Tuesday, August 24, 2010

in awe....

i am headed to bed, but couldn't crash without journaling about this.

today the construction crew showed up to start the excavation/retaining wall phase of the boys academy. while the contractor and architect have agreed to take on the project pro bono, he contacted me two days ago to say he needed 8-9k to get started. this would buy materials and pay the workers for their time.

having not raised any funds for the project yet (other than for the land which God used a youth group to purchase), i hesitated. i asked if i could have some time and possibly bring the money back from the US when i go in september. he said sure, but we would have to wait to september to start...

that was two days ago. LAST NIGHT i received an email from theresa (who receives our donations stateside). she scanned and emailed a check that we had received from a family for $9,000!

this is not normal at all to get donations this large. additionally, this donation came in from first time givers, completely unexpectedly. (thank you for your obedience in responding to holy spirit!!)

will you give praise to God with me for this?! not only is this crazy cool evidence of God's faithful provision, but it is also a great source of confirmation and encouragement for me... that He desires this vision to become a reality and He is so clearly at work in making it happen.

i just re-read my blog from yesterday. i am in awe and praise of my awesome God tonight. when this Boys Academy comes to pass (and all along the way) MAY GOD RECEIVE ALL THE GLORY!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

HE is big - why not dream big?

here we are again. it doesn't make perfect sense... it seems crazy... ridiculous actually. but none of that matters to God.

he is the one who uses the foolish to shame the wise. when we say "but that makes no sense... how can we do that without considering X, Y, and Z"... he chuckles at us because, once again, we are forgetting for a moment that he is, after all, GOD.

this idea to change the future (and maybe the current) generation of the village of Buena Vista through the Boys Academy is not just an idea any more. it's happening!

a couple weeks ago we closed on a beautiful hillside acre of land in Buena Vista. tomorrow we break ground on the Boys Academy facility.

you can read all about this vision at www.bvboys.com.

one thing i love about following our God is that no dream is too big for him. and when our dreams match up with his, nothing is impossible.

i was advised by a friend recently as we pursue the Boys Academy dream. he said, "is what you are pursuing so great, so crazy, so incomprehensible, that when it comes to fruition, there will be no other possible explanation than the awesomeness of God?".

i have considered that question for a couple weeks now. talked about it with my wife constantly, and considered it in my prayers. i have come to the conclusion that the answer is an overwhelming "yes". here's a few reason's why:

1. after 2 years living and working in this area, i am yet to find a man from Buena Vista that i would consider a model husband, father, and man of God. our desire is to grow all of the boys in the program into this type of man.

2. to my knowledge, no one has ever graduated high school (much less college) from buena vista. our desire is to get all of the boys in the program sponsored and into high school.

3. we are currently breaking ground on this facility without the funds to pay for the project. in faith we believe that God will provide in his perfect timing. when He does, how could we possibly point to anyone else?

this list could go on and on. it's a big dream. but our God is big. all of it seems like more than i can handle or even comprehend. that's exactly why i am resting in God's bigness tonight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

incredible examples of real faith

today my faith was checked bigtime.

with the roads to Buena Vista blocked due to repair, we have been re-routed through corn fields and back roads to get to the village. the last few days we have passed a house out in the middle of nowhere that simply looks nightmarish.

mark and i have been wanting to stop in and meet whoever lives there. with a group from journey in town today, we stopped by to say hello.

the closer we got, the worse the living conditions became. old rotten pieces of tin, tacked together and barely standing. mud floors. no water, no bathroom.

we were greeted by a 76 year old blind man named manuel, and his 74 year old wife juliana. manuel stumbled out, shouting greetings and introducing us to his wife. the next half hour or so was spent getting to know them.

manuel lost his sight 14 years ago in an accident where he fell off a cliff and landed on his head. they literally have nothing. the land does not belong to them. they borrow it in exchange for watching the owner's property and caring for the pets. it is filthy.

they have no work, therefore they earn no living, therefore they struggle to eat. the have no family that helps them. nobody.

what's amazing (and beautiful) is what we found out next. a friend of ours named nato was with us when we stopped by. he is a local guy that was helping us with a garden micro-business we were working on this morning. as we hung out at this older couple's home, nato began to share more with us about them...

he said he remembers manuel from when he was a little kid. manuel had a candy cart that rolled around town selling candies and ice creams to the kids. nato said everyone bought candies from him.

then he said "i still walk the path in front of their home almost every night and they are always singing out praises to God. they sing so loud you can hear them up and down the path. the sing out their prayers."

i asked him what they sing, and he said "they shout out thanks to God for all they have."

for all they have? i cannot over exaggerate how little they have. no home, no food, no family.

later we asked to pray for them. as my friend chris began praying, his voice was drowned out by the prayers (shouts!) of manuel and juliana. they cried out thanks to God. they cried out prayers for us. that God would bless us, protect us, and overwhelm us with his love. with tears streaming down their faces, they thanked God for our visit and praised Him for the work that we are doing.

i left their home amazed at their faith, and my own having been seriously challenged.

i wonder how much of my faith correlates with good fortune. does my faith fluctuate depending on variables such as good health, paid bills, plenty to eat, family, friends? does basic worldly happiness help me have greater faith? i have so much to learn...

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HIV orphans

we have some friends who run an orphanage full of children with HIV. their mission: "to serve the poor, and specifically the most desperate among them." but these friends don't only serve the poor, they give their own lives away completely in order to do it.

it is a catholic orphanage. our friends are the 14 nuns that run it. they live there, eat there, they never leave. the only time they see the outside of the facility is when they are taking kids to the hospital. unfortunately, that is frequently.

almost all of the 70 or so kids they care for are HIV positive. most of them were thrown out when they were born. "they were thrown out with the garbage" the director said. a friend of mine responded "this is the most beautiful garbage dump i have ever seen."

suzie is a friend and one of the nuns working at the orphanage. when she was 11 she started going to school there (they are also a private school that accepts students without HIV). as she grew up in that school, she eventually knew she had a calling on her life to take care of these kids.

her heart broke for the HIV kids, and she admired how the nuns sacrificed their lives to care for them.

when she was 18 she changed from "evangelical christian" to catholic (two very distinct camps in guatemalan religious culture), and became a nun in order to work at the home. this change did not come easy for suzie, as her father and brother are pastors at evangelical christian churches.

she has not seen her family since she made the change. (a choice they have made, as the nuns are allowed to have visitors at the HIV home.)

the more i get to know suzie, the more i admire her. along with the other nuns, she is following a biblical model of service that i have never seen lived out with such conviction. truly giving up her life for others, she does it with a smile and with joy.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." ~Jesus

then i look into the faces of the kids. no parents, no family. son's and daughter's of sexual abuse and prostitutes. sick and diseased, with no value to their family, they were thrown out with the garbage.

like suzie, i am compelled to do more. Jesus said when we look into the eyes of "the least of these" we are looking into His own eyes.

forgotten, betrayed and thrown out... these kids are Jesus.