Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Texas and Mexico, July/August 2014, Jeremy Griesse

In the eyes of just four of us who went, this 10-day trip was a small, shiny diamond fashioned by God's provision, testimonies, and encouragement.
Aaron drove like a hoss for the whole trip a van with working AC (most of the time), as Savannah, Gennie and I rode along. The joyful, peaceful time with my brother and sisters in Christ on the way down made the 15.5 hr trip from Springfield to South TX go by fast--maybe not to Aaron, who respectively had to be awake this whole time.
This small team watched intently at how God displayed His endeavors being accomplished in His church in the three areas we visited through joy, hurt, discipline, repentance, labor, trust, patience, perseverance, prayer, wisdom, generosity, and grace.
As we met with familiar, friendly Hispanic believers, some conversations involved laughing and relaxing. Some were in awe and reverence at His amazing work of redemption through His Son. Sometimes we had to knuckle down and get to work in moving and documenting supplies or preparing resources for a VBS. Other times involved goofing off, playing soccer on a basketball court, singing Feliz Navidad in August, and cooling off with popsicles and ice cream. All of these times were together just a sliver of God's smiling face, a mere ten days of joy that felt like a minute.
The kindness and generosity seen in the both the Hispanic/Caucasian congregation of Trinity Baptist Church near South TX and Hispanic co-laborers in the Rio Grande Valley area was alone worth the trip. 
We studied some encouraging key truths in Daniel with the brothers and sisters at Trinity, and enjoyed their openness and immediate friendship as we shared a couple Sunday meals.
In the Valley, we met with brothers and sisters from a past church that Psalm 67 worked closely with. Lotta testimonies, lotta joy, lotta food. The Francisco's, namely, lavished us with stories of God's faithfulness and redemptive power in their family, as well as a barbecue feast. I have boasted to her and others for her grilled chicken, saying I would pay $20 for just one piece at a restaurant if I knew it was that good. (I'm not exaggerating, she knows how to do it!)
While in Mexico, I was envious of the time Psalm 67 has previously spent with the congregation in Mexico. Seeing Pastor Candido, Sara, Damaris, Ely, Gil, Abdiel and others in different means of servitude and fellowship was both refreshing and made me want to be with them more.
They helped Savannah and Gennie conduct and prepare a last-minute VBS inviting spirited, lively kids to take part in learning about Christ's reign over the earth. 
My role in the VBS was to provide guitar background as beautiful, rambunctious kids learned different worship songs. I'm grateful that I can't feel my left fingers as I'm typing since we played so many pretty Spanish praise songs.
I also have much gratitude for Sara's patience as we struggled to communicate in alien languages which songs to sing! It was encouraging to witness these "teologitos" (Aaron's term for little theologians) answer tough, but elemental questions about what they had learned in God's Word, as well as key verses they memorized.
A portion of our p.m. time in Mexico, we visited a couple rehab centers inhabiting men, young and old, who have literally been plucked out of their wretched addictions, yet more proof of God's redemptive power. Though these places seem dismal at first glance, the simplicity of their eager welcome and intentional listening has made these groups of men a dear favorite of Psalm 67 and Pastor Candido's church to minister to. One center takes their liberty in Christ very seriously as they dance, sing, jump, and shout in joyful response to their Lord's work in their lives. Not trying to step on anyone's toes here (no pun intended), but we would do the same if we truly knew our redeemed state from distant rebellion to God's loving arms, no?
It was painful to come back, especially since I spent such a concentrated amount of time with my brothers and sisters in Christ, something my soul hasn't been quite used to, unfortunately. But it seemed like God planted a fitly longing for fellowship with Him, as if these ten days were just pictures of the extravagant feast to those who have believed in the ransoming Lamb will be invited.
Praise God for His mercy and grace and may we compel others to partake in His sacrifice!

Romans 5:6-8

Monday, June 16, 2014

Making Missions Part of Family Devotions

There are a lot of ways that you can do this, but here are some thoughts about how you can incorporate the urgency of sending the Gospel as you meet together with your family. Here are some practical thoughts that might help you along your journey. This is not intended to be exhaustive and I'm sure there are even better thoughts out there, these are just some quick points that might be helpful to some.

Where do we start? - It might be helpful to identify either a missionary (or family) or a location with whom you (and your family) have some sort of personal connection. Does your family speak another language other than English? If so an area where this language is spoken is a nice choice. Do you have a favorite cuisine that is "other than American?"  Do you have a desire to learn another language or culture? Does your child have a neighborhood friend who speaks a different language at home? Any of these can be clues that can help you settle on a focus area. Perhaps you are really burdened for the United States and the missionaries working in the USA. Organizations like the North American Mission Board are doing great work, they have prayer resources available.

