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I remember when I got the confirmation e-mail that I was going to the Philippines for the whole summer. It came in early January, and my first thought was that it was going to be so hard to come back.
Well, here we are. Came down the Ulot River for the last time today.
Said a lot of goodbyes. I am going to miss this life so, so, so much.
I've been trying to figure out why it is that I think everything about
life here is so exquisitely beautiful. I think it has to do with the
knowledge that all people are created in God's image, and then seeing
his creativity manifested in the diversity of cultures. To come from a
place where the standard is air conditioning, endlessly running water,
and escalators, and learn to use fans, pump a few bucketfuls of water
to last the day, and trek through mud, weeds, and caribou poo... I love
this! Everything is new and I feel like I see new facets of my
unchanging God's character reflected in my resourceful Filipino friends
and their simple lifestyles. In many ways we are so different, and yet
at our core there is more in common than not: we relish good food; we
laugh when embarrassed or nervous; we are irritated by flies, mosquitoes,
and ratchet cats. We long to belong, to be known. Eternity has been set
in our hearts, and all our restless wandering on this earth will only
end when we rest in the One who created us for Himself. All of us
deserve wrath and punishment, but are offered grace and new life.
That's why I came to the Philippines. And, to be sure, it has been a
beautiful and rewarding summer, sharing this Good News from God's Word
with so many who've never heard. I have learned a lot, witnessed a lot,
laughed a lot, struggled a lot, grown a lot. God has shown Himself to be
faithful and mighty.
Only let me remember, lest I give in to the temptation to dwell in the
past once I return, it's also why I wake up and go to work and go to
class (usually) the other nine months of the year. I have one year left
(Lord help me!) on the mission field that is Winthrop University and
On that note, I'll be headed back that way in just about a week.
So this is my last post from this side of the world. For now.
grace & peace-Ruth
I can't begin to describe how thankful we are to have
received your prayers throughout this EUC week. The Holy Spirit was without a
doubt present. Cultural barriers were broken, friendships were made, and more
importantly the gospel was shared. Students came to know God for the first
time, students that knew Him grew more as believers, and there is now a strong
unity between a group of students from many different backgrounds. One of our
major prayers is that this unity would bring unification in Korea so that the
gospel can be proclaimed in the North.
Our group served as small group leaders throughout the
week. This can be one of the most tiring yet most rewarding jobs. Many students
are hardened to the truth of the gospel and cling to the things of this world.
I was so thankful that our camp theme was to "Be Transformed" based
off of Romans 12. The hardened hearts can be discouraging to see. But praise be
to God for even the smallest changes in these students lives. I can see God
working! I rejoice in those that now know Christ, but I also rejoice in the smile
I see on a face during worship from a student who normally would never smile. I
rejoice in seeing the expression on a students face when they realize Jesus
lives inside of them. I rejoice for prayer requests being answered and students
that knew about God yet had not given their lives to Him doing so this week.
Please pray that these changes and these blessings would
not be forgotten. It's easy to be in camp mode but I pray that not only this
week but the lives of these students would be changed. I pray for discipleship
in their lives and for them to long to share what they learned with others.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what
is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." -Romans 12:2
We may be the "trailblazers" for those to come in after us in our area of Mexico, but there have already been many that have come before us to soften the path.
Throughout our time here, we've heard our fair share of stories from the villages of what it was like for the first believers in the villages: many of which came only 20 or 30 years ago!
Some villages beat people who turned to Christ. Others doused them with alcohol for not drinking with them during their fiestas. Some got thrown in jail for days without reason.
Even worse, one village burned down the only evangelical church in the town and killed all the believers in it! This is the remnants of that church:
Sound familiar? "Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea." (2 Corinthians 11:25, NIV)
This is the persecution the early church endured, and this is the same persecution the early church in rural Mexico endured not too long ago.
Luckily, we haven't experienced any persecution to this magnitude in the villages, because people have gone before us and paved the way for the gospel of God's grace.
We have been blessed to serve under local churches in many of the villages we have been working in. However, the village that burned the church down several years ago still doesn't have an active church body, to our knowledge.
Pray for this village, that God would raise up Christians to bear his name.
Pray for the other villages, that their churches would reach others in their village with the message of God's love.
Pray for those coming after us, that our work would pave the way for them, just like others' work had paved the way for us.
The burden that has been laid upon me as my summer in the Philippines comes to an end...
