Monday, August 6, 2018

Mexico City Missive ~ Summer 2018

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20

Dear friends,

Did you know missionaries receive lots of fan mail? Well, maybe not fan mail, exactly. But we often receive notes of encouragement, holiday cards, and a few inquiries that get us thinking. A few years back, an inquiring mind asked how our ministry focus aligned with God’s purpose. Granted, I may not remember exactly how the sender worded the question, I do remember answering it more or less this way. No matter where Stuart and I are in the world, Jesus’ command to make disciples remains at the center of who we are and what we do.

In Jamaica, making disciples looked like caring for 40 precious children and teenagers at our children’s home. It also looked like teaching at the Assemblies of God Bible College and developing a mentorship program between those two entities.

In Mexico City, making disciples looked like teaching at Anna Sanders Seminary and preaching in our home church and other venues during our first term, and focusing our efforts at Teen Challenge Mexico during our second term.

Suffice it to say, following the call to make disciples has afforded Stuart and I the privilege to love, serve, and minister with many wonderful people in God’s wonderfully diverse world.

Just recently, the Executive Committee of World Missions granted Stuart and I approval for a short-term assignment as Missionaries in Residence (MIR) at Evangel University. This opportunity would not have happened without you. Your support over these last three terms of service (15 years!) gives us the perspective and the experience we need to inspire students in their God-given vocation and help them find their place in his Great Commission. In other words, Stuart and I will continue the process you began in your homes and churches to make educated, responsible, Spirit-led disciples to go and do likewise.

I’ve barely given you a glimpse of all the responsibilities required as a MIR. But as the year progresses, I trust you’ll be impressed with the partnership of Assemblies of God World Missions and our Assemblies of God learning institutions to provide missionary educators to create vision, promote missions, and provide your students guidance as they discover God’s call on their lives.

As I mentioned, the MIR is a short-term assignment (for the 2018-2020 academic years). Then Stuart and I will eagerly return to the field by God’s grace and your continued support. Please know, we need you just as much now as ever. Transitions are never easy. We’ve already hit a few snags that hopefully will turn out to be nothing more than inconveniences. As for now, please pray for us as we settle into a new home and into all our new responsibilities.

Grace and peace,

~ Stuart & Wendy Brown

We met the challenge! A few weeks ago, we challenged our supporters to help us give a generous offering to Teen Challenge Mexico to repair, replace, and upgrade some worn out items at their facility. In fact, you more than met the challenge and so we made these guys, as well as the directors of Reto a la Juventud, very happy. 
Thanks everyone. You're the best!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

We're up to the challenge!

Teen Challenge directors, Gamaliel and Alejandra Cerda, have guided numerous adult and young men from drug and alcohol addiction through a proven, well-structured, faith-based program. Graduates of Teen Challenge Mexico (Reto a la Juventudleave with their dignity recovered and the strength required to take control of their lives to reintegrate with their family, or form a family free of addictions.

Stuart and I have had the privilege to serve Teen Challenge Mexico these last few years to witness such miracles.

As you can imagine, housing, feeding, and training upwards of 20 men takes it toll on the facilities. And for Teen Challenge Mexico, many of their basic necessities have worn out and need replacement or repair.

This is where you and I come in. Gamaliel and Alejandra have submitted a short list of basic necessities that need replacing (like pillows and bedspreads), a few high end repairs (of a refrigerator and freezer), and wish list to upgrade their kitchen (like an industrial blender).

Expenses total a modest $3000. With your help and generosity, we believe we are up to the challenge of raising this amount quickly and get the funds into their hands as soon as possible.

Just follow this giving link and these simple steps:
1. Choose the amount of your offering
2. Click on class 40 in the drop down box
3. Write Teen Challenge in the comment box
4. Press Give Now

Easy Peasy.
Please note, offerings exceeding the expected amount will joyously be given to Teen Challenge.

Thanks for your help!

