Wednesday, December 01, 2021

October/November 2021 Glorify God at what great things He has done one by one.

After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. Acts 21:19-20


In the adult Sunday school class at IBBM-Tepic, Pastor Nacho and Armando are co-teaching a series from the book of Acts, called, When the Church Was Young and Bold. Last Sunday’s lesson highlighted Paul’s arrival and reception at the church of Jerusalem following his third missionary journey. Luke chronicles in chapter 21 that the brothers received them gladly, and after they greeted each other, Paul gave a report of the work among the gentiles. There was no jealousy. Instead, they received the news, one by one, with joy, and they glorified God. A “month of Sundays” would not be enough to relate one by one the things that God has done in Tepic and the surrounding Huichol villages these past two months. The following are just a few that are great cause for glorifying God!


   Valentín died of a heart attack last month. He could never be more grateful for the decision he made three years ago when he bowed his heart to trust Jesus to save him. Valentín had insisted that there was no way God could forgive him of all his previous sin. The Holy Spirit convinced him that God certainly could, and He did. Please pray for his wife, Lupita. She has had multiple opportunities to believe, but she continues to reject. We will never regret the effort that was made to present him personally to Jesus; neither will Valentín. 


Román, a Huichol believer from the village of Zoquipan and a vital member of the Huichol Bible translation team, came to my house last week. He’s in the process of accepting God’s miraculous call to pastor the baby church in his village. That’s so easy to say, but it comes with much commitment and will undoubtedly come with much persecution. No person has asked Román to take on this responsibility. He knows that God has given it to him. He has had much training, and he is prepared to share His Word and shepherd the believers of his village. He is and will continue to be in the enemy’s target along with his wife, Bernarda, and their sweet family. If I hadn’t seen it in action, I would never believe the sequence of God’s plan for Román’s life for loving him, choosing him, and saving him as a young boy in the most hostile and unlikely of environments in the heart of the Sierra Madre. You can read more about Román’s story here. Please pray for Román, and rejoice and glorify God with me for this miracle. 


And speaking of things God has done one by one,

just last week, the church at Zapote de Picachos, celebrated their 17th anniversary. The month before Kirt graduated to Heaven, they were expelled by the government from their beautiful village home and church building at the crest of the Picachos in the Sierra Madre. It was literally heart-wrenching. 

      A friend told Kirt that he would like to help the Zapote believers rebuild their auditorium giving an offering to purchase materials for the new location. The believers dug the trenches and hauled huge rocks from the river by hand for the new foundation. With that promised offering the week after Kirt’s funeral, the bricks were transported by truck to the lake then by boatloads upriver to the rocky landing that is nearly a mile-long hike from the village. Every member from the Zapote church handled every single brick that is now in the walls of their church as they stationed themselves from the river’s edge to the village, and bricks were passed in bundles from one person to the next and on to the construction site. Then they dismantled the roof of their deserted church, and the Zapote brothers carefully carried the “repurposed” trusses and galvanized roofing on their backs, nine kilometers down the mountain to their new village. Friends from the IBBM-Tepic church welded and assembled the trusses for the additional section of the new church (which was 1/3 larger than the original, and now, has been enlarged to more than double that!). 


When they built the first church, Kirt told pastor Manuel that he dreamed of the day that beautiful auditorium would be filled with believers. This past week, the new version, more than twice the original size, was filled beyond capacity with joyful brothers and sisters gladly greeting each other and glorifying the God of miracles! 


Another one-by-one event for which to glorify God is the celebration of the 30th anniversary this past month of IBBM-Tepic. Pastor Martín’s son, Jonatán, crafted a video documentary of this miracle. It’s subtitled; don’t miss it! 
Be glad at what great things He has done one by one, and glorify God with me.


Rejoice at these pictures from the Tepic October/November 2021 activities here. 


Friday, October 01, 2021

August/September 2021 He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 

This life is just the dot, not the line; and the purpose of it is not this life. English Puritan, Richard Baxter in Dying Thoughts understood that “Heaven is won or lost on earth; the possession is there, but the preparation is here.” He maintained that this life was not intended to be the place of our perfection, but the preparation for it. It’s sad how preoccupation with this world distracts from the goal of diligently seeking Him, demoting Heaven to little more than the “inevitable next stage in man’s existence.” 


