Project Description

MOVE, (Missionary Outreach Volunteer Evangelism) is a volunteer-staffed, faith-based missionary training school located near Orange Walk, Belize. MOVE exists to inspire, equip and mobilize missionaries to serve in difficult places around the world. The stories I share on this site are experiences I've had while working with MOVE students and in evangelism with the local churches.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

All the news you may have missed

So I started a new routine with my updates this year. Instead of just copying and pasting text into an email and attaching an occasional picture, I've started making newsletters. Problem is, I haven't posted those here, so in the slim chance there are any faithful reader here who don't get my emails, you've been missing out. Well, here is the first link so you can start to catch up on things.

March Newsletter

April Newsletter

May and June Newsletter

July Newsletter

August Newsletter

September Newsletter

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Cease from Man

The mission trip caravan of four vehicles had been on the road for almost eight hours when we finally turned off the paved road onto our final leg of the journey. I was driving the Chinese made Wingle pick-up, in which every bump transfers through the suspension to your backside as nicely as voltage through copper. For a jolting hour we Wingled our way up and down through the hill-country steeps of southern Belize’s Toledo district past patchwork fields of corn and Cacao plantations.
“Hey! Where’s Jeff?” a villager called out to me from his front porch as we at last bounced painfully over the rock-cobbled road into San Jose, a Mayan farming village of about 1500 inhabitants and our final destination. 
“He couldn’t make it this time!” I shouted back
“Oh, you left him behind?” The man replied in disappointment, but I wasn’t able to respond as our conversation reached the outer limit of our 10 mph passage.
“I’m afraid that will be the theme of the week,” I told my wife with a grimace. “Everyone is going to be crying for Jeff, including me. Especially me!” 
“Hey, stop complaining ahead of time” she rebuked. “You need to trust God!”
Jeff is our mechanics teacher, and when he is not with us our ability to fix machines plummets dismally as our last mechanic’s clinic in Carmelita attested. 
After traversing a couple more hills, we reached the Community Center where we unloaded under the gaze of a squad of uniformed soldiers with their semiautomatic rifles, resting briefly in the shade before continuing to field exercises along the Guatemala border.
            Oren and his wife Ana, the only active Adventists in the village, were also there to receive us along with some other friends from previous visits. They were also sad that Jeff couldn’t make it this time, but “you are here in the same Spirit,” Oren encouraged me. I’m going to need more than a double portion, I thought like Elijah’s apprentice. 
            I had hardly finished installing my tent when a red pickup truck pulled up and an exuberant young man jumped out. The first words out of his mouth were, that’s right, you guessed it:
            “Hey! I’m looking for Jeff!”
            “He’s home trying to recover from a herniated back,” I answered. 
            “Oh. Who in charge of mechanics then?”
            I glanced around for Mikel, our student leader, but didn’t see him.
            “What do you need?” I replied. 
            “Can you weld me something? Right here!” He showed me his truck bed near the tailgate split like an overripe watermelon and held together with a ratchet strap.
“I had a big load and it crack wit dat one,” he explained.
We looked it over and decided it was patchable if he would bring some scrap metal pieces, which he promised to do. 
The next morning before sunrise I awoke to the gurgling of a sick generator on the next hill. It started, blubbered along for about 30 seconds, and then fell silent. The cycle repeated five of six times until whoever was trying to power their hut gave up. I wondered if that would be one of the motors I would have to try to diagnose and repair during the week. I was tempted to repeat the previous day’s lament of “Where is Jeff?” when the words of Isaiah 2:22 suddenly sprang to mind: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?” 
            Okay Lord, I get it. I choose to trust you today! 
            I was tested on that pledge immediately, as I spent almost the entire day on one stubborn Shindaiwa weedeater. As I worked I made conversation with David, the 21 year-old who brought it. I found out that he loves mechanics. He had already stripped his machine down to the cylinder at home, trying to discover why it wasn’t running well. Now it wouldn’t even start, so I decided to check the head gasket. Sure enough, it leaked on one corner.  
David asked me where I learned mechanics, and when he heard that MOVE has a class, he was ready to sign up right away. When I explained that the school is  for young people who want to be missionaries, he asked what church we belong to and if baptism is a prerequisite. 
I discovered that he and his siblings attend the Nazarene church, which is the next building down the hill, and his sister is leader of the youth group. I asked him if he likes to read the Bible. He said he does, and I asked him what he’s been reading recently. He hasn’t, so I shared from my study.  
“I love learning new things in the Bible! You know, we’re having meetings here every night this week on the prophecies of Daniel, you should come!” I invited. 
David hung around almost all day, to see what he could learn, I presume. No pressure or anything! Praise God, the weed eater started at the end of the day, but it bogged down when cutting anything more than the thinnest grass, and seemed to run excessively hot, so he decided to leave the machine with us for another day. 
To God be the glory, we had excellent attendance at the Daniel and Revelation evangelistic meetings, including David and his younger brother! Last time we were in San Jose two years ago, we were lucky to have three or four adults show up, and only 15-20 kids. This year the adult attendance was between 20 and 30, and the children as many as 60 or 70, which was a real challenge for the girls in charge of the children’s meetings! 

