Thanks from Kikomar.

Dear Bob, Vince, and St Paul’s church,

We would like to take a moment to sincerely thank you for coming once again to Tuxpan, to participate in the Kingdom’s work in this beloved city. Though we did not participate with you fully this year, it was nevertheless good to be able to see you and spend time with you on several occasions.

As I have mentioned before, your fortnight here last year opened a door for Camp Kikomar into the churches in the city. I tallied up our statistics, and came up with the following:  in 2011, we had 102 users, and in 2012, it increased to 756! Many of these correspond to local churches, who came as a result of the puppet training.  Also, we are convinced that the activities were a key element to emphasize the unity that the Holy Spirit has been bringing into the church in the city in the last couple of years.

We would also like to express how deeply we appreciate the generous offering that you as a church gave to Camp Kikomar during your latest visit. As always, the Lord knew our need as a camp and provided perfectly through you. Thank you for being sensitive to the Lord’s nudging, in this respect.
May the Lord continue to bless you as a church and lead you, as you continue to play a part in missions in Latin America.

In Jesus,
Mirna and Diana

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Sermon Recap: Vision 2013: Coherence

Vision: More People, More Like Jesus.

Mission:  Loving God, Loving Neighbors, Sharing Christ, Building Believers

Strategy:  Attending Weekend Services, Participating in Small Groups, Serving Somewhere Significant,Becoming an Active Member.

We have a Vision.  We have a Mission.  We have a Strategy.  And that’s great.  But do these makes sense when taken all together?  I think so.

Our strategy is simply a necessary application of our mission. 

We have a relational strategy because we have a relational mission.  See Small Groups. Remember: “Loving God & Neighbors.”  

We have a communal strategy because we have a communal mission.  See Serving Teams. Remember: we do mission. It’s we, not me.

We have an active strategy because we have active mission.  See Active Membership. Notice the active voice verbs. Mission is what we do.

Our mission is simply a necessary explanation of our vision.  What does more like Jesus mean?  It means loving relationships with God and neighbor, sharing the good news and building up the body.

And finally our vision grounds our mission and strategy.  We love, because he first loved us.  Jesus is our starting point.  Everything we are called to do has already been done for us in Christ.

Want to hear the whole sermon? Listen here

 


No Words Necessary

From Pat Jeram. 

I have been on many mission trips over the last several years and have had the priviledge of being a part of some very emotional experiences.  Two weeks ago was no exception.  As the church service came to a close after presenting the Choice Campaign, Vince asked the congregation to come forward with any prayer rquests.  We had just discussed hurts, hang ups and harmful habits.  Our team was up front ready to pray for people (myself way out of my comfort zone), but that’s another story.  As the people came forward our team members would approach an individual and pray for them. 

People were sobbing in our arms, telling us of their prayer needs, their hurts.  Even though we did not understand their words or they understand ours, there was a connection. The power of the Holy Spirit was able penetrate the language barrier. There was a Spirit to Spirit understanding.
If you are like me and have trouble verbalizing your faith, step out of your comfort zone, and trust the Holy Spirit.  Happy are the helpless for they shall be given comfort.  If you are uncomfortable with the thought of going on a mission trip – good.  Step out in faith, expand your comfort zone. It will be so worth it


Why We Go: the Mutual Blessing of Mission’s Trips.

From Jeanne Mullaney. 

When planning for and going on a Missions trip, the question is always: What will we be doing? And the answer to that important question becomes very apparent very quickly. 

This time during our trip to Tuxpan, we were going to dig a foundation for an addition to one of the churches we spent time with last year, and present the Life’s Healing Choices campaign to numerous pastors and church leaders. We didn’t end up building the foundation (the money instead was used to buy adjacent land), and we had the added project of repainting a children’s room. Flexibility is always a big part of a mission’s trip! 

We quickly found we were supposed to be there. The people of Tuxpan, specifically the Jezreel Methodist church, the Amastad church, and Pastor Limone’s church (which I cannot remember the name of) wanted us there.  The outpouring of love, gratitude and hospitality exemplified how much God is in their lives and how they live, daily.  I can only hope that we can aspire to show equal hospitality and graciousness. We were fed, (constantly!) and all our needs were met (medical, transportation, water, and spiritual). 

They were eager to hear about our small church, pray for us, and have us pray for them.  Despite our differences, we all suffer with the same hurts, hang-ups and bad habits.  We are all alike, whether we live in a quiet corner of CT or on the eastern coast of Mexico. 

It is so fulfilling to be in the presence of people who love Jesus and live to glorify God in everything they do. It is also inspiring: imagine all the things God could do through us if we had half their faith and commitment, if we could all work together in love!

We all want the same thing. More people, more like Jesus.

There are so many experiences to draw from, it’s difficult to chose a single highlight: the experience of praying for people who don’t know what you are saying and yet are still moved to tears just because you are praying for them; the experience of being prayed for by people who love God and follow Jesus so earnestly; the experience of praying for two women specifically and having them accept Jesus as their savior was amazing.

I know it can happen here, but I am just not in those situations.  I think I will keep my eyes open and be more aware of when and if opportunities to share Jesus’ love with others present themselves. I have also realized just how good it is to share my story with others.  Other believers especially want to hear what I have to say.

