Friday, August 21, 2015

all things working together....

I was thinking about the story of the Samaritan woman at the well today. When Jesus encountered her, he did two things that were frowned upon. He spoke to a woman, when it was not appropriate to converse with a woman, and she was Samaritan. But Jesus had something that she needed more than the water. So he defied culture and spoke to offer her eternal, satisfying, living water. 

Last week we had a similar experience. A family of one of the nutrition center kids, had their home burn to the ground. This family could be likened to the Samaritan woman. The mother lives in an area, and is in relationship with people that most others here would not have gone out of their way to help. But she came to the church knowing that the pastors here would be open to her need.  While she waited for the pastors we were able to see to the immediate needs of her baby girl and young son. We gave them all peanut butter sandwiches, drinks and made a makeshift bathtub for the baby to get the ash and dirt wiped away. Alex ran to the store to buy a baby bottle, diapers and wipes.  Because of the great plan of God, we already had in stock baby formula, shampoo, clothing and food.  

She came for water, but she received so much more. Pastor Giovanni went to the house to access the situation and while he was there, he lovingly brought up to her, the need for something far more lasting than another home. As they stood examining the destruction, he shared with her about Jesus. And as she cried there, with literally nothing left in the world, she prayed and KNEW Jesus that day.  She will yet have needs in this world, but “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

That same day we were able to send them home our last beds that we had in store. Seven months ago, when churches raised money for beds, for unknown persons, who deserved the dignity of a bed, God knew. When women from a church in the U.S. requested specific needs 3 months earlier, and then purchased hundreds of dollars of baby formula, God knew. In December, when this woman came looking for a place for her son to go, to be fed and be safe during the day, God knew.  When a school in Ohio did a clothing drive, and clothes arrived a month ago, God knew.

For the last 18 months, Alex and I have had moment after moment where God has taught us that he does in fact have a plan in mind for us being here. To be very honest, there are very human moments when we wonder about our job or our presence here. There are connections that we have “coincidentally” made, or times when a project we have been working on, comes to fruition months later. To give you another example of God working His plan, I can tell you about two weeks ago when we had a dentist here. But I need to start at the beginning. When we first arrived here we made a connection with the USA Navy. That first squadron we worked with brought us two old dental chairs…. And we always take what we receive and hope that someday down the line we can use it.  Six months later a World Race team arrived. One of the men on the team, has a dad who is a dentist. So we skyped with him to find out if the chairs were usable.  This man, had been going on dental missions to Costa Rica for many years, and was just at that time praying about ways God could use him more. He said the chair would work for someone, some day. So we held on to it.  This World Race member, months later after traveling in 11 countries, was led to stay involved here in El Salvador. So he spoke with his dad about coming back with him.  A plan was set in place, and it was decided that just basic exams would happen, because getting all the necessary dental equipment to do procedures and cleanings into the country would be very complicated.  The very first morning, Dr. Morgan explained to Pastor Ivo that he would not be able to do any kind of extractions because he didn’t have a suction machine. Our nutrition center kids were badly in need of extractions! Pastor Ivo declares “I have a suction machine!!” and runs from the room to one of the storage closets and pulls out a box with a perfectly clean and functioning suction machine!! We are still really unclear, how or why Ivo came to be in possession of it… But God knew. Ivo had had it for years. It survived all of the various cleanings and purges that occur in any home or church. And Dr. Morgan was able to pull many, many decaying, painful teeth that week. Oh, and he just so happened to pack anesthesia injections, knowing full well that he likely wouldn’t use them… but brought them just in case. And boy did he use them! Five seemingly random events, over the course of years, brought us to a point where we were able to minister to the physical needs of close to a hundred people. 
He came the week before the family’s house burned down. And because the woman had been in to see the dentist, I was able to chat with her and get to know her. The following week, when her world crashed down around her, she came to us.  I was able to give her a hug, to comfort her and let her cry. She came to us, because she knew at this church, people cared.

As Alex and I were thinking and pondering over every minute detail that all played into each other, we continued to trace back how many different people had been involved, completely oblivious, to what would all unfold. The mysterious suction machine, the chairs, the Navy, the World Race team, dentist with mission experience, the bed project, churches donating beds, baby formula, clothing donations, Giovanni being laid off last year and coming to work as a pastor… the list just got longer and longer.  Until finally, our thoughts landed on you all. 

When Alex and I dismantled our life and moved our here, we did so with the blessing and prayers of many people.  You may not have known what your prayer support and financial support would lead to, but God knew.  Over the last 18 months, God had used our ability to speak English and make connections, carpentry projects etc. to fulfill his plans. And we could not be here to fulfill those plans without our financial supporters.  I can tell you pretty certainly that there are very few missionaries in the world who enjoy raising support money. It’s a difficult thing to humble ourselves and to ask others to make sacrifices, so that we can be in other parts of the world doing Matthew 28.  But what we have to come to realize is that God is using you too. When you give to a missionary, are in other parts of the world too. You are fulfilling Matthew 28. And all of those “coincidences,” the puzzle pieces that come together so that one family may know Jesus Christ, you are an integral part of that too.  

El Salvador is one of the most dangerous places in the world. But that is not the entire story. What you read in the news is not the daily acts of bravery, of love, kindness, Godly men and women fighting for their country.  We would like to continue on, until the Holy Spirit leads us back home, but we need your help to do so.  You will be a part of something that you may not fully see until some distant day in the future. But if you read Mathew 25:31-40, you may yet get a glimpse. If you would like to prayerfully consider helping us to live and work here, we would love to give you information on how to do that.

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