Wednesday, July 30, 2014

a few recent happenings

i feel like i can't even catch my breath lately.  lots of ups and downs.  which is normal for us here...  except that lately, the swings have been dramatic!  thankfully there are always ups.  here's a few from the last week or so... 

always fun to give a family some new beds.  in this case (and in most) en entire family was sleeping in the same bed.  now, milton and cristian have their own space to spread out.  they must feel like kings!  i'm sure mom and dad are pretty happy to have their own bed as well...

we invited our neighbors over for dinner and a "white elephant" game the other day.  it was a blast.  grandpa marcos first opened up a pack of toy cars...  but later on was able to steal the gift he had his eye on - a nice warm blanket!

i came home a couple nights ago to an excited group of rhinos who were spending the night... they couldn't wait to show me what they had put together.  using bananagram letters, they put together a chart of "brock's family", which included kerrie, the kids, and their 3 names.  brought tears to my eyes immediately!

this picture was taken when we arrived back at the academy after a successful trip to the US Embassy last week.  our varsity boys were given temporary visas to travel to the US to play in an international soccer tournament!  we praise God for having favor on us at the embassy and during this process (many were being denied, including other soccer teams).  we believe that he must have a special purpose for this trip.  more details to follow...

our friend cesar has been bedridden for 12 years with a form of spondylitis so severe that his entire spine has fused together.  he has lost the ability to move practically every bone in his body, except for one hand, and his jaw. 

recently, he was having complications and needed to overnight in the hospital for treatment.  (not an easy situation since it is extremely painful for him to have to be moved.) 

as i drove him home, i listened to him in the back of the van, preaching God's goodness the entire way home.  despite the overwhelming pain of the ride, he shared about God's grace and the saving love of Jesus.  some friends were visiting from the states and had gone with us that day.  spencer (facing forward) could barely take it - sobbing uncontrollably the entire way home.  he later told me that cesar's words and example forever changed his life.

oscar update

just want to thank all of you for your continued prayers for oscar.

after posting my last blog, he had a few more attacks.  but through much prayer and fighting, we believe he is now free.  its been almost a week since the last one.

please keep praying for his strength.  we believe satan uses his "anger" as a door to get into his mind.  one of the common threads to all of the attacks was that they started as he became upset about something.  so we have been talking with him a lot about that, and praying for his ability to control himself in those moments, give whatever it is over to God, and have peace.

thank you for fighting these battles with us!  we definitely feel your prayers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

casting off darkness with the armor of light (rom 13:12)

thank you to all of you who have lifted this situation up in prayer.  scripture says prayer and fasting is critical in dismantling demonic activity.  we have felt your support in a big way.

jesus carried me through one of the toughest weeks i've ever had here in guatemala. crazy thing is, it started off pretty amazing.

a week ago sunday, we had the privilege of baptizing oscar, one of the rhinos who recently accepted christ.  i've known oscar for almost 6 years.  he's been in the boys academy for more than 3 years, ever since we opened.
me and oscar in early 2009
his baptism party was joyous.  he is a changed young man, no doubt.  we've seen it coming for a long time.  as our friend cesar later told us, there was surely a fiesta in the heavens as another young man from the village of buena vista is freed and now knows the grace of jesus christ.

oscar's baptism - july 13, 2014
the next day, oscar experienced the first of several demonic attacks that would hit throughout the week.  for me its been a crash course in demon possession/oppression - reading as much scripture as possible, hearing from people i love and trust, and from simply being thrown into the fire.  there has been much prayer and discernment as a group here at bvsa as to how to handle things.  and much seeking as to what our role is, as those filled with the holy spirit.  i had seen some things before, but never been so personally involved.  and the things i had read or studied in the past had done nothing to prepare me for the real deal.

during the attacks, he loses control of his body, and doesn't know who he is.  he becomes amazingly strong- usually taking several of us to hold him down. during one of them, he drove me into a block wall as if i was half his size (he is half mine).  he foams at the mouth, rolls his eyes back, becomes rigid, etc.

the first time it happened, it scared me.  i think it scared all of us. we began digging into God's word, and becoming strengthened by faith. each time it happened after that, i felt stronger and more confident in claiming the blood of Jesus Christ as supreme authority.  as a team here, we knew that the same blood that purchased each of us is sufficient.  with each following attack, we prayed over him, sang, worshiped, and demanded, in the name of Jesus, that he be left alone.

late thursday night during a time of worship, singing and prayer, he passed out.  he had done this before, but it had only been after the "attacks", never out of the blue.  after several minutes, he woke up, and seemed much better- much more alert.  the next day, we had an incredibly sweet time of prayer and sharing as a team (all the rhinos).  they prayed over him, encouraged him, and promised to always have his back.  beautifully, these "events" have brought them closer in ways that i haven't seen in the last 3 years since the academy opened its doors.

