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Does God Exist?

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Please take a minute to watch this short video and then share with friends. 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=798302620188827&fref=nf

No, Albert Einstein was not a Christian or even a theist (one who believes in a personal God), probably because he failed to understand why evil existed. These days, those who fail to understand the purpose of evil not only reject the concept of a personal God, but also reject the concept of God’s existence altogether. If you are an agnostic or atheist, my goal for you would be to recognize what Albert Einstein understood about the universe – that its amazing design demands the existence of a creator God. Then, go beyond Einstein’s faulty understanding of the purpose of the universe and consider the Christian explanation for the purpose of human life and why evil must exist in this world.

Source: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/einstein.html

And here are some facts….

Does God exist? The universe had a start – what caused it?

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”9

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light

And….

The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously. Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.       Source: http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html

EVIDENCE FOR GOD http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/einstein.html

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT HOW WE KNOW GOD EXISTS

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-How-Do-We-Know-God-Exists/

1 Corinthians 2:14 
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The Bible. Paul wrote that “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible itself is proof of God’s existence because He used 40 unrelated people over a period of 2,000 years to write His unique love letter to us. There is nothing like the Bible because it carries the same consistent message throughout all of its 66 different books. Atheists can laugh at this idea, but those who have read the Scriptures and experienced God through its pages know why it is the best-selling and most-translated book in all of history. (Fact: 100 million copies of the Bible are sold every year. Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion has sold 2 million. http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/43192-seven-things-that-prove-god-is-real

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXDDZrYOuAE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4EaWPIlNYY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4EaWPIlNYY


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There’s Power in the Name of Jesus!

  musicnote[1]images[2] Do you believe in the statement, “There is power in the Name of Jesus”? Have you ever thought about even singing that Name to the Enemy of our souls, who has to flee?

I just read an amazing story that I was unaware of, but it is well documented.  It has to do with the old hymn we all know and sing in our churches, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”   The lyrics, written in 1779 by Rev. Edward Perronet, a British minister and close friend of John and Charles Wesley, have been translated into almost every existing language and the song has often been called the “National Anthem of Christendom.”

In the early 1800’s a missionary by the name of Reverend E. P. Scott was living in India attempting to reach the native people for Christ.  At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but against the advice of his fellow missionaries, he set out alone to visit a remote village, determined to share the Gospel with a dangerous savage tribe.

After a journey of a few days, Scott was met by a large group of warriors who quickly surrounded him, each one pointing a spear towards his heart.  The missionary expected that he would die, so he made a decision to use his last few breaths to glorify God, while hopefully stirring something within the hearts of his captors.  He was a musician who always carried his violin with him, so he took it out, closed his eyes, and began to play and sing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” in the native language of the warriors.  He fully expected to feel the agony of the spears being plunged into his heart at any second.

Amazingly, after singing the first verse, the second, the third and then beginning the fourth, Rev. Scott realized he was still standing, and that the angry warriors around him had become peacefully quiet!  As he slowly opened his eyes, he saw every spear lowered!  There stood those mighty warriors, with tears in their eyes.   The power of the Name of Jesus had just been demonstrated once again!

The warriors invited Rev. Scott to stay with them!  He lived among them for over two years, sharing the love of God with them and leading many of them to Christ!  The power of just one song sung in a moment of crisis changed the lives of many that day, accomplishing what a hundred sermons may never have been able to do!

The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2 9-11, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (NKJV)

There is ultimate power in the Name of Jesus!  I challenge you to speak and sing that Name against the onslaughts of the Enemy in your life, whether it be for a physical, spiritual, financial, emotional or other need in your life. He responds when we call His Name out in prayer and praise….He is ever present to hear and answer us, even when things seem darkest.  I hope you will sing the words of this song in praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

All hail the power of Jesus’ Name, let angels prostrate fall;

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all;

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

*****

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race, ye ransomed from the Fall;

Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all;

Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

*****

Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball,

To Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all.

To Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all.

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O that with yonder sacred throng we at His feet may fall!

We’ll join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all;

We’ll join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all


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In the Father’s Shadow

Billy Graham

Yesterday, I was watching the Today show. They were interviewing Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son. He was actually there because Billy, who will be 95 on his birthday in November, is releasing a new book. It’s filled with new thoughts from this great evangelist. Unable to do interviews himself, Franklin went in his father’s place.

As I listened to Franklin and his two minute interview, I thought about what it must be like for him living in his father’s shadow. There were questions asked about Billy’s health. There were inquiries into his quality of life and mental state. The interviewer, when the opportunity arose, always asked about Franklin’s father. Franklin graciously answered his questions but always returned to the gospel. He must have explained God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice three or four times in that short two minutes. It was amazing.

Franklin never once during this interview spoke of himself or his ministry. Each and every word spoken was about his earthly father and his heavenly Father. He used ever opportunity presented to speak of the gospel. I don’t know how many millions of people were watching, but I know they heard about Jesus’ love for them. They learned that God would stop at nothing to have a relationship with them. They were told the reason they were here on this earth.

The bible says, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2 NASB) That is exactly what Franklin was doing. I imagine he prayed about this interview. And I imagine asked for the right words. God answered that prayer.

I guess I admire men like Billy and Franklin Graham. They have spent their lives sharing the gospel. They have come under scrutiny on many occasions. People have tried to trap them and present them with opportunities to sin and they have resisted. Their mission is clear. Share Jesus. And they do just that.

I don’t know if Franklin has lived in his father’s shadow but I do know that both he and Billy have lived in the Shadow of their Father in heaven. I would say that’s a perfect place to live.


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Being “Salt and Light” Where You Are!

So Loved The WorldShe was a delicate, beautiful, slightly built young woman who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.  After walking into my teaching studio in Tyler, Texas and shyly introducing herself as Sheron,  she told me she was interested in her five year old son, Ali, beginning piano lessons.  She seemed a bit unsure of herself, and I noticed she also had a two-year-old son who appeared to be very hyper-active with disciplinary challenges!  I gladly enrolled her little boy in lessons and decided to take him myself, as I had a few openings.

Ali did fairly well when he practiced, but I don’t think piano was his main interest in life; probably, more than likely, it was his mom’s idea for him to come!  As the weeks passed and he came to his half-hour lesson, I would visit briefly with Sheron and discuss her son’s progress, among other things.  I learned that she was new to our country, having recently moved here from her native country of Iran.  She had a degree in biophysics and after moving to the U.S. had met and married a fellow Iranian who owned several gas station/convenience stores in the area.  She was always very pleasant to talk with and our friendship grew.

One day she confided to me that she was very lonely and did not seem able to make many friends in our country.  I told her I would be her friend and that seemed to please her.  I knew she had her hands full with two very active boys and I just tried to help her feel comfortable.  The next time Sheron brought Ali to his lesson, she said to me, “I want to know about Jesus!  I have been reading some and hearing about Him.  Can you help me?”  I excitedly shared my testimony of receiving Jesus as my personal Savior from sin and asked her if she had a Bible.  She did not, and I told her I would get her one, which I promptly did.  When I presented it to her the following week, she was very excited, telling me she was fluent in English and could easily read an English edition.  She also began reading materials about the Gospel in her native Farsi language.

The next time she came I asked her if she would like to receive Jesus as her Savior.  She eagerly said, “Yes!” and after explaining what conversion was all about, I led her in the sinner’s prayer and Sheron became a Christian!  I asked if she had a church home and invited her to come to our church.  She said she would try, but that her husband was a Muslim and did not like the Christian faith.  She seemed a bit concerned about this fact, and I told her I would be her prayer partner and together we would pray for her husband.  Then she shared with me the fact that she had suffered with severe back pain for some time; I prayed for her healing and she told me the pain left!  The next week she was jubilant when she told me she had not suffered any more pain all week and that she was still rejoicing in her new-found salvation through the blood of Christ!