At the very core of my being, I want to love others and
bring them joy through the Good News of salvation. I want others to smile
because there is a redemptive plan for each lost soul whom God draws. What
drives me is seeing lifeless, purposeless souls being made alive in Christ. My
heart jumps and my spirit is happy when children listen closely to hear how
much their Heavenly Father loves them. I rejoice when I see someone’s desire to
know Christ manifested in outward actions. I am satisfied with the faithfulness
of God’s sovereign hand in people’s lives. Tears well up, and hear strings are
twisted when I think about the mass amount of unreached souls who are waiting
to hear the Message of Reconciliation. I am called by the God of this universe
to be an ambassador of Christ, and I will fulfill that calling. I will not
restrict the Gospel because of my own selfish ambitions; this mission of
telling others about the saving grace through Jesus is life or death for people
all around me.
“We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so
that no fault may be found with our ministry,but as servants of God we
commend ourselves in every way...” 2 Corinthians 6:3-4
To share the love of God and to preach Christ crucified is
my desire, my drive, and the flame that burns within me until Christ returns.
“For the love of Christ controls us.” 2 Corinthians 5:14
Last week, we got to host a soccer tournament in one of our villages -- one of our most difficult villages.
The climate their is very cold and people aren't very welcoming -- The men work during the day, the children attend school and the women stay inside. There is no Zocalo (central area) for people to hang out in and meet people.
We found out that many of the families are distrusting of foreigners because there were rumors of them robbing homes. The soil was hard and we needed something to soften it.
We talked with the local believers there and they said while the nationals may be cold towards foreigners, the children aren't and once the children warm up to you, the parents will also.
We decided to host a soccer tournament for children ages 6-12 in the village and we had a great turnout -- around 60 children showed up to play soccer and hear Bible stories.
We had four teams: two played at a time, while the other two played games and listened to Bible stories.
We got the opportunity to share the story of David & Goliath, which some kids were familiar with but many had not heard. At the end of the tournament, when the champions were crowned, we got to share about the true champion, the one called Jesus who conquered death and gave us life!
Joseph got to share Creation to Church and told the children that the reason we were there was because Jesus had changed our lives and we want to share the joy he's given us with others!
Many children came up and thanked us not only for the tournament, but also for the Bible stories. Several parents were there throughout the day and they got to hear the stories also and see why we wanted to connect and build relationships with their children.
Pray that the stories would sink in with the children, and that their curiosity would lead them to ask their parents questions about Jesus.
Pray for the national believers we partnered with, that this tournament would help soften the soil for them.
Hello again from Central Asia. We have a
lot to share with you from this past week. The week was filled many visits with
our local friends. We asked The Father to give us more opportunities for more
intentional conversations and He has provided. Here is a glimpse into the past
learned the art and etiquette of hosting this week more than ever. After
hosting five times in six days, we feel pretty comfortable in the “do’s and
don’ts” of the process. We enjoyed having Mulan over three times this week. She
was joined by her friend Gretchen, two out of the three times.
On Wednesday of
this past week, we were able to discuss some deep topics with Mulan. We discussed
fasting among other things. She told us about her desire to fast and join in
with the Islam Religion during Ramadan. Mulan is not able to join in because
her father will not allow her to participate. This conversation led to more
topics and the evening ended with her desire to read The Word. We had some
other opportunities for meaningful conversations with a few of our other guests
as well. It was good to get to know them. We also went walking with another friend
of ours on Sunday evening.
continue to be lifting us up to The Father and the area in which we are working.
Here are some ways that you can remember the people here specifically.
our time spent with local friends we have come to understand that there is a
great desire to find self identity. Girls look to find their self-worth in many
places. Please remember the teenage girls here in Central Asia, that they would
find their identity in The Creator.
is also a great deal of pressure placed upon teenagers to perform academically
even by ways of cheating. Lift up the academic programs and the students
within. Think about the teachers who are instructed to follow the rules of the
school whether or not they are fair. Our supervisors are some of those who will
be teaching in schools such as these. Please keep them in mind as they walk
along the very narrow line of following rules and following ethics. Many times
the teachers are instructed to award the students with an A whether they
deserve the grade or not.
is not uncommon for husbands to cheat on or even beat their wives here. Please
remember the many women who are in abusive relationships. Along with these
women, there are usually children and relatives who are affected by these
relationships as well. Ask The Father to place those who can be examples of a
true father in these family’s paths.
our visit to the mosque and in visiting the burial sight of many Muslim followers,
we have been faced with the somber realization that there are SO MANY who are
blinded and do not know the Way. Please join us in lifting these MANY people up
to The Father. “..How can they know without someone telling them?”
for joining with us in this way and following along with us on this journey. We
will have one more news letter before we travel back to the United States. We
look forward to sharing more of what The Father is doing here in Central Asia
in the last news letter.
