Category Archives: Kingdom Events

Blessed is the Nation… 2016

img_9627If you follow this blog, you may have noticed I’ve been pretty quiet about the election in social media. I’ve been quiet period, and quiet in my own soul. Oh, I’m aware of what’s going on around me and tumult in the nation, even though I’m seldom on Facebook and almost never watch the news on TV. It’s just that I put my trust for our national well being, and my personal well being in God, and not in man, or the political system. Psalm 131  could well be my creed in this matter. Yet I intend to write more often on this subject in the days ahead, as led, to espouse the light the Bible shines on this matter, and on our path as a nation.

I’m very aware the government of God and the governments of man are both realities and that they intersect at times, if not at all times. 🙂 There is much teaching about this in the Bible. I’ve tried to understand it and do my part led by God’s teaching and the laws of our land. God’s Word, His giving us a free will, and world history make it imperative that I be as active as legally permitted, that I vote, and that I pray. Still my trust is in the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, not man, nor the political system of the USA or any other nation.

img_9628You can read my only pre-election writing in the last post. The election was easy for me from the beginning. I didn’t struggle to decide. It could be summed up in three or four Bible verses that came to me early in the process. [1] “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12) [2] “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) [3]  “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) And with most (but not all!) of my friends and family I voted for the platform that stood for the most right and against the most wrong.

I believe this article by Thomas Sowell in the Wall Street Journal and other news papers around the country hits the main points quite well. The Constitution. Contempt for the law. Real leadership. Supreme Court justices. And more.

img_9633Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, some do not, and some will contest who or Who gets to decide what’s right and wrong? That’s the real problem as I see it. We have good news and bad news in the outcome of this election.

The good news is we have a reprieve. And what a welcome relief it is to many of us! We were being led and going down a path that would have invited or required God’s judgment on our nation, according to the Bible, and as demonstrated in history.

Painting of my wife's church in SE Arkansas

Painting of my wife’s church in SE Arkansas

The bad news is we are still a deeply divided nation as shown by the popular and electoral vote. The results were 48% to 46% in the popular vote, with both coasts seeing things differently than the interior of the country. The results were 20 states to 30 states and 232 to 306 electoral votes. Surely as you watched the venom of the candidates during the election and the venom of the voters during and after the election, one must wonder about our division as a nation and our character as a nation. I would suggest that we haven’t been this divided as a nation since the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln’s “A House Divided” speech comes to mind. Of course Mr. Lincoln borrowed this quote from Jesus Christ almost 2000 years earlier.

Our Times . Acts 17:26

Our Times . Acts 17:26

If you fear God, and believe the Bible, as our founding fathers did, and Christians do in every age, you feel we have been given a reprieve from judgment. A time to breathe easier, while gearing up to further work and prayer for healthy spiritual and moral change in our nation, and in the world we so clearly affect. I pray we can come together and farewell with God’s help.

A quote from Elton Trueblood in my book at the beginning of chapter 3, “Understanding Your Times,” comes to mind.

The greatest problems of our time are not technological, for these we handle fairly well. They are not even political or economic, because the difficulties in these areas, glaring as they may be, are largely derivative. The greatest problems are moral and spiritual, and unless we can make some progress in these realms, we may not even survive. This is how advanced cultures have declined in the past. 

Let’s rest a bit and enjoy a small, but major victory for our country, or that’s the way I see it.  Then let’s get back to work; the work of the kingdom, the ongoing work of the King!

Christmas Peace in His Name

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'” (Matthew 6:9–13)

But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” (John 5:17)

Honduras!

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Honduras, again? I never imagined it or planned it, but I have been a part of 4 different mission teams to Honduras within the last 14 months. 🙂 When I retired from the airlines in 2011, my mantra for the next chapter of life was, “The LORD is my Shepherd, He leads….” And so it goes…

During these four years He’s also led and provisioned me to go on missions to Costa Rica, Cuba, and Nicaragua. So I’m sensing that God’s big heart and strong hand is extended to Central America in this season of history with spiritual power and provision. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the kingdom of heaven…” we hear Jesus say in His Sermon on the Mount.

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Our team in the mountains above Siguatepeque

There were five of us on the team, four from Fort Smith, AR and our leader in the field, a missionary to Honduras, who was our driver, translator, and led the children’s ministry events.

