He lived here; He stayed.

* From a note by Gayle Procopio

Although I didn’t think I could add anything to what has already been written so beautifully and well by everyone else who has been here to help, I have been struck with one powerful thought over and over since the clinic day in Cambuim…

We went in to Cambuim, set up the table and tent and medical supplies, and tried to provide some help for the infinite variety of health problems of the people waiting for us. Trying to establish order, then maintain it so Lori, Noreen, and Nildete could work more effectively, was not easy, and I felt a little like the disciples who were trying to keep the crowd from thronging the Lord, or the children from swarming Him.

And He said, “No, let them come.”

Which got me thinking more and more about how He worked with everyone in need. He didn’t need anyone to diagnose the problems for Him – He went straight to the heart of their deepest needs spiritually as well as physically, and in His power changed their lives forever.

As we packed up after a few hours in the hot sun and dirt, got into the truck, cleaned our hands with the sanitizer, drank the now warm water in our bottles, and turned on the AC as we left to go to a comfortable, clean house not surrounded by garbage, without a horse or a goat in the entryway, I realized Jesus didn’t pack up and go away, and then return the next week. He left a place infinitely more wonderful than we can begin to imagine, loved by every being who inhabited it, and came to a world that was the equivalent of a favela – and worse, I think from the descriptions of Nazareth and the reputation it had, He was actually living in a favela.

Our sin and filth and garbage must have offended His senses daily – but He lived here; He stayed. And somehow, in a way we can’t understand, He learned from those years here in this polluted piece of His universe, and will never get tired of helping us overcome that filth every day.

But I kept thinking about having those very neighbors and co-residents of the favela, us, NOT be grateful and thankful, but reject Him, and ultimately kill Him, in spite of His coming to save, and in His everlasting love and mercy He died to be able to forgive us and remove us completely from that realm. So how can we not worship Him every time we think about that, every time we see a slum or favela, every time the dirt and need and conditions seem overwhelming!


Devotional – The Formula for Christian Living

Mark Procopio

Proverbs 3: 5-12

I called this the formula for Christian living.

1. Trust God with all your heart.

This is an exclusive trust. The idea is that you have nothing else to fall back on, there is no plan B. You haven’t held out a small cavity of your heart for another, whom you also believe to be trustworthy. There’s no room for second-guessing, for reluctance, or doubt. With absolute confidence you moved forward. You stepped out on faith, and entrusted your eternal well-being to God’s finished work at Calvary.

Now, how about the day-to-day living? Does it often display an unwillingness to trust the God who cannot fail?

2. Lean not on your own understanding.  (Don’t try figuring out everything on your own.)

How redundant, redundant, to have a business partner who thinks the same as you, and comes to the same conclusions every single time. Who needs them? How wise a business man who chooses someone whose thought process is leaps ahead of his own and whose wisdom and sense are perfect.

Is it not an awesome thought to know that the moment we trusted Christ for eternal salvation we were provided a partner for life? A partner with all the answers to the most difficult thing we’ll ever face-LIFE. This friend of ours knows the end, the beginning, and everything in-between-and is always available when we’re faced with serious decision-making. What’s even more awesome than that, is His availability 24-7, to consult with us in even the most minute detail of our lives, and we never have to say, “Sorry for disturbing you.”

3. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.

The “still small voice” wants us to weigh in on every detail. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the moment, allowing the chaos to bombard us. All the external voices batter our minds with their thoughts on what we should do and how we should do it. They’re so loud and forceful, and at times so obnoxious, that we give them precedence, listening to all they have to say, and allowing their voice to dictate the path we take. How important it is to pull yourself away from all the noise around you, and quietly listen for that still small voice that’s present within. How He wants to speak to us, and longs that we would hear, but He’ll not attempt to compete with the chaos around, hoping His voice is loud enough to trump the rest. God is asking each of us to make a deliberate choice to separate ourself from all the external influences and diligently seek the voice of God within. He, above all, has your best interest at heart. He sees the path for your life clearly and perfectly. He knows the next step you need to take, and all He wants from you is: listen and obey.

4. Don’t assume you know it all.

He’s the authority in every subject. I remember my Dad’s response to my teenage spouting. “Wow, I’m so thankful I have a son who knows everything, and is free to give his advise. How did I make it these fifty years without him?” Now I’m the old man with children who think they have it all figured out. It’s amazing how you had all this knowledge as a teenager, but as you got older and faced life’s experiences, that knowledge seemed to slip away. Now I’m the one pushing fifty and conscious of how little I know. How comforting to know that my resource for knowledge comes from One who knows it all-is Omniscient.

