During the months of July and August a challenge was issued for people willing to set aside loonies or toonies or coins to go towards the construction of the a new church in Navas in the Dominican Republic. Banks were prayed over and distributed. Most people gave more than a loonie a day and a loonie is less than a cup of coffee a day. Three churches and a few individuals accepted the challenge and gave willingly what they felt God was asking them to give. At the end of the giving period almost $2,700.00 dollars had been given. God must be pleased with the givers and the congregation in Navas will be delighted by the generosity.
Can you guess what $500.00 of nickles, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies weighs? Any idea how long it would take two people to roll that many coins and get them to the bank? I never weighed the coins but it did take about 5 – 6 hours to roll the coins. The more important question is: How many bags of cement and how many blocks that will buy? How many rows of blocks will be added to the walls of the sanctuary in Navas?
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalms 100:3 “ This morning Thanksgiving Sunday was a perfect opportunity to give thanks and to praise the holy name of our God. At least a couple of dozen people during worship service spoke a sentence of thanks for God’s mercy and goodness, thanking him for things like coffee, ministry opportunities, families and health.
A year ago, I wrote a blog thanking God for a visit from a special friend, wife of a pastor in Mexico, for God’s special touch upon me during two surgeries and an opportunity to visit at a wedding with family members I had not seen in about five years. This year I am so grateful for God’s hand upon a special young woman in the Dominican Republic. God provided the money for major surgery she needed and the people who surrounded her and provided care for her, her home and her family. I am thankful for Messenger and Facebook which enabled me to know what was happening as it happened and be a source of encouragement and made it possible to pray for specific needs.
I am thankful for a wonderful vacation with my family in Tulum, Mexico and for a second vacation planned for a week from now.
I am most grateful for my husband, daughter and her husband and the many opportunities we have to build memories together. Yes, Lord, you have been good and your love endures forever.
Three times, a year my home church prepares and serves a meal for about 100 of the poorer people in our city. The food is great – mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken, vegetables or salad, a roll and juice and a dessert. Usually my part is to make the gravy and I assure you it is a pretty big pot of gravy. Other volunteers put the dessert in dishes, pour the juice, or make the coffee, and then everyone has a part in serving the food and cleaning up.
On our most recent visit to serve, we had with us a young man from Mexico who is part of YWAM – Youth with a Mission. His job was to put the gravy and pizza slice on each plate. Abraham told us that he has been part of a similar activity in Mexico. When a group goes out to share God’s good news, they sometimes in Mexico also serve a meal. Abraham came to southern Ontario to learn English and to minister. He has been able to do in both Spanish and English.
I enjoy the opportunity to walk among those who are being fed and talk, smile and say an encouraging word. So instead of plating food or washing dishes, I walk through the dining area. Sometimes someone needs a word of prayer. Some of our guests say very little and others start a long conversation. Often a word of encouragement gets a positive response and people feel less lonely.
Each time that we participate we are encouraged and we are able to be the church in action.
Songwriters Rogers and Hammerstein have given the world many songs, some of which have touched people and brought hope and encouragement into lives. One of these has a wonderful promise. The song speaks about walking through a storm coming out of the darkness with head held high. It promises golden skies and singing larks after the storm. It states that a person can walk on with hope in his or her heart and not walking alone through the storm. “Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. “
These are wonderful words to hear in the midst of difficulties and storms, wind and rain. It is tempting to ask if we can really walk on with hope and without feeling alone. My answer is yes. But perhaps my reason is different than that of the songwriters. I know that when we walk with God in our heart, we do not walk alone. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us: “Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” and in Matthew 28, Jesus told his disciples (and us) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If we are believers in Christ, we have the promise that God is always with us through the Holy Spirit. We can sing that we will never be alone. No matter what difficulty we go through, God is with us.