We stayed two days and two nights with a Honduran family, in their home, experiencing the local culture and hospitality in ways short term mission teams seldom do. But this is also the family with the vision and desire to start the orphanage so we needed to get to know them, their vision, and their hearts. We held a children’s event on their patio with the whole village invited and evidently there. 🙂

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Munoz Family (3 generations) with Ken

We traveled the next day with three members of that family to visit another mission and family three hours away who are supported by the mission sending agency XMA. They had found a desirable spiritual covering and legal, administrative way to establish a Honduran version of a 501c3, to protect stewards who want to sow into the ministry there. Bringing these two families together was a divine appointment and the information they shared was key to the proposed mission going forward. May their future relationships with each other be fruitful in every way possible. We held a second children’s event in their village school after a delicious lunch.

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Possible site for orphanage

The following day, we said our goodbyes and headed up further into the mountains to see their church which is under construction, oddly enough with some help by an Asian mission-sending church in our city of Fort Smith! We visited with neighbors, and heard the project report from some of the members, praying with some who greeted us and had needs. And we prayed for the church before leaving Concepcion for San Pedro Sula and a night of rest and reflection. Besides the beautiful mountain scenery all about us, we were also treated to a refreshing visit to a 100’ waterfall, and lunch beside a very large, blue, fresh-water lake with a mountain backdrop–very beautiful, relaxing, and rejuvenating.

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Copan

The next day we visited the famous Mayan ruins of Copan, birthplace of the famous Mayan calendar, and got in position for our last kid’s event scheduled for the following day. We also visited a church along the way in a village served by a long swinging bridge, and learned more about what the Spirit of the Lord is doing with the church and people of Honduras. The hotel was charming and nice. Our leader had told us that even though it cost only $15/night, it had WIFI and hot water. It had WIFI. 🙂

The next day after devotions and breakfast, our team took a 30 minute horse-back ride to a high Mayan village where we saw something akin to a North American Indian village and held our third and last kid’s event before visiting with some of the village people, playing with kids, walking down their steep paths, and riding our horses back to the hotel, from whence we began our drive 4 hours back to San Pedro Sula.

IMG_7364Sunday morning we arose early, had breakfast with our missionary leader and his beautiful family, and headed for the airport. All travel coming and going was uneventful, if very early and very late at times. 🙂 Customs was a breeze, because we had “letters” saying our bags contained items for churches, children, and the poor. Indeed we were carried along by the Spirit the whole time and I think we all had a sense of it, albeit there was also spiritual warfare sometimes near and about. Spiritual opposition, and a successful mission, is why we are indeed grateful for our prayer supporters, and the Lord’s favor, blessing, and presence.

It’s our teams prayer that the Lord will bless Honduras, use our work there, lead us as wishes in the future, and call some of you to go or send others on short term mission trips during this exciting period of earth and church history! Shalom in His matchless Name.

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For the full report with more specifics sent to our prayer supporters, click here.

For a photo collection of our experience click here.

For a short video of our mission by our missionary friend and leader click here.

 

Guatemala Mission 2016

IMG_7755This is a shout out for a medical and dental mission team from Fort Smith to the people and Christian community around Cunen, Guatemala, largely led and funded by FUMC of Fort Smith, but with a “traveling team” of various medical and non-medical personnel from the Arkansas River Valley, including my wife, dental administrator and assistant. Good work, Dear! 🙂

IMG_5315It was a joy for me to work with these photos and feel a part of the real help they provided in the Name and Love of God, and to feel the camaraderie that developed among them from the experience. I pray you sense both the love and camaraderie as you watch this video chronicling and celebrating the team of Jesus followers going for a week to help and serve others in need. And that you consider going or help in sending someone in the future! This video was done by my good friend, Manit Attakul. Thanks Manit!

IMG_5580The second video was done by me. It’s a bit lengthy. It’s mainly for those that went and those who sent! Or those really interested in such missions and the region. Blessings to you all!!

This third short video was done by Sara on the team.

IMG_6455“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, IMG_6470whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)IMG_7984

Can You Take It With You?

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Kevin with some special youth

People are important to God as demonstrated by The Cross. And people that come to know Christ are immortal. With regard to what we  obtain in life, it’s been said, “You can’t take it with you.”  While that’s true of things, you can take with you those you bring to Christ, and the acts of service and kindness to His sons and daughters,  who also have eternal life.