5. Run to God. Run from evil.

One is the run of the athlete striving to achieve the goal; the other is a desperate, terrifying dash for your life, from danger. I know that we’re given advise on two matters, but what’s so cool about the advice is that one effectively accomplishes the other. How much more positive and encouraging is the advice to constantly run towards God! How happy the Christian who never loses sight of his Savior’s face, and lives each day   determined to reach the goal and hear the “well done” of approval.

A person that is consumed with running to God may never even give thought to the fact that he is running away from evil. It’s not possible to run towards God without running from evil.

But, if we lose sight of the Savior’s face, we lose sight of our goal and we are found running away from God. That is a place of danger. It’s not long before we are unable to run fast enough. Trouble is all around us and there is no peace in our heart.

The choice is ours. With all my heart, I long to be found always running towards God and to be looking at my blessed Savior’s face-with His peace in my heart and the pure joy that is His Presence, felt in my life.

I hope that God uses this to help you, just as He has used it to help me.


February 6, 2010 – Devotional

Thought for the day:
I came across this phrase quoted by one of Job’s “comforters” and gave it thought while taking my Sunday walk. Listen to the statement he makes to Job, “He raises up the down and out, gives firm footing to those sinking in grief”. From that statement my mind went to the verse where we are promised that he will not try us beyond that which we are able, but with the trial provide a way of escape. Job was convinced that he had been pushed way past his threshold of pain, suffering, and grief, convinced that God really didn’t know his tolerance level and had long since passed that line. Much of what his comforters said was true, they just spoke facts about God with no heart for Job’s predicament.
I often wondered as I watch saints face awful trials, why them and not me? It seems at times that some are plagued, while others go through life seemingly untouched. I’m not claiming to understand the providence and wisdom of our God, but I’m able to find great comfort in the promise that before your head drops below the water’s surface, your feet will touch firm footing. The hope we have that no matter the trial, no matter how consumed we become with the seeming hopelessness of our crises, God says there’s an end. It’s the promise of the light at the end of the tunnel, the comforting fact that every trial is temporary, and the guarantee of an eternal life in God’s home, where we are welcomed. There, we are free of the hardships of life, introduced to humanity when they refused God their creator.
There will be no finger pointing when humanity faces the consequences brought on by sin, but what a contrast when it comes to our Saviour. Death, and all the sorrow that proceeds death, had no rights to the life of the Saviour. He could have easily marched through His life on earth completely immune and separate from the obvious turmoil and widespread suffering brought on by our sin.
“My heart is exceeding heavy,” he said. “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow….. I looked for some to take pity…. for comforters, but there was none.”
I thought of this holy, pure, righteous One, who tells us the details of that storm of God’s divine wrath. Wave after wave broke over His holy soul. He sank beneath them, the wrath of the storm consuming the little craft. Every cavity is filled, and staying above the surface of this storm is becoming impossible. The grief, suffering, and loneliness which made up the ingredients of this righteous storm, overwhelming Him.
Can it be said that God knew His threshold, His boundary of tolerance? Will God spare Him and not try Him beyond that which He is able? With the trial, will He be provided with a way of escape?
I often think of this expression, though I openly confess I cannot understand it- the words are of the Saviour just before His head slips below the surface of the water, “I sink in deep mire where there is no standing.” No hope of salvation, no halting before it’s too late, no preventing the suffering from passing the boundary of His tolerance, no providing for Him a way of escape, NO FIRM FOOTING FOR HIM as He sank in the mire of our sin.
I began to feel very small, and found my heart full of thanksgiving, as again I understood that, ‘all my sins were laid on Jesus….God who knew them laid them on Him, and believing I go free.’ The wonder is that he spared not his Son, but delivered Him up for us all.
How amazing is the statement of Gods love. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ He lived His earthly life knowing all that would soon cross His path. He knew fully the cost of our forgiveness and salvation, but for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame.