Adult meetings on the basketball court behind the community center
Me preaching on Daniel chapter 7

Children's song service inside the community center

The Drunkard’s Compression Test

            The next day things seemed to click better in the mechanics brigade. We were able to get a few more machines running and I welded a couple of coconut hand-crank shredders and the handle on the school bus door. I was working on an electric drill and another man was waiting on me to check his generator, when one of the many village drunks stumbled up to us, bottle in hand, demanding that we check his blood pressure. He tripped and nearly fell, sloshing booze on Welvis where he sat working on a weed eater. We helped the poor man sit down on a bench, but soon he was up again, pressing for the door into the community center where the education class was having activities with students from the Roman Catholic school across the road. Abel stopped him, which he didn’t like much, and for a moment I thought he was going to fight as he cut loose a stream of profanity. 
            “Please sit down” Abel pointed him back to the bench. “You can’t go inside, there are women and children in there.” That revelation seemed to calm him some, and for a few minutes he kept to the bench, but continued to mutter and curse under his breath. Soon he raised his voice, complaining that no one was attending to his needs. Again he got up and made for the door, but tripped on a weed eater and fell onto the sidewalk, somehow still managing to save his bottle. I rushed to help him up and back to his seat. 
That’s when I remembered our sign posted out by the road: “Free Mechanics Clinic.” Of course! This poor drinking machine thought we were offering free health care! That’s when I had a crazy idea. I went looking for the compression tester, a tool with a pressure gauge attached to a couple of hoses. 
            What if he thinks I’m mocking him? Then he’ll really be angry! I hesitated for a moment. But Mr. Drunk as a Skunk was trying to get up again, and I had to do something about this terribly uncomfortable situation. 
            “Here!” I said, “Let me help you. Sit back down here and we’ll check your pressure. Here, take hold of this end!” I handed him the end of one of the hoses. He was drunk enough to misunderstand the sign, hopefully he won’t realize this is not a blood pressure cuff! I thought. 
            “Noo! I don’t need that!” he pushed it away. “I have pain back here” he indicated the region of his kidneys. 
            “Of course you do. This stuff you are drinking will give you pains all over the place. It will destroy your kidneys and liver!” I chided, waving my hand at his bottle. 
            “That’s not it, I’ve been to see the doctor and he gave me pain pills, I need more medicine!” he demanded. 
This is not working. I breathed a prayer for help. Suddenly I recalled something I read recently in the book Temperance pg 128: 

“In dealing with the victims of intemperance we must remember that we are not dealing with sane men, but with those who for the time being are under the power of a demon. Be patient and forbearing. Think not of the repulsive, forbidding appearance, but of the precious life that Christ died to redeem.”
            I felt overwhelmed by a sudden urge to rebuke the foul spirit that held this poor man pressed down in bondage.
            “I don’t have any pills for your pain, but there is a better medicine I want to share with you.” I smiled. “My precious Redeemer, Jesus Christ is the Great Doctor who is always on call, and He wants to make you free, not just from your pain, but from everything that causes it! Free from every vice and sin! Let’s pray to Him right now! What’s your name?” I asked. He muttered something that sounded more like a badly pronounced insult, but I decided to go with it. I put my hand on his shoulder, and he fell silent for the first time since his arrival. I could feel the stares of the onlooking village men, and decided I had better pray loud enough for all to hear. 
            “Dear Lord, we praise your name because you are mighty to save! I present before your throne of grace Mr. Earnast, Lord, you know his need, you know everything about him, and yet you love him and long to restore him. Lord, if there is any desire deep in his heart to be free, I pray that you would cast out the demon of intemperance that plagues him! In the name of Jesus I rebuke the foul spirit of alcohol that binds him. Lord, may he reach out his hand in faith to you and take hold of your strength, may he choose to believe your word and renounce his sin and find pardon in you today, while he is hearing the sound of my voice, right now Lord. We don’t know how much longer we will have this life that you give us, we don’t own our lives, we have not bought and paid for this life we live, but You have Lord, you have bought us with your own precious blood. Lord, I plead that blood on Mr. Earnast’s behalf, Lord, heal him, save him, restore him I pray, in the name of our powerful and merciful Savior, who will one day be our Judge, Jesus Christ, amen.”
            There was a hush on all of us, and I could sense the power of God striving with hearts. Mr. Earnast continued to sit quietly for a minute. 
            “You’re just trying to scare me,” he finally murmured. 
            “There is no need to be afraid if you go to Jesus now! He turns no one away.” I smiled. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to attend to these other gentlemen.” I stood up and returned to my work.
The drill needed a fresh set of bearings, just like all of us every time we get off track.  
 The generator was next, and it didn’t want to start for anything. 
“We often find it impossible to fix even a man-made machine, so how can we ever hope to fix ourselves? It is impossible!” I commented to the owner, a thin Mayan man with a Mennonite style beard. “We need God’s transforming grace every day.”
I verified the spark, and was about to open up the carburetor when I remembered I should try priming with a squirt of starting fluid. Praise God, the engine fired right up. I let it run for a while, shut it off, and tried again, this time without the starting fluid and it worked like a charm while Mr. Myan Mennonite stood by in awe. 
“When’s the last time you changed the oil?” I asked. He never had. I recommended an oil change and gave him a few more tips on maintenance and helped him load the machine back on his truck.
“How much do I owe you?” 
“Thank you so much!” He grinned. 
“Thank God!” I replied
If these guys only knew, there's not a mechanical bone in my body, nor a spiritual one for that matter. Every success in either realm is a miracle of grace as I choose to work by faith. 