IMG_5153Last year on this same XMA-led trip to Honduras, after prison ministry during the day we were taken to a Celebrate Recovery meeting that night in an Olanchito church. Unexpectedly at the end of the meeting I looked across the room at a beautiful, teenage girl and the Lord almost instantly gave me a word for her!?  I approached the group leader and asked if I might speak the word to the girl and pray for her. She nodded and summoned our group’s  interrupter who was standing nearby. The three of them listened and the word went like this, “You’re a beautiful girl, with good character, and a big, deep heart. But there is a deep sadness in you that is destructive to your future. The Lord wants to heal you and take that sadness away, perhaps little by little, and He wants to be your Father.” Then I prayed a blessing on her and that the Lord would bring His words and purposes to pass for her life. She stood, hugged me, then stood back with big crocodile tears running down her face, and looked deep in my eyes and I into hers for several seconds. Then we smiled at each other and nodded understandingly, turned and left the building. I felt our hearts were joined forever over that moment and that word. Yet I didn’t know if we would meet again on this side of eternity?

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Our Mission Home in the Mountains of Honduras

A couple days later I met her older brother, a keyboard player and worship leader, who told me their father had been murdered a few years earlier, and that his sister was going through a very tough time. He implored me to pray for his sister, which I agreed to do. Being very touched with their close sibling relationship and their plight, I prayed for them both over the next year. Among other things, I prayed God would bring a good stepdad to care for them.

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Roadside Orange Stand

I didn’t know for sure if I would go again to Honduras this year until the last moment, but felt a strong leading to go and committed just days before the trip began. When leaving the house I saw an unused iPod and iPhone on my desk and felt the Spirit said to take them to the kids as a gift, the phone for the girl and iPod for her brother. If indeed I should even see them again I thought to myself? I’ve been on ten or more short term mission trips and things like this aren’t usually done and are discouraged for obvious reasons. I’ve never done it before. But I didn’t want to reason away what I was pretty sure I’d heard, and determined to follow the Spirit’s leading if He unfolded the circumstances.

Just when it looked as if there wasn’t going to be a chance to meet these siblings the Lord brought the opportunity in an instant during lunch at the pastor’s conference. Before going to lunch, I noticed the items in my suitcase and counseled with a brother on our team who had been to Honduras many times and had a good report with these teens, about the appropriateness of these gifts. His counsel was, if the Lord told you to do it, do it. Just give them in as much privacy as possible and perhaps ask that they not make it widely known. It was counsel that seemed right to me. At lunch, I sat at another table with some leaders and new friends, but toward the end of mealtime noticed that Tim was sitting with the siblings directly behind me. I recognized this as the Lord’s timing, excused myself from my table, and joined them for a very precious and mostly private time of sharing about their lives. With the older brother translating for me and also joining in the conversation, I learned that their mom had remarried a dentist. I asked if he was a good dad to them, and both said yes, with them adding, “He’s very honoring of our mom, and he takes good care of us.” I inwardly paused and silently gave much glory and heart felt thanks to God. 🙂 For answered prayer, for His care for the fatherless, and for His faithfulness to his word. There was talk about a boyfriend, some joking but serious counsel about going slowly in relationships, as I supported her brother’s counsel to her, and added that she was most beautiful and loved. I reminded her that this year I still see a little sadness in those beautiful eyes, but only a fraction of what I saw last year. And I reminded her that the Lord was in the process of taking it all away. She smiled with her big, silent smile that could light up a room, and certainly lights up my heart.

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Kerlin, Dwayne & Alexa

Only God can give a person the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with teens from another culture and country in two chance meetings during two chance years.! To love and encourage a kingdom son and daughter like that is a privilege and to be invited into their lives is priceless. They are the future of the kingdom of God in Honduras, and the future of Honduras.

Oh yes, the gifts? After our thirty-minute, precious conversation and sharing our lives, and the goodness and faithfulness of God, I told the brother, “I have a couple small gifts for you and your sister. God likes to give good gifts to His children. I felt like He prompted me to bring these to you and your sister. Can you follow me over to the mission house? I’d like to give them to you in private so it doesn’t cause any problems with others.” He smiled in agreement understandingly. I told him as I handed them to him in a clear ziplock bag, that I had in mind for his sister to get the phone and he the iPod, but I knew they were close and could share or do as they wished. It was like he didn’t even hear what I said as his eyes got big and he exclaimed, “My sister has been praying for an iPhone for six months! She will be sooo happy!” “And I and my friends on the worship team can use the iPod to learn songs and help with worship!” “Do you want to give it to her?!” he said excitedly. “Well,” I replied, “I think I’ll just let you give it to her to avoid any attention.” He nodded, but I could tell he didn’t like my idea too much and wanted me to give it to her. So I said, “OK, let’s go. I’ll give it to her.” He motioned her over some distance from the others, and I gave it to her. I don’t even remember what I said, but I was trying to be discreet and quick. She saw it and let out a little scream in excitement, then bounded to me and hugged my neck tight. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. God, you are good. And you love to give good gifts to your children. Sometimes I forget.