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. Matthew 10:42

Y quien dé siquiera un vaso de agua fresca a uno de estos pequeños por tratarse de uno de mis discípulos, les aseguro que no perderá su recompensa. Mateo 10:42

Mexico City Missive ~ We're up to the challenge

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Mexico City Missive ~ winter 2018

Here's a snippet of our life and ministry in Mexico City for the second half of the year, 2017.

Teen Challenge Mexico, or as we know it Reto a la Juventud, provides Stuart and I opportunities to preach throughout the year as we did in the month of July. Likewise, I continue to teach English classes on Saturdays and Stuart enjoys his weekly round of futbol with the guys.

As we are able, Stuart and I also visit other Asambleas in Mexico City. In August, we worshipped with Pastors Cristobal (right) and Lourdes at Rios de Agua Viva when they invited our area director, Paul Kazim (center), to preach. I chose this delightful photo for obvious reasons.

September began happily enough with a dinner invite from Teen Challenge directors, Gamaliel and Alejandra at their home and Independence Day celebrations with our Reto family. Yet on the 19th, the anniversary of Mexico City's devastating earthquake of 1985, Mexico City rocked again from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that left hundreds dead, thousands wounded, and many thousands more homeless. (I wrote more about it here in a previous newsletter.)

Relief efforts began immediately by the good people of Mexico as neighbors went door to door looking for volunteers and donations. Stuart and I, because of your generosity, dropped off supplies at collection sites with our trusty Speed the Light vehicle.  Well into October and beyond, Mexico City's resiliency remains strong as they continue the slow process of recovery and rebuilding.

Once again, in November, I had the privilege to speak to some of Mexico City's finest leaders at our monthly ministers breakfast for women. Although I spoke on the strength and courage of Esther, these courageous women of God shared stories that rivaled any biblical character.

In December, Stuart and I enjoyed a visit with all our kids - Olivia, Wesley, and Sophia as they came to Mexico City for the holidays. This new year looks bright with opportunity as both our daughters are set to graduate in May. Olivia from Duke Divinity with a master's degree in Theological Studies, and Sophia from Evangel University with a bachelor's degree in Communications. 

Stuart & Wendy

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mexico City Missive ~ Christmas 2017

[King Herod] called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” Matthew 2:4-6
Bethlehem, the birthplace of king David becomes the birthplace of the Christ, Israel's promised king and shepherd. When the reigning king, Herod, receives confirmation of the Messiah's birth, he seeks to harm the vulnerable, humble child of Bethlehem. An angelic warning sends Mary and Joseph fleeing from Bethlehem to Egypt as refugees until word of the dubious king's death brings them back to Israel and the city of Nazareth. From here, the one born in the “house of bread” grows up under the care of his earthly parents until he is ready to go out into the world, offer himself, and feed hungry souls.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” John 6:32-34
Intrigued by the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the crowd desires to perform the works of God, too. Instead, Jesus calls them to believe. Still the crowd demands a miraculous sign, after all, even Moses gave them bread in the wilderness. Yet, unbeknownst to them, bread from heaven has already descended again from the Father's hand in the form of his Son, Jesus; the true bread from heaven. The bread that gives life to the world. “Give us that bread,” the crowd demands. And so Jesus does.
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
From the “house of bread” to the Last Supper and beyond the true bread from heaven gives life to those who receive. As we remember the babe born in Bethlehem this holiday season, let's venture out into the world, offer ourselves, and generously share the bread of life with a hungry world.
Wishing you joy and peace, always.

Stuart & Wendy Brown

Monday, December 4, 2017

A different kind of Advent

After the earthquake on September 19, thousands in our city had to abandon their residences. This apartment building, right across the street from our neighborhood, left more than a few people homeless. In fact, many who left this building have been camping out in the park behind it.

This past weekend, 2 1/2 months after the quake, workers scaled the building and began tearing down the upper portion with sledge hammers. Today, some heavy duty machinery continued the work.

Please continue to pray for Mexico City. Many buildings in our area remain uninhabitable but have yet to be demolished (or repaired). Which equates to thousands of residents unable to return to their homes or their businesses. A sad state of affairs especially at this time of year.