Saturday, March 09, 2019

One Busy Sabbath

After a typically full church service we made five visits in the afternoon including two neat contacts with Evangical folks in Chan Pine Ridge. One lady named Angela is the wife of an evangelical pastor in another village and she hitchhikes every weekend to come take care of her 90 year old mother. Last week the student who was with me gave her a tract on the Sabbath. Today she told us that she read it but started to give her reasons for keeping Sunday. God helped me keep the conversation from degenerating into an argument, and yet he gave me words to say with joy and conviction, including a selection of pertinent Bible verses. She seemed touched and open to hearing more. After visiting we had singing bands at the hospital and prayed and sang to the nurses on duty as well as 7 or 8 different patients. Two of the latter were adolescents recovering from gunshot wounds from a shootout with police when they tried to rob the money changers at the Belizean side of the Mexican border. An officer stood guard as we sang and prayed with them.  After the hospital we stopped to see a church member who’s son has a bad case of food poisoning. He has not eaten for five days and is very weak. We were able to help them so they can get the proper medicine since the charcoal he was taking, though helping was not cutting it. On our way home from there we came across a grisly hit and run accident. An elderly cyclist left dead like common roadkill. It was a grisly sight. The next day we found out that the victim was Marvin's father. Marvin is one of several backslidden Adventists who live in CPR. We will visit him and his family tomorrow Lord willing. 
Anyway, this time is spare on the description, but it’s late and I’m ready for bed. Thanks for your prayers! We need them ever so much. You are in ours as well.

Calling Prayer Warriors: Turn the battle to the gates!

I have more things to say then there are minutes in a day, but though I find myself writing this message at the 11thhour of the night, I will try to keep this report to the most essential for now. I will say that there are exciting things happening in this 11thMOVE class session. This group has dubbed themselves the “11thhour workers.” These are golden moments to work while it is day. God knows our sitting down and our rising up. May it be a lot less sitting and a lot more rising up! God is calling us, He is calling you! He still has something for you to do, even at this late hour. It’s time to be more intentional, more sacrificial, more bold, more faithful, more ingenious and more tenacious for the everlasting gospel of Present Truth. God cries out:
“Who will rise up for me against the evil doers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Psalms 94:16) Remember, God does not call those who believe themselves qualified, but he qualifies those who believe on Him and answer His call! I love the promise of Isaiah 28:5-6:
“In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” 
            This last week a simple question to my local pastor about global youth day turned into an unexpected opportunity for me to share a plan for involving all the Adventist youth in Belize in continual, ongoing evangelism during the next year. (See attached document if you desire). Please pray for the awakening of our church here and all around the world, that to finish the Father’s work may become even more important to us than our daily food, just as it was for Jesus! (John 4:34). 
We have a family of travelers staying with us since last Sunday when they met one of our missionary volunteers in a divine appointment in Carmelita village. Igor is from Latvia and his wife Tamar is from Argentina but they are both of Jewish decent and grew up speaking Hebrew. They live in Israel where they met while studying in the university. Now they are driving an RV from the U.S. to Argentina with their four adorable children ages 4-10. I sense that they are seekers for truth. They are full of questions, but they are skeptical of God and religion in general. They have been participating in many of our activities though, and tomorrow I will invite them to join us for church and singing bands at the hospital in the afternoon. Please pray for our witness. 
I also solicit your prayers and support for three missionary families that have been struck by tragedy during the last two weeks:
Alla and her daughters Elizabeth and Eva lost their husband and father Christopher when he fell down a one-hundred-foot precipice in the mountains of Guayana about two weeks ago. Captain Lincoln Gomez, a friend and fellow missionary of ours from our time in Bolivia now working in his native Guayana was flying out Christopher’s body when his plane ran out of fuel just before reaching Georgetown and he was forced to make an emergency landing in the jungle. God was merciful, and he and the police officer flying with him both survived the crash, but Lincoln is facing a long and painful recovery and staggering medical bills. Right now he is being monitored for numbness. The airplane motor and perhaps some instruments will be recoverable as I understand, but the plane won’t fly again. If you wish to help Lincoln and his family at this time you may do so through GMI, making your donation to “Guayana Indigenous Aviation.” You can also send money through Paypal. 
Captain Lincoln Gomez in recovery. 