Not too long after this a young woman in her twenties, with a remarkable voice and to whom I had taught voice lessons when she was in high school, came back to refresh and sing again with me.  During her first vocal lesson, she confided in me that she had recently converted to the “Wicca” faith, a variety of witchcraft, although she had been a Baptist when I had taught her years earlier.  Although I was somewhat aghast and surprised, I simply told her I would pray for her.  She knew how I believed and week after week at our lesson, she would still sing some Christian songs along with Broadway and operatic tunes she was working on.  At times I would have a chance to witness to her of my faith, once again.  One day, she came and told me about some heart-wrenching things in her life, and began to sob in anguish.  As the tears streamed down her face, I said, “Michelle (not her real name), it’s time to come back!  Jesus is waiting for you and you know you will never be happy until you surrender to Him!”  She nodded in agreement, and prayed the sinner’s prayer with me.  Great joy flooded her countenance and the next week when she returned for her lesson, she glowed with a peace that made her look almost like an entirely different person!

Both Sheron and Michelle moved out of my life, Ali discontinuing his lessons and Michelle moving away.  I never saw either of them again, and perhaps I never will, but out of the thousands of people I have taught, I never forgot them!   I know God used me in that little studio to help two young women come to Christ.  Sometimes when I became discouraged about teaching kids who didn’t want to be there, or when it seemed that my work was in vain, I thought about them and others who had come for lessons, many pouring out their hearts and problems to me with tears streaming down their faces, often saying as they sang worship songs, “I don’t know why, but this just brings something out in me that makes the tears flow!”  I would tell them this was the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

When you get discouraged or feel like giving up some days, just remember God can bring people into your life and down your path, even in the workplace!  You don’t have to preach them a sermon; just be their friend and bring Jesus to them as He leads you!  I found out through these experiences that “music really is worship”…being “salt and light” in a dark place!


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Pray For Pastor Saeed Abedini

Originally posted on vineoflife.net:

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Dear Ones,

I normally write devotions for The Vine Of Life News, but this evening I am asking for your prayers. An American Pastor, Saeed Abedini, was sentenced to eight years in the Iranian Evin prison. He has had to endure physical and mental torture for his unswerving faith in God and the Lord Jesus.  His captors tell him to, “deny Christ or face longer prison time.” (Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter )

Today is his 33rd birthday and his family is very worried about his welfare.  He remains in solitary confinement. There are new fears regarding his health.  He suffers from untreated internal bleeding, caused by his beatings while incarcerated.

Please pray for his healing, direction, courage, hope, strength, and release.  You can view more about Pastor Saeed on my blog  http://facingtrials.com/  or by going to this site as well.

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10 Lessons Leaders Learn from Youth Mission Trips

Leading a mission trip provides church leaders and involved adults with an opportunity to help the young people in your group learn about the power of helping others while spreading the message of Christ. On the surface, it’s more of a learning opportunity for the youth involved than an experience that teaches leadership skills, but there are a variety of lessons that even the adults on a youth mission trip are positioned to learn. If you’re receptive to the experience and approach leading a youth mission trip with an open mind, these are only a sampling of the lessons you can learn along the way.

  1. The Importance of Your Own Influence – Whether it’s helping the young members of your team make a difference in the lives of others while witnessing for Jesus or seeing the changes you help to effect in the lives of others, leading your first mission trip will help you see just how important you are and how much of an impact your efforts truly make.

This is a well balanced article on missions trips with youth in particular. It is I thought worth the time to read it, especially if you are thinking of leading a mission trip with youth anytime soon.