Thanks so much for your support this summer. I’m now going
into my last week here, and it has been a truly incredible summer. Many of you
know the difficult time I had preparing for this summer, and you know the
uncertainty of every step that I took along the way. I can say with confidence
that this summer has been blessed by Dad & His powerful hand has been upon
us this summer. So, to many of you, I want to say a special thank you for
encouraging me to persevere through dark & difficult circumstances all along
the way. The Fruit we have seen is the consequence of our obedience to endure
the difficult things and stay the course.
This week has been filled with mixed emotions: eagerness to
return to Family & friends is mixed with a pain to leave new family &
friends here. We’ve had so many opportunities to meet with friends this week,
continue sharing the Truth, and see eyes & hearts opened to the True Light.
To the right is a picture of D’s English club that he invited us to come join
for a day. This was an opportunity for us to share the Store with over 30
people as D translated for us the Story of our Brother and how to return to our
Father. It was truly incredible to see his boldness and willingness to share
with his friends how his life has been changed. I believe we will see a lot of
fruit from this small group of students.
Also, we were able to meet these students again for a party
to help out with festivities and follow up with a couple of students. D says
that as he has been talking about Him, he is starting to find people that are
interested and he will continue to share with them. Right now he really needs
some Brothers to be beside him, and this is a key goal for us this week. We
want to connect him and the other interested friends with those who can
continue the work after we leave. This is really important for us, so please
lift this up.
This weekend we were able to travel to the countryside with
one of our friends, L. We got to visit him in his home & spend a lot of
time with him and his friend. We went fishing, swimming, snail-catching, crazy
food eating, and badmitton-ing, and we really had a blast. It was nice to get
away from the city for a couple days, and it was an awesome opportunity to live
out the things we’ve been sharing with this guy for a few weeks. We got to
share the Story with him and his friend, and it seems as though his heart is
being opened to the Truth. He seems more receptive, but “needs more time to
think about it.” For many of our friends, they’ve never even heard of this Guy
before, so making a decision takes time as they consider the Truth and the cost
of following. It’s hard to leave when our friends seem so close like this. We
are trusting that Dad will complete the work He’s begun here, and we must
simply be faithful to be obedient to do our part here.
This last week we will be meeting almost all of our contacts
for a final goodbye and last words before traveling home. We will connect our
new Family and those interested with Friends who can continue speaking &
teaching what they need to hear.
us this week and Lift Up:
Final meetings with friends. Last opportunities to share the Truth
D-, continued Growth and Maturity. Ask for a mentor for him.
Opened eyes and hearts to receive the Truth
Peace for us as we deal with leaving this place that has become our home for
the past 2 months
We've had the pleasure the summer of working with some amazing local churches, many of which have started recently.
In one church, the first believer in that village still attends. Now, there are well over 30 members who attend regularly, including our Nehemiah Teams group for this summer.
When we attended church last Sunday, they invited us to a time of fellowship that Friday. We expected that we would sit around, talk and eat -- but we were in for a big surprise.
When we arrived at the church, there were over 30 people we had never seen before, some of whom were taking bucket showers next to the church. They were all changing into suits and elaborate robes.
We found out that it was a traveling choir from the opposite side of Mexico -- an 18 hour drive! This choir group had tried to visit our church last year, but the plans were cancelled. This time, when they were headed our way, they decided to make a surprise visit.
We spent some time talking with the choir group before they went to perform, getting to know them and learning about their walks with the Lord.
When they finally went up to perform, we were in awe. The way they worshiped the Lord in unison made us want to worship with them, even though we didn't know the words to any of the old hymns in Spanish.
This divine appointment was not only a blessing to be a part of, but it truly lifted up the local church as they could bond with other national believers and develop a heart of service to host them at the last minute.
Pray for the local church, that they would take leadership in the village community.
Pray that as we prepare to leave, they would take over where we leave off in sharing the hope they have in Christ.
PacRim Ag team members with supervior & director of ARLDF Thailand, Jethro Adang
Wow... it has been a crazy couple of weeks! It is hard to
believe we have less than a week left in country! Last week we spent three days
in the villages establishing gardens at two people's houses. One of those
people was actually the leader of the village! It is a great sign of progress
to be able to build relations with him and to make a garden in his home. The
second person's house we built a garden in was one of the other leading men in
the village. Hopefully with the success of these two men's gardens, the rest of
the village will follow and we will be able to do more ministry there in the
future. Please be in prayer for the village leader, he has been suffering from
stomach pains and is unable to do much in the village. We got the opportunity
to pray over him and lay hands on him. We are praying for a mighty healing so
that he will know God on a much more personal level, as a loving God who takes
care of his children. We finished out the week by tying up all the loose
ends at the new training building at our demonstration farm.