Finally, please pray for another missionary friend of ours who is very shook up over the sudden loss of his brother to suicide. 

Pray for us too, and don’t stop! We sure need it!

Monday, March 04, 2019

The Smoke of our Torment

We arrived from evangelism and visitation late Sunday night, and as we cut across the grass toward home I caught a whiff of something raunchy.
“Something stinks! What is that?” I wondered out loud.
“Maybe it is the sugar factory” Lyli ventured.
As we passed the tool shed near the entrance of our driveway, the stench worsened.
“It smells like something burnt!” I exclaimed.
“Ooh!” Lyli inhaled sharply. “The lentils!”
Sure enough, during our rush of activities before getting out the door we had forgotten to turn off the burner.  The pot on the stovetop was black as tar, and even the trim on the neighboring countertop matched and was too hot to touch.  Inside the kettle was a smoldering mass of roasted lentil crisp, as black and porous as volcanic rock. I carried the whole molten lump out and away to the garbage pit. 
If only the smell were so easy to take away! Caustic smoke seemed to saturate every molecule of matter in every article in every nook and cranny of our abode. All things fabric had wicked up enough odor to out-stink an apartment of chain-smokers. Worst of all, not even a puff of a breeze did blow, and the smoke hung over and around the house like a pall.
We opened all the windows and doors, turned on the fans, boiled vinegar, set out backing soda and slices of onion, took down the curtains, and started scrubbing doors, walls and windows, but it was already late, and we finally fell into bed exhausted, only to have our noses sting and our scratchy throats gel over with mucous, and good sleep flee as from a burning. “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day or night” Revelation 14:11 thundered through my head.  If nothing else, this experience definitely reaffirmsmy decision to never worship the beast or his image!I thought wryly. I’d rather keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus by God’s grace! 
In which case, you had better not complain, had you,another internal voice seemed to chime. For the faith of Jesus would joyfully trust that this trial has been allowed for your growth and benefit. Besides, this trial is merely smoky. You’ve seen nothing yet of the fiery trial that is to try you!  I had to concede on that one, and praised the Lord that our house hadn’t burned down. Otherwise our pot of lentils would have been almost as costly as Esau’s!
In the morning we went back to cleaning. In between classes and other responsibilities, we washed clothes, scrubbed walls, and put the mattress and furniture out to air, but the house still reeked like scalded lentils all week long! We pitched our tent in our front yard for two nights. Sleeping on the ground was still much more restful than breathing smoke all night.
So, whatever you do, don’t boil things when you’re in a rush to leave the house! Also, when you smell something terrible, be careful what you say: you just might be the culprit! You might be trying to do great things for God, but don’t neglect the little things. The damage of one moment’s forgetfulness and negligence may take many days of hard work to undo!

