Friday, October 27, 2006

From Hinesville, GA, to Waycross, GA and beyond

back to Our Walk of Faith

On last Wednesday afternoon, Peter called and told us that it didn't look like it would work to go to his church, but there was another church that was really great. We dropped his workers off and went to his house to meet his wife, Marie, and to drop off our stuff. Then we headed out to church...when we got there, it was Trunk or Treat night, and so we didn't stay. We drove around looking for another church, but we weren't able to find anything until around 7. It was a Baptist Church...we were about to leave because it started at 6:30, but as we were walking away, 2 ladies who were just getting there invited us to come in. (God uses everyone, so the next time you are stressed about being late, look around to see who's on your path...God put them there!) We walked in just in time for prayer and Bible study. Everyone was really friendly and they told us that they would be praying for us. Peter and Marie were waiting for us when it was over. We went to the grocery store...everyone knew them because of their friendliness. Thursday morning, Peter had a flat, so we stopped at a neighbor's house to use the air compressor. "It just so happened" that she and her family are from Costa Rica. So she gave us contact info for 2 of her aunts and 2 of her daughters who are still in Costa Rica! Amazing...our God is just amazing...working through a flat tire. Sometimes we don't get the privilege of seeing the good that He is working out through the bad (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28), but today we saw it and so did Peter! Wow!! After that was all taken care of we went to help a friend of his unload some pickets for a fence. Then we picked up his guys, and we were on our way. Peter wanted to get us down the road a bit so he dropped us off at a gas station about 9 miles down the road. From there we walked 10-11 miles to Hinesville, GA. The guys at KFC told us how to get to the library, so we headed in that direction, but ran into the Chamber of Commerce along the way. We went in to ask about a campground, and they ended up putting us in touch with Father Carter at St. Philip's Episcopal Church. He brought us supper after checking out our story with Chris's dad and let us stay in the Educational Center, part of their church. Pretty worries about being too cold outside tonight! Friday morning, we went to a Korean mass at the St. Philip’s. Jennifer saw that we didn’t have a clue about what was going on, so she came over and showed us the songs and readings in English. She is such a servant. The priest who was doing the service speaks very little English, but he tried to say a few sentences for us during the homily. After the service, we met Ken and Sue. They invited us to stay with them (God had different plans), and we chatted for quite some time. Ken is just now beginning to understand God’s love for us, and he says that it’s like seeing the world through completely new eyes…what an encouragement! Next, we met with Father Carter and he shared about the Holy Spirit and church history. He also told us that God kept telling him Waycross, GA, which was interesting to us because Chris picked that out on the map when we were in KFC on Thursday. Father Carter brought us to his house and introduced us to his wife, Judy. (and their dogs!!) They shared with us about their experience with the Holy Spirit’s moving in their lives…such great testimonies of His presence throughout their lives. Not only did Father Carter tell us that he was supposed to take us to Waycross, but there was a Presbyterian pastor there that we had to meet. After we met Pastor Jeff (Martin), we learned that they had only met once for about 10 minutes several months ago. Why did God lay Waycross and Jeff Martin on Father Carter’s heart? Well we were about to find out. Pastor Jeff has also experienced a powerful move of the Holy Spirit in his life!! (I’m amazed to find such movement of the Holy Spirit and such power…we’re talking about Acts being lived out here across denominational lines!! It’s awesome…It’s the body of Christ as God intended it to be!!!) He’s been anointed to pray for people’s healing. So he prayed for Chris’s knee (old soccer injury) and his jaw and my hip (old running injury). After walking so much we were hurting. I was even struggling to walk especially after sitting for a time. We are both fine now! God’s power is so real!!! Pastor Jeff had arranged for us to stay with a good friend