Monday, November 23, 2015

Fall Newsletter

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writer's Block and God's Grace in Everyday Life

Hi friends! In the past two months I've attempted to write several blog posts only to be thwarted by a bad case of writer's block. Actually, I was simply having difficulty figuring out how to communicate both with honesty and a positive tone! And most of what was on my mind sounded very boring and mundane, not exactly glamorous testimonies and inspiring stories of missionary life. Of course, God has been working and giving us plenty of reasons to praise Him, but much of our time and attention has been consumed with mundane tasks that could bore you to tears or sound like whiny complaints.

But I have found motivation to write something because 1) I know you care and are praying, and 2) our baby will be born soon, and I'd rather face writer's block instead of sleep deprivation! I'll begin with the more "official" ministry-type news and then share more personal happenings, with some fun pictures to keep it light. :)

The Right Person, the Right Time

Fernando is coordinating a graduate-level, distance learning program for pastors and leaders. More people have joined the group, and they have been meeting weekly to study together, in addition to their individual reading and assignments. It is clear that God has prepared and gifted Fernando, particularly in administration and teaching, as an instrument for pastors and leaders to receive access to this training. He's also provided the contacts and materials. (Another group of students continues to meet quarterly in their second year in a more basic discipleship/church planting program.)

Construction Projects

Fernando helped oversee the construction of a kitchen and dining area where seminary classes are held. Before, the women had to use a less efficient kitchen, and students ate in the classroom or outside, depending on the weather. Now, the classroom space is larger, where the kitchen used to be, and a separate, more functional kitchen is available, including ample space for students to eat.

The larger classroom accommodates the growing number of students

Our village house project is moving along, and we're happy that the roof was just completed before the rainier weather begins in the next month or two. Although there were some unforeseen complications, Fernando is happy with the work done so far. He has had to keep track of a lot of details, from purchasing materials, to having someone get them across the river, to the actual building process.

How to cross remote rivers

Building Relationships in Our Neighborhood

Fernando has been helping some young men lead a story fellowship group in our neighborhood. He also has been getting to know more men and teenagers by taking them to play soccer on the weekends he is home. I continue to build relationships with women, especially those with small children, as much as Mr. J lets me as he runs up and down the street (!). Just between our house and the corner, I can say hi to neighbors in Garífuna, Spanish, and English (English-speaking islanders are another people group on the Honduran coast). People know we are believers, and we like to share with them as we have the opportunity, in actual meetings in our home or informal conversations.

Several members of the story team

The Dreaded "T" Word

I have written about the Spanish word trámite in a previous post. It refers to paperwork or a legal process, usually conjuring the idea of unexpected delays due to infrastructure challenges and systemic corruption. Fernando had to take our pick-up to another city to register it, thinking it would take a day or two. Two weeks and two round-trips later we were thankful and relieved the process was complete and that God gave Fernando wisdom and the right contacts to navigate through the different obstacles (supposed "extra charges" and delays) he encountered.


The Good, Bad, and Ugly

As much as we want to focus on what the Lord is doing and the positive aspects of life here, I will be honest about the less exciting and easy parts lately. For example:
  • While Fernando was dealing with the pick-up truck delays, Mr. J and I got a stomach bug at home, and then I got a bad cold. When Fernando took a trip to the village, Mr. J got a 48-hour fever, and then we topped the week off with his 18-month shots, which gave him a fever and made him limp for a day or two.
  • Pregnancy is going great, and we're in the final weeks. I always felt rather proud of how well I handle the heat... until now. Mr. J and I have had heat rashes, and I am gaining greater empathy for those who feel miserable and tired in hot weather!
Having fun cooling off in a nearby river!
  • We had a few weeks of water outages, filling up water when it came on and hauling buckets to the kitchen and bathroom when it was off. As much as I told myself to be thankful for the water we did have... I didn't have a stellar missionary attitude on some of those days!

Where did the water go?
  • My patience was tested in ridding out cockroach infestations while "nesting"; dealing with garbage pile-up and, after it was collected, clean-up while Fernando was gone (I'll spare the details of garbage issues/animals in the tropics); finding my best defensive driving techniques put to the test; and being caught off-guard by a few power outages.

