5 Reasons WHY one of the SCARIEST parts of being a missionary…is also one of the most exciting!

 

As a missionary, I naturally talk with lots of people about the prospect of becoming a missionary. It seems to come up without much effort in regular conversations, especially among Christians.  Generally speaking people have a lot of positive reactions to the idea, at least initially.  Though before long, I usually encounter some common objections.  One of the most common reasons for dismissing the notion of being a missionary is the aspect of support-raising. To be honest, I totally understand. I was there and from time to time I still feel anxious about it. However, there have been some discoveries that I’ve made on our journey that have also made that part exhilarating.

 

  1. A Humble Dependence– Support Raising keeps me in a posture of prayer and dependence upon God. I know that we hate to be dependent on others in this life and we literally work to make that not the case but in God’s economy things don’t work quite the same. A sign of spiritual maturity in the life of a believer is not greater independence but more and more dependence upon Him. That is largely because we know that we cannot do anything of lasting importance without God (John 15:4,16). We need Him to be with us and us with Him.

 

  1. A Miraculous View– Support Raising is a chance to watch God move. We’ve all heard the stories of God meeting the needs of people in miraculous ways. Most believe that God is still doing these things but only some have seen or recognize when He is actually doing it. Maybe this is because God is not usually our plan B let alone our plan A. We often find it easier to trust in our insurance, credit cards or favor with men instead of turning to God for our needs. Support raising doesn’t work that way. It is literally a chance to see God supply for your needs on a constant basis. Even though he uses his people to supply for the need, it is no less miraculous. We are always blown away when God moves on his people to remember us and be generous to his work.

 

  1. A Spiritual Network– Support Raising is an incredible way to watch God get people into what he is doing around the Globe. Probably every missionary has wondered what missions would be like if God had made us all independently wealthy and we could have funded all of our ministry by ourselves. My next thought is usually “How sad that would have been!”. Only later in the journey did I realize, that God had used our relationships and connections to gather people’s attention on his work from around the globe. We tend to care about where our money goes. That curious reality takes effect when we have to invite others to help us. God builds up his spiritual network around the globe that is invested and focused on His grand plan of redemption!

 

  1. A God-Sized Scope– Support Raising is a constant reminder that all of this is much bigger than me and what have or what I can do. We are constantly reminded of the fact that we need the resources that only God can supply through his people to accomplish His work. Otherwise, this would only go as far as what I have or what I can do and that quite simply, would not be a God-sized work. A God-sized work requires God-sized resources and no single person or church has that on their own. We must support raise to see that happen.

 

  1. A Faith Boost– Support Raising, as cliché as it sounds, has actually deepened our faith. We have learned a lot of lessons since we began this journey but one of the biggest is that God has never left us. He has taken care of us time after time and then some.  We can literally never say that “God can’t do it” because we have seen Him do so much. Nothing is impossible for him. Now that doesn’t mean that we aren’t tempted to doubt or lose faith like everyone else, but it does mean that when we do we have a lot to look back upon to boost our faith when we are in that place. God has done so much in the past that we look backwards to help us walk forwards! That is faith. We know that the same God he was, is the same God he is and will be again! He is faithful!

 

I share all this with the hope of encouraging. If you have ever considered that God may be calling you to be a missionary but you have let support raising deter you, consider that the biggest reason you don’t want to take that step might be one of the biggest reason why you should. If you let him, God will turn your fears into blessings but only as you seek to obey him in faithfulness.  Oh and by the way, if you feel like being part of our help as the Fowler’s seek to do the Lord’s work in Panama, just click here! (:

Stopping to Praise the Lord

Unfortunately, I don’t stop as often as I should to turn around and acknowledge all that the Lord has done or is doing. That’s why I wanted to pause to highlight what happened this past week when Pathway Church sent down their first short-term team to Panama to help with our church plant and the whole ReachGlobal missionary team!  There are so many stories so I will just write short versions underneath some pictures to keep it brief.

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It took a few days to prepare but we had lots of help! All in all, our volunteers for this event were usually between 35-40 people! Combining the Church team of Refugio de Gracia, the ReachGlobal Missionaries, and the Short Term Team from Pathway Church plus many people praying for us in and outside of Panama!

 

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Every child heard the Gospel and many responded! Some of these children come from some of the hardest neighborhoods around Panama City. One community is where the city of Panama takes it’s trash and on one day we had 52 kids come just from that neighborhood! Many of these kids live in difficult circumstances where they are afraid for their lives because of bad family situations or the high level of crime in their areas. Please keep praying for the seeds of the Gospel that have been planted in their hearts!