Yesterday began the season of Advent - the season of waiting and hoping. We light our advent candles in patient but hopeful longing for the light of the world to shine in our midst. We make ready our hearts in hopeful anticipation to welcome the Christ child into our homes. But for many in our city, it'll be a different kind of Advent. A different season of longing.

As we prepare for the holidays in the days and weeks to come, will you join us as we remember in prayer and serve our displaced neighbors who also wait and hope for a brighter future and a secure home?

Almighty God, give all of us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.*

*Tickle, Phyllis. Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours (p. 10). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Who we are together

Rejection hurts. It's meant to hurt. It serves to silence and disable by disheartening the rejected. A fierce weapon in the arsenal of the proud and the privileged, rejection manifests its full power when believed and embraced by its intended targets.

Arrows of rejection pierce and wound. If not quickly removed and the wound properly cleansed with truth, an infection of false identity seeps into the soul. No matter how diligent the warrior, after relentless assaults one can tire of deflection and become vulnerable. Vulnerable to the acceptance of a lie. Vulnerable against an inauthentic or incomplete identity.

So then, believers, Who are we? What is our true and shared and God-given identity?

image from pixabay

We are living stones brought together by God. Joined with the true cornerstone to build a spiritual home together. Anointed together through the mediation of Jesus Christ. United to serve together as priests under the great high priest. That is who we are. Women and men together. Living and learning as priests together. Building a home as we serve together.

Once we had no identity. But now, God has given us, women and men, our true and shared and God-given identity to serve together with a common purpose. We are priests. We belong to God. Called out from the darkness into the light to manifest the goodness of God. 


Monday, November 13, 2017

Esther: It's tough being a woman

I gave the following devotional to a gathering of courageous women of God at a ministers breakfast, recently.

Esther is a wonderful story full of intrigue and reversals, despicable characters and unlikely heroes. And although within its pages a man chooses a woman to become his queen, we must refrain from thinking Esther's story is a romantic tale. For the king in question selects his queen based on selfish reasons and not for the sake of love. Yet Esther's story clearly speaks to us of profound love – God's love for his people and his commitment toward them.

Interestingly enough, the book which bears her name begins without any mention of Esther nor of the Jews, the very people God calls her to save. Quite the contrary, the book begins with the story of a pagan king named Xerxes trying to impress his nobles, his officials, and all the military officers of Persia and Media by throwing them a great banquet. A banquet that lasts for 180 days. (History tells us Xerxes planned a military excursion and he pined for the support of all his political friends.)

Xerxes follows up with another banquet for all the people in the fortress of Susa. A banquet in a lavishly decorated hall where the guests were given vasts quantities of wine and food. Xerxes holds nothing back from his guests. So much so, he even offers them his Queen. After seven days of feasting and drinking, Xerxes makes a disastrous request. In his inebriated state, he tells his eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti to him to parade her around his drunken guests.

From the very first chapter of the book, the narrator gives us a crystal clear understanding of King Xerxes character and temperament. A man willing to put his Queen in a vulnerable position, commanding her to parade herself in front of men who have indulged themselves without limits for seven days solely for their pleasure and for Xerxe's own selfish ends. But then Vashti does what no one expects. She refuses the King's inappropriate request. And in a fit of rage, he banishes her.

That fateful day, Xerxes could have never imagined that his ill-conceived request would set off a chain of events that would culminate in the deliverance of God's people. Yet here begins the story of Esther.

A table decoration with an unintended selfie.

As we've already noted, the story of Esther includes a wide variety of interesting characters, including powerful leaders and vulnerable subjects. However, as the story unfolds we soon realize that the true leader in the story is not necessarily the man with all the power, resources, and prestige. On the contrary, in the book of Esther the true leader emerges from obscurity – a lowly woman forcibly removed from her home and then hidden within the royal palace – one who enjoyed none of the advantages of her male counterpart.