A very short nap with the power off. Even Pooh was sweating! ;)

Probably the most frustrating issue was the big gap between my reactions and the attitude I would rather have had. It was a good reminder that only God's grace can fill that gap and that He is kind and patient with His children. (Having a toddler is giving me a greater glimpse into this!).

Mr. J and Pooh in a happy moment!

I also found myself upset that such trivial things bother me when others have much greater struggles. For example, the garbage collectors work with their bare hands under the hot sun or pouring rain for long hours and are not consistently paid. I hope God uses a kind word and cup of cold water to remind them of His love. I am sobered by how injustice and brokenness affect others. It is good to know God understands our conflicting feelings and keeps our hearts tender and compassionate.

The reason I share this is to show how challenges in everyday life reveal our human weakness and frustration, wherever we happen to live, and even when we feel immensely grateful for what we do have. As missionaries, we find great comfort and strength knowing you pray for us, not only for the big projects and dreams, but also for the everyday challenges that can wear us down. We want our communication to be centered on what the Lord is doing and His love for His people here, but occasionally it’s good to share with you what we struggle with and experience in day-to-day life.

See the waterfall?

Thank you for your love and support, and we’ll let you know when our baby girl is born!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Newsletter

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Harvest Season

Part of my daily routine is turning on praise and worship music in the morning after breakfast. Baby-Now-Toddler J (I'll just refer to him as Mr. J from now on) really likes music, and it helps keep my mind focused on the Lord while "my assistant" and I do our morning chores. "Desert Song" by Hillsong is a favorite and aptly describes praising God in the midst of different seasons: dry deserts, tests of fire, battles not yet won, and harvests of abundant blessing.

In many ways, this first part of 2015 has been a time of harvest; words that come to mind are "joy," "peace," "answered prayers," "unexpected gifts," "hope," and "undeserved favor." Here are a few examples:

Health and Pregnancy

Some of you know I have some health problems that can make it difficult to get pregnant. In spite of that, I not only am expecting another baby, but this pregnancy has been calm and enjoyable. I braced myself for the uncomfortable symptoms I had throughout my first pregnancy, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I had typical first trimester sickness, but I was able to rest at home as I needed, and I've had lots of energy in this second trimester.

In addition, I feel notably better than I usually do when I'm not pregnant, both physically and emotionally. What a gift to wake up in the morning without pain and discomfort after a restful night of sleep! Maybe this partly why it's been much easier to be in a good mood. Whatever the reason, it's been an unexpected blessing in addition to the joy of having another baby.


Last year was a difficult year for our families; people we love dealt with illness and other challenges, and I was unable to be physically present with my loved ones in those moments. Right now both sides of our family are doing very well, and it means much more now than it did a few years ago.

Vision and Stability

Fernando and I have talked about how this year has been a time of clearer vision and a greater sense of establishment in ministry. We look back on the past few years and see how God has provided solutions and resources for specific needs in ways we couldn't have predicted or fabricated, and always at the right time. We are young and have a long road ahead of us with much to learn, but God has strengthened our confidence in His sovereignty and grace beyond our own limited abilities and knowledge. We are happy to see goals met, progress made, and hearts changed, but we know there is also more ahead.


We praise God for bringing us to the neighborhood where we have been living for almost a year, a home that can serve as a kind of "base" as we prepare to spend more time in "Wageira," a rural Garífuna community, in the future. (Our village house is in the construction process right now.) We love living where we get to know our neighbors, can take Mr. J for walks, and feel like we are in just the right place for our family. Our house now really feels like our home and where we belong.

The last lyric of "Desert Song" says, "I know I'm filled to be emptied again; this seed I've received I will sow." As we receive God's blessings with open hands, I am mindful that only God knows what will happen tomorrow or next month or in 2016 and that everything He gives us ultimately is His. As it says in Job 1:21b, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

We know some of you are in deserts, fires, and battles now, and we pray for God's perfect peace, comfort, and provision in whatever season you find yourself. We also thank you, our friends, for standing with us through good and bad times!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Does Beautiful Look Like to You?