of his who lives about 2 miles down the road. As soon as we met Wes and Carol Highsmith, we knew that they were so in love with God! The Holy Spirit is so strong on them! They let us stay in their guesthouse and have just taken us in as family. They talk of nothing other than what God has done in their lives and in the lives of those around them. It’s amazing to hear of how God has used them. We think that the Holy Spirit has crossed our paths now because of something else He wants to do in the future…pray about that! On Saturday, we went to their grandson's soccer game. He's the one on the right with black and red shingards. On Sunday, they took us to their church, Christian Renewal, in Brunswick (near St. Simon’s and Jekyll Islands).
(The picture is of Wes and several of our new friends at church!)
Pastor Bill called us up at the end of the service and everyone prayed over us. We talked to several people after the service to share with them about what we are doing. It was such a blessing to be in that service. Pastor Bill and Sister Dorothy Jean took us all out to eat along with several other folks from the church. They both shared their story about the Holy Spirit…wow! They were Southern Baptist missionaries in Spain at the time. Sister Dorothy Jean received the Holy Spirit first and the gift of tongues. God used one of Pastor Bill’s professors to reveal the truth about the Holy Spirit to him. When Pastor Bill received the Holy Spirit, he spoke in Spanish initially and later developed a prayer language in the Spirit. Their testimony hits pretty close to home! We were so grateful that they shared and took so much time with us. Our schooling continues…God keeps reminding me of Mark 9:38-41 " 'Teacher,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said. 'No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.' " In other words, which denomination you belong to or what church you are a member of isn’t that important. The focus should be on God as our father and provider, His Son Jesus as our Savior and Lord, and the Holy Spirit as our guide, comforter, and teacher. We are meant to work together for our Lord for His Kingdom purposes instead of being divided!! Sunday night we were able to speak to what we thought was going to be 1 small group of girls but ended up being 3-4 groups! We shared our testimony and what God is doing right now too! I was so excited because I love working with teenage girls!! They are at such a special time in their lives! We prayed for them, and they gathered around us, laid their hands on us, and prayed for us too! It was humbling! Those girls are really sweet and love the Lord! (It made me miss those SSS girls!! (and the guys) Please know we are praying for all of you too!) Christian Renewal Church also has a school, so on Monday we spoke at their chapel service to the middle and high school students! They were our first school group! We again shared our testimony and how God is proving scripture true in our lives daily! It’s exciting to witness. After the students were dismissed, a 6th grader named Abby came running us to us. She told us not to leave because she had to get something for us. Her mom came up while she was gone and told us that Abby had some birthday money. She had been making her list of what she wanted to buy with it. Well, she decided that she wanted to give it to us instead. Chris and I didn’t know what to say! It’s just like I said…the scripture is being lived out…God’s Word is alive! We are praying that God will bless Abby 100 fold and that we will all be moved to give like her. We as Christians need to take care of others. We are just account managers because all we have belongs to God. We need to give back to Him and be good managers of his money. Here we were at Abby’s school to share with her. Instead, she became our teacher! Carol showed us around Georgia’s sea islands after our time at the school, and we came back to their house. Tonight we’ll be going to The Salt House a church in a nearby town. We’re preparing to head out again tomorrow (Thursday) southwest across GA on 84W. This time we will be hiking with a staff. Wes made a staff (with a cross and the Ten Commandments on it) for Chris to carry to ward off animals along the way. Chris is extremely excited about it!! We’re continually excited to see what God is doing…please be in touch to let us know what’s going on with you! We love you! God bless!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On the road again from Ridgeland, SC to Richmond Hill, GA