Devotional – "Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me"

My thought for today:

I have been going through First and Second Chronicles, looking at the history of all Israel and Judah kings. I’ve been impressed with that characteristic unique to God-a love that never quits. Over and over, this expression crossed my mind as I read the account of each King’s life.
Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me. The point of that expression is that a person with an ounce of intelligence is not going to fall for the same thing twice. I know that God cannot be fooled, and when it comes to His intellect, we’ve no business attempting to draw any comparison between our finite thinking and the infinite creator of the universe. And yet, over and over again, His people slap their great God of deliverance in the face, by giving into idolatry and rebellion, to the point of bringing pagan idols into Solomon’s temple and worshipping them there. They push the God of creation to the sidelines and He waits there patiently, searching for the slightest inkling of repentance. Once seen, He immediately responds, as if this hasn’t happened before. He throws His arms around them, with true forgiveness and a spirit of rejoicing, so happy that they’ve come back. Do you think He’s caught by surprise when the next king arrives on the scene, described in scripture as an evil king, who turns the people back to idolatry? Do you think He’s shocked, when without even the slightest pause for consideration, His people willingly dive back into the vile sin of idol worship? Once again the God of the universe is sidelined and replaced with graven images.
Hezekiah comes on the scene, and it says that at that time there is not one living subject that has ever celebrated the passover. How far they had deliberately distanced themselves from Him. How patient, how kind, how tolerant, how long-suffering, how gracious and how loving God is. Once again He responds, when the king leads the people to repentance, and instills a desire in them to return to God and acknowledge the great miracle of deliverance by keeping the passover.
Listen to what this Godly king said as he made an appeal to the people of Judah: O Israelites! Come back to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that He can return to you. Don’t repeat the sins of your ancestors who turned their backs on God, the God of their ancestors, who then brought them to ruin– you can see the ruin all around you. Don’t be pigheaded as your ancsetors were. Clasp God’s outstretched hand, come to His temple of holy worship, consecrated for all times. Serve God your God. You’ll no longer be in danger of His hot anger. If you come back, God is gracious and kind and won’t snub you. Come back and He’ll welcome you with open arms.
I, for one, am so thankful that my God is a forgiving God who will never give up, though disappointed by my life time after time. The only requirement for a restored relationship is a broken spirit and an open acknowledgment of sin. Then the open arms will once again come into view as you run to the embrace of your Saviour and God. You feel, once again, the comfort, protection, and peace, that comes from the warmth of His embrace, and you wonder why you ever thought it best to leave His presence.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.”
Good night all.

November 11, 2009 – Devotional: One Man, One God

My thought for the day.
I’ve been reading through the book of Judges and two characters have stood out as men used powerfully by God.
God’s people are under the control of the Midianites, allowed by God because of the evil idolatry that they seem to insist on being involved in. Once again, God’s heart is moved with compassion and He approaches this man named Gideon. It’s the angel of God that addresses Gideon while he’s sitting under an oak tree. He calls Gideon a mighty warrior and tells him he has been chosen by God to deliver Israel. Gideon responds by telling the angel that God has abandoned His people and left them to be ruled by Midian. “God’s not with us. Why, we haven’t seen anything of the God that our parents spoke of. Those awesome miracles of the past, beginning with their deliverance from Egypt, those are just old tales that have nothing to do with us. That God they so often spoke of has left us”. The angel corrects Gideon, “My boy, you’re very wrong, your God has not left, He has heard the cries of His people, and you’re the one chosen to deliver them from Midian’s oppression”. Gideon replied, “God is with me, my master? How, and with what, could I ever save Israel? Look at me, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I’m the runt of the litter.” God said to him, “I’ll be with you, believe me you’ll defeat Midian as one man.”
God was asking this man to obey him and to believe in something that, ’till now, he had never seen, only heard about as great stories of the past. “Gideon all I’m looking for is one man and obedience; with those two necessities in place, look out opposition.” Gideon obeyed and stepped out in faith on God’s promise. He faced those seasoned warriors with just three hundred men and God. He experienced, for the first time, how willing obedience is the conduit by which God’s power and purposes are worked out in this world.
He learned the truth behind Paul’s statement, “When I am weak, then am I strong.”
And then there was Samson. Here was a young man who knew firsthand, from birth, how great the triumphs accomplished in one man are, when he moves obediently in the Power of God. Obeying God in the Nazarite vow meant a God-given power that allowed him to almost wipe out the Philistine population single-handedly. No one had to convince him of the great accomplishment that could be achieved when one man works in concert with the mighty God. What a waste that he allowed the flesh to take precedence over obedience. A man who had been so useful, a man whose strength had convinced the enemy that Israel’s God was real and all powerful. He turned his back on God, allowed his hair to be cut in direct contradiction to the promised life long vow, and chose a woman over faithful service to his God.
One man had it and lost it because of selfish desires. The other had never experienced it, but chose to obey and believe, and so he had the thrill of usefulness as God’s power accomplished God’s purpose through “little old him”. I have no doubt that he lived off the high of that experience the rest of his life.
And then my thoughts went to a third character, my Saviour. What a perfect example of God and one man, one very unique man. Salvation, sins forgiven, Satan defeated, righteousness available, a relationship restored, an unbelievable hope, victory over the enemy, and on the list goes. One man, the man Christ Jesus, whose life was marked by obedience, even when obedience meant the death of the cross. Look at the accomplishment of an obedient life, when the greatest display of God’s power and love was seen by all, at Calvary. He bore our sin, faced God’s wrath, surrendered to, and defeated death, and provided, for a sinner like me, eternal salvation.
The next time God selects, and takes up, one man for His purposes, I want that one man to be me!