 

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The final day we snapped this photo but their are still many kids that are not in this picture. God blew our minds with the amount of kids that wanted to come to this event! We wanted to use this VBS strategically.  Before there were not many that even knew about our church plant in the community but our church is not a secret anymore! Praise God! We have many neighbors interested in coming to our church and even teens that have come to our youth group now as a result! Some of the new visitors have also turned to Christ as well! God is doing many things and we are thankful!

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Pathway Church responded and helped us pull this off! Cory St. Espirit and I talked just a few months ago about how possible this would be for them to come and help us with this event for our Church Plant and in a very short period of time they made it happen! We are thankful and we know this wouldn’t have happened this way without their! Thank You Pathway and we look forward to what the future holds with both of our ministries!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are very grateful to be able to be here helping this church and others in Panama! Please keep following the Fowler’s!!!

10 Foto Fav’s

This Monday morning the Fowler boys will start another year of homeschool and summer will officially be over! What a great summer it was too!  Therefore, I thought instead of another boring “summer summary” that I would just share 10 Foto-Favorites that highlight the last few months! I hope you enjoy them.  As always, please keep our family and ministry in your prayers!

  1. This was our last short-term team hosted before coming Stateside. (Faith Church – WI).  We had a great time doing serving together with this youth group and praise God for the start of a great partnership.IMG_1125.jpg
  2. The “Most-Magical-Baseball-Day-Ever” is how we will remember this day! On Friday, June 29 our whole family plus cousins and Grandparents, finally all made it to Wrigley field to watch the Chicago Cubs play live Baseball at home!  As we took our seats Eli said…”We are actually here! That place we always see on TV…We are actually here!” It was memorable for so many reasons but that was the first quote that made my smile! The second moment was when the Cubs Short Stop Addison Russel crushed a Grand Slam that brought the cubs back on top and set off a hitting spree that eventually buried the Twins!IMG_2435.jpg
  3. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better! The game itself would have been more than enough but after the game our kids were all hoping for at least one signature from a cub player which absolutely everyone said was going to be next to impossible. Then finally Ben Zobrist (the 2016 World Series MVP and a Christian) came out of the dugout at the last possible second before we were all asked to leave…and signed all the kids hats and even a baseball of Ethan’s to seal this day in their memories forever!IMG_1148.jpg
  4. In July a youth group of Missionary Kid’s gathered in Kansas City for the bi-annual EFCA youth group event called “Challenge”.  There were over 4000 kids from other youth ministries gathered at this event and it was unforgettable for our two oldest boys, Ethan and Ezra.  While Eli had a great week with Grandma and Grandpa up north our older two had the chance to bond with kids from the USA, Turkey, Jordan, Germany, Haiti, Tanzania, Mexico, Cameroon, Thailand, Hungary, Czech Republic Russia, Romania and that was just in our little group. Counting Panama our little temporary youth group was comprised of 12 countries and it continues to be one of the biggest highlights for Ethan and Ezra of the entire summer.  To them the world is so much smaller and personal than it was for Bianca and I growing up!IMG_2535.jpg
  5. Watching the bonding was a blessing to our hearts. Our kids connected so fast with this group and we are already looking forward to the next time!IMG_2520.jpg
  6. Later up north…my parents were waiting for us to finally visit their new house up in Northern Minnesota and we all made it there.  It was great to see family all together and have some time to rest.  We fished, kayaked, hiked and ate lots of great food. We thank the Lord for the chance we had to see them all. My sisters dog and my cousin’s baby also made a cameo appearance in this pic too!IMG_2570.jpg
  7. In pursuit of good food with good company, we even to a drive to the border of Canada and visited a place I went to as a young boy all the way up in Ely, Minn. called  Britton’s Cafe.  The place was small but the Pancakes were huge and now three generations of Fowlers can say that they have been there!IMG_2589.jpg 10-bIMG_1274.jpg
  8.  We were only in the USA for a month, during which time we traveled around the midwest.  We were in Chicago, Kansas City, Northern Minnesota, Southern Minnesota and Wisconsin before we returned to Panama.  When we got back, it was a sweet reunion and a joy to find our church and our missionaries doing well. We praise God for our church plant and our ReachGlobal Team!IMG_2686.jpg
  9. After our trip to the USA and return to Panama we didn’t stay long before our bi-annual, ReachGlobal Missionary Conference in Costa Rica. We were excited to be together as a whole team for a week, to learn, to network,  and strategize.  We were even able to have our next teammate (Sarah Kolaczinsky) join us who is still in support raising mode in the States. I believe it was a blessing to us all! (Frank & Silvia Saavedra, Matt & Angie Johnson, Sarah Kolaczinsky, Jon & Bianca Fowler, Mike & Peggy Lowe)IMG_1471.jpg
  10. The Latin America/Caribbean ReachGlobal Conference in Costa Rica was our close to the summer travel.  It only happens every other year but when we are together with all these missionaries from all over the region it is more encouraging than words can express. Together there are literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of years of missionary field experience and knowledge in one place. So many of these people are heroes to Bianca and I. We are honored to work with these people and now we have been with them for over six years.76bfa9c2-8b06-4d4c-88c7-bfda50890635.jpg