back to Our Walk of Faith

Be sure to check out the new map section and the links section...So the adventure continues...On Friday, we met several of the staff members-Abiel & Chad-from the Institute who had been away on a conference. Eric Blair shared with us that there are 52 churches in a 9 mile radius from the school. They are working to unite the churches so that they can work together to meet the needs of the community. After the work day was over, Pastor Jimmy gave us a ride to Ridgeland, SC. On our way, we stopped to eat at a Mennonite Diner and met the owner, Ray. He shared his vision to begin a children’s ministry using a life-size version of Noah's Ark. We also had our last class with Pastor Jimmy for awhile. This time I was prepared though...I had a pencil and paper and took notes rapidly as he shared and answered our questions. We arrived in Ridgeland where our good friend Eric Hensley, the residence director of the men's shelter, greeted us. We hadn't seen him since we left Biloxi last December. He and Chris are so alike that I would almost say they were twins separated at birth! Eric began our tour of the mansion in the garage where we met Ermes (in English it would be Hermes...the messenger) and Omar. Chris started to talk to Ermes, and we learned that he was from Nicaragua (the last country along the path where we were still in need of some contacts!!). As Pastor Jimmy was leaving, another car pulled up. Esmeralda and Pastor Ramiro wanted to walk around outside and pray over the mission and for the outreach that would take place on Saturday. We had an amazing time of prayer with them, and then they kept praying after we went inside! Saturday we woke up to help prepare for the "Ride for the Homeless." Bikers paid an entry fee to ride and get a shirt. All of the money would go to support the mission. We met tons of people that day!! James from Missouri, who believes that his ministry is teaching and baptizing disciples, taught me a new lesson in folding paper...I can't wait to share it with some kids!! James had been working all week at the mission ministering and teaching. As a result, 5 of the men made decisions for Christ for the first time or to recommit their lives to the Lord. Then Saturday afternoon they were baptized. What?! was awesome to witness. (See pictures below.) Please pray for Brian, Darin, Ermes, Omar, and Eddie. Brian is an aspiring and talented musician who is really seeking God. Darin humbly shared his heart and God's protection on his life...that he should have died a long time ago, but he's here now for a reason. Ermes has been hurt by the church and was mistreated by his boss when he was injured on the job a few years ago, but he has a lot of wisdom about the Bible. Omar is from Texas and made an open profession of his faith on Sunday at church. Eddie is Pastor Jackie's brother who is hoping to get into a rehab center in Florida. He is struggling to overcome many addictions and the guilt he feels for making choices that he knew were wrong. Evans was the only other man in the house when we arrived...please pray for him, he doesn't know the Lord yet and isn't interested right now. We also met Dee (in the middle...pictured with a friend and her son) and Gwen (pictured in the hat and bright sun) awesome women of God. Both of them have been through so much, but they will quickly tell you that God is their sustainer, Jesus is their Lord, and the Holy Spirit is their "honey." They are married to God and want nothing more than just to serve Him and please Him. They both tell stories of God's deliverance from sin and addiction (not to drugs but to men). Women so often put other people in God's spot of #1 in their lives, so it was amazing to learn from them and soak up their wisdom! Angie just came out to ride but had been looking for a church for a year, so she found a new family!! Pastor Jackie and Sister Donna, the pastor of Gospel Lighthouse and his wife, shared testimony with us and took us out to eat for Sunday lunch. They were the ones who originally started the mission. Pastor Jackie was one of the biggest drug dealers in South Carolina before he came to the Lord. He has such a would have been terrifying to live his life of drugs, gambling, alcohol, and violence. Yet Donna clung to the Lord and stood by her husband. I don't know if I've ever heard of such commitment! I was amazed!! Now the Lord has transformed Pastor Jackie and they are serving God together!! Amazing! Casey, the associate pastor, also has an amazing testimony of deliverance from drugs and alcohol. The community sometimes looks at the church and says they are nothing but addicts and alcoholics, but I say...Jesus came to seek and save the LOST. A Doctor doesn't come to heal the healthy! They are reaching out to people who others's great! Mr. Bob and Mrs. Christine are also members of that church...let me tell you...Mrs. Christine just speaks scripture constantly and Mr. Bob is so sold out to the Lord. We met so many others who have just been transformed for the Lord! On Saturday night, the women invited me to go to the movies with them (the ones mentioned above and Teresa and Jessica as well). We saw One Night with the King based on the story of Esther. Chris was able to hang out with the guys at the shelter as well as Eric and James. They celebrated the 5 new birthdays with cake and ice cream! On the way to church on Sunday, Eric asked us if we would give the devotion on Monday night. We agreed but had no idea what to talk about since we were giving our testimony at church that morning. Church was wonderful...Will and Pat can play virtually every stringed instrument that there is...They played the piano and steel guitar during the service and there was a bass player and 2 guitar players as well...not to mention the 4 other vocalists. Wow!!! After we shared the pastor took up a love offering. The message was a powerful one from Isaiah 43. We learned of a 4 year-old little girl who was supposed to be blind by the age of 5. She had the coke-bottle glasses times 10. Her vision was terrible. Her family and the church wouldn't accept the doctor's diagnosis and began to pray...well, Olivia has 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/70 vision in the other and it's still improving! What a mighty God we serve! He's concerned about spiritual, emotional, and physical healing!! Sunday night Eddie shared with us that he had given his last $2 in church, but that God had already given it back to him over 100 times that afternoon and he just wanted to give us testimony of God's provision! Brian told us that sometimes people give things other than money and he wanted to give us his testimony. Oh, I almost cried...that he would trust us with something so obviously private for him. On Monday, I volunteered to cook supper (with a little help from my friends especially Chef Eric). Chris also helped me. Another man moved into the house named Chris (from Kenly, NC whose dad was also a FWB minister) while I was preparing dinner, so I put him to work too! John also came right before dinner. He had been falsely imprisoned in Savannah, GA and was trying to start his life over. During the devotion, Chris and I shared from Ephesians 2:1-10 on the assurance of salvation, pressing on to the goal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, and surrendering to God's plan for our lives. After devotion was over Ermes, Eddie and Brian all shared with us. It was a great night! Please pray for Shawn, a man who's leaving the house; Kelley, his girlfriend; Reggie, another man in the house; and the new guys-Chris and John. They also need new members on the Board of Directors for the mission...there are only 3 directors right now, and there should be 7-12 to help with the operation of the mission. On Tuesday, I cut Chris Embler's hair, and then John asked if I could cut his because he thought it would help him get a job. After a quick prayer, I gave my first real hair cut with a pair of clippers! I think it turned out okay, praise the Lord! Then we got ready to leave. Eric (pictured with Chris) gave us a ride to the outskirts of Savannah where we prayed together and said a teary good-bye. Then Chris and I started walking...almost 10 miles yesterday! As we were coming into the town, we were planning to stay the night in, we came to The Upper Crust Italian Restaurant.