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Our Team & Friends – Farewell Meal

This was just one of many, many meaningful and touching moments during our week in Honduras, but one that was deeply meaningful and personal for me. God reminded me of the importance of “living loved.” Sometimes we can feel how much He loves others when we cannot feel how much He loves us. That kind of love is stilling and reorienting. That’s seeing His big heart for people, for all people, again. It’s reconnecting with your creator, and your Heavenly Father. 🙂

Special Moments Honduras 2016

IMG_5175January 5-13 I went along with five friends on a spiritual adventure to Olanchito, Honduras. It was my third mission trip to Honduras in the past two years, and the second with XMA (Extreme Missionary Adventures), a para-church ministry facilitating and leading small groups on short term mission trips to countries around the globe.

IMG_5109But the story I witnessed started many years before.

Once upon a time there was a little boy growing up in and around Olanchito, Honduras. His dad was a gifted cattle man and business man who rose to oversee a huge ranch and cattle operation in the area. The boy would in time come to oversee security at the American Embassy in Honduras, a very responsible, respectable, and good paying job.

IMG_5073In time he would come to know Jesus as Christ and King. Later he would feel the desire and call to leave that job and make Christ known to the people in the mountains around his boyhood home of Olanchito. His beautiful and charming wife said, “Why don’t you do that without me.” 🙂 But soon she joined him. For twenty years he labored to that end and prayed for the Lord to send help. Then, sixteen years ago, through chance meetings, relationships and friendships; mission teams from The States started going several times each year, mostly led by XMA, to work with Pastor Dario, and his vision is in full swing with no signs of abating.

IMG_4870On a long 4-wheel drive truck ride to a remote mountain village, I had the joy of sitting in the front seat with Dario and hearing some of his story as I queried him. Our ride was going to take us 3 hours, farther and higher into the mountains than I’d ever been. The village chief (also now the pastor) and his wife sat in the back seat, while others we would drop along the way filled the back of the pickup. They had traveled to the pastor’s conference by foot, and we were taking some of them home, as well as checking on the ministry and church in the village of La Bassa. They conversed with Dario in Spanish about their lives and ministry, punctuated with laughter and smiles. I enjoyed it even though I understood very little. It was a happy and peaceful time.

IMG_4880When there was a period of quiet and looking at the beauty of the steep mountains amid carving rivers, I took the opportunity to ask some counsel from Dario for some friends in my city who are considering starting an orphanage in Honduras. After hearing his sage and heart-felt counsel, I asked him about his personal and ministry journey. With a heart of peace, joy, and gratitude he told me he oversees twenty-seven pastors and churches now in the mountains around Olanchito, in addition to pastoring his own congregation in Olanchito, a city of about 80,000 inhabitants.

IMG_4891I was about to see one of those remote villages myself. We turned off the main road, stopped to lock the hubs and put our two 4×4 pickups, still packed with people, in four-wheel-drive low-range, for the forty-five minute steep, winding plunge into the valley floor where the village lay. I grew up in the highest parts of the Ozark Mountains, driving jeeps and 4×4 pickups as a boy and young man. This was a joyful and peaceful experience for me, albeit impressive! The rest of our six-man team was from flat Louisiana and some told me later they weren’t experiencing the same emotions on our descent. 🙂

About ten minutes from the village, with its thatched and tin roofs in sight from time to time, our lead truck came to a stop. The doors opened, and I was about to have one of the most surprising and meaningful moments of my trip.

IMG_4900During the week, sitting around the dinner table of the mission house we had heard bits and pieces of a story about a man named Larry on a short term mission trip years earlier, hiking six hours into a village for ministry who had experienced a sudden, fatal heart attack. Our second truck pulled in behind us and stopped. I looked at Dario momentarily and he softly said, “We always stop here.” I then noticed off the road up the hill a metal cross with flowers inside a little fenced and well-cared-for plot of ground. It hit me all of a sudden, this is the village and this was the spot where Larry entered eternity. The village chief opened the wire-gap gate and stood back looking at the cross. All was peaceful and quiet in the trucks and with our team who had gotten out by now to see what was going on. After a time, I asked Kevin “Do you want to go up there with me and pray?” He nodded and the two of us stepped through the wire gate up to the cross, knelt on the freshly cut grass and prayed that the Lord would honor Larry’s sacrifice and care for his widow, children, and their descendants forever. We prayed the kingdom work in this village he cared for would flourish as well. It was a somber, sacred moment for us all as we pondered sacrifice and eternity in our own ways.