It's been ten years since I've experienced spring in the Northwest, and I have magically escaped the April showers and vicariously "smelled" the flowers through pictures friends share on social media. While most would agree springtime flowers are pleasing to the eye, as a linguist I find things like suffixes, phonological rules, and grammar charts equally beautiful!

Most Bible translation projects involve, in addition to translated portions of Scripture:
  1. A dictionary
  2. Literacy materials
  3. A descriptive grammar (an explanation of the structure of words, sentences, and texts)

A few years ago I began encountering perplexing questions while trying to learn the Garífuna language, and this prompted me to use my linguistics background to seek explanations. I shared some of my discoveries with the couple who had coordinated the translation project, and they encouraged me to work toward the last missing piece in the Garífuna project: a description of the grammar. Although linguists have published articles on specific aspects of the language, a more complete description has been lacking.

With Fernando's help, I began researching and documenting everything I could. It might sound funny, but some of those "a-ha" moments were full of praise to God in response to suddenly understanding complex structures that make this language unique and reflect its history. Although I'm still far from fluent, what used to seem like a chaotic jumble is now an awe-inspiring system I'm able to assimilate and use a little more easily.

Eventually, though, I needed others' expertise and feedback in order to actually produce something concrete with what I'd documented. Through mutual contacts, I began to correspond with a consultant who helps linguists produce descriptive grammars for Bible translation projects. He has provided feedback and showed me how to work with software programs designed to create grammar papers. His patience, willingness, encouragement, and expertise have been invaluable!

My goals are:
  • To make steady progress as I'm able (instead of rushing to publish), depending on time I have available.
  • To share the beauty of the language, as it is one of thousands that are less documented and at risk of extinction in the future.
  • Most importantly, to offer a framework for designing pedagogical materials for those interested in preserving the language or for Garífunas who have not had the opportunity to learn the language as their mother tongue.
Of course, I also hope to draw this foundation in my own language learning in the future.

Each of us finds beauty in the countless areas of life God has generously given us to enjoy and use for His glory. Timely feedback, gracious instruction, linguistics software, "crazy" verbs -- this is what beautiful looks like to me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Learning to Ride a Bike Again

Hello, friends! It's been a long time since I (Alison) have ridden a bike. If I tried, it probably would feel funny at first, but I'm sure it wouldn't take long for my legs and arms to remember what to do.

A few weeks ago I was invited to teach at two different women's events -- for the first time in about two years! This time in 2013 we were about to go to the U.S. for furlough and support raising, and when we returned I had Baby J (now Toddler J!). Since then, my ministry contributions have been mostly behind-the-scenes, until this past month.

I didn't realize how much I missed teaching! When I first began to prepare, it felt strange and bit awkward; it probably took me much longer than it used to. However, I enjoyed the process of praying about what God would have me share, digging into Scripture, and brainstorming creative activities for participants to learn from. I also forgot how much I like to interact with groups of women and spontaneously adapt a teaching plan to specific circumstances in the moment.

I ended up sharing from 1 King 19, when the prophet Elijah had just experienced the greatest victory in his calling but suddently found himself exhausted and depressed. We looked at God's provisions to him and patience with him in that situation. In Honduras, we also celebrate Mother's Day in May, and the focus was on how this text teaches us about God's character and care for us when, as mothers, we find ourselves worn out, lonely, or disappointed.

I would look very ungraceful if I tried to ride a bike right now, and my teaching plan was certainly not flawless, but God's Word and the Holy Spirit are beautifully powerful in spite of human weakness. How good it is to know that we can do our best and rely on God to work beyond our own plans and abilities.

I've also started inviting women in our neighborhood to get together for Bible study once a week. We are using the BILD First Principles materials, which some of the Garífuna seminary students have been using in their churches. We look at passages that address basic principles of the Christian faith and discuss key points as a group.