God, too, remains hidden within the pages of Esther's story. Throughout the entire book, never once do we hear his name mentioned. Unlike Xerxes who preferred the spotlight and desired celebrity – God never calls attention to himself. Nor does God perform any attention-seeking miracles. He doesn't part the red sea, feed five thousand people, nor heal even a single blind man. Throughout Esther's story, God remains cleverly behind the scenes. Hidden, but never absent.

Likewise, Esther chooses obscurity over prominence. Surely, the safest course of action for a woman in her day. Have we not already witnessed what happened to women who sought autonomy and spoke their mind? They were banished. It was tough being a woman in Esther's day. No matter who you were or where you lived, if you were a woman, you were vulnerable. If a queen in the royal court received no protection from the selfish whims of powerful men, how safe would a lowly, Jewish woman be in a pagan household?

In Vashti and Esther's world, men like Xerxes often wielded their power selfishly, indiscriminately, and impulsively. Personal agendas took precedence over their subjects well-being. After Xerxes banished the Queen, his personal attendants suggested that he send out agents in each province to find the most beautiful women and bring them into the royal harem. Xerxes had a harem full of women already. But in order to look powerful and authoritative, Xerxes took the most beautiful women away from their families – without consideration of their hopes or their dreams - and brought them to his harem. Esther was one of these women gathered in the raid. She had no choice in the matter. 

Women face unique challenges in our world. They always have. The story of Esther, as well as the stories of Ruth and Hannah, Abigail and Michal, Elizabeth and Lydia prove this point. It's tough being a woman. But as women, we can better appreciate the difficulties these women encountered and the hostile environment they lived in, because although times have changed, some things have not. And although all these women faced enormous disadvantages, they also shared one great advantage – God remained by their side. Sometimes hidden. But never absent. 

We share that advantage with them. 

How did Esther become a savior to her people? How did she survive and thrive despite a persistent enemy, manipulative leaders, and a hostile cultural environment? This is how: Esther relied on the Spirit's guidance, she used the brains that God gave her, she asked for help from trustworthy people, and she planned meticulously and waited patiently before she acted.

Women of God, we belong to a sisterhood of courageous women that began with the creation of Eve. A sisterhood that includes the likes of Queen Esther, Judge Deborah, the prophet Miriam, the apostle Junia, and the teacher Priscilla. A fellowship of women that includes every sister in this gathering, all woman in your church, and every woman around the world. We may have never met, but we are all connected – by our shared stories, experiences, and most of all by the Spirit of God.

Therefore, sisters, let's not make life more difficult for each other. Rather let's bear one another's burdens and treat the wounded among us with compassion. Let's be generous in our love, in our prayers, and in our words. Let's endeavor to listen better and encourage more. Like Esther, we may feel hidden and insecure. But God is with us and among us. Hidden, but never absent.

Yes, it's tough being a woman. But together we are a force to be reckoned with. 

These questions prompted a courageous telling of events from the lives of the women who attended that day.

Ester: Es difícil ser una mujer

Valientes líderes de la Ciudad de México

Ester es una historia maravillosa llena de intriga y de reversos, personajes despreciables y héroes improbables. Y aunque dentro de sus páginas un hombre elige a una mujer para que se convierta en su reina, debemos abstenernos de pensar que la historia de Ester es una historia romántica. Porque el rey en cuestión eligió a su reina por razones exclusivamente egoístas y no por amor. Sin embargo, la historia de Ester es sobre un amor profundo: el amor de Dios por su pueblo y su compromiso con ellos.

Curiosamente, aunque la historia es sobre Ester y cómo ella salva al pueblo de Dios, el libro comienza sin ninguna mención de Ester ni ninguna mención de los judíos. Muy por el contrario, el libro de Ester comienza con un rey pagano llamado Asuero que trata de impresionar a sus nobles y sus funcionarios y a todos los oficiales militares de Persia y Media, dándoles un gran banquete. Un banquete que duró ciento ochenta días. La historia nos dice que Asuero planeó una excursión militar y que necesitaba el apoyo de todos sus amigos políticos.