After hearing earlier that someone had died on one of these short term mission trips and getting over the initial shock of it, a thought occurred to me that I shared  with the others as they nodded their agreement. “What a way to go! Serving the Lord one second — seeing Him face to face the next!”

As it turned out Larry had been to this village twice and developed a friendship bond with the chief. Until the time of Larry’s home going, the chief had a still in the area and sold alcohol to the villagers. Being touched by Larry’s sacrifice and death, the chief was moved to destroy his still and change his ways, eventually becoming a Christian and the pastor of the village church.

Pastor Dario had also told me on the steep descent into the deep valley that when he first came to the villages here he found seventeen people living in a one room hut with a dirt floor. Each burrowed out his or her sleeping place in the soil. Pastors, wives and missionaries also educated village households to stop spitting on their dirt floors, as it transmitted sickness, and other hygiene education. Some villagers he told me were still squatting in place for meals and using unwashed hands to eat food from their bowls instead of utensils. He smiled pleased at the quality of life and health changes he’d seen in the villages as well as moral and social changes due to the gospel.

IMG_4917None of us knew what was in store for us that day, but after a little milling around and looking at the village surrounded by smiling children with eager eyes, we were invited to the newest and most beautiful building in the village. It was a concrete block and metal roofed church completed two years ago by volunteer groups from The States and the villagers. A gentle wind blew simple scarlet and gold curtains filing the open air windows as children lined the stage and began to sing worship songs to Jesus accompanied by a man with a guitar and at the direction of the village chief playing a well-worn accordion. What an incredible, beautiful site!IMG_4943

 

Our team was introduced one by one to the applause of the villagers. Then one of our number, Tim, gave a short testimony and message from the Bible with Pastor Dario translating. An invitation was given and the team prayed for the sick and those coming with spiritual needs. The peaceful and joyful service completed, we were invited to the chief’s home for a dinner of rice, beans, and chicken  prepared and served by his wife and daughter. Following the meal we enjoyed a hot cup of home grown and roasted coffee before heading outside to goodbye hugs, waves, and our trucks.

IMG_4931The sunshine had disappeared with wind and clouds threatening imminent rain showers which could render our accent back up the mountains treacherous if not halted. So we quickly got underway and made the thirty minute plus climb to the main road just as the showers began. Driving back to the mission compound, and then to church in the city that night, our hearts were full of joy and wonder at what God had done in that village with those people, allowing us to see it and be a small part of their community.

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

“And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;” (Revelation 14:6)

 “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)

 

Honduras 2016

IMG_5105During mid-January I went with a six-man team from Louisiana on a short-term mission trip to the mountains around Olanchito, Honduras. Some on our team have a long-term relationship with a local pastor there, as does our mission-facilitating organization XMA (Extreme Missionary Adventures).

IMG_4530Let me stop and give a shout out to XMA for their service and value to the Kingdom of God, especially the world of short-term missions! In their short history they have developed relationships with indigenous church leaders, pastors, and missionaries around the globe. I’ve seen this wonderful association myself and benefited from it twice now. They serve church groups and individuals like you and me by organizing and leading us on spiritual adventures to serve proven people they know. You can and should read about their organization and opportunities to help you or your group go on an adventure! One of their mottos is “Adventure with a Purpose!” They perform a wonderful service and do a wonderful job! Give them a look!

IMG_2631Honduras is in Central America about a three hour flight from Houston or Miami. It’ s the second largest country in CA, beautiful, mostly mountainous, with both an Caribbean and Pacific coast line. According to Operation World, considered by many the authority  on world missions, Honduras is “one of the Western hemisphere’s poorest countries,” with “widespread unemployment, low wages, and long lasting devastation from  Hurricane Mitch (1998)”… making it a country of great need. “Thirty-seven percent of the population is under fifteen years old.” So there are lots of needs and opportunities to sow into and help children in Honduras.

IMG_4645What you may not know (I didn’t!)  is that Honduras has experienced “five decades of evangelical growth. In 1960, evangelicals numbered 32,000 and were 1.7% of the population. They are now 1,750,000 and 23%, and growth shows little sign of stopping. Some polls show that up to 36% of the population identify with evangelical beliefs.” These statistics and what I’ve seen on three trips to Honduras in the last fourteen months make me believe God’s heart and ear is turned to the people there.