What I love the most so far is that the women have raised questions and controversial issues they want to understand better. I also am happy to have teaching visuals gracing our living room wall! Praise God for the opportunity to share His Word with other women using our home as a welcoming place to gather.

In the next post I'll share about another activity I've resumed and God's gracious timing in it. Thanks for reading and praying for us!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Newsletter

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Too Good to be True?

Seminary students met for the first session in this second year of their program in church planting and basic theology. They covered a lot of material as they studied Paul’s general espistles. Here are some of Fernando’s thoughts about how the Lord worked:

We had a full, intense week, and we thank the Lord for good health and the opportunity to share with our brothers and sisters. The times of worship each morning were wonderful: praising the Lord, praying, and reading His Word together directed our attention to Him and gave us unity in preparation for a full day of classes.

Something that particularly blessed me during our time was the reminder of who we are in Jesus and the countless benefits and privileges we have as His disciples, saved by faith. God has provided all we need to lead lives that are consecrated for Him.

However, some of the students struggled to accept the idea of God giving us salvation as a free gift that we do not have to work to earn. Several asked, "What about James 2:18?" This verse says, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

God gave grace to the teachers and, with patience and love, they reiterated how merciful God is toward us and that we are no longer guilty in His sight thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. We discussed how faith and works are not separated from each other and that it is illogical to regard one without the other. Believers are expected to do good works, not to be justified before God, but rather as an act of gratitude to Him for all He has done for us. When Christians carry out good works, they bear witness to a genuine conversion, a true faith in Jesus Christ.
We all were reminded of God’s great love and the hope we have in Jesus’ salvation and second coming. This hope strengthens us in the midst of life’s difficulties, which cannot compare to the coming glory in Him. We praise God for how He is working students’ lives as we study His Word together.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

New Additions

We're thanking the Lord for three ways He has expanded our lives and work here:

Acts Course

In addition to the basic-level training program for pastors and leaders, Fernando will soon begin a second training group with about ten key leaders. They will work through an intensive course of the book of Acts, the first in a series of 25 advanced courses (BILD International).

The goal is for participants to learn about the fundamental ways the gospel spread during the early history of the church. As Luke wrote to Theophilus to describe how the apostles followed Jesus' instructions in the expansion of the gospel (Acts 1:2), we pray that participants will learn how to implement these same principles so that their churches and small groups can multiply and spread the gospel.

This course includes extensive reading and homework projects. Let's pray that participants can be disciplined in their studies and that their studies be filled with joy and sensitivity to the Spirit, not simply an arduous task to complete. Thank you for praying for them.

Training Story-Tellers

A second way God has grown the work here is three new story fellowship groups, in addition to the one started last year. Alex and Wilber meet with the new leaders each Tuesday evening in our neighborhood to teach them a new story. About 15 others join them, and the format is just like a story fellowship group: telling the story, helping everyone learn the story it in creative ways, and discussing how it relates to their lives.

Then on Wednesday nights all of the leaders meet with their three respective groups to replicate what they learned. There are story fellowship groups in four different neighborhoods! Now that the first group is well-established, Fernando will attend one of the new groups that is smaller and could use some extra support.

There are three goals for the fellowship groups:
  1. For seekers to become believers and for young Christians to grow in their faith as they learn God's Word together.
  2. For leaders to be well-prepared to direct these groups each week.
  3. For leaders to have the vision of training others over time who can start new groups themselves.
As you can imagine, everyone involved has different responsibilities and busy schedules. Pray for the Lord to continually renew their strength and enthusiasm, and pray for salvation, growth, and changed lives. We praise God for the great potential each leader has shown and for their willingness to learn and serve together.

Another Baby!

We are overjoyed that the Lord has blessed us with another pregnancy. Our second baby is due around the end of August. Praise God for a healthy pregnancy so far, and thank you for praying for this new life the Lord has created.

Thank you for being part of our lives and work through your prayers and generosity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Newsletter

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Best of 2014: Wageira

This final post in our series about ministry highlights from last year is about our plans to start working in a group of rural Garífuna communities and live in Wageira*.