Not only can we be sure that God is with us, we do not walk alone because other believers walk with us. Galatians 6:2 asks Christians to “carry each other’s burdens.” During the past two weeks, I have seen God and others walking with someone walking through a storm. A mother of three needed major surgery to correct problems in her spine. Major surgery was recommended and in the Dominican Republic the costs have to be paid before surgery takes place. Three thousand US dollars were needed. Our awesome God provided that in six days touching people in Ontario and Mississippi. People surrounded Marleny at the hospital praying while others thousands of miles from Marleny prayed where they were. Marleny’s words were, “I trust completely in what God is doing in my life.
It is possible to never walk alone because God and his people walk with us.
Two years ago, I told my family I did not want a tablet. Since then I have found the tablet is an excellent tools for ministry in other countries. I contact pastors and denominational leaders, receive prayer requests, make plans for a missionary team and encourage people much more easily that I ever imagined possible. When I am in the Dominican Republic I can take a picture and send it along with a note back to family and people who pray for our ministry. My family teases that I am addicted but the tablet is a vital part of what I do for the Lord.
A year ago I would not have known much about an emoji or sticker. Then I started sending them to a pastor’s wife in Mexico and to several people in the Dominican Republic. Recently someone dear to us has developed a serious medical problem and requires a major surgery. I send her words of encouragement and emoji. We laugh as we see which one of us will send the most hearts at the end of a message. By the way laughing on line with a Dominican looks like this jajaja. J pronounces as an h or ha ha ha. There are is wonderful selection of stickers that express things like I love you or hugs or an ongoing flow of hearts over the screen. These stickers and emojis help her get through the pain, the anxiety of future a surgery and uncertainty. I also send these stickers to a pastor’s wife to encourage her in her ministry.
Tablets and cell phones and gaming can be a problem. But like many things, these tools can be used for blessings.
The first convention of Latino Workers in Ontario held at WestPark Iglesia brought together migrant workers from several South Western Ontario Locations – Mount Brydges, Forest, Sarnia, Tillsonburg, and Thedford. A biblical reflection centered around the question who has robbed you of your peace. The workers from Mexico and Guatemala sang praise choruses, enjoyed the Mariachi singers and lines up for the Mexican style food. Some devoted soccer players delayed their supper to play a game of their favourite sport.
Pastor Mario assisted by an able translator prayed for workers.
Canadians who prepared and served the food and who have been leaders of the ministry in the communities mentioned above; all expressed the blessing they had in serving workers. They were also grateful for the seeds of the word of God that were planted during the months and years of ministry and during the event itself. Even when serving meant going out of their way to drive workers to London, to answer questions of a worker who has worked for 28 years about applying for a pension, to translate when there were problems and to host a worker’s wife who came from Cuernavaca.
Members of one Mexican family commented on the meat which was very much like the carnitas they ate back in Mexico. A Canadian English-speaking pastor expanded his Spanish vocabulary learning “solamente.” Solamente en cristo – only in jesus was a key line in one of the chouruses playing in the background. A key phrase to describe the day – only in Jesus is salvation found.
Have you noticed that when everything seems to be going just right, suddenly there is a string of concerns, needs and that coping with them all seems impossible? This past couple of weeks has been that way for me. There are a number of significant health issues such as broken bones etc. Three different critical situations in the Dominican Republic have occupied a lot of time in prayer and using technology to send messages of encouragement. A small child will lose at least one finger; Doctors told a teenager she needs a bone marrow transplant and that the best place to do it is Canada; a young mother of three needs major surgery to correct problems in her spinal column that are causing weakness and considerable pain. Finances or lack of them complicate all three situations.
Then there are situations where a home may be lost because of debt and lack of work and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness came clearly through the Facebook messages. Here in Canada there are many people with health issues that seem to have no solution. Four families are experiencing grief for a loved one who recently passed away. Recent trips to emergency room and or hospital stays characterize many lives.
Where do I find words of encouragement? How do I handle the stress of so many needs and the inability to respond? Jesus said we should bring our burdens to him and we will find rest for weary souls. I can remind others of God’s many promises and send messages of encouragement to those who seek support. For myself, I must cast these burdens on my heavenly father. Never has the need for prayer been so great. We have a great God who listens. “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Psalm 102:17 No matter what the burden, we have God of victory and hope.