IMG_4629 IMG_4792What did we do there? Two of our number had prepared for and subsequently taught a pastors conference. About 20-30 pastors and some of their family members walked as many as twelve hours through the mountains to the mission compound and camped in the crude dorms. They attended the teaching sessions about six hours each day for three days, in addition to worship and prayer times. During this time the rest of us did construction work, putting a metal roof on a partially completed church building in a nearby village about five miles upstream of the mission complex in the mountains.

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We also ministered one afternoon in the Olanchito state prison, sharing the gospel and our testimonies. There we saw five men come to faith in Christ for the first time. Others came forward so we moved among the prisoners, laying our hands on them, praying for them and their families as the Spirit gave us impressions. We didn’t have translators, nor were they needed. It was a special time.

One of our team had shared with the group at devotional time the day before, “Last year this time I was in prison myself, and I haven’t been a Christian very long. This is my first mission trip and I don’t know the Scriptures like the rest of you guys so I’m a little nervous.” We said in response, “Are you kidding? You are the sharpest tool in the Lord’s pouch! His saving grace is very fresh to you, and they will be able to relate to you fully.” He did a great job sharing his testimony, with the prisoners hanging on his every word! 🙂 All the while the Spirit bore witness to his words. 🙂

IMG_3301 IMG_4400To keep it brief I’ll stop for now and write again about a couple more special Honduran experiences in separate blogs. In summary, pray for Honduras! And consider going! The people and country will be blessed eternally, and you more so!

Photos 🙂

Foster Care Summer Camp 2015

SONY DSCFriday morning at 6:00 a.m. I had the pleasure of attending the 44th annual Fort Smith Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast downtown. The event is hosted by the CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Committee) and was very inspirational. Some inspired prayers where offered up to the Lord by area pastors, and among the honored guests was Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison, who briefly addressed the crowd before the main speaker, NFL running back William Green, took the podium.

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SONY DSCT. Ray Grandstaff, Arkansas Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, introduced Mr. Green saying that he had arrived in our area a couple days early and addressed several area high school football team members resulting in 59 young men professing faith in Jesus Christ. He was an outstanding man, an excellent speaker, with a great story. (When his talk becomes available digitally, I’ll include a link here!)

SONY DSCGov. Hutchison was brief with his remarks praising the committee for their efforts in hosting this event and underscoring the value and need for prayer in the political and government arenas. He went on to passionately promote two initiatives asking faith based groups to come along side the State of Arkansas in service and leadership with their help and support. He  framed the need and opportunity by asking churches and faith-based groups to help in giving some Arkansans a much needed 1st chance in life, and by giving others a much needed 2nd chance in life.

DSCN1672The two groups of Arkansans, he went on to say are (1) prisoners being reintroduced into society after they’ve served their time. And (2) foster homes for kids. He said that there were presently 500 foster children in Sebastian County who were in need of a place to stay with only 125 homes currently serving. Please pray about these situations and act as the Spirit leads you. Foster children need a 1st chance in life, while released prisoners need a 2nd chance.

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SONY DSCOn Father’s Day this year, a local faith-based organization hosted their 11th annual summer camp for foster kids  with volunteers from four area churches and  their children. The organization, Matthew Eighteen, is organized and lead by a local couple who have served foster kids in their homes for several years, and adopted foster children.

SONY DSCThis 2015 Matthew 18 camp saw 25 volunteers serving 23 children. And according to Curtis, the director, there were eight baptisms at camp’s end. He said, “This year’s camp was characterized by healing. The camp’s theme was, ‘You are more.'” For a photo album of this year’s camp, click here. For a short story of this year’s camp by video, click here.

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If you’re interested in Governor Asa Hutchinson’s call for faith based help, attend and talk up the Restore Hope Summit explained below.

“This morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a call to action for faith-based leaders to discuss solutions to two seemingly disparate issues facing the state: the shortage of foster homes for children in Department of Human Services custody, and the lack of services for former prison inmates reentering society. The “Restore Hope Summit” will be held on August 25 and 26 at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock. Those interested in attending can register online here.” Arkansas Times

Another Camp Hope Video

Video “A Day at Camp Hope”

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8–9)

 

 

The Footsteps of Paul

Ready for Adventure?

Ready for Adventure?