The year after we arrived in Tepic, 1979, José López and José Carrillo, young Huichols who believed and were discipled, gave their lives to diligently share the Gospel with their people. They were admonished and ordained by their leaders, Román and Kirt, in a simple ceremony in Atonalisco. That was over four decades ago. José López has trekked relentlessly and devotedly through the Sierra Madre mountains sharing the Gospel, leading many to Christ, and teaching them. José Carrillo pastored his church at Cortes. When things got tough and discouraging for him, he abandoned his calling, his church, and his village for a 10-year interval. José López never ceased to pray for his friend. At long last, José Carrillo made his way back to a Good-Friday gathering of believers from villages throughout the mountains at José Lopez’s church. He confessed his sin of deceitfulness, and he was marvelously restored to fellowship with his God and his Huichol brothers. Years have passed, and he has not wavered since that day. José Carrillo died a couple of days ago. Pastor Martín gave a stunning challenge at his burial in the rustic graveyard on the outskirts of José’s village. He reminded the grievers that God says that better than going to a banquet is going to a funeral where distractions are eliminated, and we confront our mortality alongside the gaping hole. One-by-one, tearful testimonies were shared of biblical counsel that José had given, and of resultant changed lives. Three days prior, in Zapote de Picachos, José López also buried his biological brother whom he will never regret leading to Jesus. Within a short week, four friends have been buried, two who “diligently sought him” with their lives and two who up to the very end, refused to believe by faith that “God is.” For them, the “dot” is over; for others, the urgency remains. 

The message is the same, the methods have evolved, the faithful who diligently seek His will and serve, persist. The brothers and sisters at the village of Zapote are determined to use every option at their disposal to reach the next generation of Huichols for Jesus. They have expanded their auditorium, they have built a ramada structure for outside activities, and they have classes and activities every single day in their much-appreciated church building. 

Zapote de Picachos now has electricity, and of course, that leads to the desire to use technology like never before! They have worked hard planting, picking, fishing, and whatever else they can find to earn wages, and they pooled their resources with ours to buy a video projector for the church. There is a group of about a half-dozen sharpies from the village who asked Jonatán Garcia, the most sacrificial, tech-savvy guy around, to purchase the appropriate equipment and travel upriver to Zapote with it and the pile of accessories necessary for set-up. Not only does Jonatán know that God IS, and have the faith to please Him, but also, he recognizes the need to diligently seek and serve Him, dropping what he is doing to work alongside his neighbor. He and his wife, Paulina, and Martín, his dad, and Christian, a young disciple from the Tepic church, took the day to get the system up and running and train the Huichol brand-new-chomping-at-the-bit techs to use it. Jonatán and Pau were both ill, but they had made the commitment for the much-awaited day, and they followed through. It’s marvelous to watch them in action serving God and the much-loved family from Zapote. God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. The Zapote OANSA kids, back in session, 88 of them, were the very first to benefit from the new equipment.














Saturday, July 31, 2021

June/July 2021 Citizens of Heaven and Ambassadors in this Foreign Land

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a 


This world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven and ambassadors in this foreign land. Why are we so easily coaxed into placing our hope on things like governments, bank accounts, education, and people from this place that’s spinning out of control? The Lord of hosts exclaims that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.” His work will be accomplished through His grace alone. Oswald Chambers maintains that the goal of “a perfect heart toward Him, (faithfulness) is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son.” He is not our last option. He calls us to be faithful; He will do the job.


Despite the obvious physical limitations brought about by current world affairs, the past two months in Tepic have been filled with numerous opportunities to choose to put His faith in action and be faithful; as J. Hampton Keathley calls it, “the root and the fruit,” and true to promise, He has shown Himself strong.  





















After a very long “quarantine,” I arrived back in Tepic the first week of June. I pray that this past year’s investment will help make a difference in the lives of some precious grandkids. Our oldest grandson, Anders, who will be 16 this month, came back with me. He spent three weeks getting a handle on Spanish, renewing friendships, loving, and being loved by the “fellow citizens” whose faith we share. His grandpa must be ecstatic! Anders’ little sister, Tenley, came along with their family for the last few days. She followed Jesus’ example and was baptized by Pastor Martín at IBBM-Tepic…the root and the fruit.


























Thankfully, there was a little more “normalcy” in Mexico than there had been, and though there were still strict Covid-based restrictions in place, the local government was beginning to lighten up some of them. With a new wave of contagion, businesses and government offices are closed, and masks are required everywhere (except in the Huichol villages). We celebrated the 9th anniversary of the dedication of the beautiful church building at La Bendición and 15 years since the salvation of the first believers there. It's ironic, not one single person from that village has contracted Covid. It’s that survivor blood running in those Huichol veins! Again, God has shown Himself strong. 