Entonces Asuero da otro banquete para todas las personas en la fortaleza de Susa. La Biblia describe una sala profusamente decorada donde los invitados reciben cantidades enormes de vino y comida. De hecho, el narrador hace un punto para decirnos que Asuero no puso restricciones a sus invitados. Él les dio todo lo que quisieron. Fue tan "generoso", que incluso les ofreció a su reina. Después de siete días de festejar y beber, Asuero estaba "alegre del vino." En otras palabras, estaba bastante borracho. Y en su estado ebrio, el Rey le dice a sus eunucos que le traigan a la Reina Vasti para que la pase delante de sus invitados ebrios. Asuero usó su riqueza, su comida, su vino para impresionar a sus invitados, y ahora Asuero quiere usar la belleza de Vasti para influir en ellos también.

En este capítulo, el narrador nos da una comprensión muy clara del carácter y el temperamento del Rey Asuero. Asuero estaba dispuesto a poner a su reina en una posición muy vulnerable por desfilarse frente a hombres que han estado bebiendo sin parar durante 7 días. Los hombres que se han entregado sin límites, ahora tendrán una mujer muy hermosa desfilada frente a ellos para su placer. Así que sin pensar en sus necesidades, sin pensar en su seguridad, Asuero quiere usar a la Reina por sus propias razones egoístas. Y Vasti se niega.

Ese fatídico día, Asuero nunca podría haber imaginado que su solicitud mal concebida podría iniciar una cadena de eventos que culminaría en la liberación del pueblo de Dios. Pero ahora, la historia de Ester comienza.

Como ya lo hemos señalado, la historia de Ester incluye una gran variedad de personajes interesantes, incluyendo a líderes poderosos y sujetos vulnerables. Sin embargo, a medida que la historia se desarrolla, pronto nos damos cuenta de que el verdadero líder en la historia no es necesariamente el hombre con todo el poder y el prestigio. Por el contrario, en este cuento, el verdadero líder emerge de la oscuridad: una mujer humilde sacada a la fuerza de su casa y luego escondida en el palacio real, que no disfrutaba de ninguna de las ventajas de su homólogo masculino.

Dios también permanece escondido en las páginas de la historia de Ester. A lo largo de todo el libro, el nombre de Dios nunca se menciona. A diferencia de Asuero, que prefería el centro de atención y quería que todos supieran su nombre, Dios nunca llama la atención sobre sí mismo. En el libro de Ester, Dios no realiza milagros. Él no separa el mar rojo ni alimenta a cinco mil personas con unos pocos panes y peces. Él ni siquiera cura a un ciego. A lo largo de la historia de Ester, Dios permanece detrás de las escenas. Escondido pero no ausente.

Del mismo modo, Ester eligió la oscuridad sobre la prominencia. Para Ester, ese era el curso de acción más seguro para una mujer en su época. Sabemos lo que les sucedía a las mujeres que decían lo que pensaban, ¿no? Eran desterradas. Era difícil ser una mujer en los días de Ester. No importa quién era o dónde vivía: si era mujer, era vulnerable. Si una reina en la corte real no estuviera a salvo de los caprichos egoístas de los hombres poderosos, ¿qué tan seguro sería para una mujer judía humilde en una casa pagana?

En el mundo donde Vasti y Ester vivían, los hombres como Asuero a menudo ejercían su poder egoísta, indiscriminadamente e impulsivamente. Las agendas personales tuvieron prioridad sobre el bienestar de sus sujetos. Después de que Asuero desterró a la Reina, sus asistentes personales sugirieron que enviara agentes en cada provincia para encontrar a las mujeres más bellas y traerlas al harén real. Asuero ya tenía un harén lleno de mujeres. Pero para parecer poderoso y autoritario, Asuero se llevó a las mujeres más bellas de sus familias, sin tener en cuenta sus esperanzas o sus sueños, y las llevó a su harén.