To finish reading this article, please head over to http://www.summernannyjobs.com/blog/10-lessons-leaders-learn-from-youth-mission-trips/


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Defend The Defenseless

photo_lg_egypt

“Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” -Isaiah 1:17

Today is my 24th birthday. I didn’t want to make much of a big deal about it, but part of me wondered if this would be one of my loneliest birthday’s yet. God on the other hand didn’t forget about it; He has made this day a blessed one and it is only half way through so far. I woke up at 6AM for our daily prayer then rode my bike over to my Kung Fu class. I have started to learn another form of Kung Fu besides the Ip Man Wing Chun system called Black Flag (or Hek Ki Boen for those of you who speak Cantonese). It is a much more powerful system but combines well with the Ip Man Wing Chun that I am already learning, not to mention both are taught by Sifu Oscar Choco. I didn’t have to pay much more to take the extra classes (80 dollars for a year, that’s the price of about one month in the states) so its a really good deal. It keeps me active and over half of my fellow students are Atheists, Agnostics or non-practicing Catholics. I have already seen a lot of opportunities to be an example and share the love of Christ with these guys.

I'm the one white guy in the back, if you couldn't tell.
I’m the one white guy in the back, if you couldn’t tell.

Also, as I have mentioned before I believe it is the duty of every Christian man to know how to fight. That might sound a bit controversial in some Christian circles, but I believe it is our duty to know how to defend ourselves and more importantly defend others. If you think that is wrong then I encourage you to take a look at the scriptures and see the overall character of God Himself. God is not a violent God, in fact He abhors violence and the man that practices it. That said though, He is known as the Lord of Hosts. He is the commander of legions of warrior angels and is Himself a warrior, but He only uses violence in extreme situations when no other options are left. In Psalm 68:5 it says that He is “a defender of widows” and in Psalm 82:3 we are encouraged to emulate Him where the psalmist states “Defend the poor and the fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.” To defend the poor and the fatherless sometimes requires more then just words, as the ancient king of Israel, David, knew very well. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is “…a time of war, and a time of peace.” In the context of Jesus reminding His disciples that He would soon be departing from them, and attempting to get them to start thinking in the lines of common sense, Jesus told His disciples “…But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” (Luke 22:36).

So how do we balance this with the statements of the Bible such as when Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38-39). This is one of my inner struggles that I had for many years, being that my entire life I had wanted to join the military and it was because of this inner struggle that when I started to follow Christ I decided not to. How could I learn to kill, especially if I was forced to kill knowing that the one I killed likely did not know Christ and would go directly to hell? I took the path of the pacifist, dedicated myself to the study of the word of God in Bible College and put this very verse into practice many times. There is a balance to be sought though. The Word of God does not contradict itself. It balances itself.

We, as Christians, are to be known as peacemakers and lovers of even our enemies. As God is. Yet, just as God does, there is a time for peace and a time for war. There is a time to fight and a time to surrender. The hard question is when and how. If God gives you a family it is your duty to defend your family, just as God defended His children Israel. There really is no easy answer to this question though, it will all come down to the individual conviction in that moment. Can the kingdom of God be advanced through your martyrdom, or is it your Christian duty to put a stop to evil when you see it, lest you be guilty of the sin for not stopping it when you could have? Those are questions you must ask yourself and they are not easy to answer. The point of Jesus teaching us to turn the other cheek is so that we would leave vengeance to the Lord, we are not to reciprocate the evil that is done to us. That does not mean you don’t defend your loved ones. So what am I getting at? Defending yourself and others is OK, more than that it is just and commanded by the Scriptures, but setting out to take vengeance on those who have done evil you is not. There should be no anger, no vengeance when we are forced by force to fight, rather it should be out of love that you do so.

Right, that concludes my little rant. This month I also got the opportunity to help out as a translator for a day with a medical mission team from the States. I actually really enjoyed it and I think I may be doing more of it in the future. They asked if I would come back the next day, and I wanted to but was unable to make time to do so. I have a feeling though Unsion (the Christian TV channel that was organizing it) will be hitting me up more for things like that in the future. Not only that, I have also been attending a pastor’s meeting every Monday morning with Pastor’s from all over Cuenca. At first I really didn’t like it, since it is a very charismatic group and the majority are Pentecostal. That said though it has been good for me and I have had some chance to encourage them to be more loyal to the Word.