This week, we traveled to a village of Northern Thai
people and had a training seminar on our FAITH gardening process and then were
able to build one for them to model after. We also went to visit the new land
that our foundation has purchased and planted a full six plot garden there. God
has been working through the leadership of our foundation and has given them a
vision of how to reach the people of Northern Thai people. This newly purchased
land is the first step to the new headquarters for the foundation and we are
glad to of had an opportunity to lay some of the groundwork. (see more pictures below)
Pray for them as
they are having to sacrifice a lot to see God's vision become a reality.
for faithfulness and strength as they continue to give of themselves.
more partners to come alongside them and provide for the financial needs.
This is our last week in country and we are excited to come
home but also sad to leave. We will be starting on our last project later
today, a gate for the demonstration farm. As we are nearing the end of this
trip, Satan will look to distract us and just focus on coming home. Pray for us
that we would remain focused and finish strong. We do not want to miss anything
the Lord still has for us here. Thank you for all of your prayers and
encouragement throughout this trip. See you all soon!
Last Friday afternoon we went back up to Kanghumaod and stayed a night
with a family we got close to. When we got there, we were
visiting with the ladies that had taken care of us before, Ate Leny and Ate Beny. Jester started sharing with them
in Cebuano, so we left him to it, and went to talk to some of the kids.
One kid, Dave, brought Cory a stick with two spiders on it, then he made
the spiders fight each other! It was really cool to watch, one spider
was noticeably larger than the other, but the smaller brown one was
whippin' the bigger black one. Eventually, that wasn't enough for Cory,
he wanted a fight to the death!
So when they weren't killing each other,
he took matters into his own hands. He smashed the black one with the
stick, then wanted to light the brown one on fire. I'm not sure why, but
we were all in agreement that it would be fun. This was all just a bad
idea from the start. It gets so much worse.
Cory had to go find matches,
and this one little boy kept asking for the brown spider, so we let him
hold the matchbox we had the brown spider trapped in. When Cory came back with
matches, he got the spider back from the kid, and we set up his death
pit. We lit the pit, and put the spider over it, waiting for it to burn
(the whole time, nobody seemed to think this was weird!). That little
boy kept trying to blow out the fire, and pull the matchbox away from
the fire, but we wouldn't let him ruin our fun! A couple minutes later,
that spider was dead. We torched it.
Then we got the bad news... That
brown spider wasn't just some random spider the kids had found. It was
that little boy's pet! We found out because he ran off crying! And not
just letting tears run down his face, but audibly, loudly, crying! Cory
felt so bad! I know it's bad, but with this situation unfolding before
us, Blake, Joshua, and I couldn't help but laugh! Cory ended up giving
the kid a whistle, some candy, and 100 pesos!! He bribed him for
silence!!! But the kid's mom said it was ok anyways, and we didn't need
to worry about it. So that's our ridiculous story for the week!
This past Sunday morning began like any other morning. Around 4:30 we
woke up to the sound of blaring pop music in the living room of the home where we live. We cooked oats and eggs and then washed dishes and did laundry. We decided
to have our quiet time outside in the barangay multipurpose center mainly
because we felt like we needed an opportunity to talk with the priest.
You see, last week we learned that the priest heard that we were
staying in the barangay and that he wanted to meet us. So with that news, we
wanted to be as available as possible. So call us stalkers, sure… but we had
our quiet time where we could clearly view the church.
Mass started at 9:00 and around 8:55 a man came up to Kristy and me and
asked if we spoke Tagolog. We said not very much, of course, and I ran to get
Annie so we could talk to this man. We talked with him and introduced
ourselves. We told him why we were in the village and what we believed about
how salvation is by GRACE through FAITH in JESUS CHRIST. “…not by works so that
no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He agreed with us!! So we told him that we
would like to talk to him after mass was over if that was okay.
About that time the priest rode up on his motorcycle. We talked with
him and just shared the basic information about where we are from and how long
we will be in the Philippines. Then he invited us to mass. So we went! We knew
that God was opening doors for us and we needed to take any opportunities that
He would give us!
After mass, the priest invited us to lunch. Much to our surprise, he
was inviting us to lunch at N.M.’s house. N.M., about one week ago, became a
believer and was to be baptized that very afternoon!!
So we had Sunday afternoon lunch with the priest at the home of one of
the new believers that we have been discipling! Talk about bizarre!
After mass we also talked with the man that agreed that salvation was
through faith alone and found out that he is a “faith healer”. So we are going
to spend some extra time this week pursuing sharing Christ with him!!
Later Sunday afternoon we had the opportunity to
baptize one girl from our youth bible study and N.M. that was mentioned
Wow. God is good.
In one day God opened doors to share with the barangay
priest and a faith healer. Two women were baptized and we finished the night
off with three bible studies.