Category Archives: Kingdom Events

A Honduran Exorcism

Ok, let me be transparent and real about this. I have no agenda or theology to exalt or to put down. Just the facts, Ma’am! That’s the goal of this short writ.

One evening after a time of praying for the pastors, one of the Honduran pastors, Pastor Minellio, was praying for the sick and a few of our team noticed him shaking as he prayed for the one in need, the power of the Holy Spirit being felt strongly by all.

Afterwards there was a time of fellowship under the arbor where we shared lunch and dinner with the pastors and their families. The team that noted the Honduran pastor shaking asked him about that?

He then related the following story. He said that in his village in the mountains one of his friends seem to be depressed and at one point tried to take his life. This pastor and two more friends who loved the man, determined to fast and pray for three days for him with him being continually with them, witnessing their fasting and hearing their prayers.

On the third day, according to this “shaking” pastor, their suicidal friend had a single, violent vomiting episode, and at the same time moment, the three praying friends were knocked to the ground by some unknown force!?

After that moment their friend has been free of oppression, depression, and acts normally. And when our new “quaking” pastor friend prays for people and senses the Holy Spirit is near, he shakes as he prays.

Indeed, he says when it happens to him, he knows or recognizes the Holy Spirit is near to heal or deliver or help.

After watching him, and sensing the Spirit ourselves, we all believe it’s true and happened just that way.

This pastor is a very quiet, always kind, pleasant, and humble – even shy.

We only report what we saw, and felt, and heard. 🙂

The Lord be magnified for helping those in need. And for equipping and empowering His own to help or serve in the process. Amen

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“But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, the Kingdom of God has come near to you.” Luke 11:20

[Story related by Gary, Tim, and Whit who were witnesses.]

[Link to trip video]          [Link to trip photos]

The Ninety and Nine – Carmen’s Story

Do you remember Jesus parable from Luke 15 of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son(s)? You may want to read it to refresh yourself. Then listen to this story!

Once upon a time there lived in a mountain village in Honduras a young girl named Carmen. A missionary group visited her village to minister to the children there, hosting a vacation Bible school–teaching the children songs, Bible stories, and loving on them. There were several women in this group, including Jennifer from north east Louisiana.

Jennifer noticed a young girl at the meeting and felt strongly drawn to pray for her. She went to her and asked if she had need of prayer? The girl indicated she didn’t know of anything, and Jennifer just prayed a prayer of blessing over her, but was perplexed by the strong unction to pray and the strong draw to the girl. Later after reflecting on it, she felt the Lord impressed her the prayer was for some future need. She had a strong impression,  “Something that hasn’t happened yet.”

Jennifer & Carmen

Three more ladies in the group told Jennifer, one by one, they were drawn to the same girl, Carmen, and one even said,”To pray for something that hasn’t happened yet.”

I’m going to leave out some other amazing detail and coincidences for brevity and tell you that Jennifer went back home to Louisiana and prayed for this young lady Carmen  by name for the next eighteen months.

As a single mom, raising two children, and working, it would take a miracle for Jennifer to be able to go back to that village and find Carmen, and see what had happened to her. But she had a burning desire to do just that.

Carmen’s Son . A Prophecy. A Destiney

Somehow!? At the last minute Jennifer became a part of our team. She came with us not knowing if she’d be given the opportunity to go to Carmen’s village, or if Carmen would still be there?

As it turned out she made her desire known to the team, and we split up one day so that half of the team went there to minister, so Jennifer could find Carmen, or at least know what had become of her. I was on that half of the team and saw the amazing outcome.

After it appeared that all the children in the village, about thirty or so, had shown up for some songs and interactive worship, along with about eight women and five men — there was no Carmen.

Loving Honduran Children

My good friend, Brother Dr. Jay we call him as he’s a veterinarian, moved over and said to me, “Let’s pray Carmen comes! This is so important to Jennifer.” So we did, right then and there, as our twenty-something, worship-team leaders started worshiping and we looked out on the beautiful, mountainous jungle that had an alpine feel to it due to our high elevation.

About five to seven minutes later, you guessed it, Carmen, a very attractive young woman with her two young sons, came walking up the road to the meeting!:-)

There was an excited embrace by Jennifer and a few quick words and greetings that we observed from a distance. Then all took their seats as the service had begun. There followed excellent, beautiful, peaceful worship led by our own Hannah with Giovanni and Marilyn, her musically-gifted, Honduran counterparts.  Then there was kid’s ministry, and a word from the matriarch and spiritual leader of the village, and the meeting was finished.

Folks were mingling and filing out, slowly drifting away to their homes or daily pursuits. Time didn’t matter. We were basking in the scenery, and the tangible, felt presence of God during the service. It was so beautiful and peaceful.

Carmen and Jennifer immediately joined each other at the front of the church. Carmen would learn from Jennifer about all the ladies praying for her. And about Jennifer praying for her by name for eighteen months.

Carmen’s Village

Jennifer would learn from Carmen that she had been hospitalized in Olanchito for abdominal bleeding and had been very ill, “Something that hasn’t happened yet,” at the time of the offered prayers.

Also during that hospital stay, some believers had visited Carmen, prayed for her healing, and asked her if she wanted to receive Christ as Savior? At that time, she felt she wanted to do so, but didn’t.

A Prayer Answered and A Prayer Offered :):)

Jennifer asked her, “Well do you want to do so right now?” ”Yes,” she said with a smile, hearing of God’s love and caring for her and His sending so many. 🙂 So she did just that with Jennifer and Giovanni assisting and witnessing her prayer for salvation.