People in line waiting for the free medical clinic. They also were prayed for before they left.
People in line waiting for the free medical clinic. They also were prayed for before they left.
At the Pastor's Meeting, Kelber the Worship Leader with the long hair sitting in front of me.
At the Pastor’s Meeting, Kleber the Worship Leader with the long hair sitting in front of me.

If you remember my last post I asked you guys to start praying for Basem, the guy who came from Egypt as a persecuted Christian, that he would find a job. He has since found three jobs, PRAISE GOD!!!! He is working with Unsion as an IT guy, teaching English, and at times helping to keep an eye on possible thefts in a retail shop. While we are talking about Basem I figure it is a good time to let you know the amazing things God is putting on our heart to do. Basem used to organize mission teams that arrived in Egypt, so he has connections and experience leading teams all over Egypt. One day we were walking home and he casually said “Why don’t we go on a mission trip to Egypt?”. “That’s a great idea!! Lets pray about it!”

Well a few weeks later and I was reading through my devotionals and the Lord showed me Acts 7:34 which says “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” So that’s that. The Lord is sending me to Egypt. Basem and I sat down and planned out a 20 day trip where we will visit three cities; Alexandria, Cairo, and Port Said. My heart is to encourage the persecuted church there and to evangelize (obviously cautiously since you can get thrown in jail or worse there). Even though there is persecution and things have gotten a lot worse for Christians in Egypt there is still an open door there, and the people of Egypt need encouragement now more than ever. We are going to take a team from the English Service down there sometime this year (we are looking at around August-September). Please keep us all in prayer. Also, if the Lord lays it on your heart to help support the trip costs about 3,000 in all per person, so if you want to help send Basem, someone else on the team (still not sure who all will be on the team yet) or I and be apart of what God will do down there on this trip see the tab that says support on my blog or email me at matthewcamphuis@gmail.com.

Map of Egypt
Map of Egypt

This year is going to be an exciting one and I am looking forward to all the things that God has in store. Some things that you guys could be praying for is that God would move on the hearts of all the foreigners here in Cuenca to come to Him (there are around 3-5k but we only have 20-40 that attend church). I have joined a Spanish Conversational Group for Gringos and have been meeting a lot of new gringos through that, so you can pray that the Lord opens the door to witness to these guys through that. Also, we are planning a “pound party” to raise food for in need families Feb. 2nd, but we will be doing it in a “gringo” restaurant in town which will be also somewhat of an outreach to all the extranjeros. Besides that I have it on my heart to plan some sort of retreat for the English Service that is a mix of good solid Bible Study and outreach in Ecuador (maybe some good beach time too!!!). I probably don’t say this enough, but I really do appreciate all the support that you guys give me.

2nd Service in Spanish, it was amazing to see it overflowing.
2nd Service in Spanish, it was amazing to see it overflowing.

Much Love and God Bless,

Matt


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In Weakness He Is Strong

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9a, 10b

Even though this verse was the subject of my last post I have decided to talk about it once again to start off my Mission’s Update; since it has been a constant encouragement to me lately. I have really been personally learning all about how God is so much stronger than I thought He was and how true this verse really is. It has been interesting because I feel like every week I am getting weaker and weaker and yet God continues to empower me more and more. For example, I feel like my messages on Sunday have had less time and study put into them, and yet people have been telling me how much better it is every week and how blessed they are. Last Sunday one of the guys came up after the message and said “I am just so happy right now. I feel like God has met with me with His presence. I am just so happy.” That particular message was taken from the notes of a study I had done in California. I hadn’t had time to study John because we had just gone on a Mission Trip to Loja and had gotten back that morning. I was running on 4 hours of sleep when I gave the study and had put all my hope into God. I have to say I agree, it was one of the most blessed Sundays yet and the only reason is that God showed us all grace and that it was sufficient for us.