Once you have selected an area or missionary, then what? - As a family pray for the area and ask The Lord to give you a heart for the people and the work. Contact those who are working and let them know that you are praying. Place reminders on the fridge, reminders in your phone, etc. Take collections as a family and include your children in making decisions about support "special needs" that are available. Don't do this without them! This is the best time to begin teaching them discernment and how to follow up on these matters. Some of those special needs might be to help someone who is working in this area or those who might be going short-term.

Praying for work happening away from home has at-home benefits. - Don't forget that as you are praying for and learning about different cultures this will give you excellent opportunities to share with others back home. So you are burdened for China? Share this burden with those at the local Chinese restaurant. Let them see the love and concern that you have for the true Gospel to be proclaimed in their home land. Pray that God will give you open doors to share the Gospel with them. There are also opportunities for you to then advocate for more missions support and awareness in your small group, Sunday School class, and congregation.

May God be glorified among the nations!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thank you to those who gave

The mission team who served in Mexico this May conducted many different outreach efforts alongside our partner congregation. Under the leadership of Pastor Candido the community was blessed by free medical services and free haircuts one day. However, due to the overwhelming amount of support poured out for this effort we were able to have supplies sufficient enough to continue ministering through medical services at all of the locations we visited. We cannot thank you enough for everyone's prayer and financial support.

Would you join us in prayer for future work? Pastor Candido has mentioned that he and the congregation are specifically burdened to reach their entire community for Christ. Specifically they believe The Lord would have them begin a new work (church plant possibly) in one of the first areas our team visited. Second, they would like to consider ongoing ministry in one of the drug/alcohol rehab facilities that was new to him as well as to our team. This facility is not "faith based" but they welcomed us in with open arms and invited the congregation to lead ongoing Bible studies, etc. Would you join us in prayer that The Lord would give direction, discernment, wisdom as to how to proceed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Reality Check, by Savannah Weber

This past May I was given the blessing to once again serve in Tamaulipas, Mexico with Psalm 67 Missions Network. It’s always an amazing time of connecting with other believers as we partner together to share the Gospel.
This trip was a true reality-check for me. The Lord once again revealed how big, powerful, and active He is. As we entered Tamaulipas I was once more overcome by the love of our Mexican brothers and sisters. Indeed, it felt as if I had never left their company, although we had been apart for five (agonizingly long) months. We immediately sprang to work, side-by-side. Out of almost 20 team members, only two are truly bi-lingual, but we always manage to communicate our love and appreciation for one another.
Click photo to see a video of us singing

As we began our work at the small church God’s hand was felt everywhere. It was even more evident as we visited the Christian rehabs. These tiny concrete bunkers were filled with men completely overcome with love for Christ. The most overwhelming sense of God’s presence came at one particular rehab. As we came in they began clearing the floor. One member told us why: “It’s so they can have room to dance”. And dance they did! For close to 20 minutes these men, formerly wasted on drugs and alcohol, danced their hearts out to Christ. No shame. No embarrassment. No holding back. Just 100% praising Christ. A line from one of the dance songs sent chills up my spine. The line was “Yo soy libre” which means “I am forever free”. I shall never forget the presence of God’s spirit in that moment.
God isn’t just working in the churches and rehabs of Tamaulipas. He’s working powerfully in the streets as well. We were able to assist in some of this work through the hands of Pastor Candido. His has such a passion for the lost of his city. Each night he loaded our team up and drove us to a park where we spent almost five hours directing a soccer tournament, which served as a platform for sharing the Gospel. Watching him at work is an amazing blessing. He never stops. He (almost) never gets tired. He has a passion for God’s glory that keeps him moving. He will not rest until everyone in Tamaulipas has heard of Christ. He puts me to shame. How might I see God work in my community if I gave even a fraction of the energy Pastor Candido exerts for his? 
Yes, God is much bigger and working in much greater ways than our American worlds can see. It’s always a blessing and a shock to once again realize the simple truth that God is HUGE! He is working in Mexico, brothers. Will you join me in praying for our family who is laboring there? Will you join me in following their example and stepping out into our own communities? You don’t have to travel far to find chances to serve or to see God at work. He has called us all to leave everything and follow Him. For me it’s been Mexico. For Pastor Candido it’s his own city. What is it for you? Where is God calling you to serve Him?