Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Who's Your Guide

Well, I must say that I am not trying to keep up with Terri on the blog for February. Matter of fact, I just noticed that this is my 100th blog since starting this thing a few years ago and Terri will easily do 100 in the first year. So with that said, today is just one of those postings that is just stuff on my mind. Sometimes blog thoughts take a while to develop and sometimes - mostly in the middle of the night I have these profound thoughts that seem to dissapear with the rising of the sun. This thought "Who Is Your Guide" is one that I think about often. I have taught several series of classes over the years on the words of Jesus in the book of John - the words that he spoke in the hours just before he went to the Garden to pray and hours before he was arrested and sent to the cross for us. I love this study because every time I teach it, it reminds me of how worried Jesus was about his friends. He reminds them (and us) how much he loves them. He tells them the truth - that following him won't be easy, it will even be painful at times, it will mean that you are different and seperated from the world. His words offer promises and he assures his followers that he will not be seperated from them. One of his promises is that he will send a "Counselor" to be with us. In John 16:12 Jesus calls this Counselor a "Guide". Of course, as we study theses verses and move on into Acts, we know that Jesus is refering to the Holy Spirit. I really like this reference to the Holy Spirit as a guide, and when you think about it, you too may like this concept too. For my whole life, I have enjoyed things that are on the edge and I like adventure. It has never really bothered me to move to a new place because it is just part of the adventure of the life that God has given me. Taking chances - no problem. Once Terri and the kids and I left for a 3 week vacation without even knowing anything more than a general direction where we were going. We ended up driving more than 5000 miles and putting our feet in all 5 of the great lakes - it wat by far the best vacation we have ever had - because it was an adventure. There is one thing that all of our adventures have had in common - at least most of them - when we have moved (except for the move here), we have always had many people that have taken us by the hand and led us to neighborhoods, schools, churches, etc. Our guides helped us get settled into our new home as simply as possible. On our trip to the lakes, we had maps and Terri bought "guide books" to lead us around the lakes and that made our adventure an amazing trip.
So - what's all this got to do with the guide reference that Jesus makes in John. Well here are my "profound" thoughts.
1. If you are going somewhere that you have already been or doing something that you have already done - it is likely that you don't need anyone to take you there or show you how to do it!
2. You only need a guide to take you where you have never been or to show you how to do things that you have never done.
If you have never viewed the Holy Spirit as a guide then maybe you aren't going to any new places. If you ask in your prayers for the Holy Spirit to lead you to new places then don't be surprised when He does. And yes - we should be praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).
Be a blessing to somebody today,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I have been close to the town dump of Tegucigalpa before but, never right in it - that is until today. Those of you that know me know that I am an "emotional rock" and that nothing ever gets to me (just kidding). I gotta tell you that I wasn't prepared for this experience. The smell was what you would expect only stronger. The trash piles were what you would expect only bigger. I hadn't thought about there being a bunch of vultures there but they were like a swarm of mosquitoes at a swamp. I knew that there were going to be people there but I didn't expect to see so many. I suspected that there would be kids there but when you see it face to face, it is heartbreaking. When we pulled in there were 4 little boys - maybe 10 years old that came up to the window of my truck to ask for money for some water (cost is 2 limps a bag). Other kids saw me give this group some money so they came running. There were 2 little boys that were completely filthy and we asked them if they wanted food. We had eaten at Chili's and Terri had a big box of chiken and fries left - she gave it to the boys. We had one other little box that we shared with another little guy. Both of the kids with the food were no more than 8 or 7.
Last summer we did a food distribution to the houses of the people that spend their days seeking food or something of value in the dump but it did not prepare me for the sights, smells, and reality that there are 100's of people that live off of the scraps and trash of Tegucigalpa. They have to fight off the vultures so that they can look for something of value in the garbage. When you look through reality of the dump you see that the real value is the humanity that lives in a way that none of us want to know about. God made every one of these souls in His image. They are valuable to Him and because of that they should be valuable to everyone of us. I've been reading the book of James lately - especially the parts about putting faith into action. The "Message' paraphrase really hits home with what all of this is about. In the Message - in James 2, the translation says " Isn't it obvious that God talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? ... Faith and works, works and faith, fit together like a hand in glove!..."
My own translation of James 2 can be boiled down to this " if you know about a need and aren't doing more that talking about it, you are showing your lack of faith. Faith = doing!" (I probably won't be doing a complete paraphrase of the Bible anytime soon)
The bottom line is this. When we know people are suffering, it is the changed hearts that Jesus gave us that tells us to get up and do something.
Didn't mean to preach in a blog but the reality is, I am preaching to ME. Gotta find a way to get a little relief in the name of Jesus to the people at the dump.
Be a blessing to somebody today!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Yesterday I met Gloria.

