Currently one automobile company is using the idea of being inspired as part of its advertising campaign. One example they use tells the story of a man who has retired, bought one of their company’s trucks and uses it to pick up and deliver food etc. to needy families or people located is more isolated spots. The vehicle company says its design was inspired by people like the gentleman who uses his vehicle to helps others.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph, he entered riding a colt that had never been ridden. I wonder if the owner of the colt felt inspired when he was told the Lord needs it. An unridden colt emphasizes the colt as being set apart for a specific purpose; a purpose prophesied In Zecharias 9:9 of a righteous and victorious king riding on a colt. Clearly there was an intended or God inspired purpose for the colt.
How many times does God direct or intend a specific purpose for a vehicle? A purpose that people neither see nor pay attention to? In a period of ten days, we have received calls that led to using our vehicle to get a family to Toronto airport, London airport and on a series of errands to get important papers and pay bills. Was God in these trips? I think so. I remember situations in the Dominican Republic where a pastor’s car has been put in service getting people home from church after evening service or as an ambulance driving to the clinic. Was God in those trips? Yes, I believe very much so.
Has God called you to use your vehicle for getting people to a hospital, a doctor’s office, a regular food delivery, a grocery store or a ride to church? Are you looking for opportunities to serve using your car? Would you, like the owner of the colt, allow your vehicle to be used as God needs?
Sixteen months ago, I sat in a meeting with about 8 pastors and the leader asked each one of us to dream a bit about what we would like to see accomplished in ministry that year. Some mentioned spiritual growth, knowing God’s plans for the future etc. When my turn came, I spoke about three church sites in the Dominican which were under construction or in need of construction to be completed. Recently in his time God has answered prayers. While none of the three sites are or will soon be complete, significant progress has been made.
Hatico Mao church has struggled for many years but had reached the point where more space, a more secure structure and a more attractive entrance which was not directly on the side walk were necessary, in fact overdue. Work began to enable the church to move his front door back from the sidewalk, and to make the building wider and longer. The walls of the new structure would be concrete block and the windows aluminum, thus making the building much more secure against damage and theft. The walls are up but the extended space needs roofing and the doors and windows are yet to be put in. Pastor Gladys reminds us that God works in His perfect timing.
In Maizal, a concrete roof has been poured and a stairway to the roof level is in place. There is still much work to be done here but praise God for the generous efforts of a church in Ontario, there is a roof and services can continue when there is rain. I remember standing with plastic lawn chairs being held over my head during a baby dedication service.
Navas has also been able to lay the concrete floor for its new sanctuary. Reaching this stage has been a great encouragement for the congregation. God does answer prayer and we continue to pray for the resources to advance or finish each sanctuary.
Last night, because of heavy snow on the lines, we lost hydro for an hour and a half. People try to turn off switches so they aren’t awakened by the television or the lights coming back on. They look for extra blankets because it could get cold if the power is off all night. The Hydro Company quickly sends out repairmen. When hydro went out in the Dominican Republic in the past, several people would be saying, “Se fue la luz.” The lights went out.
When the lights came back on – hours later – there was a cheer and chorus coming from many houses, “Llegó la luz”; the lights came on. Now the shout is less common since people have generators and the power company is striving to provide what they refer to as 24 hour service. New high concrete poles are being put in position, then heavy, better quality wires go up and communities have hydro all the time. So instead of hearing “Llego la luz” we hear the pings of cell phones and tablets signaling that internet is available again.
Physical darkness and lack of power are frightening and frustrating. Communication stops – no internet, no way to charge a cell phone. For many Canadians it means no way to cook a meal (In the Dominican everyone uses propane for cooking.) But there is another darkness that is a more serious problem – spiritual darkness. New posts and wiring will not dispel the darkness. Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life John 8:12”. Light is available to those who chose to follow Jesus and we can say like King David, “The Lord turns my darkness into light. ” 2 Samuel 22:29.
When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He brought to Adam all the animals and birds and all the living creatures for Adam to name them. Adam also named his wife Eve because she would be the mother of all. We can also find in the Bible individuals who were renamed directly by God or Jesus Christ. Abram was changed to Abraham meaning “father of many nations,” and his wife’s from Sarai to Sarah which means “mother of many nations.”