Please keep praying for our family and ministry.  We stand on the shoulders of so many who came before us and we are only held up there by God’s power and grace and your prayers and support. Our desire is to join the Lord on His mission and obey him and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) from here in Panama and beyond. From Panama we seek to build up His Church and it’s leaders through every vehicle at our disposal.  We work with orphanages, vulnerable children and churches from the city, to the jungle, to the suburbs and the country side. Our teammates are even helping to prepare Latino missionaries and we are hoping to keep building for many years to come. If you want to support us or become part of our partnership team please know that we welcome that and in fact at this time of year our support is down lower than normal.  Please click the link here to start helping us now and pray for us as often as we come to mind.  Thanks and God Bless for following the Fowler’s.

 

Pouring Out My Heart

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Spanish has certain words that I just love. The Word “Derramar” for example means “to pour out, spill over or gush”.  We use it often when it comes to our emotions or feelings being poured out or when we want to pour out our hearts before the Lord.  That is exactly what I want to do with you right now. You are reading this because you are likely one of our friends, family or supporters and you’ve been part of our ministry and following the Fowler’s but I feel like I have to say something that is for all ears and if you feel someone needs to hear it please pass it along.

I must confess.  When it comes to missionary life, some things are way harder than I had ever expected. Many things take much longer and require much more than I had ever anticipated. For example, Language learning, feeling settled as a family and even just paying bills have all proven to be harder than I expected.  On the other hand, many things are way better than I expected and at times I even feel guilty for enjoying those aspects of our life. It think it’s because long ago, we believed a subtle lie that if you are not constantly suffering as a missionary, then you are not doing enough for God. I am so thankful that we learned that is simply not true. The truth is that if you enjoy what God has given you then you will not honor him more by rejecting it, resenting it or feeling guilty.  You will honor him more by just saying “thank you” and always loving the Giver more than the gift.  However, If you do not enjoy what he has given you, then you honor him by thanking Him just the same for giving you the opportunity to worship him through even the difficult circumstances but this takes maturity.

The Apostle Paul experienced a lot of ups and downs and enjoyable and not-so-enjoyable moments in his life but he also experienced the secret to being content in the middle of it all (Phil. 4:11-3). Paul points out that the key is always Christ. Whatever is happening with you or to you – Christ is the Key to making contentment possible in life. He is your anchor in the storm. He is your lifeline when all else fails.  He is your light in the darkness.  Sometimes he will calm the raging sea and sometimes he will be the friend that sits with you in the middle of it.  He cares for us.  He shares with us and He provides for us.  He gives us peace. He gives us joy. He gives us things that we need and many times even things that we want, sometimes just for our enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17). I am always amazed at how God made the Garden of Eden (and all of nature for that matter), not just suitable for people to live in but beautiful too. He filled the garden (and our world) with food that sustains our bodies but it also tastes good and looks good too. He does all of this and more for us for one simple reason–love.

Jesus loves us. He loves everyone. He loves his creation so much that he gave his life so that human beings could know what real life truly is.  He died on the cross so that those that believe in him and his message could experience complete forgiveness for sins and live life eternally and abundantly as he had intended for us from the beginning.  Jesus knew that a sacrifice for sins had to be made to satisfy the debt of our sin and that only a spotless, pure sacrifice would suffice.  His perfect life was the only solution and he willingly laid it down, all the while knowing that many would hear of it and even then reject his free gift. Can you imagine that? He also laid his life down thinking of the many throughout history who would come to hear of it and believe and forever be changed from the inside-out.  This is the love that we proclaim.  This is the great love that still changes the hardest human hearts. This is the love that stems the tide of evil in the fallen world we live in every day. This love of Jesus Christ is the key to it all guys.  He is the everything. Our only cause. Our only purpose. Jesus is everything.

