Friday, July 01, 2016

David's leukemia has relapsed.

David's leukemia has relapsed. 

Thank you all who have had a part in praying for the past 3 ½ years for my grandson, David (Jacob and Kiki Hantla’s son). Three weeks after he had been declared cancer-free, no more chemo, “ever”, David's leukemia is back.  

Jacob wrote:
We finished the marathon and have been asked to run another one. It doesn't feel like we have the strength, but one day at a time, one step at a time, we know that God will sustain us, and we are begging for healing for David.
So now, we start the process again. Bone marrow biopsy, multiple spinal taps and intrathecal chemo, risk stratification, induction, then depending on results, we will have to run down bone marrow transplant or further chemo options.
The prospect of having him go through that again (and this is just the start) is almost too much to consider. Yet we know and keep reminding ourselves that we don’t need the strength or faith today for tomorrow, just for today. God will provide what He asks, and so our marathon begins again one step at a time, one day at a time (Matt 6:34).
The sweet thing of cancer and these trials is that they bring us to the end of ourselves. My mind and conversation with David keeps swirling around 2 Cor 4:16-18 "So we do not lose heart...For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen are eternal." And "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me....For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:9-10). As I was talking with David about these things--things he knows well--I was so grateful I memorized them last time, and all those verses so sweet to me then and since came flooding back out of my memory. And at the end, David said confidently as he squeezed my hand, "I trust God, dad." And then he closed his eyes, fell asleep, and rested well.

         Thank you for joining me in prayer for:
                  1. Comfort and pain relief for David 
                  2. Complete remission and healing
                  3. Peace, strength, and faith in the process
                  4. Wisdom to know how to proceed with treatment

May/June 2016
But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. Ex. 1:12
These have been two months of crazy physical and emotional affliction for my family. My mom was hospitalized with a heart attack the first week of May. The following week, my dad had surgery to insert a g-tube to alleviate his chronic swallowing difficulties. A week later, my grandson, David, now 4 years old, was diagnosed with relapsed leukemia, this time in the central nervous system, after completing 3 ½ long years of chemo and having been declared cancer-free just weeks prior. I had oral surgery including a bone graft in Guadalajara last week. This stuff is not easy, nevertheless, we know well that it, too, is a good gift from our Father, and He has a perfect and sovereign purpose in it.
My last lesson before summer recess for the IBBM-Tepic Women of Excellence was about God’s provision of a liberator/redeemer for Israel in the very most intense times of affliction. The children of promise found that in spite of conditions much worse than we can imagine, in a world full of the vilest of infidels making multiple unacceptable, unbearable and ungodly demands upon them, God was faithful; and surprisingly, at that moment at least, they were faithful to Him. He provided through His providence exactly what He had promised.  I love Exodus 1:7. They “were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” We learned that the word Moses (actually, God) uses for “filled” specifically denotes “swarmed” with them!
This recent personal affliction of ours doesn’t really hold a candle to the suffering that the Hebrews endured at the culmination of their 400 years of bondage in the hands of Egyptian despots. But it does put into perspective the immense joy that comes with witnessing fruitfulness, great increase, multiplication, excessive strength, and the filling of the land with faithful followers that God delivers in the face of simultaneous suffering. And the following are a few examples of the swarms of fruitful increase in and around Tepic these past two months!

IBBM-Tepic celebrated its mothers the first week of May. The church platform was swarming with its beautiful ladies who are striving to follow God’s direction for loving Him and their families well.

The IBBM-Tepic OANSA club has been fruitful and increased greatly; it too was swarming with OANSA kids and leaders receiving their awards for a year of fulfilling requirements for unashamed, approved workers. María and Lynethe began coming to OANSA when they were 4 and 6 years old (along with their parents). They have passed through the ranks of Cubbies, Sparkies, Flames, Torches, and Leaders-in-Training and are now sporting their official OANSA leaders’ uniforms. The following week, the church was filled to the brim with happy clubbers as they spent their hard-earned OANSA-pesos at the annual OANSA fair organized and operated by their generous, hard-working leaders.

Juan José and David also are growing exceeding strong as they have placed their trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation and have obeyed His mandate to follow Him and be baptized.

There has been fruitful increase in the Huichol village churches, as well.

In 2003, Pastor José led a little group of Huichol missionaries on a long trek through the mountains to the very remote village of Mojarras. A few who heard the Gospel believed. Since then, Pastor Hilario from Los Aires has stepped up to the challenge of continuing steadily to disciple and evangelize, and the little body of believers there has multiplied and grown exceeding strong. They have worked together under the leadership of their very own Pastor Felix, along with Pastor Hilario, to build a little church building from handmade adobes. In the previous prayer update, I shared some of the affliction they suffered in getting the roofing material to the village that is totally inaccessible by vehicle. The job has been done, and our faithful brothers and sisters there are filled with gratitude to their beloved Redeemer.