At least for now, we are allowed limited public occupancy at church including ladies’ ministry, music ministry, men’s prayer meeting, and discipleship classes with masks, hand and foot sanitizer, and electronic thermometers at all entrances, of course¬¬. We hosted an amazing ladies’ retreat, Teachers of Good - Titus 2, at the IBBM-Tepic with about 70 ladies a few weeks ago. Previous restrictions made us super-grateful for our “freedom.”

The men followed with a retreat of their own. The theme was Men of Valor. In Spanish “valor” has a double meaning: courage and value. Perfect! Yet again, God has shown Himself strong…faith and faithfulness -- the root and the fruit.




Sadly, things have taken a sharp turn for the worse this past week. Several IBBM members are battling the virus. The government has changed our state “safety signal” from green to yellow, to orange, and it’s likely heading to red. Hospitals are beyond capacity again. All of that brings with it renewed government-imposed restrictions. Ministry methods are still different and most likely will be, but praise God for creativity and daily options. Please pray with us for more.

  

Despite the crazy changes to our methods of ministry (temporary, I hope!) due to the pandemic, there have been many answers to prayer, for which we can be thankful. We all are recognizing our need for gratitude for the blessings we have had all these years. We know that the Church is not a place to come and sit; instead, it’s a movement to help people know and follow Jesus. No pandemic can stop the advancement of God’s Kingdom!


For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a 


Saturday, May 01, 2021

April/May 2021 Wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay

For still the vision awaits its appointed time…If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3   

Six hundred years before Christ, Habakkuk stood, a watchman on a wall, and prophesied his inspired message to the sinful people of Judah that God would use the wicked and extremely cruel nation of Babylon to execute judgment on them for their own moral decline, wickedness, and injustice. Habakkuk didn’t understand the plan that God had divinely revealed to him to write and to proclaim, and he questioned God’s fairness in causing his people to suffer under those more-wicked Babylonians. Nevertheless, Habakkuk had learned to trust God by faith. In His own time, the Lord eventually would save His people from their sins, rescue them from their enemies, and wipe away every tear from their eyes. They’re still waiting. Habakkuk’s message was for Judah over 2600 years ago, and his message applies to us today. If God’s answer seems slow in coming, “Wait!” he says. “It's on its way. It will come at just the right time.” 

Our Huichol brothers and sisters have been traveling “under the radar” to share the love of Jesus, to continue to disciple young believers, and to resume OANSA (AWANA) activities in the more remote villages during all this time of lockdown. Due to Covid restrictions, options for “commercial” travel for people who don’t actually live in the mountains are not opened, but the Huichols are like stealthy jaguars, more restless than ever, and determined to head through the hills to share the Good News. The church at La Bendición held a big gathering last month to celebrate the Resurrection, and believers from villages throughout the Sierra Madre made their way to the celebration.

Eighteen new believers from Vizcarra, Tutuyekuamama, Los Pinitos, and Guásima del Caimán could not wait to be baptized! Despite some of the government-imposed crazy changes to methods of ministry (Temporary, I hope!), there have been many answers to prayer at just the right time for which we can be thankful. 



The church at La Quemada has been working and waiting for a very long time to replace their meeting place. Years of driving tropical rains have eroded and cracked their old adobe building making it unsafe and unusable. A friend from the Tepic church who works for a block-making factory offered to donate the forms and the time to teach the brothers from the La Quemada church how to make their own. They got the lessons and the materials and ran with them. The foundation was laid, the block is finished, and the walls are up. 

Only the roofing is left, and that’s been provided for by brothers and sisters who love them and the Huichol work. All we need now is to get it to the village. (That’s all!) The believers from this village church have suffered much persecution of all kinds, yet they have generously given love in return, sacrificed like their Macedonian brothers, and continue reaching out to multiple neighboring communities of unbelievers with the Good News. It’s invigorating to see how they take God’s mandate and promises seriously, and it is faith-building to see how God has provided resources for them as they have offered their whole hearts for His service and waited for God’s appointed time…They know by faith: If it seems slow, they must wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay

Custodio is their pastor. He’s a gentle giant who has worked alongside José López on countless missionary journeys. Custodio has led multiple people to Jesus, including the very first believer (Luisa) from the village of Los Aires a whole day’s journey on foot from La Quemada. Now, Hilario is the pastor of that amazing church that was in the process of installing the roof on their own village church 16 years ago when Kirt graduated to Heaven. At last, Custodio’s own church will have a building in which to meet and a roof in place. It seemed to be so slow in coming, but they have worked and waited patiently. Their answer is here at just the right time. 