Lots of things in our lives are different now from what we had expected before we became missionaries but one thing has remained the same–Jesus Christ.  Through it all, Jesus is still the key. He is the only thing worth holding on to.  The only thing worth getting up for and the only thing worth fighting for. He is the only thing that makes our lives make sense and be filled with purpose. He is still the same and always will be.

Oh and by the way, I should mention that this is not just for me and my family.  If you want to know how to start a relationship with Jesus Christ, and experience what I have, it is possible to do at any moment.  Feel free to talk to Him now and acknowledge the fact that you know you need him…that he is the source of true life and forgiveness….that you want to invite him into your life and give your heart over to him…and he will do it. It will be a new beginning for you; a clean slate and your greatest adventure.  He loves you and that’s one thing I know won’t ever change so it is safe to pour out your heart (Derramar) to him now. It doesn’t even matter how it sounds, the important thing is that you do it. If you want to talk to me about this then please just send me a message at (followingthefowlers@gmail.com) and I would be super excited to talk more about this. If not, then I hope this message has blessed you just the same.

 

10 Pics That Make Us Say… Thanks Lord!

Drum roll please!!!  Here they are in random order. 10 Recent photos of life and ministry here in Panama that really make us stop and acknowledge the greatness of our God and what He is doing in us, around us and often in spite of us simply because of WHO he is.

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#1 – Praise the Lord, Cesar has a van!!! God used the generosity of many believers and church partnerships and finally the national director of Global Fingerprints, Cesar Guerra, has a vehicle! 

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#2 – Like a breath of fresh air, Bianca’s family came down to visit us and we took a “stay-cation”.  It was wonderful and we were so thankful to be able to see family. 

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#3 – We finally made it out to Taboga Island and saw the 2nd oldest church in the Western Hemisphere! A reminder that we are just joining God in what he’s been doing for a long time! 

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#4 – Thankful to God of our teammates Frank & Silvia Saavedra.  They have worked so hard raising support for the last year and they have almost finished.  97% (On-going) & 85% (Start-Up).

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#5 – Praising God for the chance to work with the church Refugio de Gracia. Jon is temporarily substitute pastoring for our friend and Bianca and Ethan are helping with worship. It’s a joy.

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#6 – God surprised us with a church partnership this past year that has been a blessing to us over and over. Lord, thank you for sending Springs Church from Springfield Missouri. (Feb.2018 Trip)

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#7 – Praise God for Global Fingerprints, the ReachGlobal Child Sponsorship program here in Panama. It has opened up so many ways of impacting families around Panama for Christ.

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#8 – Thank you Lord for giving us long-standing relationships of trust. By His grace, we will keep building on what we’ve been given for the cause of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20)

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#9 – Thank you Lord for the children that you have helped by your grace and in your great love. 

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#10 – Thank you Lord for providing this beautiful group of people to call my team! (The Fowler’s, The Lowe’s, The Saavedra’s and the newest members…The Johnson’s! 

The Last few months have been a crazy-busy time for us since Christmas with receiving new teammates, having our team retreat, hosting short-term teams and other guests but we have been blessed in countless ways and we want to thank all of the people God has used to build this ministry here in Panama and remind you that this couldn’t happen without you deciding to build with us and for that we just want to thank each one of you.

We also want to thank Adrienne Gerber for her photo contributions.  She captured several of these moments and many others which help us share with others about what the Lord is doing all around in Panama. Thanks Adrienne!

Bricks AND Blades

“Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked…” – Neh. 4:17-18

 

This picture has always impressed me.  It might be my favorite part of the book of Nehemiah. I won’t retell the whole story but in short God calls Nehemiah away from his job as the cupbearer to the King to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and when he obeys, God rebuilds much more than the wall.—though it wasn’t easy. There was much opposition. Besides the natural challenges of people getting tired or just plain organizing a group toward the same goal, there were those waiting to celebrate his failure or even trying to cause it. So, there was only one solution…carry both bricks AND blades. You construct while you defend…simultaneously.

