAS in person. While being a costly trip it was also very enjoyable catching up with friends in Florida and the Riffle kids were able to visit and play in the pool with Grandma. A huge blessing from this trip was that the sores, rashes and mosquito bites were able to heal in Florida and now we are working hard to keep them from reoccurring. We were also blessed enormously by people while there in Florida and are now able to build another orphan house, buy a piano and buy some Spanish curriculum that we have needed. God’s blessings have been numerous.

Most of you reading the above paragraph are probably wondering what I meant when I said build another orphan house. The board approved us to start building a house on the lower part of our property. We were given a donation that enabled us to do this and now thanks to another donor we will be able to start a second then a third. God has been very gracious. We look forward to clearing land and breaking ground this week.

It has been one of our goals since the very beginning to become as self-sustaining as possible here on the farm. We have taken some steps in this process by buying some chickens who will start laying eggs in a couple months and by purchasing a pregnant milking cow from our neighbor. This same neighbor also gifted us two donkeys for packing and hauling or for having the kids ride.

Another exciting aspect of the ministry here has been starting church services here on the farm. On average there have been about 60 people attending including our families. By God’s grace, several have come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! After spending some time with them examining the Scriptures and studying Evidence of Spiritual Life by Thomas Boston, we had the privilege of baptizing a group of people last week. While this ministry continues to grow another has just started on the island of Tierra Bomba, (which is translated Wasteland.) Every Saturday Mike and his family travel to the island where Mike has felt lead to hold a Bible study for young men, and Stacy and the kids work with a friend’s ministry for the local children. This island is a dark place and in desperate need of the Light of Christ. Please pray that the Gospel will take root there, and that God’s name will be glorified as He draws and saves people on Tierra Bomba.

Please be in prayer with us as we begin building and take in more kids. We are in need of more permanent help especially with teaching school and we need widows so that we are able to take in more kids as the space becomes available. We are also praying about what type of curriculum to use for teaching now that we will be responsible for teaching more children. There are many aspects to the building process that need prayer. Pray for us also as we try to make sure we have all our paperwork in line with governmental regulations. Pray for the souls of Turbaco, Turbana and Tierra Bomba as we continue with Bible studies and church services. Our God is our strength, to Him we look as we continue with the mission he has allowed us to be a part of. Glory to God!


Colombia Grace Foundation
PO box 114
La Pine, OR 97739


“TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE…”
EPHESIANS 1:6

Thursday, June 23, 2011

God is great!

We are encouraged and excited to see God at work here where there is no true church, but many forms of worship. From Jehovah's Witnesses, and Witchcraft, to the ever prevalent Catholicism with it's idol worship and superstition that has been grafted into the culture and foundation of these people.
Josh and Mike were convicted to start church three weeks ago through prayer and encouragement from another pastor. God blessed this opportunity and brought about 40 people from nearby farms and towns.
We are thrilled to share some of the fruit of two Sundays ago... A lady named Luisa, who works in politics in a nearby town of 70K came to church just out of "curiosity", she said. She was invited by her house maid who was witnessed to on the side of the road by a local pastor and got saved! Luisa was sitting in church (which is actually our living room) and hadn't been here very long when there was an announcement made that we needed a place to have bible study in her town. She offered her house right away. We weren't sure at this point what her motives were, but accepted the invitation. Louis Fernando (Our Colombian pastor/missionary friend who lives here with us) led this bible study Wednesday the 15th, when he read through the Sermon on the Mount. He said he didn't hardly preach at all before Luisa stood up and started talking to the people there. She said "I'm not who you all think I am, I am not the happy person you think I am, I like to drink a lot of liquor, I'm alone, I don't have a husband, my life is garbage. Today I have decided to have Christ enter my life, I will live for Him. My life doesn't have a purpose without God." The other people were surprised at this truth about her, but she used this opportunity to invite them all to give their lives to Christ too, and they did, all 12 or so of them. Louis Fernando said by the time it was over they were all in tears and he was just watching in amazement as the Spirit of God was very strong and was doing all the work.
Luisa is hungry to learn and is asking to be taught! Mike and I (Josh was studying for Sunday and Stacy was taking care of her kiddos :) went to visit her during the week along with Louis Fernando and a couple of the kids. She was encouraged by the love and support and the sense of family she now has. She shared with us that she is an orphan and she is longing for a family. She has children, but both of her parents, one of her uncles and one of her brothers were all murdered, so she is quite lonely. She has lived in fear since she was a child, and has been unable to have restful sleep because of tormenting dreams, voices that talked to her, and noises in her house, along with physical torment, feeling choked or awaken in the night. She has since shared that she is sleeping well, the best in years! Oh the comfort that God brings! What a mighty God we serve, who convicts, convinces, and saves! Glory to God alone!