A man (Stan Parker) was walking in and he asked what we were doing and where we were headed. After chatting a bit, he invited us in for dinner with him and his wife (Ruth). So we learned that they were traveling from their home in Canada to their home in Florida. They were just stopping in for supper and to stay the night in town. After supper, they told us if we didn't mind walking to the hotel, (Their car was packed full.) they would love to put us up for the night. What?...yes, we stayed in a hotel last night and had a hot shower!! When we got in, we talked a little more and then prayed with them! They've had some health issues and their daughter, Janet, is going through a hard time. So be in prayer for them too. Chris called Ross last night and we learned that he and Molly are expecting their 1st child on June 25th! We're sooooo excited! Please be in prayer for them too!!! Today (Wednesday) we went to McDonald's for lunch. We were pretty amazed about how empty it was, but when we were trying to decide where to go, Peter asked us what we were doing and where we were coming from/going to. We shared a little of our story, and he invited us to his church. He also shared his testimony...yet again of deliverance from addiction, drugs, and prison! Wow! What a great God! He gave us a ride to the library, so we'll have to see what happens from here! As always, we love you and would love to hear from you! God bless!

James baptized from (left to right) Eddie, Omar, Darin, Brian, and Ermes!!!

This one is actually from earlier in the day...Ermes and Chris talked a lot about the Lord. The tent in the background was used in Biloxi as one of the worship tents...they are planning some tent revivals with it while it's at Ridgeland!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wwwweeeee'rrrrrreeee in Wagener, SC

back to Our Walk of Faith

What an exciting adventure filled with unexpected twists and turns…Last Friday, we ended up going to the Hannah House, Christ Central’s women and children’s shelter in Columbia, after leaving the library. We toured the house and played with the kids which is always one of our favorite things! We met Sasha , a student from USC who was volunteering at the Hannah House. She took us back to campus and gave us a tour and allowed us to post to the blog. She’s very interested in helping with the impoverished (especially women) in Columbia. It’s a huge problem…we also learned that 2,000-6,000 homeless people are on the streets of Columbia at all times. It was such an eye-opener to walk around downtown. Many of the business people went to the other side of the sidewalk to move away from us, but the homeless were really nice. We ran into Champ on 3-4 different days down there. He’s really nice and helped us find our way when we were lost! It didn’t work out for us to see Pastor Jimmy on Friday because God had other plans…my friend Abby (way back from the 9th grade) lives near Columbia, so she invited us to stay with her. It was perfect timing for both of us! We washed clothes, dried out the tent, and hung out with her and her little boy, Mason for the weekend. Abby found a church for us to visit on Sunday morning, North Point Community Church, and then we went out to lunch with her family. (It was great to see her parents!!) From there, Abby dropped us off back at the library…it was closed AGAIN, but Joel (a “student” who flagged us down on Friday to talk about our packs) wanted to meet with us to talk about what we were doing. After meeting with him, we learned that he’s not a student, but a Navigator staff person for USC. We were able to learn about their ministry on campus and share some about ours. Guess when Pastor Jimmy called…yep, right as we finished our conversation with Joel, so they met and shared some ideas about campus ministries. Then Pastor Jimmy brought us to Wagener, SC where the Christ Central Institute is.