Greetings in the Name of the Lord,

I’m planning a spiritual adventure that I want to make public. It’s a trip to Turkey and Greece this coming June 2015. I led a wonderful group of  thirty folks to Israel in 2009, and many of them requested I put together a follow-on trip covering the footsteps of Paul — his missionary journeys. Then earlier this year a pastor friend of mine mentioned he had promised his people a similar trip, but was having trouble finding the time to plan it. I offered my assistance. The resulting trip is on the books and available to you or any friends who may  be interested. We have twenty folks signed up and have room for ten or so more to make an optimum size group.

I am! :)

I am! 🙂

Paul covered an amazing amount of territory in his missionary journeys, even by today’s standards. We’ve arranged our travel to cover about 80-90% of it, including the Churches of Revelation, and the Isle of Patmos where John wrote the Apocalypse. Pastor Wes has been teaching on the book of Acts in preparation for the trip, and you can access his teachings here. You can find a basic map of our trip that I hope to update soon here.

IMG_0446Or you can read the itinerary for the trip here, along with phone numbers for answers to any questions you might have. You can also email me for information from this website. We’ll visit a beautiful part of the earth, as well as an important part of church history and western civilization. I’ve not been to Greece and am very much looking forward to that. I was in Turkey on an USAF deployment in the 1980’s and found it warm, beautiful, and enchanting. Ephesus is still the most amazing archaeological site I’ve ever seen. I look forward to seeing it again!

Ephesus

Ephesus

Ephesus

Ephesus

Today I received  this insight from Dr. Tuttle, who will be the Paul expert on our trip, along with Pastor Wes, myself, and our Turkish/Greek guides. “I’m just back from Israel and we had a great time.  Turkey/Greece and Rome will be even better.  I’m reminded that this pilgrimage completes the NT begun in Israel.  Israel gets us into the Gospels but Turkey/Greece/Rome get us into the rest of the NT.”

I hope you can join us! Pass the word and this link to anyone who might be interested in this earth-life adventure!

Shalom All,

Dwayne

 

 

Athens

Athens

Athens

Athens

Honduras 2015

Honduran Coast at Tela

Honduran Coast at Tela

Honduras, about the size of England, is the second largest country in Central America after Nicaragua, it’s neighbor to the south. It’s  home to about 8 million people. According to Operation World, Seventh Edition, about 50% live in cities, and about 37% are under the age of 15!  It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere with an average income per person of $1,826 (4% of USA), and 28% unemployment.

New Guitars Put to Use

New Guitars Put to Use

Commenting on the religious landscape Operation World states, “In 1960, evangelicals numbered 32,000 and 1.7% of the population. They are now 1,750,000 and 23% , and growth shows little sign of stopping. Some polls show that up to 36% of the population identify with evangelical beliefs.”

Beautiful Young People

Beautiful Young People

Moon’s travel guide reports the religious landscape according to a 2008 poll as 47% Catholic, 36% evangelical Christians, and 17% “other.” They also note that, “A belief in magic and witchcraft is common among Hondurans in both rural and urban areas.” And commenting on it’s history they note, “For reasons not entirely clear, Copan (in Honduras) was the greatest center for arts, astronomy, and science among the Maya.”

5 Hour Drive to Olanchita

5 Hour Drive from San Pedro Sula to Olanchita

From January 7th to January 13th, sixteen folks from Louisiana, California, and Arkansas went on a ministry and friendship mission adventure to Central America organized and hosted by Extreme Missionary Adventures (XMA) and initiated by my friend Robert Lindsay, our leader at age 75, making his 10th and perhaps last mission trip to Honduras. He’s passing the leadership torch and mantle to others he’s trained along the way.

 

Prison Ministry

Prison Ministry

During the week long adventure we did prison ministry, a three-day pastor’s conference, construction at the mission complex, and visited two villages, praying for the sick, sharing the gospel, distributing Bibles, tooth brushes, and clothing.

Bunk Bed Construction

Bunk Bed Construction

If you’d like to view some photos of those activities, places, and people click here.

XMA exists to help groups of friends, individuals, or church groups go on mission adventures and make a difference in the lives of others while broadening their own perspectives, fulfilling the great commission given by Jesus to disciples of all ages until He returns. You can get a feel for their philosophy and hearts to serve from visiting their website, as well as a look at opportunities for future missions. I’ve been on ten short term mission trips now, and I can attest to the fact that they are experienced, organized, and excellent in all phases of making such trips meaningful and successful. It was a pleasure.

Robert with Leo

Robert with Leo

Speaking of a pleasure, meeting the other fifteen team members, all but one for the first time, was a real pleasure. We bonded immediately and had a great time together, building memories that will last a lifetime and beyond.