..."for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Phil 2:13


Julie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moved In!

We are officially living at El Nido as of May 24th. The move has brought us many nice changes with a bigger living space and the ability to live on the property we are trying to work. The initial move was crazy with the house not being quite ready and teams and family coming down a few days after the move. On top of all this my kids caught the flu and it was a rough one. Amidst catching puke and dealing with flies (we had a million) we were blessed by all the work accomplished by the work parties on the farm. We were able to screen our house which helped a lot with all the flies and other critters. This was by far my favorite thing accomplished as I don't care much for sharing my bed with bats and june bugs! Thanks to the help of visiting family and a couple visits to the doctor the kids are all well and back to their spunky selves. Stacy

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Still going...


Well, it’s been a little while since we've updated, for at least three reasons…because we haven’t had internet at our house until today, we've been quite busy, and it is very difficult to find a quiet place to finish any task not to mention gather thoughts and write them out.

We have some good news and some bad news to report. The good news is we have a van! Transportation has been a challenge since we've been here, although we have had help from sweet people who have been gracious enough to take us places at times of need. We are very thankful for our latest ‘investment’. It’s a white 18 passenger van, which is about the same size as our standard 12 passenger in the US, just a little ‘cozier‘. It’s a diesel so it is great for fuel economy.

The bad news is, our oldest girl went back to her former life after being with us for about 3 weeks. This was a sad time for us in many ways, but we know that God is sovereign and that she is in His hands. Having her, and losing her has helped us learn some things we wouldn’t have learned without her, and for that we are thankful.

The farm is coming along little by little. We have had some help lately and we are making some progress and getting closer to being able to move in. Everything here is slower and less organized than we are accustomed to, so we are learning to go with the flow and just do what we can. The inside is mostly painted, beds are ordered and hopefully coming by the end of this week or beginning of next week. Josh and Mike have been working on the kitchen in an effort to get the house livable as soon as possible. I would like to say they are installing cabinets and will be laying tile soon, but the construction materials and scheduling are not exactly that simple. There are very few places here that you can just go buy what you need, a shopping trip with a list isn’t exactly what takes place, I think a better description would be a scavenger hunt. At times you might even have to give up what it is you actually need for what you can make work. Even with these challenges they are managing to make progress and are hoping to be finishing up in a few days.

It hasn’t all been work, work, work however. Sunday a friend took us to the Rosario Islands off the coast of Cartagena for the day. We were taken by private boat, to a private house where our biggest concern was trying to avoid a sunburn. We had great day of relaxing and swimming with our families. It was truly a gift from God, we were very thankful, refreshed, and...sunburned!
I will try to post pictures soon. I have misplaced the cord to the camera among other things. Lets just say living out of suitcases leaves much to be desired! But, considering 1John 2:17 what can we say? These desires are only flesh and not to be given too much consideration. All in all, things are going well and everyone is doing good! We’ll try to update more now that we have easier access to internet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thankful

God is still at work and continues to provide all of our needs. We were all greatly encouraged when our new church family and a few others came and helped us clean the house and yard. They made lunch over an open fire, completely gutted, scrubbed, and hosed down the inside of the house, cleaned and burned in the yard, removed a roof from one of the coops, and helped us get some things moved and organized. At times, the task seems overwhelming and it is difficult to see the potential, but God is giving us strength to overcome, and sending us help when we need it. We were uplifted also by some friends and family that are living here in Colombia who came to spend a couple nights with us. It was a sweet time of fellowship, and was refreshing to have some English speaking friends to talk to who could also help us with our Spanish.