it has been 2 days since then.  we've kept a close eye on him since, and he's doing great.  we are believing that he has been delivered.  right now as i type, i can hear him in the other room with jake and milton, laughing and messing around just like normal.

this is far from over.

paul put it this way during varsity team devotions on friday (as best i can recall).  i thought it was a perfect summary of where we are:

paul:  "tell me some of the things that are 'dark' about your village." 
the boys:  "abuse, addiction, beating up women, not caring about their families or others."
paul:  "how long has it been that way here?"
the boys:  "forever."
paul:  "what are you guys trying to do about it?"
the boys:  "change it."
paul:  "so if those things make your village dark, you guys are like lights, trying to illuminate the darkness...
the boys:  nod their heads yes
paul:  so if satan likes his darkness, do you think he's going to be ok with it if you start turning on the lights?"
the boys:  "no"
paul:  "so basically what we've started here in the village is a war - light verses darkness.  do you understand?"
the boys:  "yes"
paul:  "if you want an explanation for whats been going on with your teammate this week, here's an easy answer.  he accepted christ recently and decided to jump into the front lines of this war.  in a war, the front line is always the most dangerous spot.  the enemy struck him, but he's back up.  through the power of jesus, we lifted him up together, and he's strong again.  in fact, all of us are stronger.  and here's the best news...  we know who wins the war!  because we fight for a king that has never been defeated, and never will never be defeated.  his name is jesus."

after this time together, one of the boys raised his hand and said "i want to fight.  oscar has been my friend longer than anyone, and when i saw him going through the attacks, i wanted to trade shoes with him and take his place.  i want to fight too.  i want a shot at the enemy."

i was fighting back tears.  we have a verse from john 15 on the gym wall that says "there is no greater love than this, to lay down his life for a friend."

do you hear this satan?  you have made us stronger.  we know you're not going away.  but we claim the blood of jesus in this place.  we claim victory in the mighty name of our king, the commander of our army, Jesus Christ.  you know him, and you tremble at his name.  and we are filled with him.  you have enjoyed your darkness here for too long.  we're not going anywhere.  together, with our rhinos, we are turning on some lights.  and we dont plan on stopping until our little "village on a hill" is lit up so bright that the whole world sees it.

"the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.  and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned."  
Matthew 4:16

oscar's team - the varsity rhinos

Monday, July 7, 2014

waking up to a 7.1

pic from today of a damaged home in the san marcos region
at 5:20 this morning a 7.1 earthquake had our house rocking back and forth.

one of the stronger ones we've felt in a while for sure.  so strong that by the time kerrie and i ran out of our room, our kids were already running out of theirs.  within seconds we had andrea scooped up out of her crib, and were headed outside. 

the giant block wall of the academy gym was waving and bending like a flag.  not joke.  it was crazy.

praying for all of those who were hurt, injured, etc.  i read in the news today that several were killed, many injured, and countless had their homes ruined.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

world cup in brazil

alex, chad, me, and mynor at the argentina game
not long after the 2010 world cup, my bro chad and my buddy alex - both longtime supporters of my family and BVSA since its inception - threw out an offer.

they told mynor and i that if we could save up some money between then and 2014's world cup in brazil, they would cover the rest of the costs and take us to the cup.  we tucked away little by little for 3 years.

we recently got home from a 10 day trip to brazil.  we saw 4 games in two different cities.  in those games we were able to see 4 of the final 8 teams that are still alive in the cup! 

we saw lionel messi single-handedly win a game for argentina in the final minutes.  and we saw the home team, brazil, win a classic against chile that went to penalty shots - with neymar hitting the game winner.
"cristo redentor" - rio de janeiro

we juggled soccer balls on copacabana beach with new friends from all over the world.  and we made it to the top of the mountain where the famous "christ the redeemer" statue overlooks rio de janeiro.  (check that one off the bucket list!)

but my favorite part?  hanging with good friends.  we had a blast.  we laughed so much and so hard, i think i pulled a muscle in my stomach. 

it was wonderful to come home.  i missed my fam and i missed the rhinos.  the boys have been on the edge of their seats for every story, picture, and video we can share about brazil.  they still can't believe that we were at the world cup

for those who know my story, professional sports was my life for a while.  i became immune to athletes, super bowls and pro bowls.  been there, done that. 

juggling on copacabana beach - another bucket lister
but world cup is different.

32 countries and all their fans - all in the same place?  insanity.  flags everywhere.  songs, anthems, and chants fill the streets all hours of the day & night.  pure madness.  if only we got that excited about jesus...

hysterically, the amount chad and alex asked us to save up was literally insignificant when compared to the final bill on this voyage.  THANKS GUYS.  your generosity created a very special experience.  obviously for me and mynor...  but also for all the rhinos that have been glued to my pictures and videos!