Saturday, August 31, 2013

July/August 2013 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many

July/August 2013
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.   Matthew 20:27, 28

Servant is the most significant title in the kingdom of God; that’s the role that Jesus chose as He came not to be served, but to serve, and willingly give His life to redeem the lost. The past couple of months in Tepic have been filled with followers of the Master offering an unselfish, “What can I do for you?” in Jesus’ name.

Though a welcome relief for the Huichol brothers who have had meager harvests in recent years, the excessive torrential rains this year have caused flooding and structural damage to many places in our state.  The Huichol church building at Salvador Allende-Carlos Alatorre, which was completed in April 2000, was one that sustained loss. Pastor Martín, who was one of the original team that roofed the church 13 years ago, as an example of service to the flock, got together a troop of volunteers who willingly gave of their time, resources and energy to repair the damage.

2nd roofing job with Martin, August 2013

1st roofing job with Martin, April 2000

The young people from IBBM-Tepic committed themselves to spending their summer vacation in service and outreach to the community of unbelievers in Tepic.

They organized a soccer tournament with the goal in mind of inviting, sharing the Gospel with their friends and colleagues who signed up, and living out before them the rare and radical lifestyle that makes a true servant stand out.

Recognizing that people tend to listen to someone who’s all about serving them, they prepared a nutritious and delicious dinner to take to the General Hospital and feed hungry family members of hospitalized patients. With each meal they served, they offered a genuine smile, a copy of Good News, and an invitation for follow-up.

They dreamed up and implemented a very strenuous extreme games day at a local park followed by a stunning late-night formal banquet at the church for the purpose of inviting unbelieving friends and celebrating the progression of IBBM’s youth group from the birth of IBBM-Tepic until the present. They chose From Generation to Generation for the theme of the banquet, and a couple of the kids prepared a correlated video presentation. It was so fun to see some of their parents as new believers participating in youth activities during the past 20 years, and it was challenging for them to think about what their lives will be like if they continue their own faithful service for the Master. Best of all, Pastor Martín shared a message from God’s Word giving an opportunity for those who have never repented and accepted the gift of salvation to make that choice.

We can be grateful that these young people are learning to follow and serve Him who gave His life to ransom them and are living to meet the needs of others instead of just themselves. Thank you for your many years of faithful prayers and committed partnership in His service that have helped them and others on the way.
You can see more pictures of each of these events in a photo collection here.  

…and speaking of opportunities to SERVE … ¡Festiniños!
For the past five years, IBBM-Tepic and several Huichol village churches have been chosen to be recipients of the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. The organization selects a certain area (in our case, the state of Nayarit) for a period of five years, and then they go about finding select outlets for their donations, a one-time gift.  IBBM-Tepic was included in the selection the 1st year of the five. 

We followed their rules for attendance at an all-day orientation meeting, paying for part of the shipping costs, follow-up with new children, and discipleship using their materials, etc.  In fact, we did such a great job jumping through their hoops and getting lots of needy children organized and evangelized that they contacted us the 2nd year to see if we would be able to participate again. Of course! It’s a great tool for evangelism and we have the willing and able leaders and workers ready to serve! This happened all five years.

Sometime during the course of the 5th year, some of us leaders were saying that even though we only expected to be included one year, we were blessed with five, and now that the five-year term is up, maybe we should look for a way to do the “shoebox” thing ourselves, but without all the hoops, and without all the exorbitant shipping and administrative costs. (We found out that each shoebox donor also donates $10 to get his or her box to its destination, plus we gave a yearly sizable offering on this end for the same.)  By doing something similar, locally, we could actually celebrate Christmas at Christmastime instead of waiting for the shipments to arrive in Mañanalandia around Valentine’s Day. That was a great idea, but the financial resources in Tepic are maxed out with property payments, Huichol outreach and other ministry costs, and the idea never made it past the drawing board last year.
A sister church in Phoenix contacted me with the encouraging news that they have been praying for us and would like work and sacrifice to collaborate with us in a tangible project for Christmas. They want to participate as a church in the “by faith” operation.  Another church in Lake Havasu contacted me this past week saying that they didn’t know what God had in mind, but they will be sending a special offering of $200 this month. It has been our policy all along never to solicit funds, and this project is no exception. Whatever God provides will determine how far we can extend the outreach. There are plenty of Huichol villages and children to go around!  We plan to be flexible and leave room for getting everything purchased, boxed and wrapped in late November-early December.  A “home-grown” Festiniños (meaning children’s party), with freedom to be creative and establish our own guidelines specific to regional needs will be refreshing, efficient, and an excellent answer to the question, “What can I do for you?” in Jesus’ name. This is an opportunity for participation in an upcoming Christmastime evangelistic team effort and the best Festiniños ever!
We would like to buy reusable, sealable plastic shoeboxes for each gift and fill them with a gender and age-specific toy, some school supplies, some hygiene items and possibly an article of clothing, all purchased locally to avoid shipping costs and customs issues. We estimate the cost of each box to be around $200 pesos ($18 US). With the gift boxes we were allotted in the past from Operation Christmas Child, hundreds of children, accompanied by parents and curious on-lookers, each year have received personal invitations, lovingly-packed gift boxes and best of all, the opportunity to listen to the true story of the greatest gift of all, forgiveness of sins and a permanent place in God’s family. Only time will tell how many of those little children are the Martíns, Eréns, Nachos and Lorenas of the next generation, but one thing is sure, “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many”and He will provide for the service of sharing of His truth.