 

To me this is such a vivid image of ministry. You are constantly constructing and defending at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, missionary, Sunday-school teacher, small group leader, or just a Christian with a specific task from the Lord, this is true. If you are focused on doing what God wants then there will always be opposition waiting to tear it down and seeking to destroy it. Expect it.  Even if your enemy is not visible, you need to count on the fact that a victory for the Lord is a defeat for Satan. It doesn’t even have to do with you.  Satan simply does not want God to be glorified in this world and if you (or anyone for that matter) are seeking to do anything that points people to the God of all creation, the Lover of souls, the Redeemer of the lost you will have an adversary.   So don’t be surprised—just be ready!  Just expect to build with bricks and blades from the start and you’ll be less frustrated.  Make room to carry one of each in each hand.

 

What is the material God wants to use to build up the task ahead of you?  What is the weapon you need to ward off the attacks of the enemy?  Did you realize that the Scriptures do both? You need not look further than the Word of God because it is the nourishment the grows people spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2) and the sword that defeats our enemy (Eph. 6:17).  God has already given you everything you need in His Word. The only hard part is getting to know it. You must choose to make time daily to pour over His Word, to learn the Mind and Heart of God and this is what makes you ready.

 

This is an non-negotiable fact for any Christian truly following the Lord and that wants to make an actual difference in this life. The Word of God is one of the most powerful things ever given to mankind.  It’s use and abuse is proof of that but nevertheless it is the place to start for every single one of us.  God calls people from every generation to build and defend for Him. Are you ready to answer that call?  Now know where to start. Dig deep into His Word, say yes to his call and don’t look back. You will never regret it.

Where is God?

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It seems to me that this question is many people’s minds. The world seems to be changing. People are changing. Morals are changing. Laws are changing. Lots of things that used to be steady and dependable sources of clarity and direction don’t seem to be the same as they used to be. People have witnessed or experienced enough let downs and disappointments with science, religion, politics, authorities and even the media that now trust is damaged. Failures and faults of policeman, doctors, teachers, presidents and many more have made many realize that this world is so tainted with corruption that it seems impossible to correct. Our last hope seems to be…where is God? In all of these changes, has he been sleeping? Has this escaped his attention?  Goodness is eroding and disequilibrium surrounds us.  All of what we once trusted as reliable beacons of right and wrong seems to be shadowed now by doubt.

The question of “where is God?” is one of the best questions we can ask in our entire lives! IN fact, God wants us to ask that question. I will go as far as to say that he has actually allowed things to happen many times in our lives for the expressed purpose of our seeking for him.  Listen to Paul the Apostle in one of my favorite verses in Acts 17.  He was speaking to a group of philosophers that did not know about the God of the Bible.

26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. – (Acts 17:26-27)

Did you catch what these 2 little verses said?

Of course it starts with our creation coming from Adam and Eve but after that, God stayed involved with each person to the point of appointing the exact times that they would live in world history AND where they would live (boundaries of their land).  And Why would he care about those two details???   Verse 27, says “so that” “they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

This has always blown my mind!!! God has wanted you to ask “Where is God?” from the beginning of time!!! Before you existed! He has wanted you to look for him and he has even appointed things about your existence to get you to ask that very question!!! Why am I impressed by this?

If you are at a place in your life, where you are asking “Where is God?”, my encouragement to you is to pursue that question until you have a satisfying answer.  That question is one of the best questions you could ever ask and the answer is waiting to be found. Don’t get discouraged by the way the world is going. Get answers. Get busy investigating. If you want to know where God is…Go find Him. My favorite source to recommend as a starting place is the Bible.

What do you do about Crisis in the world?

Overwhelmed by all the crisis in the world?  You’re not alone.

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As human beings, we all share the reality of living on this “grand terrestrial ball” and our response to these disasters, atrocities or out-right acts of evil in this world have a profound impact on each of us.  As a missionary I have witnessed up close, how people deal differently with these things.  I don’t have clinical names for these responses though I’m sure they exist.  I also don’t claim to be a scholar of any kind.  At most, I would say I am a kind of practitioner in the field, though I can tell you that there are several common responses that I have become accustomed to seeing.

To help, I thought I might share these to coach people through the storm of all the global news that constantly brings us wave after wave of stories of the evil happening all around us. My hope is that we won’t let ourselves get taken down by the barrage of bad news but rather that we would feel called to rise to the occasion or even perhaps find your true reason for existence!