Gloria lives in Comayguala in a community where most everyone is on the far edge of poverty. About 3 months ago Gloria and her family were involved in a fire that destroyed their homes. I met Gloria because the news reporter that covered the announcement of the 5 houses that we are building this week remembered the fires from 3 months ago and she asked me if I would go with her to meet this wonderful lady. When we arrived at the site - which is difficult to get to - Gloria came to see what was going on. When we tlod her that we were looking at her land to see if we might be able to build some replacement houses there she immediately gave thanks to God. I am sure that Gloria has been praying for some help in getting the 20+ members of her family out of the temporary one room where thay have been sleeping for the past three months. I saw the one room place where the family is staying yesterday and it is wall to wall people crowded into a place to live and sleep. I don't know where they cook, clean up, or many of other things that most of us associate with normal life. I don't know where the kids study - or even if they go to school. I do know that living in one room with more than 20 peoplw would be tough do for one night but next to impossible for 3 months.
I told Gloria that I believed that we can build three houses but, we would need to wait for abut 5 or 6 weeks when we have a group here. I was afraid that she would be disappointed in having to waid but instead she was thrilled and once again thanked God before she thanked me. I told her that we were only there because our God had put us together and that all of this was put into place to glorify Him. I am amazed at the patience that we can learn from people like Gloria. I am amazed at the faith that people like Gloria have and I am blessed to be a little part of God's plan for answering the prayers of Gloria.
Ask God to use you in his plan for answering prayers of those in need and you can be assured that he will do it. Our God is faithful and true....all the time.
Be a blessing to somebody today.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Ministry Project

We have worked in a couple of communities outside of Tegucigalpa for several years. The area is called Nueva Oriental / Miradol Oriente. The area is home to more than 1000 of some of the poorest people that I have ever met. When I first went into this area - maybe 3 years ago there were only a few houses - all of them really bad. Since then, we (TORCH) have probably built close to 100 or more houses in the community and there is a need for probably 200 more. For every house we have built, there are 3 or 4 more families moving into the community and most of them into inadequate houses. The story here today isn't the need for houses. It is a story of the birth of a ministry project that has the potential to change the lives of many of the families in these communities.
All of this story starts with the beginning of our work in these communities. As we have worked, we have always talked to people about the need to have Jesus in their lives. In the past 3 years, we have witnessed a church plant in the area and there are over 100 that have dedicated their lives and ahve been baptized. There are way over 100 kids in sunday school every week. There is a nice little church building and the Mississippi church built classes last summer. The church and the classes are full every week. There is a full time minister that lives in the community too. As the community has grown, others have taken notice and there is a feeding center run by another group of Christians and we have been blessed to be able to build schools and most recently a kindergarten that will open next week.
Now- we are moving into a ministry that will touch the lives of many many people. Here is where it stands as of today -
In December Terri and I were in Atlanta to meet with several friends to discuss our work and to make plans for a group coming down in April. While we were there we also were able to have lunch with a friend that I had met on a TORCH trip last July. My friend teaches a Sunday School Class at Campus Church of Christ and he had a plan to inspire his class into taking action on a project in Honduras. We decided then that we would begin the development of a "shower center" in the Oriente communities. There are no sanitary facilities for families to clean up so it seemed natural that we would try to do something about this condition. Since our initial meeting we have expanded the idea to include several pila's so that the ladies would have a place to wash the family clothes. We have also added the idea of giving the ladies of the community a place to have bible study and fellowship. Now we have added the concept of a sweing center so that we can contract with the ladies of the community to make the school uniforms for the 100's of the kids that live there. We are planning to work with the local church so that they can help manage the center and plan studies with the ladies and families that utilize the facility. We will work with some of the local businesses to help supply a steady source of water. We will hire some of the Christian women in the community to manage the facility and keep it clean.
More planning will be happening in the coming days but - this is exciting and once again I am amazed at what our God has planned for our work in Honduras. If this center works as planned - and I don't see why it won't. We will add similar facilities in other places.
Today please lift a prayer of thanksgiving for the Sunday School class in Atlanta and -
Be a blessing to somebody today!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

More on the houses

This afternoon we were able to go to survey the sight where the fires completly destroyed 5 houses - just over a week ago. We went at the invitation of the mayor of Tegucigalpa - who by the way is a very nice man. The mayor and some around him were interested in the media event and Terri and I were interested in making sure that we met the families that had lost their homes in the fire. Our plan is to start building next Thursday and hopefully we will get all the houses built in 3 or 4 days.
Today when we arrived at the site we met a little girl that is 5 years old. Most children we meet are pretty happy - even in some of the most dire situations. This little girl was different as she was sad and her eyes were filled with big tears. When we asked her about the big tears she said that she just wanted her house back. I cannot imagine the sheer trauma of a child losing the security of their house - even if the house is one room shared by 8 or 10 others. I can't wait to see the look on this child's face when the lumber truck shows up next Thursday morning and she knows that she is getting her house back.
Be a blessing to somebody today.

Monday, February 04, 2008

We Serve an Amazing God

Last week I was sick. Shingles! Yuch, you cannot imagine how your skin can erupt into open sores that are like burns and feel like it too. At least it was only on one side - of my head, face, and in one eye. One week has made a major difference and while - the pain is mostly gone, it still looks like I have been in a bad fight and lost.
While I was sick, I got an unexpected phone call from a friend of a friend. The call was from the mayor of Tegucigalpa - who is a friend of a friend of mine. The mayor called to tell me that there had been a fire in a very poor community and that there were five families that were left without a place to live. The hope was that there would be a group here that could get some new houses built for the 40 or so people that have lost everything. I told the mayor that we would be able to get the houses built in March and April when we will have 3 groups coming to town. After sleeping on that thought, it occured to me that there would be bunches of kids with no place to live for more than 6 to 8 weeks if we waited until we had groups here. The next morning I put an email out that described the situation. The result is that we almost immediately had the resources needed to build NOW. I called the mayor and let him know that we wouldn't need to wait for 6 to 8 weeks and we are planning to build the first of the houses early next week. We are just blessed that we can be a little part of God's plan for answering the crys of the poor in Honduras.
Be a blessing to somebody today!