#CarryOnAdvent: Ponderings

These past months I have done a lot of driving, and while Heidi works on communications, I think about, contemplate, ponder and wonder about many things. God, theology, history, philosophy, astronomy, etc. I think about the billions of beings I am driving past which together make a forest. I think about the to-me-countless cells making up the trees and ferns and fungi, each one a miraculous, extremely complex, living machine. But God knows and sustains each one, even down to the subatomic particles that make up the atoms, that make up the molecules, that make up the organelles, that make up the cells, that make up the tissues, that make up the organs, that make up the beings, that make up the forests that bless us with beauty and food and oxygen and so much more.

Then I make a list of all the words in English that end with the sound we usually write “sh”. I came up with 69 one-syllable words. Strangely, quite a few of them seem sort of violent or negative: bash, brash, dash (to pieces), gash, lash, mash, gnash, rash, smash, slash, trash, thrash, slosh, slush, smoosh, flush, crush, and blush. Isn’t that strange?

Then I wrestle with angry thoughts, judgmental thoughts, perplexed thoughts. Why do people–including me–do this? Why do people–including me–do that? “If we have food and raiment, let us be content with that.” But people spend their lives, their energies, their time to accumulate more and get more. And then there are those who out of the discontent become malicious, and destroy what other people have worked for, and public infrastructure that makes life so much easier for everyone–such as metro stations, bus stops, traffic lights.

Then I think about how “blessed” we are. For a lot of us, just a couple of generations ago, we didn’t have running water. Our ancestors–well some of them–had the blessing of a well that they could draw water from, others had to go to a creek and carry water a bucket at a time back to the home. A lot of people in some parts of the world still have to do that. And many of them are thankful that there is water for them to go fetch–because sometimes there isn’t any.

Come Thou long-expected Jesus! Come our King! Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on Earth as it is done in Heaven!

Painting A Powerful Point Of Contact

Painting A Powerful Point Of Contact

Dear Missions Family,

My family and I greet you all in the WONDERFUL name of JESUS CHRIST and are BELIEVING that God is doing a wonderful NEW THING in your life.  Many people I know had a very difficult year.  In many ways last year was quite literally a “storm year” for us.  After serving for twenty years in Africa and later in Europe we were unable to secure visas to remain in Portugal. It was a difficult transition back to the United States with our two children but it has also been a blessing for so many reasons. Topping last years challenges was Hurricane Michael and all of its devastation for us and many others.  However, this year God is definitely DOING A NEW THING in us and with our ministry TOGETHER! We are still recovering from the storm but we have seen God faithfully provide.  We definitely serve a God who makes RIVERS flow out of DESERTS!  He delights in making a WAY in the WILDERNESS!

The Lord has connected us to NEW PLACES and PARTNERSHIPS that are truly amazing.  One of these new partners is the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS).  SAMS missionary heritage is truly awe inspiring and for those of you who know how our ministry has been welcomed across all denominational lines you will know how truly satisfying this is for me to be part of this Anglican missionary society. One of the first invitations we received as a “Missionary Bridger” has been Santiago, Chile through missionary Chris Feuillade.  God willing, this April my daughter, Charity, will join me in Chile where I will be working for nearly a month doing evangelism.  This will culminate with the painting of a large wall mural.  As a working artist many of my paintings have been transformed into various products such as prints or coffee cups but this will be the first time I have taken one of my paintings to such a large scale.

Creating A Huge Point Of Contact/ Wall Mural

Why would you want to take a wall in Santiago and transform it? For me I think of this large outdoor painting being like Paul’s prayer cloth (Acts 19:11-12) except much bigger.  The Book of Acts records that the Apostle Paul sent them to people with sickness and oppression and they were cured.  My highest intention would be for my art to become like that in God’s hands.  Through God’s grace, art has the power to change the onlooker and transform the room or space it occupies.  I have been humbled and thankful each time someone has reported how, through experiencing the art, they had a great sense of PEACE.  This is why I covet your prayers for this art project.  I not only have to believe God for the finances to operate in Chile (scaffolding, supplies, airline tickets etc.) but I have to believe HIM for the TRANSFORMING MESSAGE.  You and I are just  messengers.  HE is the MESSAGE.

I am asking YOU to help us with this project.  It is not often you have the opportunity to create a landmark or a public work that has the power to inspire and transform a corner of our world. Think of it… YOU with US by God’s grace have the potential to take a graffiti bombed wall and so clearly share the message that Jesus Christ wants to touch and bless the lives of the Chilean people!

TOGETHER we are bringing HOPE, JOY, SMILES, and MIRACLES, in the name of Jesus.  Write US TODAY!  Let us know how to be praying for you and please consider sending  your BEST love GIFT to meet this project’s budget and for us to be able to continue this vital soul saving ministry.

Your friends in Christ,—Joshua Ben King

Prayer Needs for Chile

Prayer Needs for Chile

This photo shows one of the points where fires have been burning during the weekend and now.
This particular one is behind the rural Mapuche community where Bishop Abelino was born and raised. Fortunately, in this case, the fire has gone away from homes.
But as we write, they are evacuating people from where Marita’s family lives and there the fires have reached to their nearest neighbor’s property.
On Saturday night, Pedro spent most of the night helping protect the school where his father works and right now he and Joyanne have gone out to Marita’s family home to offer their help.
In Malalche, houses have been burned, two people have died, and Pastor Antonio is worried.
In Dollinco, they have no electricity, so they have no water, and that makes it difficult for Pastor José’s family, as their daughter, Adriana, is terminally ill with cancer.
In our own church in Labranza, Sonia, one of the members, was worried yesterday that their wheat crop will be burned if they can’t get it harvested.