They know that “Church” does not mean a place to come and sit; instead, it’s a vital team to help people meet and follow Jesus. No pandemic can thwart God’s Kingdom! Habakkuk assures us that though spiritual decline will get worse before it gets better, the Lord will be faithful to rescue His people: If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

February/March 2021 Not in the Wisdom of Men but in the Power of God

February/March 2021 

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom…so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 5 

God doesn't take death lightly. Even for believers, illness and death are awful enemies, never meant to be. In fact, God’s inspired messenger in 1 Corinthians 15:26 refers to death as “the last enemy that shall be destroyed.” He goes on to say that “death has been swallowed up in victory” by Jesus Who triumphantly conquered that adversary when He rose from the dead on the very first Resurrection morning. 

Even though He Who has vanquished the foe walks alongside, a hike through the “valley of death’s shadow” is never a pleasant stroll. The past two months have been filled with too many personal friends who have made that journey. Praise God that, as Tim Keller says, “All death can do to Christians is make their lives infinitely better.” Praise God that His power and testimony had been proclaimed loud and clear to Francisca, who this past month was among those we love who found out for sure that no one who by faith trusts, not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, with their heart and soul, will ever regret it. 

Francisca is Emilia’s grandmother. Emilia is one of the team of Huichol mother-tongue Bible translators. She often took advantage of the weekend breaks from the translation workshops in Tepic to travel to Tijuanita to visit her father’s elderly and ailing mother. Emilia loved her grandmother and thanked God often for the heritage Francisca had helped shape for her. Francisca was the very first to believe when José López began making mission trips proclaiming the testimony of God to the people of his remote natal mountain village of Guásima del Caimán. 

For years, most of the villagers rejected José and the Gospel message he preached, but when Francisca became ill and nearly died, as the last hope, some of her family members carried her to Tepic and left her with José and his wife, Benita, who took care of Francisca while she was in the hospital and then in their village home for three years as she slowly recovered. When at last, Francisca was well enough to return to Guásima, her husband, Julio, was furious to discover that she had believed in Jesus. He constantly drank his customary corn liquor, and he beat her, relentlessly demanding that she come back to the old ways. But Francisca had decided to follow Jesus, and there was no turning back for her. One day, she escaped to the village of Zapote de Picachos to be with others who, also, by the power of God, had believed. In time, the Holy Spirit used the gentle testimony, not of lofty speech or wisdom, that Francisca had left behind to convince Julio’s hard heart of his need for the Savior. Finally, one day, Julio hiked through the mountains to Zapote to find Francisca and ask for her forgiveness, but more importantly, to ask for God’s forgiveness. Julio was miraculously transformed into a “new creation.” The old way of life passed away, and his Savior made him brand new. Francisca, José, and other believers from Zapote diligently proclaiming the testimony of God, discipled her husband, and he became a devoted follower of Jesus, too. Years later, Julio was dying; he was hospitalized in Tepic. His family surrounded him as he encouraged them to remain faithful to the Savior, and Emilia said that in the hospital he prayed: “Lord, very soon I will be face-to-face with You in Your presence. I leave my family in Your care.” And with that “farewell,” he was gone. 

This past month, Francisca passed her final test, looking beyond the dreaded enemy and focusing solely on Jesus the Death-Conqueror, Who years ago had been introduced to her not with lofty speech or wisdom, nor in the wisdom of men but in the power of God

And the legacy continues. Francisca’s granddaughter, Emilia, is heading on a trek to the even more remote village of Guamuchilillo. She and a couple of leaders from Zapote launched the OANSA club in that village. Due to COVID restrictions in the mountains, they have been unable to return for follow-up during the past year, but they’re getting things in order to go back. The UIM plane will lift them to Tierra Blanca, then they will hike, carrying supplies, the remaining three hours to Guamuchilillo. A couple of special offerings from friends that love the Huichols made it possible for printing the handbooks and silk-screening the new t-shirts in Tepic. Thank you! See the Guamuchilillo OANSA here

Death is a dreadful enemy. The passing of every single friend is a horrible and painful reminder of that. Praise God, someone answered the call to share the Gospel with Francisca, and she believed. We cannot beat death, but we know the One Who has. He never said, “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished!” Death is finished, but the mandate to proclaim the Truth NOT with lofty human speech or wisdom but simply and clearly in God’s power faithfully forges ahead. 