Ester fue una de estas mujeres reunidas en la redada. Ester no tuvo otra opción en el asunto. Solo puedo imaginar lo que Ester y esas otras mujeres sintieron en ese momento. Y aunque Dios pudo haber parecido escondido a Ester, y a todos los judíos en ese momento, no estaba ausente ni ignorante de su difícil situación.

Las mujeres enfrentan desafíos únicos en nuestro mundo. Ellas siempre las tienen. La historia de Ester, así como las historias de Rut y Ana, Abigail y Mical, Elisabet y Lidia prueban este punto. Es difícil ser una mujer. Y como somos mujeres, podemos imaginarnos mejor las dificultades que ellas enfrentaron y los entornos hostiles en que vivían porque, aunque los tiempos han cambiado, algunas cosas no han cambiado. Y aunque todas estas mujeres enfrentaron enormes desventajas, también tenían una gran ventaja: Dios estaba de su lado. Compartimos esa ventaja. Y tenemos una a otra.

¿Cómo se convirtió Ester en un salvador para su pueblo? ¿Cómo sobrevivió y prosperó a pesar de un enemigo persistente, líderes manipuladores y un ambiente cultural hostil? Así es como: Ester confió en la guía del Espíritu, usó el cerebro que Dios le dio, pidió ayuda de personas confiables, y ella planeó meticulosamente y esperó pacientemente antes de actuar.

Mujeres de Dios, pertenecemos a una comunidad de mujeres valientes que comenzó con la creación de Eva. Una hermandad que incluye a personas como la reina Ester, la juez Débora, la profeta María, la apóstol Junia y la maestra Priscila. Una comunidad de mujeres que incluye a todas las hermanas de esta reunión, a todas las mujeres de su iglesia, y a todas las mujeres de todo el mundo de las que todavía tenemos que conocer. Pero todos estamos conectados por nuestras historias, experiencias y, sobre todo, por el Espíritu de Dios.

Mujeres de Dios, porque la vida ya es lo suficientemente dificil para nosotras, seamos muy amables unas con otras. Aligeremos mutuamente las cargas y atendamos a los heridos entre nosotras con compasión. Seamos generosas en nuestro amor, en nuestras oraciones, y en nuestras palabras. Intentemos escuchar mejor y alentar más. Al igual que Ester, podemos sentirnos escondidas e inseguras. Pero Dios está con nosotras y entre nosotras. Sí, es difícil ser una mujer. Pero juntas somos una fuerza a tener en cuenta.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Is it a passion or is it idolatry?

A wise person once said that an educator's job is not to offer all the answers, but to help their students ask better questions. Today, I'm asking you to help me ask better questions as I grapple with a difficult concept.

Is it a passion or is it idolatry?

I imagine most people have a passion for a few things in life – whether it be a fulfilling career, a particular talent, a worthy cause, or even a treasured collection. I also trust most of us believe that any passion, no matter how noble, needs boundaries so as to keep our intentions pure, our perspectives clear, and our relationships healthy.

Yet, we all know (or at least suspect) that someone we love has inadvertently crossed the line from passionate advocate to idolatrous proponent. But when, when does that happen? When does a passion become idolatry? How do we know when we've crossed the line? What questions can we ask ourselves to discern if a once healthy passion has now become a destructive idol?

Here are a few questions I've come up with today. I would like your help with discovering more.

Has our concern for our passion superseded our concern for the well-being of others? In other words, have we chosen to not love our neighbors as ourselves?

Do we assume our passion is “God-given,” but differing passions do not have the same seal of approval? In other words, are we tempted to use the Lord's name (in vain) to validate our position and invalidate others?

Has the expression of our passion encouraged productive conversation or do we express our opinions solely for the immediate gratification of “likes” and “Amens”? In other words, do we covet affirmation more than the truth?

Has advocacy for our passion tempted us to misrepresent the narrative or the character of another in order to discredit their point of view and undermine understanding? In other words, are we guilty of bearing false witness?

How would we respond if whatever we are passionate about was suddenly ripped from our grasp? Would life still hold meaning? In other words, does our hope rest in what we can hold and possess or does it rest in something less tangible and more eternal?