Names are important in the Bible because they may suggest something about a person’s character or about one’s relationship with God or God’s purpose for an individual. Saul was renamed as Paul when he was God’s chosen instrument to go to the gentiles. I enjoyed some time on the internet looking at meaning of names. Barbara is a name which suggests a stranger or someone unknown. This is appropriate in that I work with Mexicans who are strangers in South West Ontario and do mission ministry in the Dominican Republic. Lloyd is the name for a person with white hair and although his hair was not always white, what’s left is white.
I am a mother, a wife, a pastor so I am also called Mom, Barbie-doll and pastora. As well I have a new name that I received when I accepted Christ as my saviour. This new name Christian should indicate that I am a new person who aims to be Christ-like, identifies my relationship as a loved and forgiven child of God and explains the motive or purpose of my ministry with people from a culture different than my own. I changed and continue to change with my new name. How has being called a Christian changed your life?
People walking through the mall are startled when I greet them with a cheerful hello. First, they are not used to anyone saying hello or to there being anyone in the Community activity room. Some respond with a nod or a hello and others come over and see what is happening. Tables are covered with baking and craft items. Since the theme for the bake sale is Valentine’s, they see pink rice crispy squares, shortbread to decorate, cupcakes with pink sparkles, jujubes and marshmallows in skewers, valentine gift packs in coffee mugs, cinnamon hearts and book marks in the shape of hearts.
Popular items were the gooey caramel squares, mix and match packages of cookies and brownies. One woman said my boyfriend will be really happy with the banana bread and oatmeal raisin cookies. What was the occasion for us to set up in the mall? A fun time and a fundraiser. The beneficiaries of the $400.00 dollars raised are the Inn of the Good Shepherd – a local charity and an international need, a building project of a church in the Dominican Republic.
We had a lot of fun chatting with people who walked by, who stopped to buy banana bread or a blueberry coffee cake or Salvadorian cake. One member of the team stood in the mall offering candies to people while another took samples of the baking to the end of the mall and offered samples, encouraging people to drop by the sale.
Over the last two weeks, I have received many photos and videos of construction work in three sites in the Dominican Republic. First from Navas, where God held back the rain and the concrete floor of a sanctuary in construction was poured.
Then Pastor Ana wrote “God is blessing a great way, all in His time. A “raise the roof” campaign in a church in Ontario raised enough to put the concrete roof on the church Ana pastors in Maizal. The posts and wood to support the cement until it dries are in place; rebar has been purchased and gravel delivered.
Then more pictures came of another site where concrete walls will replace the existing wood walls and the sanctuary will be larger and a new front will be built setting the temple back from the sidewalk edge. Pastor Gladys wrote “God has been good, his faithfulness is forever. What he promises, he completes in his time.”
God has answered prayers and people will have places to worship where the congregation will fit and a roof will protect people from rain. I am excited that in God’s time – hopefully April – I will see how much God has accomplished at these sites.
Shopping this week has been quite different. After going through recipe books and looking for recipes on line, we bought items that we never have in our house: sugar, chocolate chips, cake mixes, icing sugar and marshmallows. Then we went to thrift stores and bought heart shaped cookie cutters, mugs, stickers and heart stickers and yarn. There is still one more shop to visit – the bulk food store. We are waiting for Wednesday and the seniors’ discount. There we will look for cinnamon hearts, heart shaped jujube and red and white gumdrops. Why shop for these things?
No, we are not hosting a Valentine’s party. We are participants in a bake sale to raise funds for two great ministries: the Inn of the Good Shepherd and a construction project in the Dominican Republic. If you are anywhere near Sarnia and its Bayside Mall on Feb 13 between 11 am and 4 pm drop by and decorate a heart shaped cookie, buy a fantastic dessert, get a tasty gift for your valentine.
What do beads and yarn have to do with a bake sale? You will also find several crafts for sale: bracelets, scarfs and a wide variety of book marks. Need a valentine gift for your child’s teacher. Pick up a heart shaped bookmark.
You will enjoy the food, enjoy some fellowship, have fun decorating cookies etc. but you will also help provide food for hungry people by helping out the Inn Of the Good Shepherd and help a congregation in Navas in the Dominican Republic move forward with it Construction. (Many churches in the Dominican call Valentine’s Day Día del Amor – Day of Love.) Get something to express love to someone you know and also to others you don’t know (for example, in the Dominican Republic.)