Friday, February 15, 2019


“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. And the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin” 1 John 1:7

Lyli and I are back in Belize after a month stateside where we saw God’s hand over us again in powerful and personal ways. Lyli endured a series of trials in which she faced three of her greatest fears: flying, public speaking, and oral exams. God gave her grace to overcome in every occasion. She survived multiple flights in bumpy winter weather, shared her testimony in two different churches, and passed her civics and language exam and is now a U.S. citizen! After almost two years of processing we are thrilled to have that taken care of! Thank you all who lifted her up in prayer. God also provided for our needs above and beyond what we expected through a number of kind family friends who shared everything from their car to medical exams and lab work.   
This week has been a busy round of staff, and starting today, student orientation activities. We have also taken time to pray together and have been inspired to monitor our spiritual orientation and constantly reset tracking to True North. We cannot afford to be guided by our own multi-polar thoughts. That is not a good way to live (Isaiah 65:2). We need to stop listening to ourselves so much and start back-talking that tyrant called Self with the Word of God. Did you know that talking Scripture to yourself is a sign of the Spirit-filled life? The apostle says “…be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord” (Eph 5:18-19).  So when self takes the helm of our minds, we must commit auto-mutiny. God has given us the power to decide what we will think! Let us surrender those selfish thoughts of anger, bitterness, pride, fear, lust, complacency or whatever it is that is rotting out our soul, and let the abundant life of Jesus flow through us in ever-richer currents!
Most of MOVE’s 11thgroup of missionaries in training has arrived now, this time, from Mexico, the U.S., Colombia, Venezuela, Spain, Costa Rica, and right here in Belize. For worship the last couple days they have been telling how God has worked in their lives and how He brought them here. Amazing stories. I’m recording them this time, and Lord willing I will get some of them sent to you soon. 
Our theme this year is “Move in the Light,” which has been food for deep study and thought. (Enough, in fact, for several sermons, but I summarized some of the highlights for you in a poem which you can find below.) We feel a deep urgency both personally and as a school to make every moment count for eternity. As the moral darkness of the world around us deepens daily, we need serious upgrades in current wattage, both intensity and volume. For that, the cables of our faith need to thicken. Everything about moving in the light speaks growth. I like how Proverbs puts it: “But the path of the just is as the shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (4:18).
We don't know how much longer we will have to work with the ease and freedom we enjoy right now. Pray for us, that we will be more intentional, more efficient, more courageous, more Spirit Filled, and that we will in His strength be strong.

“Light is sown for the righteous,”[i]

So what must the seed of light look like?[ii]
How fast might it germinate? 
Does it spring forth a luminous sprout, 
Will it twine the world seven times in one second?[iii]
Or must it first in human wombs take root 
to grow slowly, the hope of glory?[iv]
What glorious, golden fruit it must produce![v]
What phosphorescent, never-tenuous luz![vi]
It must incandesce, and at what brilliance,
glowing like a coal! The humble shrub[vii]ablaze 
but left unburned,[viii] inhabited by All Consuming Fire[ix],
it yet standeth unconsumed,[x]never to expire!

Oh to be as that flaming bush that leaves no trace of ashes[xi]
Oh to have a face sublime that ever shines as Moses’![xii]
To don that living garment white and wield the heavenly saber,
to have a mind refined, complete, and sharpened by our Savior,[xiii]
covered with His panoply of bright and shining armor![xiv]
Oh, God Almighty mine, please sow such seed in me forever! 

[i]Psalms 97:11
[ii]Genesis 3:15, Galatians 3:16, Luke 8:11, John 1:1-3,14
[iii]Revelation 14:6-12, 18:1-10. At 186,00 miles per second, light 
[iv]Colossians 1:7
[v]Matthew 5:14-16, Proverbs 25:11
[vi]light in Spanish
[vii]Isaiah 53:2
[viii]“It will baffle the keenest intellect to interpret the divine manifestation of the burning bush. It was not a dream; it was not a vision; it was a living reality,--something that Moses saw with his eyes. He heard the voice of God calling to him out of the bush, and he covered his face, realizing that he stood in the immediate presence of God. God was conversing with humanity.” {YI, December 20, 1900 par. 1} 
[ix]Hebrews 12:29
[x]Isaiah 33:14-15 
[xi]Exodus 3:2
[xii]Exodus 34:35, Ecclesiastes 8:1, Daniel 12:3, 
[xiii]Psalms 119:105,Eph 6:17, Hebrews 4:12, 10:16, Prov 27:17
[xiv]Romans 13:12-14

Monday, December 03, 2018

“Nothing we can do” but God can do Anything!