October 25, 2009 – Devotional

I’ll tell you what I was thinking about today. I read that passage at the beginning of Joshua when finally the children of Israel were led into the promised land. I was thinking that their call into, was as miraculous as their call out of. God did not split the Red Sea so they could escape Egypt and flounder the rest of their lives in the wilderness. We all agree that our moment of Salvation, when He called us out of Egypt, was above and beyond what we ever deserved. If it ended there and we were spared from what we deserved, we would be happy and ask no more. But He called us out of the world because He wants to call us into a world, and a work, that He has set aside just for us. He wanted His people in the land He had promised. A land where they could effectively put their God on display to a godless world, and live a life that would bring Glory to their God and saviour. When it came to where they were supposed to be, and what they were supposed to be doing, God wanted there to be no question in their minds, or hearts, now or ever, that they had followed God. The Levites hoisted the chest onto their shoulders and began to march towards the River Jordan. Everyone watches as their feet come in contact with the water and immediately it pushes back to expose the obvious path God wants them to take. Those men march to what would have been the deepest part of that river and stand still holding the chest to wait patiently. Every Israelite had to walk past that chest as they made their way through the river and then up the banks on the far side. They would arrive without so much as the soles of their shoes wet from what should have been a muddy river bed. There was no other explanation for this experience; every one of them would come to the same conclusion as they passed the chest, this was none other then their great God at work. They all had to look at what represented God’s presence as they walked by, and without hesitation acknowledge the power of their God in bringing them into the promised land. Because God knew that time would bring about doubts, he had twelve men (one from each tribe) shoulder a rock from the river bed, carrying them up onto the river bank. They made a pile that scripture says is there to this day.
When things begin to get difficult; when everything is not falling into place, the way we think God’s things should; when the questions begin; when the miracle becomes a faint memory; when you find yourself doubting the events of the past; when your kids hear the story and look at you like you have six heads, go back to the river bank and look at the tangible evidence God has left for a memorial. Remember that you are where you are, and you are doing what you are doing because God, out of all of humanity, called you to this place, to do this work, to display Him to a lost world, and live a life, in the midst of absolute defilement, that brings joy to the heart of God. God is so kind. He knows the weakness of the flesh and our tendency to question and wonder and doubt. He knows that time often dulls and distorts our ability to believe what we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears and experienced with our own God. He leaves behind tangible evidence so that we can know. He calms our fears. He gives us the courage to push on, because He called us here and He gave us this work to do. God performed a miracle when He saved my soul, and took me out of Egypt. God continues to perform miracles, both small and big, as He works. And these miracles are the tangible memorial that He leaves for me on the river bank because He knows my weakness and He never wants me to doubt that He is here with me all the way and I, I am just following Him.