In the village of Zoquipan, yet another shaman has made the decision to trust Jesus as his Savior. For lots of years Asunción was a passionate persecutor of the believers at Zoquipan and the neighboring village of La Quemada. After he inherited the religious relics and position of shaman from his father, he grew even more antagonistic. Recently lots of personal afflictions stirred Asunción to begin to question his life-long trust in his false gods. While Pastor Manuel from Zapote and José Luis from La Bendición were visiting, teaching the book of Acts segment (When the Church was Young and Bold -- Ha! How ironic, right?) to the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) students at La Quemada, Asuncion put aside his pride and hiked to the neighboring village to hear the truth. He asked Manuel and José how much it would cost for him to become a believer. Manuel wisely answered, “Everything you have.”  The shaman made the wise choice to place his trust in the One, True Savior.  A day later, he burned all of his powerless charms and religious trappings making a public statement that he, Asunción the shaman, was now a follower of Jesus. And the more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew.

None of this multiplication and growth and fruit just happens. Many of you who are reading this have had a vital part, for a lot of years, in answering the call to participate in the logistics of the increase that God only gives in Tepic. For that I sincerely thank you; it has not been in vain. My sending church, NVBC (North Village Baptist), has stood valiantly alongside this Tepic team for more than 40 years. This past month, they sent another crew to help out. It was a daunting and humanly impossible task for the little band of hard-working servants, but as a result of literal blood, sweat and tears and national collaboration, the village church at La Bendición now has a fabulous OANSA game court! Our prayer is that the outcome of some momentary affliction will be a generation of Huichol children who will know that we love them, that God loves them more, and will believe and offer their lives to multiply and spread abroad the Good News of the Liberator/Redeemer. 


Sunday, May 01, 2016

March/April 2016 - Keneutanautsa - …So run, that ye may obtain. 1 Corinthians 9:24b

March/April 2016
…So run, that ye may obtain.  1 Corinthians 9:24b
It’s a given. Every single true believer in Jesus Christ is in the race. We’ve been selected, exhorted, trained and disciplined to run legitimately, with self-control and patience, enduring to the finish in order to obtain the prize of God’s upward call to be with and be like Christ Jesus in all His glory. The prize is not exclusive; it’s offered to every single certified athlete who finishes the race.
For the past two months, the work in Tepic and the surrounding Huichol villages has been chock-full of the reality of the selection process, training, discipline, and the endurance of some very motivated athletes in this marathon.
“Keneutanautsa” is the Huichol word for “Run!” That was the theme of this year’s Huichol youth campthat was patterned after the upcoming 2016 Olympics. We laughed out loud as we reflected on the disaster it would be if the Olympics were held in the Sierra Madre:  On your mark, get set, Keneutanautsa! Six syllables! This helps explain the difficulty of the Huichol Old Testament (OT) translation process. The nine mother-tongue-translators (MTTs) are modeling amazing discipline and perseverance on this project. The goal is in sight.
We made the decision early on, that in spite of very limited resources and the very rustic facilities we have available for hosting our camp, we would not limit admission. Every single person who wanted to come was welcome. The logistics of getting everyone to camp are overwhelming. We expected around 100 Huichol campers; 147 came, along with 20 Huichol volunteer cooks, an army of outstanding IBBM-Tepic youth staff, a few observers from other states who wanted to learn by experience how to go about organizing a successful youth camp, and a team of well-prepared Huichol teachers for a grand total of 222.
We wrote the curriculum in Spanish, and the OT MTTs translated it into Huichol. The IBBM youth staff organized and carried out corresponding extreme games, music and related activities. The campers learned what God’s Word says about becoming one of His athletes (like Timothy), the race that believers are to run (not like Demas, but like John Mark who, though he deviated from the track, got back in line for a winning finish) and the prize He has prepared for all who finish the race (like the incorruptible one Paul received).
The day after camp was over, Good Friday, Pastor Refugio and the believers from the church at La Bendición hosted a big baptismal celebration.  Eighteen new team members who have recently joined in this race, proved their willingness to run legitimately. Several of those 18 are from Tutuyecuamama, a very remote village that the La Bendición teammates have been painstakingly evangelizing and training. (Salvador’s story is here.)
The following week, nine diligent, disciplined, self-controlled, and patient Huichol students finished a big lap around the track, completing five years of the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) course. Pastors Martín and Nacho from IBBM-Tepic have also run with endurance as dedicated and exemplary coaches. The student graduates have already branched out to a half-dozen other Huichol villages to hand off the torch they’ve been passed, teaching other racers who are anxious to join the relay and run, as well.

Pastor Hilario from Los Aires has taken on the job of “trainer” for the relatively new little village church at Mojarras. He travels on foot for hours from Los Aires to reach the village, and he has worked with them in establishing their own local church. They have diligently dug the foundation, made their own adobe blocks by hand, and raised the walls for their new meeting place. The team members from IBBM-Tepic came alongside to help to finish it off before the rainy season hits, giving them a missions offering to buy the metal roofing materials and pay for transporting it as far as a truck can go toward the “uttermost parts of the earth”. From there, the heavy pile of 3¢ x 6¢ metal sheets had to be hand-carried for hours to the village. Diligence and endurance in the race are easy concepts for them to understand.

There is, no doubt, a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, as well as many teammates still here cheering on and enabling the runners of this amazing squad. May we all run well, the race that is set before us, with our eyes fixed on the Goal as we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  …So run, that ye may obtain.  1 Corinthians 9:24b

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