“Daniel… accident!” were the only two words I understood from the choked-up voice of sister Mirtha when Lyli answered her call on speaker phone early Monday morning. 
Oh Lord, I sure hope he’s not gone. I thought, fearing the worst as Lyli stepped out of the house to get better reception. 
            “Daniel is in custody at the police station in Orange Walk. He hit a cyclist this morning  on his way home to pick up Mirtha and the girls for school.” Lyli informed when she came back inside.
            “What! Oh no! Was the cyclist killed? Is brother Daniel in jail? Does Mirtha need us to take the girls? Does she need a ride to the police station?” my questions tumbled out. 
            “The cyclist is unconscious in the hospital. It doesn’t look good. Mirtha is already at the station, but I told her we would come as soon as possible.” 
            Soon we were bouncing toward town over the potholes accompanied by clouds of dust. When we parked across the street from the precinct, I spotted brother Daniel’s Suzuki Grand Vitara. The windshield on the driver’s side was mashed into a sunken bowl of broken glass. White fracture lines extended like a spider’s web from the center of impact which was about the size of a human head. 
            Lord have mercy! 
            “The bike must have been knocked out from under the rider and he ended up on the hood. By the looks of it his head hit the windshield, and if he is like 98% of cyclists around here, he wasn’t wearing a helmet!” I shuddered as I reconstructed the scene in my imagination. 
Windshield of Daniel's car after the accident
            We found the distraught sister Mirtha waiting outside the station doors with her brother-in-law. We learned that Daniel might be kept in custody up to 48 hours, and that it would depend on the cyclist’s condition as well as the results of their inspection of the vehicle whether he would face prosecution.
            “He has in his favor that he stayed at the scene and tried to help the victim” one official told us. “Has anyone from your family gone to see the cyclist yet? I recommend that you do” the official continued. 
            Daniel’s brother and sister decided to go right away. I offered to drive them. At the hospital we spoke to the cyclist’s son. His father, 70-year-old Rafael, was in the emergency room in a coma. The family needed to transfer him to the hospital in Belize City, but at the moment there was no ambulance driver available. There wasn’t much we could do, but I asked the family if I could pray with them, and they agreed. But what to say? I prayed God would guide my words. 
            “Lord, I ask that if it can bring glory to Your name that You will raise up Mr. Rafael and that everyone will see that you are real, and that you are the same as the God recorded in the miracles of Your Holy Word. Be with the family, give them comfort and strength and help them to trust in You no matter what.” 
After the prayer, Jesús, Daniel’s brother needed to go, so I offered to drive him back to the station where he had left his motorcycle. As we left, his sister called after us:
“Pray for Jesús too. He really needs it.” 
Jesús hung his head as we continued to walk toward the truck.
“I’ve been really bad,” he confessed. “Just the other day I was telling my wife I want to change, I don’t want to keep on like this. I should go to jail, not Dan! Dan doesn’t deserve this! He is a good guy, always helping people, always strong in his faith. I saw him before he went into the station, he was so calm.” Jesús was near tears. 
“Praise God for the faith your brother has. It is a gift from God, just like your desire to change and leave behind every wicked thing. God is giving you another chance to choose Him today and He wants to give you the same peace and faith your brother has.”
I suddenly remembered the one other conversation I had had with Jesús months ago at a potluck, one of maybe two times he has come to our church over the last two years. He had told me a long bitter story of slights and wrongs he had suffered from pastor’s and church members. I felt impressed to say something else.
“God longs for you to surrender all your pain and bitterness for past wrongs and fill you with the peace of forgiveness. Let’s pray for it right now, will you pray with me?” 
“Please.” Jesús nodded. The Spirit of God moved powerfully during that prayer, and I realized that perhaps this would be part of the good that God would bring out of this tragedy. (Later I learned that Jesús had been so discouraged that he was contemplating suicide shortly before his brother’s accident. Please pray that God will save him and his family.) 
            While I was speaking to Jesús, Daniel was released by the police.
            “How did the accident happen?” everyone asked him. 
“The bicycle crossed the road right in front of me. There was no way to avoid him. I braked and hit the horn right away, but he was too close.” 
As soon as Daniel was released, he wanted to go the hospital. Some of us weren’t so sure it was the best idea, but I could see that brother Dan felt terrible about the accident and felt he had to do this. At the hospital, the family was suspicious at first, but eventually accepted his help, just in time to transfer Mr. Rafael to the hospital in Belize City. 
After several days of care, Mr. Rafael remained in a coma. 
            “There’s nothing more we can do” the doctors admitted. 
            Meanwhile, the whole church came together in earnest prayer on behalf of Rafael and his family as well as brother Daniel. I prayed specifically that God would send an Adventist brother nearby to visit and pray with Rafael and his family, and that God would raise him up in such a way that it would be clear that it was God’s work, so He would receive all the honor and glory.
On Friday the seventh, brother Daniel sent us the message.
“Brothers, thanks for all of your prayers for Mr. Rafael. God has heard our prayers. Mr. Rafael has come out of his coma and he is recuperating!”
Later I learned that God had even answered my prayer that someone would visit the family at the hospital in Belize City. I had imagined that some brother living in Belize City would visit the hospital, but it was our very own members, the Bochub family who were passing through and stopped to visit and pray with the family right around the time that Mr. Rafael awoke from his coma. To God be the glory! 