Here are EIGHT common ways that people often respond to the news of global crisis:

  1. Self-Protection
  2. Blind Eye
  3. Angry at Injustice
  4. Unable to Function
  5. Sadness & Depression
  6. Indifference
  7. Increasing Hatred
  8. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

  1. Self-Protection

Pull in and take care of me and mine. Bar the windows, lock the doors. Hoard my wealth and keep to myself. Look out for number one and let everyone else go.

This is the height of selfishness and it only works until you’re on the other side.  Eventually we all have needs and when it’s our turn we quickly abandon this approach and condemn those who would live this way as if we didn’t do it.

 

  1. Blind Eye

I don’t see it on purpose because I don’t want to think about it. I don’t watch the news because I don’t want to be confronted with this information because It makes me feel bad, guilty, sad or something else. Out of sight, out of mind.

You can only ignore or deny something for so long. At some point, it comes to your door and you can’t hide from it any longer. Ignoring something doesn’t help the problem, in fact it just gives the problem more time to get worse.

 

  1. Angry at Injustice

I can’t believe it! I can’t believe that no one is doing anything! This is terrible. Why haven’t I heard more about this? Why doesn’t our church care? Why hasn’t our Pastor said anything! Why isn’t our president taking action?  This is wrong!

We feel better with a fast, visible, emotional response of horror or shock but it often doesn’t lead anywhere. When emotions subside, we get back to what we were doing before but we feel better knowing that at least it bothered us and we convince ourselves that we’re good-hearted because of our reaction.

 

  1. Unable to Function

I have no words. I don’t even know what to do. This is just too much to handle. I can’t even do everyday things now because of the effect this news is having on me. It feels like I am shutting down emotionally if not also physically.

The virtue of this response is that at least it’s honest and deeply affecting you. The problem is that it doesn’t produce anything helpful or worse, it actually robs you of where you are at present and creates new problems in your life.

 

  1. Sadness & Depression

I am constantly gripped by sadness over this situation.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  My heart is broken and I feel consumed.  I don’t think anyone understands or that anything will change.  If anything, this will probably just keep getting worse.

Again, at least you are grappling with the reality of the problem.  You haven’t shut down but you are still just turning inward and letting the problem take you down.  You are letting your emotions control you instead of the other way around. You could be making a difference but instead you are being side-lined.

 

  1. Indifference

I don’t care. It’s not my problem. It doesn’t affect me. Why don’t they just change their circumstances. Why don’t they just get a job…or move…or stop complaining about their problems. We all have problems, what makes theirs so special?

This is emotional blindness. This is the response of a person that can’t feel. It would be better to have a bad emotional response than this indifference. This is a picture of a person without love. This person is in trouble personally and doesn’t even know it. They have forgotten what it is to be human.

 

  1. Increasing Hatred

Amid the problem, I’m looking for my opportunity to gain.  I want to exploit the situation and see what I can get from this.  If you can’t beat’em, join’em. I’ll get mine while I have the chance even if it’s at the expense of other people.

It’s hard to believe but there are people out there like this. There are people who have stopped loving and have simply let hatred take over and have it’s way. Even Jesus spoke of this happening in the end times.  Matthew 24:12 says…”Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold

 

  1. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT

All I know is that I can’t sit back and do nothing! My conscience won’t allow it! I must take action even if it’s only me.  Even if no one ever knows I did it…I need to make a difference.  

These are my kind of people! People that refuse to stand by and let evil things happen! For these people there are options but they’re almost always grouped in FOUR categories:

  1. PRAY – By calling on the Almighty God in faith to do His work in the lives of others! Without doubt this is the first and best answer and really isn’t exclusive because most of us can pray while doing other things as well.  However, make no mistake, if prayer is all you can do it is the mightiest of weapons! Check out these verses that stress this reality…(2 Chron. 7:14, Eph. 6:8, 1 Tim. 2:8, 2 Cor. 1:11)
  2. GIVE – By making donations to organizations, ministries or missionaries that you know and trust are doing what they say they’re doing, you accomplish several things.
    • You provide for those help structures to even exist and represent you in places that you can’t physically go for one reason or another.
    • You provide the actual resources to distribute in the areas where they are needed physically and/or spiritually.
    • You invest financially in an area that becomes important to you and you are changed in the process as you participate in the change.
  3. GO – By going to a place, whether short-term or long-term you take an irreversible step that changes your life. You can never “un-see” certain things and you become marked by your experiences. Going to a place as an answer to a problem is an incredible way to respond that does profoundly impact both you and those you visit. The big determining factor is the “what you do” and the “how you do it” but the physical step of being there is undeniably powerful especially if it is for Jesus Christ.
  4. ADVOCATE – By speaking on behalf of others that either have no voice or can’t get an audience with others you become a powerful representative in their place. You can speak for the crisis itself to generate awareness or you can speak for the those that are there helping in the midst of the need that others may not know about.   Many ministries and missionaries need help with publicizing what they are doing. This can be done by organizing events, photography, petitions, leading prayer groups or just simply using your social media responsibly.  However you do it, you can make a surprising difference just by advocating for others!