The new girls are doing better every day. They seem to be getting used to structure and seem to be enjoying their new found luxuries of running water, three meals a day, and several changes of clothes, which God graciously provided this week through a family from New Jersey. It is so exciting to watch God work and provide while using so many different people to do it. We are consistently reminded that this is His project, He is orchestrating it, and we are just a small part of the big picture.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting Settled

We are here in Turbaco staying at a farm that was graciously offered to us until we can get settled at our own place, which is only about 2 miles away. We are finally settling into a routine and getting used to the time change. Thank you all for your prayers, God is listening! We have gotten two of the girls we have been praying for, and the transition has been pretty smooth. The language barrier is still an issue, but we are managing to communicate good enough. There is little time to study but we have some prospects of teachers that may be willing to come here to help in that area. Our kids are adjusting quite well. The food, climate, new additions, and constant commotion seem to have a larger effect on us adults than the children.

Monday we are hoping to get started back with school, at least with the older kids. We learned this week that we will be teaching the new girls in addition to our own which will be a challenge. We may mostly be teaching them English for now. God is good though and has provided a helper who will be coming 5 days a week to help with cooking, cleaning and laundry.

Right now it looks like we will be able to begin cleaning on our property by the 15th of this month. We walked there a couple days ago and realized that it needs more work than we originally thought. The main house needs to be gutted and thoroughly cleaned. The cabinets and closets are either rotted or have mold and the bats do not seem interested in moving out. Some of the doors need to be replaced and the patio will have to be removed. It seemed a bit overwhelming, but since then, the church we will be attending has offered to come help get things cleaned up! Oh the gifts that God gives us. I wish there was time to tell you all the daily gifts we receive from our Loving Father. We do not have transportation, we haven’t had a phone until yesterday, we cannot communicate well, and we don’t know where or how to get what we need. We are completely dependant on God to supply our needs and this He has done. Whenever we need something, God brings help, not because we call on men, but because we call on God, He hears us when we ask and He answers our prayers. At times it feels a little reckless, almost foolish, but God always shows up with answers when we need them and thus, encourages our faith. Often we can see how He even went before us and prepared our way ahead of time. What a mighty God we serve!

We don’t have internet at our house, so updates will be sparse. Please continue to pray for God’s work to be done among us and for Him to bring the children, helpers and disciples that He has for us. We love and miss you all!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Leave Date!

Colombia Grace Foundation is officially scheduled to leave March 27th for Colombia. Please pray for us during this time of transition. We will update you all on our progress as we are able. Glory to God!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting Ready!!!!

We wanted to update everyone on our progress. We are in the process of cleaning out our houses and packing to leave for Colombia. Yep, that's right we are in the process of leaving for Colombia. We are planning on leaving La Pine March 14th or 15th and will be drive down to LA. Once there we will leave and fly to Colombia. Please pray for us as we tie up loose ends here and as we are flying with 8 kids. We will update everyone on our progress as soon as we are able.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

We Have Pictures!

Thank you all for your patience and prayer. We have finally been able to add a picture slideshow to our blog. The slideshow is of El Nido de Gracia, the property the foundation has purchased in Colombia, the future site of the orphan village. There is a lot of work to be done but we are excited to get down there and start. We have an existing lease on the property which prohibits us from living on it until after April 20th. We are still unsure when we will go down and ask that you would please pray with us for wisdom and guidance. Glory to God for the great work He has done, is doing and has yet to do!