We stayed in a bed & breakfast, The Claridge House, and met Gloria, the only person we know who has ever heard of Moravian Falls or the prayer fest that went on up there. Monday, we met with part of the board of directors for Christ Central and began discussing some ideas. Please pray about our future involvement with teenagers, missions training, and leading mission trips. Monday night we went to class with Pastor Jimmy and Jason (director of education at the Institute and a teacher there as well). Well, let me tell you…Jason taught us about several ancient Christians, the role of the early church in caring for the needs of others, and the rule of truth that governed many decisions made by the early church—a mentally stimulating experience. Then Pastor Jimmy taught the next class—one that makes you want to move and help others because it touches your heart. (It’s so amazing that they are teaching both your heart and your mind both of which are so important in our Christian faith!!) He instructed us from Isaiah 50:4-5…in order to deal with people we must first deal with ourselves…then God gives us a learned tongue to encourage the weary and a learned ear to hear Him! God loves people. He puts His Holy Spirit in us, so we can love people like Him! Wow…what a tall order! People tell big tales because we don’t truly listen to them, so we need to authentically listen to people!! Needless to say, we’ve wished for a tape recorder on more than one occasion as Pastor Jimmy teaches from God’s Word! On Tuesday, we had lunch with Jason and Bobbi, and Jason answered a lot of the questions that he had raised in our minds the night before in class. Then we went to class again this time to Colossian Christians…Jason taught and expounded upon Col 1:15-2:15. He also discussed the role of influences in our beliefs…1st Scripture, 2nd church tradition (all of it, not just your denomination), 3rd reason, 4th your experiences. Interesting…still thinking about all that he said…that’s what a good teacher does though…raise questions that you have to think about, pray about, and study in order to figure out. He also talked about the Jehova’s Witnesses and why they don’t believe Jesus is God. Pretty sad how the entire misconception comes from one verse being taken out of context and therefore not understood! They rejected the wisdom of 1800 years of those gone before them in the faith for their own “truth.”
Wednesday was huge! Pastor Jimmy arranged for us to meet the board of directors for FCA in SC (Stu Rodman, the chairman is also on the board of directors for Christ Central) and the regional director, Dicky Clark, for SC and GA. Amazing!! We were a little under-dressed, but praise God for the privilege to talk with them about FCA, our walk of faith, and some of our ideas for the future. That meeting was a HUGE God thing. Chris and I had discussed one day having that opportunity, but God thought it needed to be now! We felt speechless, but thankfully God gave us words to express how much mission experiences through FCA meant to our students and how much God had used those experiences to change them and their focus. WOW…that’s still all I can say! Then, we went to lunch with Pastor Jimmy (and to our own specialized class!!). He talked with us about praying for a vision and a goal…not just to arrive in Peru, but what would happen after that?, Why the journey? What would we do after we got there?, How does the journey fit in to the larger plan of God?, etc. That made us start thinking!! He also has emphasized 3 things during our stay here that are worthy of passing on because they are applicable to us all…1st “You are God’s response to this generation and it’s problems”—you could have been born any time, but you are living NOW so what are you going to do? 2nd “Do not ignore the people in your path.”—don’t go looking for people or their problems, but God brings people in your path for two reasons…for them to help you or for you to help them. So figure out which and work with them! 3rd “You must have a goal…Then when problems arise, stay focused on the goal (not the problem)…problems won’t improve until you improve (your vision).” Aaahhh! So good! God has taken us to school on this journey…we are in training for what’s next…we’ll be sharing more as God reveals the exact details of what that is! When we got back to Wagener, we went to eat with Pastor Leroy and Mrs. Carolyn. Then we spoke at their church, The Chapel of Love. I’ve never been in a service before where the things they praised God for outnumbered the prayer requests! It was amazing. They encouraged us and welcomed us with open arms! Wonderful!! We haven’t just been going to class and meetings here though…Jay David (an amazing artist) has been helping me with our website…he’s made an animation and a map for us!! Chris has been working with Dave on finishing a house for him and his wife Kari, who both work here at the institute. Well, I guess that’s all for now…we are planning to hit the trail again today or tomorrow as God leads us…We love ya’ll! God bless!
Raymond, a student at the Institute...

The newly remodeled girl's dorm where we have been staying...

Bobbi, one of the
Institute's receptionists...

Ryan, a student at the
Institute, loves playing
with the kids at church.

Dave & Kari

Ms. Delores who's been with the ministry of Christ Central since the beginning when the garbage can served as a podium to preach from...ask us about this story sometime!!