September 8 2015
by Lois Pannabecker
Prisons in Honduras generally have about 400 inmates. In the
prisons where ECC partner ministries have a presence, twenty to forty percent
of the inmates are worshiping together in literal “cell” churches. Gary and
Diane Barefoot are Church Multiplication Facilitators (CMF) in Honduras. They
give us this report on their most recent visit.
Gary states, “I am so excited about what God is doing through
the group of volunteers and the faithful Christians in Honduras!”
Attempting to get a good grasp on the current growth in this
ministry, I asked a Train & Multiply (T&M) trainer, ”What do you think
this program will look like a year from now?” At first I got a confused
look, so I said, “How many trainers do you now have?” They answered, “Seventeen.”
I followed up, “Then how many do you expect to have in a year?”
At first I was met with another blank look, then Nora spoke up,
“In three weeks we will have a total of sixty-three trainers because several
training classes will be completed.” “Ok, how many will you have in a year,” I
responded? It was then that it really dawned on them that this program is about
to explode numerically. They replied, “Well, we could probably have over one
hundred!” to which I added, “probably closer to two or three hundred!”
Today, with only seventeen trainers, we have about as many
groups studying and each of those has 5-7 trainees. Within the four prisons
where our ministry is active, there is a total of two to three hundred individuals
worshiping Jesus as a result of the Train & Multiply program.
God is in the process of opening all the prisons in the country,
twenty-six of them, to our program. Praise God for open doors and encouraging
September 1 2015
The tiny “meows” coming from a box next to a pile of garbage is what first caught Marla’s attention as she was walking home from school with the girls a few days ago … the cute, unmistakable cries of tiny kittens. What my girls saw next was a bit shocking: a short, sandy-hair colored stray dog, eating one of the kittens. Yes, the dog was literally eating a kitten. Not playing with it, not barking at it. While all my girls watched (in horror), the stray chomped away on a kitten, fur still in its teeth.
So, when one of the other kittens, so young that its eyes hadn’t even opened yet, walked toward Samara (who has always had an affection for all animals), meowing loudly … it put my wife in an awkward situation. She couldn’t say, “The mommy cat will come back” because they had obviously been abandoned. She couldn’t say “They’ll be alright by themselves,” because the dog was still chewing. And each kitten wasn’t big enough for one meal. So, what do you do? How do you get out of that one? As a parent who has been teaching about love and compassion, how could she just walk away?
So, that is how the box of kittens came to our house. That is how we’ve become the TEMPORARY guardians of five little kittens. And even now as I write, I can hear them downstairs.
Yep, though the girls are absolutely delighted, we certainly didn’t imagine this scene a week ago.
But that is kind of how things go in life and in ministry. Many times, the opportunities that God gives us to show others His love in a concrete way don’t fit comfortably into our schedules. Many times, these opportunities come at inconvenient times. They come at times when we’d rather be doing something else. And a lot of times, we’d rather walk away from such opportunities, hoping others will come along because we know that becoming involved will cost us time, energy, and getting our hands dirty. (And I’m not talking about kittens right now).
Showing God’s love to others means taking phone calls in the middle of the night. It means loading a moving truck on a perfectly sunny Saturday morning. It means taking a meal to someone else when you’re already exhausted. Because that’s when opportunities to show God’s love generally come: when you are not looking for them. What do we do in those situations? When the need of someone else catches our attention? When we know we probably ought to do some
hing, do we secretly hope that someone else will come along soon to do it, hoping they can meet that need? Someone who has more experienced hands and a bigger heart? More time or talent? Or do we let God use you?
And yes, I realize that such words are easy to write. They are even easy to preach from a pulpit. But they are harder to live. Harder, and yet, more rewarding, vastly more rewarding. May God give us ears to hear the quiet calls for help that surround us, and the strength to deny ourselves so that we can fully offer that which we have for His service, so that His light might shine.
For the only Cause that matters,
Micah, along with his wife Marla and three daughter are OMS missionaries serving in Brazil. They are involved in evangelism, church planting, and the ministry of getting their hands dirty through love and service.