There’s more!? But for heaven sakes, that’s enough! A person would have to be blind, deaf, or both not to see the incredible lengths the Lord went to, to find this lost one He cherished, and bring her safely into His fold.:-)

His name be magnified! May Carmen and her family be blessed of the Lord. And may the Lord continue to pour out his Spirit and help the village of Capucales Honduras.  Amen

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“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19)

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,” (Luke 18:1)

[Link to trip video]          [Link to trip photos]

First Mission – Honduras

En Route Above the Clouds Over Houston

From January 10th to January 16th as part of a nine person mission team, I visited Olanchito Honduras.

The team was mostly from different churches in North Louisiana with one tag-along from Northwest Arkansas, me. This was my fourth Honduras mission trip with this team, and the first time to meet three of it’s members.

We all bonded wonderfully, and were led by the Spirit seemingly in every endeavor. Early in the week, and certainly by weeks end, we had become the best of friends! 🙂 All of us felt a sense of awe at what God had done through us and around us.

Descending into Miami International Airport on my way home, it seems so surreal already. And I’m peacefully full of joy about all we did and experienced. So much so, I’m happy to try to write about it, or not write at all? It is more than I could put into words anyway! We all felt that way as we shared our thoughts at an after-dinner debrief in Tela last night.

And what would a web audience, some probably known to me, and some unknown, like to hear about? Ah, these are more like questions for the Spirit of God, Who led us wonderfully throughout the week. So I’ll rely on Him to bring things to mind and tell parts of the story.

In A Prison

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

I’m against long blogs, so this may require several short ones. Some possibilities include: A Women Named Carmen, Hannah & Whit —Dynamic Duo, Honduran Pastor’s Exorcism Story, Daniel of Olanchito — Deliverance and Restoration, La Balsa Revisited, Tim — A Birthday to Remember, Prison Encounter, TV in the Park, Theology 101 — Pink & Tozer, Those Who Stay with the Luggage, A Proclaimer Indeed, Tegucigalpa — Laura & Divina. We’ll see how the Spirit leads?

In a Park

In the Mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A summary might read like this.

[1] We prepared materials and held a two day pastor’s conference for fifty-one people, mostly pastors and wives, who came out of the mountain villages to receive encouragement, training, and fellowship with each other around the Bible.

[2] We ministered in a Honduran prison for two hours with music, a spiritual invitation, and prayer for inmates who responded. We encouraged the prison fellowship leaders who seemed nonexistent three years ago. Lastly, we distributed some books, food, tooth paste and tooth brushes to inmates who seemed very appreciative.

[3] We attended a Thursday night meeting in a local church with a “Celebrate Recovery”  ministry where Kevin taught and Gary shared.

[4] We attended a Sunday night meeting at the same church with about fifty people where we saw deliverances and healing as the Spirit moved in response to our prayers and His purposes. Jennifer shared a powerful testimony of the healing, salvation, and the seeking out of one young Honduran woman that only the Spirit of God could have orchestrated. Then Tim shared a powerful testimony from his own recent life about forgiveness in a rapid-fire fashion that left Laura, his translator, gasping for air! 🙂

As We Arrived

Our Peaceful Mission House and Base of Operation

That’s the long of it! And perhaps the short of it? 🙂 But a few more short stories will follow. 🙂

Stay tuned! 🙂  Adiós, amigos

 

[Click here for a short video]

[Click here for photos of the mission….]

First Fight

Saturday night just before midnight twenty something men stood around a fire, bundled up as the wind chill temperature was hovering near the teens, to kick off a twelve week plan to spend more time seeking God, communicating with and encouraging each other, break old habits, gain some new ones, commit to exercise and physical discipline to better their health, and to read a book together over that period, discussing it to challenge themselves intellectually and spiritually. It’s a men’s ministry program called “Fight Club.”

I participated in it last year, and the leaders asked me to be their kick off speaker, to encourage the men and exhort them in their quest this year.

Saturday was Epiphany, and I thought that appropriate and predictive of their success. Epiphany means an “ah ha” moment or a divine revelation. The later is the true meaning of the word as it’s been used from antiquity. Epiphany is celebrated the world over in Christendom as “Three King’s Day,” or the first revelation to gentiles that the Christ Child was indeed the Messiah, King of Kings, and the Son of God. And I believe these men, if they can by the Lord’s help, stay their courses are in for revelations and some “ah ha” moments themselves.

That we are in a fight with sin, our flesh, and dark spirits becomes clearer and clearer as we mature. Or when you look at human history as recorded in human literature. Or you can simply look into the best selling book of all times to read about the battle, the causes, and the cure.

I know I look forward to the new year more and more as they pass. I appreciate a time that seems naturally given to reflecting on life, making needed adjustments, then going again at life and living. The longer you live, you understand more and more, you need forgiveness, and you need help. In short, you need a Savior. And you need a Helper. A spiritual boost from a Counselor and Guide beyond the natural.

Thankfully we have both available to us, and we have the process and path outlined in Scripture, the same best selling book of all times I alluded to earlier. Seek Him, as the Three Kings did, and you’ll find Him for yourself, just as they did. It’s His promise.

The Lord’s blessings and nearness be on the men engaged in Fight Club.

Best wishes to you and those you love for a happy and prosperous New Year!

 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Matt  2:10

“And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Neh 4:14

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 🙂