I found Honduras a beautiful country, with beautiful, warm hearted people, who were generous, gracious, and truly appreciative of our help. XMA has a ten year relationship in Olanchito with a pastor who pastors a church in the city while mentoring pastors from several neighboring villages. We partnered with Pastor Dario, helping his ministry while he made many of his relationships available to us. Working with him gave us meaningful and immediate entrance into communities and lives there, opportunities to really see into the culture and into people’s individual lives that simply being a tourist can’t replicate. I can’t say enough about it. It was truly another life event and memory, as most short term mission trips are. Go! Soon! You’ll be glad you did.

Honduras!

Honduras!

Bill with Bear Wittness and an armed Guard

Bill with Bear Wittness and an armed Guard!

Youth Leading Worship

Youth Leading Worship…Honduras’ Future

 

My Goodness 2015

January 1 Greetings,

DSCN6933

Making new Friends

This time of the year and this day of the year are excellent for pondering one’s life, and especially the years — the passing of time. My wife and I have each remarked that 2014 was the fastest passing year of our lives. With technology and communication being what they are, there is no reason to expect time to slow down going forward! Unless, unless we make a quality, personal decision to make it so, and then take some necessary action!

Reconnected with Old Friends

Reconnecting with Old Friends

Quickly said, our times are against us in the matter of enjoying our lives and making the most of them. We’re at each and every turn confronted with images, voices, talking heads, technology to use, learn, and play with, and the list goes on, growing larger seemingly by the day. What’s a person to do?

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s what I hear in the Spirit when I ask that question.

I want my life to count for something — for something bigger than me, and for something eternal.

When I look around it seems as if the kingdom might be loosing ground? At least in our time and place.

Enjoy Life with Present Friends

Enjoying Life with Present Friends

But then I reflect on Abraham (2000 B.C.), David (1000 B.C.), Daniel (600 B.C.), Esther (470 B.C.), Paul and Peter (30-70 A.D.), and I realize the kingdom is never losing ground — only we, perhaps are loosing ground!

“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

I reflect from time to time about writing another book (only if the Spirit leads of course. :)) I might title it, “The Laugh of the King!” from Psalm 2.

Peanuts Cartoon appearing while our home group studied Job :)

Peanuts Cartoon appearing while our home group studied the Book of  Job 🙂

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, …!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, ….” (Psalm 2:1–4)

So what can you do to overcome your flesh and the distractions of our complex times? Seek a relationship with the King and the King’s people — His followers, His disciples, His Bride, His Church. These relationships are all you can take with you! Not possessions which will end up in the trash heap or burning up. People are eternal. Sow your life into relationships, into people. They are eternal.  Their hearts, and lives, and character, and love are all that will make it to the other side.

Family Vacation Celebration

Family Vacation and Significant Birthday Celebration

Someone has said, “In the end all that will matter is who you loved and who loved you.”

So for me it’s: [1] Read the Bible daily. [2] Talk to God, listen, mediate, ( spelled “pray”) daily, and occasionally journal impressions that come during these times. [3] Seek out and get to know others who are passionate about Jesus and want to know Him better. [4] Doing these things  helps me keep the trappings of our culture and times from stealing my attention, my affections, and my time — my life.

Cousins at Family Dutch Oven Event

Cousins at Family Dutch Oven Dinner

By doing these things, perhaps something of my life will count for others, for the King, for something bigger than myself, and for something eternal?

I look to Him who loved me and called me; and I trust Him to make it so! The Lord is my Shepherd, He leads….

Slowing to the Speed of Life

Slowing to the Speed of Life 2014

May you have a great and prosperous new year in 2015, as your soul prospers.

Dwayne

OBTW, Short term mission trips are another way to get your mind and heart on the bigger world and greater good, serving others and seeing what God is doing in other cultures. It is perspective changing, paradigm changing, and life changing.

It’s a win/win situation, but those who go and serve get more from the experience than those who are served. 🙂 Our Lord Jesus said it this way, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” And of course everything He said is true.

Go on a mission adventure soon!

Go on a mission adventure soon!

You'll be glad you did!

You’ll be glad you did!

On that note, I’m leaving soon on a short term mission trip to Honduras. Please pray that God will bless this trip as He wishes with purpose, provision, and protection. And consider contacting the folks at XMA to go on one of their mission adventures around the world. Take a look at their website. Grab a friend or friends and go! You’ll be blessed more than you know!

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”” (Psalm 2:1–6)

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:14–17)