In case you missed it, here are the previous posts:
Part 1: I Never Realized
Part 2: Favorite Story
Part 3: Stories, Questions, Fellowship
Part 4: Growing Pains
Part 5: I Never Thought I Could

Where Is Wageira?

In the past few years, we have felt increasingly burdened for a group of rural communities east of here. In some locations there are very few believers, and many pastors have received little or no ministry training. We began to make plans to build a house in Wageira, a strategic hub in the area. Although we thought we would move there last year, it became clear that Fernando needed to solidify projects and invest in those he was mentoring here in the La Ceiba area before spending more time away. We also wanted to finish saving to purchase a pick-up truck so Fernando could more easily travel back and forth during the house construction and be able to haul materials on the rough dirt roads.

Answer to Prayer

During last year people gave special gifts, which we saved. In addition, a Christian brother helped Fernando find a good vehicle, and we completed the purchase last month. Fernando traveled to Wageira over New Year's, and the truck is running well. Thank you to each person who contributed toward this! We appreciate it so much.

What Next?

Fernando is figuring out details such as how to connect a water line to where the house will be built and make arrangements with a builder. He plans to make another trip this month and return frequently. We hope to begin spending more and more time in Wageira in the coming year, and we will share with you as that unfolds. We pray that the Lord will lead us to what He is preparing there and look forward to how He will work. Thank you for joining us in this new venture through your prayers!

Thank you for reading along with us in this series and for being a part of our lives and work here.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Best of 2014: I Never Thought I Could

We have been sharing a six-part blog series about some of the best parts of ministry last year. This fifth post is about education opportunities for current and future leaders and how this benefits their ministry work and personal development.

What Happened

Last year the three men Fernando has spent the most time discipling (see Part 4) began their undergraduate studies.

One reason young people in Honduras struggle with poverty and the temptation to get involved in unhealthy activities is lack of opportunity to study and work. Not only do they miss the chance to learn, grow, and make the most of years full of potential, this is a loss for families, communities, and the future of the country. As for pastors, most have to work in addition to their ministries, and more education usually earns greater respect from those they minister to. For these reasons, we feel it is highly important for young pastors and potential leaders to pursue higher education.

"I Never Thought I Could"

Some benefits of these three men's studies in their ministry work are quite obvious: computer skills facilitate documenting stories; advanced reading and writing skills aid Bible study; administrative abilities improve overall work performance; diligence and responsibility in their studies strengthens leadership.

However, perhaps one of the greatest gifts education has given them is something Wilber told me about recently when I asked him about last year's studies and this year's plans. Wilber is the first in his immediate family to study at a college level, and he really hadn't considered it until the opportunity was extended to him. You can also imagine that studying in one's second language presents unique challenges, as well.

But he said, "I love working on the computer, and I can't wait to learn more. I never thought I would like this kind of thing or even that I could do it!" Wilber discovered he was able to do more than he thought, and this is propelling him toward trying new things and taking new risks, not only in education, but also in leadership roles. In fact, by sharing his experience with other young people he could inspire them to do the same.

What Now?

Elvis, Alex, and Wilber have resumed classes after the holiday vacation and plan to study throughout this year. We would love to see more young people gain access to higher education for their futures and, especially, for the glory of God.

Coming up in Part 6: Wageira

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Best of 2014: Growing Pains

Welcome to Part 4 of a six-part series about ministry highlights from last year. This post is about how Fernando has mentored three young men and how they have grown.

Paul-Timothy Relationships

The Apostle Paul mentored younger men in the faith, such as Timothy, while they were serving in local churches. With this goal, Fernando has developed mentor relationships with Alex and Wilber (see Part 2) and Elvis.

Elvis (middle in the picture) is a young pastor from a community about an hour from La Ceiba.

He has shown outstanding commitment and discipline in his studies with the Garífuna seminary. This is what last year looked like for Elvis:
  • He started a church in his community, which has been growing and reaching people with the gospel, including those who have struggled with alcoholism.
  • He communicates with all of the seminary students, giving them information about classes and asking them how they are doing in their studies and ministries.
  • He has been an invaluable assistant for Fernando in the seminary.