The sky is gray and smoky today in Temuco and a nearby hill is on fire.Please pray for us and especially our brothers and sisters in the rural churches whose livelihood depends on their crops, animals and wooded land.

Thank you for your prayers. We will keep you posted.
 

Russ and Heidi

A Change of Events

A Change of Events

by Gus Calvo, SAMS Short-term team leader to Chile

“Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.  Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another – maybe both.”  Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

Last September a team of 10, including myself, began the process of preparing to go on mission to Nicaragua. Several of us had been there before and discerned that God was calling us back. As we prepared, we felt the hand of God upon us, revealing one confirmation after another. Even fundraising exceeded our expectations.

Then I received a phone call that civil unrest had broken out in Nicaragua and situations of hostility had become more prevalent.  It seemed that we weren’t going to Nicaragua after all, and we had to regroup fast.  The Lord brought us all together for a season of ministry, rather than trying to understand the “whys,” we decided to trust first and understand later.

We turned to SAMS to explore the possibility of mission elsewhere.  Having kept busy throughout the formation process left us hungering to serve in whatever way the Lord revealed. A door swung wide open to connect with Heidi and Russ Smith, SAMS Missionaries in Chile. It only took two days for the group to get turned around!

We connected with our donors and they were supportive of the decision for us to go to Chile. The people in Nicaragua were equally understanding. I began to look at airfare to Chile and was taken aback by the prices to get us there.  Honestly, it was overwhelming.  After hearing the costs, the team felt as if a mission service was not going to happen.  I contacted SAMS, Heidi, and Russ to let them know that this expense would leave little in our budget. Then, my heart began to feel heavy as I heard the Lord saying, “Gus, what happened to trust first and understand later?”

Heidi encouraged me that the Lord would provide. He had taken us this far, and wouldn’t leave us now. Shortly after our talk, I made a second call to the travel agency, only to discover the prices for the airfare had dropped, enabling us to go to Chile after all. This journey has taught our team to trust in the Lord for everything, even if we feel doubt or disbelief. We cannot always understand the activity of God, but if we are certain in the Lord, he will lead us to where we are meant to serve.

 

News and Prayer Update from Russ and Heidi Smith

News and Prayer Update from Russ and Heidi Smith

Russ and Heidi Smith work in the Araucanía region of Chile to help build up the Church in this area, and as of March 25th, 2018 Russ is pastor of “Reino de Dios” (Kingdom of God) Anglican Church in Labranza, as well as working at the Rural Bible Institute, and of course Heidi is right at his side. We also continue to work with interdenominational ministries such as Evangelism Explosion for Kids and ESI–Equipping Servants, International.

News and Prayer Update from the Smiths:

 

10,000 Reasons

10,000 Reasons

Mondays…

It’s another day. Another Monday. I really didn´t want to get out of bed this morning and go to school. It was one of those mornings where you want nothing more than to just roll back over and sleep for 5 more days. I could also see my breath when I woke up this morning, it was that cold in my room. Although, I´m surprisingly getting used to that. Chilean winters aren´t too fierce but sometimes the mornings can be tough. Either way, I made it to the school and I´m sitting here now preparing for my last week of school. It’s crazy to think that I only have 2 weeks left here in Chile, and only one week left at the school. I would be lying if I didn´t say that doesn´t excite me a bit (or maybe even a lot). But, I know that every day counts and I´m trying to make the most of my last few days here.

I haven´t written a blog post for a while, partly because of a lack of time, but even more so because I couldn´t come to any conclusions on what to write about. It´s not because I have nothing to share, because trust me – I do! I´m just hyper aware of my audience, my purpose in writing these blogs, and my genuine desire to write honest and informative reflections. I have good days, I have bad days. I sometimes have small, but significant moments with students, and sometimes I just “survive” the day. But, the truth of it all is that the days are harder than they are easy. And in hard times and in our discomfort (in a new place, in new relationships, new environments, etc.) it´s easy to focus on everything that´s hard and everything that we don´t like. Maybe you´re just more positive than I am, and that´s not something you struggle with. But, I think if we´re honest with ourselves, we all get caught up in focusing on the wrong things sometimes.

Today when I woke up all I could focus on was how much I didn´t want to go to school and how much I just wanted this week to be over already. But, here I am at school and I´ve found myself humming a very familiar song. I don´t know how it got stuck in my head, but it did. I´ve got the Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons song stuck in my head. I remember when that song first came out and it was so popular. We sang it almost every week in church and I learned it on the piano so I could play it all the time at home. I haven´t really sung that song for a while now, but for some reason I found my self singing it today.

The song starts out with the words, “The sun comes up, it´s a new day dawning. It´s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes……..” I have never in my life thought more about those words than I have today. What I viewed my mornings as another chance to sing His song? What if I genuinely, truly and honestly, let myself trust the Lord more? I know I should. Of course I know I should. But easier said than done, right? I think it’s crazy the way God works. The way God uses small things, small moments, friends, teachers, and even songs to speak to us. I don´t have many wise words to say in response to this. But, I´m encouraged. And I´m challenged. And I´m reminded that we really do have, as the song continues, 10,000 reasons to sing His praises.

Join me today in making this Monday (and every day) a day of praises!