P.S. Please pray that the insurance company will respond soon and cover the medical bills for Mr. Rafael. Yesterday Mr. Rafael told Daniel that God kept him alive for a reason. Pray that he and his family will soon discover what the reason is. Daniel plans to visit him again with some of the church brethren and have a worship service to praise God for his goodness and mercy. Pray that this contact will be for the eternal salvation of this precious family. 
Daniel and Mirtha 
Daniel and Mirtha's daughters

Friday, November 30, 2018

Diagnosing Mechanical Sins

This month’s mission trip amazed me with our busiest mechanic’s clinic ever. During the last two days of our week in San Pedro Colombia, as many as ten of us worked simultaneously on different machines. We saw nearly 100 items in three and a half days, including bicycles, blenders, drills, skill saws, weed eaters, chainsaws, lawn mowers, and a generator. One student who formerly worked in the computer industry even fixed a couple laptops! 
Unlike our experience here a year ago, almost immediately after setting up shop, broken equipment began to flood in from every direction. Many villagers brought three and even four items each, sometimes making multiple trips over steep hilly roads pushing wheelbarrows or riding bicycles laden with their ailing equipment. I half-jokingly commented that there were likely more broken machines in the village than people! I only hope that they will soon seek our Master Soul Mechanic for themselves with the same intensity and dedication that they sought us on behalf of their tools! 
“How long are you all staying?” One villager asked. 
            “Just until Sunday.”
“Can’t you all stay here a little longer, please?”  
“Like how much longer?” I asked, out of curiosity.
“At least a year!”
             I’m sure a year would go by quick and at the same time feel like three and a half centuries. 

            Some fixes were simple. Yessi discovered that the liquid in the tank of one broken-down weedeater was kerosene, not gasoline. She purged the tank, added the correct fuel, and soon had the machine purring “like a brand-new used one.” Other machines were more difficult. I found myself working on an old skill saw that defied my best efforts, and chewed up inordinate amounts of time with no apparent progress. 
How does God put up with us?The thought suddenly flashed into my mind just as I was ready to condemn both the tool and myself as unworthy of the mechanical realm. 
It’s incredible! Unlike me with this saw, God knows exactly why we are broken and He knows just what to do to fix us. If He is stymied, it is by our proud, uncooperative, stubborn, unbelieving hearts! That’s got to be frustrating! How does He keep working with us when we seem like an inordinate waste of time? 
A fresh glimpse of Calvary grasped my imagination. 
But of course! Considering the exorbitant price He already paid, how could He give up on us now and let His blood be spent for naught? No wonder He continues to tinker: a touch here, an adjustment there, as He prays for a response, for some token of spiritual life in our zombie-like souls! 
The thought gave me courage to keep working. Eventually, however, I had to lay that saw aside and go on to the next item. We were on a timeframe, and the waitlist of sick equipment was getting longer by the minute. Unfortunately, my next assignment, a Homelite weed eater, wasn’t any easier. 
What is wrong with this thing?Imuttered and fumed like a sick engine myself. Well, one of us has to do it!I justified myself. Three score and seven pulls later, mine is the only murmur!Why won’t this thing run?
Have you ever found yourself asking that question in your spiritual life? 
In small motor mechanics, there are three basic systems to check: spark, fuel and compression. Similarly, all spiritual malfunctions fall under three basic categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Sounds simple right?  
            The problem is, those three categories include a heap of specifics. To complicate matters, in long-neglected machines there are often multiple faults in multiple areas. More often than not, one failure has led to another. The mud dauber nest and cockroach hotel we uncovered in a couple machines, though problematic, were likely not the original causes of engine failure if you know what I mean. With so many things gone wrong, diagnosis can get overwhelming, let alone repair! Now doesn’t that sound familiar? 
The good news is, there are manuals and experts to help in time of need. I remember one chainsaw that came back to life after we applied our discovery from the manual that the setting for its fuel/air mixture-adjustment needle was a turn and a half more than the standard setting on most brands! What’s the air-fuel mixture in your soul today? Have you read far and deep enough in God’s Word to discover your needed adjustments?  
Interestingly, as in the soul, finding the cause of decease is more frustrating the more perfect the machine appears! We received one bright-red Shindaiwa chainsaw in pristine condition. Next to the surrounding hunks of junk, it glowed like the inside of a shopping mall at Christmastime. Jonathan’s initial inspection revealed  that the issue resided in the spark and ignition system, but the sparkplug, wire and coil were as pretty as the rest of the machine and all tested good.  So Jonathan called on Jeff, our resident expert, who got the machine to start, though it coughed, sputtered and popped like a medley of fireless noise crackers before sundown on the fourth of July. In the end, changing the sparkplug fixed the problem. How many parts of your life test out good according to your auto evaluation? You should ask the Master Mechanic. You may be in for a surprise! Praise God, there are remedies that heal even the uttermost brokenness.
            The man who lived across the street from us told me he heard two guys walking by his house bubbling with praises about how they had received their tools back from the dead. One resident admitted to us that his machine had been parked for three years! Others, like the owner of one weed eater I worked on, claimed he had used the machine just a few weeks previous! Notwithstanding, I had to use penetrating oil to free the rust-frozen spring tabs on the pull start so they could once again engage with the flywheel. Thank God for the oil. 
            Oh, and there is one more mechanical sin that is a real killer: timing. Mechanical arrhythmias. I have learned that many times a lawn mower won’t start because when the blade hit a rock or a tree root and bent or broke the aluminum keyway on the driveshaft, the magneto no longer lines up correctly with the magnets on the flywheel, and so the spark comes at the wrong time. Sometimes its bad enough that the machine won’t even start. Just how important is timing anyway? It’s a good idea to check your spiritual timing. Are you observing time the way God designed? 
Clint joyfully repairs a sewing machine.