Fernando's role is spending one-on-one time with them and giving a listening ear. As they encounter difficulties in their work or in relationships, he prays with them; when they need to make decisions, he asks them questions to think things through; when they are discouraged, he helps them remember who God is and all He has done. As important as their ministry activities are, this relational aspect is key in developing character and perseverance.

Growing Pains

Not long ago, Wilber (above with Baby J) came to our house, and I (Alison) asked him about his vacation in his home community. I thought he would be happy, since going back "home" is usually the best part of the year for Garífunas who have relocated to urban areas. Instead, he told me he felt so sad because there are very few believers and the church there is weak and struggling. Many people are trapped in alcoholism, including teenager and young adults. Several years ago, this would not have bothered Wilber, at least not much. But this time he simply couldn't just "have fun" while knowing people did not know Jesus, who has changed his life. His question now is, "What can be done?"

Praise God with us for how He is working in Wilber's heart and pray that God will use Wilber to reach many people with the good news of Christ. Pray for his community and others like it, that light will overcome the darkness and freedom will break chains of bondage. And pray for the Lord to prepare and send Garífuna workers to the harvest fields.

Now What? 

The goal for this year is that Alex and Wilber will take on greater leadership in roles where they can use their gifts (for example, Alex is a very gifted musician). The greater vision is that someday these three men will in turn mentor others in the faith!

Coming up in Part 5: I Never Thought I Could

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Best of 2014: Stories, Questions, Fellowship

Part 3 of the "Best of 2014" blog series is about a fellowship group that met to learn oral Bible stories and how this affected their spiritual lives. (If you missed it, here are Part 1 and Part 2.)

The Power of God's Word through Stories

Last year Fernando directed one of our church's weekly fellowship groups. A main activity was learning and discussing the oral Bible stories in Garífuna that Alex and Wilber were crafting for the OneStory project. In this method everyone present participates and learns together. It was an excellent opportunity for Wilber to tell the stories he had been working on and develop his leadership skills by facilitating discussions.

Wilber is passionate about telling Bible stories: this is how became a Christian! Several years ago, Fernando needed to find young Garifuna speakers to test stories he was crafting, and he discovered Wilber had a knack for learning them and relating them to life. Wilber said he wasn't interested in becoming a Christian, but he was always asking Fernando when the next story would be ready! The Lord worked in Wilber's heart, he eventually gave his life to the Lord. Now he is committed to sharing stories with others, and he thoroughly enjoying it.

Fellowship and a Safe Place for Questions

The group developed close fellowship and unity as they gathered together. They shared their struggles, answers to prayer, and questions about faith.

Just the other day, a young woman, Jane* told me she used to sit in church with so many questions in her head. During the past year, she and others could find clarity as Fernando helped them find answers in the Word. She was encouraged with how much she learned and grew last year. Jane said that, for the first time, she and her fiancé have been praying and reading the Bible together.

We praise God for those who could understand and receive salvation and then mature in their faith. They had a lot of fun together, too, and usually didn't want to go home!

What Now?
This year we would love to see Wilber take on more leadership and help others start fellowship groups in new places. In addition, Fernando would like the group to focus more evangelism so that others come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Coming up in Part 4: Growing Pains
*not her real name

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Best of 2014: Favorite Story

This second part of sharing last year's ministry highlights (click here to read Part 1) is about the OneStory project.

What Happened

Fernando trained Alex and Wilber, two college-age men, to craft oral Bible stories in the Garífuna language. (Read more oral Bible stories here.) These stories are to be used for evangelism and discipleship in Garífuna communities.

Fernando, Alex, and Wilber have crafted about 20 Bible stories, many having to do with families (read on for an example). Like many families around the world, Garífunas are experiencing great challenges with family disintegration and separation. Family support and unity has been key in Garífuna history. It is common for family members to help each other economically, as well as share living spaces and food. For these reasons, Alex (left in the picture) and Wilber (right) felt that this theme would be particularly effective in ministering to those who would hear the stories.