 

I have shared this, not trying to persuade people toward helping one organization, ministry or another but to hopefully reminding people that everyone can and should do something. That whatever, God puts on your heart to do, you should treat is as from Him and respond to it with all your might. Spend yourself in this life living for the Lord and He will not waste what you have given Him to use! There is no better way to live!

What is Global Fingerprints?

So what is Global Fingerprints you say?  I’m so glad you asked!

It may look like your average Child Sponsorship program but there is a lot more here than meets the eye! This is not like other Child Sponsorship Programs you may know about.  Since ReachGlobal is all about multiplying healthy, transformational Churches this program is firmly rooted in that idea. Everything that Global Fingerprints does happens in and through the local church and Panama is no exception.   We, together with the sponsors are bringing fire-power to Holy-Spirit filled pastors and church leaders to take what they are already doing to the next level.

By God’s grace, our team in Panama started the first chapter of a Global Fingerprints in a Spanish speaking context about a year ago and now we’re ready to expand our list of child sponsorships to 150 kids here in Panama. In 4 locations we are partnering with pastors to accomplish the Great Commission and make disciples in their context.  The tangible help that Global Fingerprints provides for these vulnerable kids gives these pastors a greater voice for greater influence in their communities than ever before.

Our National Global Fingerprints Director, Pastor Cesar Guerra (Pictured below) is a dynamic, and passionate visionary with a huge heart and busy schedule helping to oversee all the work that is done with this program and his church.  In addition, there are several Panamanian supervisors that perform monthly well-ness checks on the kids with sponsorships and a team of Americans that assist in the background with other nuts and bolts necessary to run this program optimally and help these kids in a holistic way.

We are so excited about how God is using this tool to share the Gospel in Panama and care for the physical needs of at-risk children and we wanted to share it with you so you can be included as well. If you want to learn more about Global Fingerprints in general click here.  If you want to learn more about what Global Fingerprints is doing in Panama specifically stay tuned!  More info is coming about what God has been doing and what you will see very soon.

Some of our prayer requests and immediate needs are:

1) the On-Going need for child sponsorships (Click here for more info) and

2) Pastor Cesar needs a vehicle.  We are in need of a donation of $3000 to complete the vehicle fund for Pastor Cesar who currently has no reliable transportation.  We are praying that we can give him a vehicle by the end of this month (Dec. 2017). This would make his work with the program, his church and his family a whole lot easier. If you feel led to help with this specific need then just click here.

Above all, please pray for all these kids, churches and pastors in Panama. God is doing tremendous things in and through his people and we’re so glad you get to be a part!

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“When you have a child, you have the heart of a parent in your hand.”

These words recently came roaring back to my mind in a rather unexpected way…

We have been taking baseball pretty serious lately within our little family here in Panamá.  All three of our boys (Ethan, Ezra & Eli) have had to wait a long time to do the “normal” things that kids their ages do in the States and Bianca and I had decided enough is enough. So, in July when we got back to Panama from our furlough, we signed them up for Baseball.  First time ever!  As it turns out, we learned that we were just 3 miles from one of the most competitive youth baseball schools in all of Panamá.  To be frank, it has been awesome and the timing couldn’t have been better. The boys are growing leaps and bounds and in addition to sports, it has become a humungous cultural connection for all of us. We all feel like we’ve been seeing blessing after blessing as a result of this decision and we thank the Lord for that.  One of those unexpected blessings occurred about 3 weeks ago and it came from Venezuela.