Mechanics getting ready to open shop. Machines in the background left from the previous day.

Sebastian the machine surgeon 

Tool inventory on the last day of mechanics clinic. 

TIME AND JUDGMENT (11-20-2018)

We are in the last week of the three-month phase of the MOVE program. The missions fair, health class outreach, survival camp weekend, student presentations, week-of-prayer, and education outreach and student-led mission trip are all in the books, and it is time for the final evaluations.
Class number 10, or Class X, as they have dubbed themselves, has enjoyed the multiple meanings available with their particular Roman numeral: names like “The generation extraordinaire,” and “the X factor generation!”
The number ten in scripture is associated with law and judgment, so it is ironic that this class, although they also have many good qualities, have been probably the most lackadaisical and relaxed group I have seen here so far. Generation laX may be a more fitting moniker for them. It has cost many of them some hard knocks to begin to see their deficiencies. In many ways they remind me of myself  and my own mediocre, Laodicean condition! 
            Lately I have been studying the pre-advent investigative judgment. What a solemn reality it is, especially in the context of current developments in the world church and the world at large! What a deep need is mine to scrutinize my life and leave no stone unturned, to die to self and put things right with God. These are golden moments to seek the Lord with a whole heart, and to invest everything in developing the image of Christ in the soul. Like a polaroid, it might take some vigorous shaking. We have way too much to unlearn, and so much more to learn, and so little time. 
Interestingly, time is profoundly connected to judgment in the Bible (Ecl 3:17, 8:5, Acts 17:31, 1 Peter 4:17, Rev 14:7). The Sabbath, as we know, is the only commandment that signals time. It is also the day that Jesus spent in the tomb when He bore the penalty of God’s judgment against sin. Thus the Sabbath serves to remind us of our need to die to self and sin, while it simultaneously illustrates the reality of both liberation and restoration, the essential experience that we need in this judgment hour (see Rom 6:5-8, Gal 2:20, Deut 5:12-15, Ex 31:13, Eze 20:12). 
But the Sabbath is even more than this: it will eventually become the visible  litmus test, the great line that will divide between those who choose to worship the Creator God and receive His seal, and those who choose to worship the Beast and his image and receive the mark of his authority.  May we be ready, and may we be faithful! 

P.S. During the Thanksgiving supper last Friday night, the students presented us with a wooden tablet they had carved the letters Gen. X along with all their names. The abbreviation made me think of Genesis chapter ten, the table of the nations, which I found very fitting, not only because this group of students represents six different countries, but also because it prefigures the work they will do among many nations, by the grace of God. Below is the list of their commissions for the next six months to a year in eight different projects across five different countries. 

n  Jose Carlos: Amazon project, Leticia, Colombia
n  Loreiny and Natalia: Healthy Living Center, Popayan, Colombia
n  Diego: orphanage in the Congo, Africa
n  John, Gerson and German: Reach International orphanage and school, Honduras, C.A. 
n  Sebastian, Azarel and Jan Pool: Peru Projects, church planting and pioneer evangelism in the Amazon region of northern Peru
n  Anthony, Damaris and Abi: Bolivia Industrial School in northeastern Bolivia.
n  Talitha: Shilo, Healthly Living Center, Medellin, Colombia
n  Benjamin: Maintenance Project, doing vehicle and equipment maintenance at mission projects across Bolivia.