Tuesday, December 31, 2013

November/December 2013 “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts…All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.”

November/December 2013

“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts…All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.”  Psalm 145:4, 10

As we have just finished celebrating the long-awaited, first-coming of God in the flesh, may we continue to watch for His promised return while turning the last page of 2013 and embarking with great anticipation on a fresh, new year brim-full of opportunities we can’t even begin to imagine. Declaring His many mighty acts is the impetus for the saints to praise and bless Him as community. Pastor Gabe, a longtime friend of mine and of this ministry, recently said: “One definition of ‘community’ is joint ownership or participation.” I'm so grateful for your amazing partnership that makes the declaration of His mighty acts in Mexico possible. The following are just some of those recent mighty acts for which we as a community can join in praise together:
Nine Huichol mother-tongue-translators (MTTs) from 5 distinct mountain villages met in Tepic for the 22nd Old Testament translation workshop the first week of November. Refugio and Herminio are new MTTs helping to expedite the formidable, but awe-inspiring, task. Linguist consultant, Libby Willett worked alongside the MTTs, but their beloved Joe Grimes was unable to attend physically, due to his wife’s delayed recovery from a stroke. Not to be thwarted, Joe was hard at work daily, via Skype, from the comfort of the think-tank in his new home in Oklahoma; he even dressed for the job! The translation of God’s very Word into the heart language of the Huichol people is truly a mighty act worthy of praise only to the Lord!

Festiniños (Children’s Party) is another major mighty act that warrants much praise of our Lord from the saints. With the mention of the opportunity for tangible involvement in this idea, I never dreamed how enthusiastic and generous our “community” would be when presented with the opportunity to reach out to those who have never heard or who need to hear again the true Gospel story of the greatest Gift of all, Who offers forgiveness of sins and a permanent place in God’s family.
The combined response from brothers and sisters in the U.S. and from IBBM-Tepic was extraordinary.  We received enough offerings to purchase 350 reusable, sealable plastic shoeboxes for each gift. Then lots of willing and energetic members of the Tepic church, with the equivalent of $18 US per box in hand, headed out to find the best bargains to be had on gender and age-specific items. They found toys, school supplies, hygiene items, shirts, hats, gloves, socks, sandals and more, all purchased locally to avoid shipping costs and customs issues.
Our friends from International Children’s Missionary Enterprises (ICME) provided us with beautifully prepared tracts entitled A Clean Heart.  They come with a stylus and erasable heart-shaped slates to graphically portray that Jesus’ forgiveness wipes clean our heart full of sin when we repent of it and ask to receive the undeserved and free gift He offers.
UIM-Aviation pilotsairlifted 78 of the boxes to the remote Tierra Blanca mountain airstrip for the combined Festiniños celebrations of Los Aires, Mojarras, and Guamuchilillo. Pictures here: 

We invited lots of kids from all over town to celebrate Festiniños at IBBM-Tepic the last Saturday of OANSA (AWANA) for the year at the regular club time; 167 kids came, along with lots of parents.

The remaining 105 gift boxes were delivered to the village of Loma Alta with a drama of the Christmas story, the Clean Heart Gospel message and lots of love and sharing the truth and joy of the greatest Gift ever.

One of my favorite results of the Festiniños 2013 outreach is that Alonso, a 13-year-old boy who lives with his grandparents, and whose entire life has been nearly devoid of love, has now been loved unconditionally by brothers and sisters in Christ who have worked to emit the light and emulate the love that Jesus is all about. Alonso now has heard of the Source of true love that provided the best and most costly Gift ever given. He stayed after the Tepic Festiniños party to attend the regular Saturday evening youth meeting. When he got home after 9:30 that night, he couldn’t stop recounting to his grandparents and the kids next door what he had heard, whether they wanted to hear or not. He had already memorized John 3:16 and quoted it for all who would listen. Since December 7th, he has not wanted to miss a single church activity, and he has invited friends. When the kid that was to play the part of Joseph in the live nativity of theannual IBBM-Tepic community Christmas celebration was unable to come, he offered to take the part, wearing the beautiful costume that was handmade for us several years ago by my good friend, Dawn, and the girls of her junior high sewing class. Alonso clearly has heard (been saturated with) the Gospel story; he even has played the part of our Savior’s earthly-father. Please pray with me that soon he will understand and recognize his need for forgiveness and accept the GIFT of salvation that he may be included in the next generation [that] shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts…All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.” 
Only time will tell how many of the 350 children who received lovingly provided gift boxes (and parents) and heard of the greatest Gift of all, will be the next generation to praise His works to another.  The combined effort of this community of  loving pray-ers, givers, gift-purchasers, packers, costume-makers, tract-writers, musicians, translators, pilots, teachers, and leaders has been crucial in the carrying out of the mighty acts we have witnessed these past two months. Thank you for the vital part you have had in making it possible and for which the praise and glory belong only to God.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 2013

“And she (Anna) coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”  Luke 2:38

In spite of a lifetime of great affliction, she had determined to keep her heart on things above and dedicated herself to the service of her Maker. Anna longingly awaited the Consolation of her people, the Messiah, as she clung to the promised blessings Moses had conveyed to her tribe, the assurances of sufficient strength and the refuge of the everlasting arms of her God. Her motto was never, “While there’s life, there’s hope,” but rather “While there’s Hope, there’s life.” That promised Hope kept her diligent, joyful, obedient to her calling and more interested in those around her than in herself. The arrival of the Promised One was the highlight of her life. It motivated her to set aside her work as prophetess and take on the task of announcing the Good News to the world.
May we follow Anna’s example as we too look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us…” Titus 2:13, 14a
With our world in a perpetual state of insecurity, each New Year reminds us that the source of our hope does not rest in earthly institutions but in the Promised One who will one day make all things new. How blessed I am with a growing family to love as we prepare together awaiting that day. Along with Anna of old, this year may we remember to give thanks unto the Lord and speak of Him to all them that look for redemption.