These are the questions I am wrestling with today. And probably will for many days to come. What about you? What better questions could you help me to ask?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What brings us together

Just over a week ago, Mexico's Independence Day brought a nation together to celebrate. Likewise, Stuart and I joined together with our friends and family at Teen Challenge Mexico (Reto a la Juventud) that Sunday afternoon to enjoy their festivities.

Lively songs, traditional dress, and wonderful food brought a smile to everyone's face.

Only a few days later, though, a tragedy brought the nation together once again. We watched firsthand as Mexico City rallied in unity, not in celebration, but in collaboration with local emergency personnel to rescue the trapped, give aid to the hurting, and comfort the distressed.

As clean-up, rescue and recovery efforts continue throughout our city, signs of hope and encouragement pop-up as well. The sign posted below replaces the building collapsed above. 

Neighbors give tribute to the lives lost and thanks to all who helped.

This past Sunday, our love and concern for everyone at Teen Challenge Mexico brought Stuart and I back to worship in unity with our friends and family: The Lord is in this place.

El Señor esta en este lugar. El Señor esta en este lugar. Para sanar, para curar, Para romper toda obra de maldad. Para sanar, para librar mi alma.

You Can Help!
The need is great in Mexico City, as well as Oaxaca, Chiapas and surrounding areas affected by the intense earthquakes that shook our cities. You can make a tangible difference by giving directly to our relief efforts here: Mexico Earthquake Relief fund   

The need is also great in our own Puerto Rico, recently devastated by Hurricane Maria. Let's all be as generous as we can today to help our fellow Americans: Hurricane Maria Response

Mexico City Missive ~ Special Report: After the earthquake

Monday, September 11, 2017

No easy journey

Every resident at Teen Challenge Mexico enters the program at different stages of recovery. Some while still reeling from the effects of withdrawal. Others after months of soul-searching. Regardless, Stuart and I watch and wait, pray and rejoice over every milestone reached, every hill conquered.

Theirs is no easy journey. Each graduate testifies of the struggle and the heartache that accompany the process of recovery. Indeed, for every life mended and every relationship restored all must acknowledge and grieve that which cannot be recovered or healed. Yet hope remains. Though consequences can never be ignored, in Christ lives can always be redeemed.

With this hope, day after day, week after week our front row guys persist. Because they know (and we know) Jesus can move mountains.

Cristo puede mover montes
¡Sólo Dios puede salvar,
mi Dios puede salvar!
Por siempre, autor de salvación
Jesús la muerte venció,
Él la muerte venció

If you or someone you love in Mexico has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse, click on the link below. ¿Problemas con el uso y abuso de las drogas y alcohol? Hay solución.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What's mine to do?

In a recent blog post, Lynne Hybels spoke of her commitment to join Bread for the World and other Christian leaders in fasting and prayer on behalf of the world's most vulnerable on the 21st of each month .

By example, Hybels encourages us to fast and pray for those experiencing physical hunger on a regular basis and for those whose decisions affect them. To pray for our own hearts to be broken more deeply for the vulnerable and marginalized. She also shares many other valid prayer points and concludes with the prayer, she says, “that has so often changed the trajectory of my life: God, what is mine to do?

My discomfort today reminds me that too many in our world live most every day with hunger pangs. But my discomfort also provokes me to action. As it should. Because the kind of fasting the Lord expects is the kind that loosens the chains of injustice and shares food with the needy (Isaiah 58:6-9).

I know I can't do everything or be everywhere, but I can ask, O Lord, what's mine to do? Friends, let's join together to fervently fast and pray, and then let's decisively act on behalf of the hungry and the oppressed in our world today. 

Visit Bread for the World for ideas on how you can be involved.

Likewise, consider contacting local ministries in your area (like The Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne).

Wherever you are, feel free to share a link in the comment section (here or on Facebook) to a non-profit, a ministry, or even a missionary dedicated to ending hunger, poverty, and injustice.