August 23, 2009

Hi guys! It’s me again.
I felt in a way the distance this week when I heard about uncle Rod. Called Ma and could hear it in her voice. She wanted her family around her and that just wasn’t possible. Often I find myself annoyed with her state of mind, but really felt for her and wanted for a moment to be at home.
We kinda had a slow week with a lot of running around and really not accomplishing much. Monday and Tuesday were trips to the airport, and believe it of not by the time your done the day is pretty much shot. Lori’s folks, Steph and Hedi are all gone, we still have Lindsey.Wed and Thurs was spent with the shipping company finding out the needed documents to release the container. Thurs a young girl from the company actually went with us to the government building to help us get the info needed, and get the documents notarized as required by law. Before they will release the goods we have to prove that we have applied for a permanent visa. I guess a number is issued once you have applied and the port will accept that number as evidence that your staying.
Thurs morning we got up at 5 A.M. and headed out to the city streets again to feed the homeless. What we found out this time is that these folks live close to their jobs. At many of the main intersection where the traffic lights are long, there will be a group of men, woman, and children either begging or offering some kind of service for your pocket change. Somewhere close to that light is where they make there home. They protect that information and won’t offer it when you ask. We went to one of those intersections and began to look for what might constitute a shelter, and un-knowingly drove by it more than once. Than I saw this little girl running across the street to one of the vender’s and could tell by her looks that she would be our contact. Lori got out and went over to talk to her and soon convinced her that we were there only to help. She looked over and gave me the follow me sigh and we were all brought to this vacant lot. We yelled out that we had come with breakfast, food and milk, and out they all came. They emerged out of what they called home, a make shift shelter that you wouldn’t allow your dog to sleep in. One of the young men recognised Lori from a earlier encounter when he washed her windows and received a new testament. He said in his language, wow this is so cool! On a side note, we are able to get these paper back bibles for about 80 cents each, so have bought them in bulk, and have been giving those out instead of tracts. There must have been about fifteen people living in this lot, from the old matriarch mother to three or four year old kids. We fed then all, sandwiches and milk, gave them anything we had left over, promised them we would be back, and then had to leave when the skies opened up and dumped on us. Friday I went back to the orphanage with Lindsey and William. I built them a big cabinet full of cubbys to hold tons of their shoes that were presently piled in a closet. After going through them all we found close to half of them were for the one legged children that I guess don’t live there any more. I also built some shelf’s in the kitchen to accommodate the pile of pots and pans. These events speak for the week, sorry I don’t have more to report, but I’ll end with my thought for the day. I was reading that passage in gen where God called Abraham to act in obedience and follow with out a clear explanation, or with out more than instruction needed for the moment. I have no doubt that God saw that he get mentioned in the great chapter of hero’s in Hebrews because of that moment when without question he leaves his home and family and follows God. In that same chapter Abraham finds himself facing a famine and instead of trusting the God who called him, he takes matters into his own hands, and goes down to Egypt for food. Looks at his beautiful wife and says your to good looking to be my wife, from now on your my sister. It’s very clear that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was putting his wife on the block because his stomach was more important than his relationship. Pharaoh takes her as his wife, which is what Abraham expected would happen, and I’m assuming she became his wife as any wife would become with all the wifefy implications. Abraham benefited greatly from this and as a result became a very wealthy man. He actually seemed to like this arrangement and wasn’t in any real hurry to change things. If It wasn’t for God stepping in and making everybody in the palace sick, it probably would have gone on. I thought of that verse that promises us that our sins and iniquity he will remember no more. We are linked with a God who immediately latches on tightly to those moments in our life when we put him first, when we are willing to step out in faith, when we are willing to entrust the need of our well being to him. God documents and commits these moments to memory and is so fast to give us undeserved credit. The sin part he is also fast to respond to, and that response is forgiveness [if you confess he is obligated to forgive]. His only request is that we own up to our wrong doing so it can be done away with. He deliberately chooses to not remember, which is so much more than being willing to forget. He’s not keeping track of our failure, these acts are not tarnishing in any way the Little deed that was sincerely done for him. We are not in anyway less effective in his eyes, and can now only be used as the dull chisel saved to open up the paint can. The good deed is documented and rewarded, the sin is gone and will never come up again. No need to come to him embarrassed and timid just cause you remember, he doesn’t know what your even talking about. Funny, isn’t it, how we read that chapter of hero’s and immediately our minds go to events in their lives’s that in our estimation disqualifies them from Honorable mention. And then there is God who only remembers that act of faithfulness and says by all means they deserve that place in my book. I can’t speak for you all, but that thought fires up my jets, and when I get the tap on my shoulder, no matter how big or small the job might be, I know in my Gods eyes I’m as qualified as the next person and I’m ready to go. Sorry if my thought was more than my up date, just enjoyed thinking about it today. Bet you all thought you had finely escaped my preaching, sorry just don’t want to get to rusty. Feel free to pass over my little sermons if you like.
Well thats all I have to say for now. Once again I love you all very much and pray for you and your family’s. God bless you all good night.
Love Markie!