Joseph's Forgiveness

Alex was particularly impacted as he worked on the story of Joseph forgiving his brothers. The story goes that his brothers were jealous how much their father loved him, and so they sold him into slavery. Later, Joseph's forgiveness enabled the restoration of the family's unity.

Crafting a story requires being immersed in the biblical text and exegetical materials, documenting the story, and testing it with other native speakers. During this extensive process, the story spoke to Alex's heart, and he felt it would challenge and help other Garífuna people and their families be reconciled and reunited through forgiveness, as well.

Alex has actively participated in church from when he was little, but working on the story project led him to dig deeper into Scripture, gain fresh insights, and consider how God's Word could meet urgent needs of those he knows. Praise God for the power of His Word and for His Holy Spirit working through this project.

What Now?

Goals for the OneStory project this year:
  • Finish the story set (they are only a few stories away from reaching this).
  • Complete the revision process with the help of a consultant.
  • Record the stories and make them available to pastors and leaders.
  • Train and establish story fellowship groups in Garífuna communities.
  • Begin working on another set with a new theme.
Please pray for them in this important work!

Coming up next in Part 3: Stories, Questions & Fellowship (about how stories are used for evangelism and discipleship)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Best of 2014: I Never Realized...

This post, the first of a six-part series about the best in ministry last year, focuses on the Garífuna Bible school classes.

What Happened
  • Pastors and leaders from multiple Garífuna communities met four times throughout the year.
  • Each session was an intensive week covering (1) church planting and (2) basic fundamentals of the Christian faith.
  • Frequent discussions provided opportunities for questions and ideas about how to apply God's Word to specific scenarios among Garífuna people.
  • Several students are using the basic fundamentals material to disciple church members and potential leaders in their own churches.

Helpful Hands, Servant Heart

One of God's gifts for seminary staff and students was Deiby (far right):

Deiby joined the team and contributed his gifts of service and administration, preparing logistical details such as housing, meals, and class materials. His work enabled Fernando and the other leaders to focus more on teaching and interacting with students. Deiby plays guitar and sings; he led worship during morning devotionals that focused everyone's hearts on the Lord to start the day.

Perhaps what mattered most what not what Deiby did but how he did it: with love for the Lord and people, and with a servant heart. Praise the Lord for his life and service to the body of Christ.

"I Never Realized..."

As students shared what they learned throughout the year, these three themes stood out:

  • They realized they had misunderstood and, as a result, taught incorrectly parts of Scripture. Praise God they could honestly voice their questions, receive clarification, and discuss together how to improve their teaching of the Bible.

  • While the term "leadership disciplines" brings to mind prayer, study, and ministry tasks, students were most impacted by the discipline of investing in their own families. Many realized that they were focusing on their congregation's well-being while neglecting to care for their own marriages, children, and grandchildren. They were compelled to take to heart how the Bible teaches that solid church leadership requires solid families and to adjust their priorities accordingly.

  • "The Great Commission is about making disciples, and the best way to make disciples is planting churches." Participants realized that the common error of focus only on their own congregations, and they learned that church planting should be a central purpose of their churches.

2015: Plans and Vision
  • Students will meet for another four sessions to continue studying church planting and fundamental principles of the Christian life.
  • Our prayer is that young pastors and leaders will be equipped for and committed to planting churches and, consequently, reaching more people with the good news of Christ.
Praise God for how He worked in students' lives and ministries!

Coming up in Part 2: Which Story is Your Favorite?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Best of 2014: Blog Series Intro

Happy New Year! We are going to share a six-part series about the best parts of ministry from last year. As 2014 drew to a close, we were reminded of the ways the Lord worked, the lives He touched, and prayers He answered.

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.
Psalm 40:5
Each post will summarize a project or aspect of ministry, a few testimonies or highlights, and the goal or direction for 2015. We hope this will encourage you who have been a part of our lives and work through your faithful prayers and sacrificial giving. Even more, we want to give glory to God and rejoice in His love, power, and faithfulness.