If you have never been on a Mission’s trip or if you have only done local mission work, I suggest you plan on one.  We will be returning to Tuxpan in January of 2014. Plan for it now! God is doing amazing things and it will change your life!


Comfort and Joy.

898

From Judy Hawk

The whole week in Tuxpan was pretty amazing and great things happened each day we were there. I was struck at numerous times during the trip that prayer is powerful. And when people pray together, even when the languages are different and you all don’t quite understand each other, it is still possible to just stand in awe of the power of prayer.

For me, there is one thing about our time in Tuxpan that really stands out. It is also very hard to put into just a few words. While we were there, I connected with a young woman named Paty, who is the youth leader at the Amistad Church of Tuxpan. She is so full of life and so inspiring. At the end of February or the beginning of March, she is taking a trip to North Korea to smuggle in some Bibles. That takes guts. And she doesn’t seem like she questions anything if she knows it would help in spreading the Good News of Jesus. She is incredibly generous as well. I offhandedly mentioned to her that I liked a pair of shoes that she was wearing and to my surprise, she just went out and bought me that same pair. And she just does that – she gives – she gives her gifts, her time, and her energy to bless others.

When we had spent a couple of days together, she asked me, Jeanne, and Pat if we would like to come to her Women’s small group on Thursday night. When it was time to go into Paty’s house for small group, to my surprise, there were other plans for Jeanne and Pat to go visit a woman in the hospital while I stayed with Paty to pray and worship with a few other women before the small group started. We prayed together as a group for those who would be coming to the Bible study that night and then we broke up into pairs to pray for each other. I prayed with a woman I didn’t really know. I prayed in English, she prayed in Spanish. She spoke some English, and after we finished praying she asked me a surprising question. “Do you play an instrument?” I responded with, “Well, sort of, I play the mandolin, and I’m not very good at it yet.” She then proceeded to tell me, that she saw a vision of me, while we were praying, playing my mandolin and singing and blessing others with my music and that I shouldn’t give up and I should keep on practicing. I was dumbstruck. This woman didn’t even know me. How could she have known that it was one of my desires to be able to play well enough that I could bless others with it? I was amazed that God just used this woman to speak encouragement into my life.

The reason that Paty had invited us to her small group was because she had wanted me to share my testimony or anything that I thought the Lord would want the women to hear. I am shy. I don’t often speak up in group settings and I don’t think of myself as gifted with speaking and sharing, so I was pretty nervous and very unsure as to why the Lord had put me in this place.

I shared with them Isaiah 42:6-7.

“I, the LORD, have called you in Righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

This verse was given to me by a friend when I was 14 years old. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I understood why it always seemed to be speaking directly to me. I was prophesied over that I would touch people and heal them. That didn’t make sense to me. I went on a missions trip to Russia, expecting that God would do some crazy miracle through me. The crazy miracle was far less complicated than I imagined it to be. I was gifted as a quiet comforter-healer, which makes sense. I have always been a quiet and joyful person. As I have come to understand myself as a Child and Follower of God more clearly, I have come to understand the meaning of that verse in my life and the meaning of that prophesy. There have been many times in my life that I have been reminded that I am called in Righteousness and that God is walking beside me. And over and over again, I have seen myself as a light, reaching out to others, and freeing others, but not in any significant or obvious way, but with a quiet touch, or a hug, or a listening ear. I don’t feel like I’ve ever even been very gifted at speaking truth into others lives when they are struggling, but it always seems that just my mere presence and quiet joy brings them healing. 

 

I shared that with those women, unsure of how it would come across once it was translated. Apparently God did have a reason for me to speak and share my story, as nervous and shaky as I was. One woman shared with me that the first night we went to their church (Monday), the first thing that she noticed about me was the the peace and joy that just shone around me and that it made an immediate impact on her. Paty thanked me for sharing my story and was excited to hear how God fulfills things in followers when they listen to him and seek after him.

What I didn’t know was that there was a girl named Carla there, who had never been to a church group and who didn’t identify as a Christian. My story had an impact on her, but I didn’t know it right away.

Paty asked me to pray and then others took turns praying. Then Paty started asking Carla questions and Carla started talking about what I had said. Paty asked her if she wanted us to pray for her and she said yes. Then Paty asked me if I would lay my hands on her and pray. I am not a public prayer. I often feel inadequate and I usually just keep my prayers to myself, but I went over to Carla, laid my hands on her, and prayed. I didn’t know what to pray – I just started praying. I didn’t even know if what I was saying was significant at all and I didn’t even know if it mattered. I couldn’t tell – I just prayed. When I finished, she said she was shaking and sweating and she felt a great amount of joy and peace and it was something that she had never felt before. Paty asked her if she wanted to ask Jesus to save her. She said YES! That night Carla became a follower of Jesus. I never imagined that I would have gotten to play a part in something like that and I am in awe and humbled that God would have chosen me for that. 

 

The next night, Paty and I were walking outside together, talking about what had happened. She brought up what Carla had said about how she felt after I had prayed for her.

And all Paty said was, “Wow, that was that Holy Spirit.”