September 14, 2009

I read last week’s report and thought, “I really have to cut this down. I’m getting out of hand with these up dates.” You all know that I’m really not a big talker, right? Anyway, it’s time for another one of those: “this is what happened” reports.
I was reminded yesterday that God preserves us sometimes when we act very stupidly. Inacia and Lori have been washing all our clothes by hand since we arrived. I would feel guilty every time I put my pants in the laundry. I found myself wearing underwear longer than I should. I saw what was involved and felt so bad. Not so bad that I helped her, but bad enough to finally buy her a washing machine. The laundry room is made up of a sink and marble counter suspended off the floor, following the back wall, and attached to a wall at each end. The machine came on Friday so I decided Saturday would be a good install day. I was so anxious to get it in place, that I went to work first thing in the morning without dressing properly for the job. I got out my skill saw with the diamond blade, and began cutting out a section of marble, 27″x 24″, to slide the machine in. I made both cuts as far as possible with the saw, but those of you who know, realize that it leaves you a good 3″ from the back wall. To finish the cut, all I had was my sawzall with several metal blades, and so I began to tackle it with those. I got one side cut to the back wall and went to work the other. I must have been leaning on the top as I was cutting because in a split second, the whole piece broke off and fell to the floor, smashing into a million pieces. I looked down at my bare feet and quickly counted all my toes. One was bleeding, but they were still attached. As I stood there it began to dawn on me what had just happened. God was the only reason I wasn’t collecting my bloody toes in a jar and getting rushed to the hospital. Those of you who know how heavy granite or marble is, know that it’s only God’s kindness that I’m still walking around with just a scratch. A moment of absolute stupidity could have left me handicapped and useless to do the work I’ve been called here to do.
The kids started school this week, so all our days are now cut in half. They start at 8:30 am and we finish at 12:00 pm. I decided to sit in on their first class with Lori and realised that I needed this as much as they did. I really did poorly in school with no interest in learning. My real education began after Dad died and I was forced to take over the business. At 12:00 we have lunch and then head off to do whatever is planned for the day. Monday, I finished the food pantry in Aningas, so it’s ready now to be stocked. Tuesday, we went into the city to buy school supplies for the kids, and to make a car payment on our rental. Wed., we picked up some more stock that I needed and went into Aningas just to check up on everyone and see how they all were doing. Thurs., we were off to feed the street people, and three more stops got added to our route. I realise now how easy it would be, almost natural, to keep these souls at arms’ length, because of how fast you get sucked into their lives of problems when you show them you care. Very quickly, you can become consumed and overwhelmed, wanting so bad to help and feeling so helpless. There’s a vacant lot in the city, that was a part of our route ,where a whole family lived. We would often shop especially for them and bring them a bag of food. We arrived with a bag full of sandwiches, along with rice and beans that they had requested, just to find them all gone. One young man about 19 was still there, and he told us that Sat. night, into Sun. morning, while sleeping, they were attacked, beaten up; and whatever they had of value was stolen. So, the family left to go find another street corner that they could make their home. We asked about another young man, who last week we bought meds for; he was also missing. When we asked we found out that he was in jail. He was so hungry the other night that he chanced stealing some food from the local food store, and was hauled off by the police. I had to leave this meeting to help Caroline find a bathroom. I returned to see that Lori was still deep in conversation. She had her hand on a young man who stood listening with his head hung. She was speaking to him with tears in her eyes, which is my cue to get back and involved in the conversation. She looked at me as I walked up and said, “I don’t know what to do. He’s begging us to get him out of here, He wants to get clean, but rehabs. here cost money. He’s telling me of a Christian rehab. south of the city that cost about $200 a month. We’re his only hope and he’s begging us to help him. Drugs are his escape and without help he’ll wind up in jail or, most likely, dead, and he knows it.” How can you hand the kid a sandwich and walk away, when you know that there is more you can do? Every day we pray that God will lead us where He wants us to go, so we must believe that each person, whose path we cross, has been hand picked by God as one we need to help. This makes all our decisions very simple. Believe and Obey. So, we promised to go back on Monday to pick him up and go find out about this place of rehab.. I guess our only concern is that, while there, he’ll hear a clear Gospel and not get any bad teaching. Please pray for him; his name is Jose Mateus, nicknamed “Bruno”.