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom…so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 5

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

January 2021 - Be not dismayed…“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” Isaiah 41:13

Be not dismayed…“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” Isaiah 41:13 

The all-powerful God, worthy of all glory, is our God. He initiates the holding of our right hand. He says not to be afraid because He alone helps us. In Your God is too Small, J.B. Phillips reminds us that we easily become dismayed when we forget this truth. Martin Luther agreed when he warned Erasmus, “Your thoughts of God are too human.” May we refuse to define and limit His power, may we not forget God’s faithfulness to sustain us thus far, and may we get a fresh glimpse of His magnificence as He grips our right hand today and in the days to come. He is able to help us because He is powerful; He is willing to help us because He loves us. In spite of the obvious physical limitations brought about by the pandemic lockdown, the past two months have been filled with numerous opportunities to choose not to be anxious or dismayed of the gloom, but instead, to be grateful and shine the Light, taking hold of the powerful hand offered by Him who helps us

 Martín and the IBBM-Tepic church team that he is leading have been working like crazy despite the hindrances. Somehow, during select brief intervals of relief from lockdown orders, Huichol leaders traveled to the villages of Zapote, El Espejo, Palma Chica, and seven new believers are ready to be baptized at the baby church at Vizcarra. We can't meet in person, but the church is certainly not closed! Live-streamed teaching continues weekly as well as the daily application of compassion in reaching out to the most vulnerable. 

Martín has been especially in the enemy’s target with the recent loss of his brother, Enrique, and his brother-in-law, Germán. His recent eye problem, an ocular infarct, has also been challenging. The surgery to restore as much sight in his left eye as possible was not covered by insurance, but God used his people to provide. Clinging to the powerful hand of Him who helps us was yet another faith-builder. 

In addition, God continues to deliver resources from very generous friends for Project Classrooms at IBBM-Tepic. The new bathrooms are tiled. A surprise Christmas offering completely covered the electrical installation, the water storage tank and installation, and 30 new chairs for the children, the future generation of leaders at IBBM! This is one investment that can never go wrong. And that's a promise we can count on. Once again, the powerful hand of Him who helps us takes hold. 

I am still in Phoenix. Tepic is on red alert again, closed to all non-essential activity with no in-person meetings allowed. The CDC is not mincing words: “Travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico.” Mexico is in the Level 4 category, the highest risk level for Covid. Given recent health issues, my doctors insist that this is not an advisable time for me to return. Even if I were in Tepic, I could not legally leave my house except for essential activities, nor could I do anything more there than I am able to do virtually from here. While I’m on hold, even though I once said that I’d “NEVER home-school again,” I’m back in the saddle giving encouragement, tutoring, and a heavy dose of reading and grammar to grandkids! Praise God for the Internet that makes it possible for me to simultaneously keep up with the work in Mexico, though not face-to-face. In spite of lock-down, I'm in daily contact with the brothers and sisters we love. 

He Who holds my right hand has been at work writing a personal Pandemic/Depression story I never could have imagined. When my paternal grandmother, Anna, returned to American soil after volunteering with the Army Nurse Corps/American Red Cross to serve her American “brothers” and country in WW1 at Savenay, France, she was stationed at the Veteran’s Hospital in Tucson, AZ. She met my grandfather there. Francis was one of her patients suffering from the Spanish Flu during the 1918 pandemic. He was very ill and had to have one lung removed, but he survived, and they were married soon after he was released from the hospital. They stayed and made their home in Tucson, and the fifth of their six children was my father. 

Meanwhile, my maternal grandmother, Lenore, was the third of five children whose father, George, was a schoolteacher in Ohio. He also contracted the Spanish Flu, and in five days, he died, leaving behind his wife and their children. Their mother sold the family farm in Lebanon and moved with her children to Dayton. A few years later, Lenore married my grandfather, Eugene, just in time for the start of the Great Depression. Along with their little daughter, they made the decision to move to Tucson for work. In junior high, Anna and Francis’ son, Roy, met Lenore and Eugene’s daughter, Joan in Tucson. Roy and Joan became my parents, and the rest is history; actually, the rest is a legacy that came out of a time of great worldwide turmoil, a time of potential great dismay, but a time when the Lord God, Whose ways are above ours, kept His promise to our family: I will hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” 

What a broken world we are living in, but what a powerful God we have Who has written the next and final chapters. This is no time for dismay; He takes us by the right hand and helps us





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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

October/November 2020 

…Be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out.” 2 Chronicles 23:7b 

 A divinely inspired prophet penned the miserable history of God’s beloved people of Judah as they were in serious spiritual decline, a history that concludes eventually with their exile into Babylonian captivity. The very Spirit of God Who whispered truth to the prophet emphasized His goodness and His healing for whoever would humbly pray and repent and turn from their wicked ways. 