Ethan and I were at one of his practices that day and I noticed that a new coach showed up to help but I had never met him.  He was a big guy, like 6’ 5”, 260 lbs. type of big.  It caught my attention because I’m usually one of the few guys over 6 feet tall in the crowd and he was way bigger than that.  I introduced myself and discovered that he was one of the many Venezuelans that has recently come to Panama in search of critical economic help for his family in Venezuela. (More on that later) He told me his name was John and his expertise was baseball and specifically batting.  In fact, they called him “Bam-Bam” (yes like the Flintstones) because he was apparently known for crushing baseballs.  He had played in Cananda, Venezuela and a bunch of other Latin American countries as well. Now his formal player days we nearing an end and he really wanted to coach.  I had noticed he’d been working with Ethan intentionally and it just warmed my heart.  So after practice I asked him if he’d come over and do some more coaching with all three of my boys.  I had no idea how important that move would become.

That night he came over and after dinner started working right away with our boys on batting drills. What impressed me most was the way he shared batting tips but he had an equal focus on motivating my boys to believe in themselves, dream and be confident. I could see it affecting their attitudes, especially Ethan our oldest.  Day after day Bam-Bam kept coming back and working with the boy’s and every time I saw the same thing.  One night I felt the clear tug from the Lord to give him a Bible and talk to him directly about Jesus.  On our way home that night I couldn’t get the words of one of my former pastors out of my head. It was something that my Senior pastor had said to me on my first day as the new Youth Pastor at the Bible Chapel in Pittsburgh years before.

Pastor Ron Moore had taken me and the other new youth pastor, Dan Basile out for a drive around the community to show us where all the important places were.  He showed us the schools, the parks, the places that kids hung out and during that drive he gave us the scoop on the youth culture there. It was priceless information and I know he was just sharing it because he wanted to help us reach as many youth for Christ as possible.  When the drive was over, we ended up back at the church parking lot and as he was turning the car off.  I remember him saying something that has stayed with me ever since. He said, guys “never forget that when you have a child, you hold the heart of a parent in your hand.” It was a powerful statement and it was as true then as it is now; though I didn’t understand the gravity of it until many years later. It’s interesting how having your own kids gives you a fuller perspective.

That final night, watching Bam-Bam working with my boys with such intentionality and care, those words came rushing back to my head once again! Working with my boys, this stranger from Venezuela was holding my heart in his very hands.  There really is no price for the love that people show to your children.  In fact, I believe that one of the best ways to love people is to choose to love the things they love and there are not many things that I love more than my kids!  I was so grateful for his work with my boys and I knew that the Lord was telling me to love his kid “Bam-Bam” the same way.

That night, I had the chance to share the Gospel and I took it. I explained about how he had impacted me and my children and then I shared about how much the Lord loved him and how loving him was even a way that I could show love to my Heavenly Father because he had Bam Bam in his heart as well. I told him that the Lord wanted me to share with him how he could have the certainty of salvation in heaven and become an authentic son of God according to John 1:12-13, which says:

12 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Immediately after I explained this, Bam-Bam decided right there in my car that he wanted to pray and put his faith and trust in Jesus for his salvation. The timing was fortunate because he found out just 2 days after that he had to fly back to Venezuela.  Even though his visit was short, Bam-Bams’ impact on my family was long-lasting and his place in God’s family is eternal. We’re forever grateful for all that God did in His own amazing way and for that we praise Him.

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Please remember to keep Bam-Bam (John) in your prayers. He is a young Christian and he is living in a very difficult environment. He is recently married and has a baby boy that just turned 1.  He hopes to return to Panama to find work very soon and if he does we hope to have a chance to encourage him even more towards the Lord. His country, Venezuela is in shambles.  Perhaps you have been aware of some of the difficulties that are happening there largely because of the oppressive government and Dictator Nicholas Maduro. Please keep on praying for Venezuela. The situation is desperate and we meet more Venezuelans every day here in Panama desperately seeking work to help their families that couldn’t leave the country.

 

 

 

 

 

Though we weren’t looking for that blessing we are thankful for how the Lord works. We are amazed at how God even uses broken economies, dysfunctional governments and dictators to move people around and accomplish his will. I guess that’s why they call it redemption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It sure is a blessing when God puts people in your life to love but even more when they love and care for your own kids. And just like when people love our kids, every time we love God’s kids, I know it’s like holding God’s heart too. Please pray for Bam-Bam and his family in Venezuela.  If you want to help them specifically please contact me. Please pray for all of Venezuela too because it is a very hard place to live right now. Many people are suffering though God is redeeming all the brokenness like he does.  We are so thankful we got to meet this young man and we give God thanks for that.