Maria is another young girl we have gotten to know. Every time we were with her in the past, she was wearing this plastic, baggy, cape like thing. Thurs. was really hot so when we found her, she was sitting on a wall in shorts and a kinda of halter top. She saw us pull up and stood to come over to the car. As soon as she stood, we realised she is pregnant. Six months pregnant in fact, and about to bring a child into the world with little or no hope of healthy life. She hadn’t seen a doctor yet, and none of the typical medical things had been taken care of. Why? Because she didn’t have any money for the bus. We gave her bus money so she could go get her ultrasound and check-up. We left her, knowing that we will have to keep an eye on her, as well. Please pray for Maria and the unborn baby.
Next, we came across a young fellow who was limping down the street. I called to him and he came over to the car window for some food. He was on my side and I could see while he ate that he had lost all his front teeth. He told us when asked that he was fourteen and held out his open palm to show us three coins he had successfully begged that day. I knew he was showing us with hopes that we would contribute to his fund, which, in time, would allow him to buy some antiseptic and bandages. When asked why, he held up his right foot to show us a raw open sore along the side, full of dirt and still bleeding. Lori asked him where the closest drug store was and found out it was just around the corner. She got out and the two of them went to buy what he needed, to at least clean and wrap his foot. Time and again, we have to keep telling ourselves that we can’t fix all the problems in Natal. We’ve come to help, as guided by God, with the hope that the work opens, first their ears, and then their hearts, to God’s Gospel. Please pray that God Himself directs the steps we take each day.
Last year I had made new tables and benches for the school in Aningas, so the kids could have a lunch area. Well, by the looks of them, I have to believe that since we left they’ve been sitting in a pool of water. I know the school has leaks everywhere, but I was still not pleased to see all the legs delaminating, to the point where they can no longer be used. So, Friday Will and I went to the village, with the intention of cutting off the bad plywood and replacing the leg bottoms with solid stock and setting them up on plastic pads. It’s so much easier to build new then to fix damaged stuff, but we got started and at least got one completed.
Lori’s been helping a young woman in her thirties get medical help for a medical condition in her eyes. She was told by the doctor that many here have this problem because of the strong sun and lack of eye protection. The way it works with the public health is that you show up, get in line, and wait. You may be seen, you may not be seen; when time is up, they close the doors and you will just have to come again another day. So Lori was up at five on Friday morning and had the girl at the clinic by seven. There were already fifteen people ahead of her but they did get seen by the doctor. So, that process has begun and it’s one more thing that Lori will have to see through.
Well, Family those are the note worthy experiences of the week, and once again I was unsuccessful in cutting this down. I feel like Mr Obama with his one hour speech on how to fix your health insurance problems. It’s kinda funny, but as I watched it the other night I had this feeling of being closer to home. There’s something about a live broadcast that makes you realise that what you’re watching is the same thing everyone else, at home, is watching and at the same time, too. That’s the one good thing I was able to get out of Obama’s speech.
Well that’s my missionary report for the week. Good night to most.
NOW! In the words of my dear uncle Fred ( who will always hold a very dear place in my heart and who I will never forget): Those of you with small children who need to be in bed, and those who need to be up early for school or work tomorrow, are free to leave the meeting at this juncture. Have you ever seen anyone actually get up and leave?) Those who can stay would be greatly appreciated, our brother has a short word of devotion he would like to share with us now. Ha! ha!
I’ve been reading in Exodus and thinking about that great moment in the history of God’s people when He brought them out of Egypt, and did it in a way they could never forget.
As a result, God expected to be given that place of honor in their hearts; that place where there’s only room for one. He knew what humanity’s estimation of Him would be. He himself determined it at the foot of Mount Sinai. When giving Moses specific instructions so he could judge fairly and rule His people, God told him that the value of a slave was thirty pieces of silver. Imagine giving that information to Moses knowing that a day would come when humanity would use that very value of a slave to show God what they thought of His only begotten ( only one of its kind ) Son. That’s how the world would respond to God’s mercy and grace but He expected more from His chosen.
( Exodus 19:3-36) “You have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all people you’ll be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine to chose from, but you’re special, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. In other words, God showed them how special and how precious they were to Him, and the great lengths He went to to call them, and He only asked in return that He would be the only God in their heart. I thought of the countless times that He provided proof of His unique love for them and the special place they held in His heart. He only asked that the feeling would be mutual. He wasn’t asking for a place that He hadn’t earned. He asked them to remember their thirst and the bitter waters of Marah; to remember how He stepped in to make those waters sweet; to remember in Rephidim when Moses acting under His instructions would strike