In a brief period of time prior to the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, seven-year-old King Joash, under the direction of the faithful high priest, Jehoiada, tore down the temple of Baal, killed the priests, and smashed his altars and images. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The secret of knowing and doing what God has planned for us in any given situation is not our ingenuity in figuring things out; it’s found in the same advice that was given to the people as Joash was ascending to the throne of Judah: “Stay close to the king wherever he goes.” 

Our current state of affairs is all too similar to that of Judah in the time of Joash and the prophetic scribe of Chronicles; while, likewise, the offer for healing and the remedy for our uncertainties remains the same: Stay close to the King, wherever He goes. 

In spite of the obvious human limitations brought about by the pandemic lockdown, the past two months have been filled with numerous opportunities, both in Tepic and abroad, to humble ourselves and pray and stay close to the King, wherever He goes. 


Jonatán (Pastor Martín’s oldest son) and Paulina were married in a beautifully meaningful ceremony, way different, but more purposeful, exemplary, and God-honoring than we had imagined as we have prayed for decades for God’s will in Jonatán’s life. Due to COVID restrictions, they were unable to invite everyone who would have loved to attend, but the ceremony was live-streamed to well-wishers around the globe who have been praying for them and some who are observing what it means, in adversity, for a follower of Jesus to stay close to the King, wherever He goes. 

Even in the midst of this “new normalcy,” God fulfills His promise exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Five years ago, the Huichol Bible team worked hard to translate an excellent 16-page illustrated booklet, If God is Good, why is the World so Bad? After they completed the project, the printing got placed on hold. Last month, after all of this time, the sponsor informed me that the funding is in, and we can go ahead with the job. The translators are giving the draft one final review, and by the end of next month, they should have in their hands 10,000 copies of another first-rate Huichol resource for sharing the Gospel. It’s good to stay close to the King, wherever He goes. 

And speaking of Huichol opportunities, the church at Zapote de Picachos, celebrated her 16th anniversary since they were forced from their village to their new location. Miraculously, God has provided for their beautiful church building, and then for the project to enlarge it to more than double, and now, for an additional structure to be used for classes

Best of all, not only has He provided the places to congregate, but He has provided the people who fill it and bring others to join the family. They are diligent, joyful, generous, and appreciative of God’s provision for them. They have learned, in spite of major obstacles, to stay close to the King, wherever He goes. 

Never did I imagine that when I agreed to come to the US to help out with the logistics of David’s bone marrow transplant in Seattle, I would be detained for much longer than I had “planned.” The transplant is done, and praise God, David and his family are back in Phoenix … and here I am awaiting the go-ahead for my return to Mexico. That will probably be in January. Meanwhile, praise God for the Internet; I am able to keep up virtually from anywhere. Though not face-to-face, I'm in constant contact with the brothers and sisters we love, and in spite of the severe lockdown in Tepic, live streaming of services and the Project Classrooms continue. 

It’s surprising, but the government still permits select construction activity, and God is providing the resources (That part doesn’t seem crazy!). The foundation is in, the massive support columns are standing, and the poured cement roof that will serve as the floor for the projected 2nd story, as well, is complete. That represents a HUGE effort and a major answer to prayer. The next step was the completion of the restrooms, and special offerings helped supply the last part necessary to purchase and install the fixtures and ceramic tile for that. None of us had any idea how God was going to supply it. He continually uses faith that becomes sight and reminds us that neither the pandemic nor the gates of the kingdom of death can prevail against the advancement of the Church that is determined to stay close to the King, wherever He goes. 

So, our King doesn’t just leave us to figure things out on our own. He has a plan and a purpose. Sometimes it’s hard to understand, and we want to know all of the bullet points for getting there. But it’s sufficient to know that He has a purpose, and His advice is: “Stay close to the King…wherever He goes.”