the rock of Horeb, water gushed out to once again quench their thirst; to remember that great battle with Amalek, He knew the day would come when the memory of Amalek would be wiped off the face of the earth. But He instructed Joshua to document that victory as evidence of their God’s power. He told them to carry that proof with them and to never forget. And that jar they carried, did they know what that’s all about? See that white stuff preserved all these years? That’s God given food from heaven provided by a Father who will always meet the need of the children He loves and cares for so much. On and on the list would go, as God would give evidence to His people that He had earned that preeminent place of honor and worship in their hearts. Pass the stories on, tell your children, don’t let the generations forget the great things I did, for a people that were so special to me. Oh, there were times when they were quick to give Him that first place. They stood in reverent awe and Godly fear at the banks of the Red Sea. They watched the waves spit up those powerful Egyptian warriors, as if they were helpless driftwood rolling up on the beach. They would say from their hearts, (ch 15-8): God is my strength ( His presence in the cloud before me, leading me through the walled waters of this great sea); God is my song ( the occupation of my heart in worship); God is my salvation (His presence in the cloud behind, that stood between His loved ones and their Egyptian enemies.) This is the kind of God I have, and I’m telling the world.
(15:10-15). Who compares with you among gods, O God? Who compares with you in power, in holy majesty, in awesome praise, wonder working God?Salvation and strength, they had seen both that day. It had produced a song of worship as they stood on the river bank in reverent awe of their God, who had chosen them, out of the whole world that belonged to Him. Was He asking too much of them when He declared, (20:3) No other Gods, only me. ?
God declared that they should have: (20:4-6) No carved gods of any size, shape or form, ( helpless man made idols); or anything whatsoever, whether things that fly, things that walk, or things that swim. (making creation your idol rather than the creator ); don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them, because I am God your God, and I am a most jealous God. I am unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
God did so much for them, only asking for one thing in return. Israel only failed at one thing, but it was the only thing that mattered to God. He left them captives to Babylon, He turned a deaf ear to their cry, His heart was broken. What a disappointment, what a failure; they were no longer effective as God’s representation to lost humanity. He had never failed to come through for them. Constantly, in very tangible ways, He showed them He cared, protected them, gave them the best, made them a people that the nations of the world feared. How could they allow this God to be displaced? What could possibly have deserved that place of worship in their heart more than this God?
This is my burden. I believe God has given it to me. These things were written for our learning. God has seen fit to document these stories so that we learn from others’ failures and don’t make the same mistakes.
Make a list of all of our concerns at home: weak assemblies; young people leaving our assemblies; a lack of seeing God’s power among us; lack of great blessing in salvation; our lack of interest in God’s things; our feeling of staleness, coldness, lack of life; and our closing of platforms because we think that will ultimately solve the problem of poorly attended conferences.The list seems to be growing every day. I’ve watched well meaning men run around doing their best to address each problem. The frantic running from issue to issue to plug the holes of what seems to be a sinking ship has to stop. We can’t fix it, only God can. We need to look to Him for help.
God told Samuel to tell the people what He expected of them if they truly wanted Him back:
1. Clean house ( get rid of all your idols)
2. Put God back on the throne of your heart ( that place where there is only room for one)
3. Promise Him undying devotion and loyalty.
I would like all who are reading this to give thought to this verse. ( Exodus 20:22-26) DON’T MAKE gods OF SILVER AND GOLD AND SIT THEM ALONGSIDE ME.
Now my question to you and me: Have we asked a jealous God to share His seat with things that we also think deserve a place of prominence? There’s only room for one. We defend ourselves by saying that God is very much a part of our lives, but have we heeded the God given warnings? Or have we created a God of convenience? Are we are paying the price because of this? After all God did for us, and we all gave great thought to that today, is He asking too much to be number one in our heart. The moment we agree with Gods assessment and confess our sin, He will forgive us and we will see His great power among us again.
I don’t know how many are receiving this email. It started with just my family, but I heard it’s being forwarded to others. Some of you who may not know me very well, may read this and find it hard to take. This has become my great burden for our assemblies. Those of you who know me know about this burden because you’ve heard this all before. I would only ask of others that, before God, you give it prayerful thought. Ask God, from your heart, to show you if there’s any basis to the message. Is this really the sin that has caused what feels like a dormant God among us?
Though I may not know you please know that I pray for God’s people and I love you all in Christ.
Good night from Brazil.