As I had mentioned above we took a short mission trip to Loja this last weekend. We only went for about two days but managed to get a lot in. We left Cuenca around 7 AM, stopped on the way to eat lunch, then when we got there we ate lunch again. I think the first lunch was supposed to be breakfast but the way things worked out it was more like having two lunches, but hey I’m not complaining. After that we started work in setting up a puppet stage and some of us went around the neighborhood to announce that we were going to have a children’s club. Freddy, David and Estafani were at the ready with face paint for once the kids arrived; I tried painting a butterfly on one girl only to have another little girl ask “What’s that?”. “A butterfly” I replied. “It doesn’t look like a butterfly” she so graciously informed me. I decided that she was right though and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to make it into a bee. After that Freddy put on a puppet show for the kids while Jenine played along as the MC. The puppet show was about how calling out to Jesus can help us no matter where we are or how far away from home we have gone, Jesus can always help us.

David, Estefani, Paola, and Freddy face painting.

The whole group that went to Loja from Cuenca. It is cool to see nationals doing mission trips in their own country.

Puppet Time!!!

David keeping the fun going.

After that David preached it up some and then we had a Christian concert by a guy from Colombia who also told his testimony. We had a pretty good turn out and I think God touched a lot of peoples hearts with it.

David preaching it up.

The next day we did some door to door street evangelism and handed out tracts. There was one woman who was just ready and waiting to receive the gospel, she ended up praying to accept the Lord and had a bunch of questions about the Bible. It seemed like she had just been waiting for someone to come talk to her about all of this, it was that easy. It was a good reminder that we never know who is ready to receive the gospel and sometimes we just need to step out there and try it. Granted there were many rejections before her, but they were worth it.

Later on that night we put on a Biblical Dinner and spent the whole afternoon and evening preparing for it. A Biblical Dinner is a recreation of the last supper, along with a teaching about the cultural meanings of a lot of things that happened that night; such as what did bread mean to the Jewish person. Everyone sits on the floor and they eat the same type of food that they would have eaten in the days of Christ, and the only lights are the oil lamps on the tables. Biblical Dinners have been an extremely successful way to evangelize as well as to teach here. There are a lot of people that have a misunderstanding of the gospel, communion, and how much God loves them and wanted to have fellowship with them. The Biblical Dinner is a great way to help the many different people, from many different backgrounds and ideas to understand the simplicity and yet depth of the actions of Jesus during the Last Supper.

Every Biblical Dinner I am so blessed to see all the happy faces enjoying the message, the fellowship and the food.

This last month has been a real blessing and God has been doing a lot here in Cuenca. With all the good though there have been plenty of hardships. The worst is that Julia, our beloved sister in Christ who is a Missionary from Ireland, was told she has a 70% chance that she has MS and was told to return to Ireland immediately. We are still praying that God works a miracle, and I am inviting you guys to pray to do the same, but she will be leaving on a rush flight back to Ireland this Friday to get it all sorted out. She wants to come back and Lord willing she will. We know that she will be missed here; since she has been a constant source of blessing, encouragement, purity, and strength to all of us. One thing is for sure though it has been bringing the English Service group a lot closer, and everyone has been showing love to one another. I am so proud of Julia and I am so proud of the English Service for how they are taking this and how encouraging and loving they have been to each other through it. I personally am very sad to see Julia go; she has become something of a big sister to me and a person I could always confide and trust in. She actually reminds me a lot of my big sister Chris. Julia has no fear except the fear of the Lord and she is a true woman of God. She has given God and Ecuador everything and she has been an amazing example to me of what a true missionary is like. She is a hard worker, she is honest and has no hidden motives or agendas; she simply lives to serve God. We are praying and waiting in hopeful expectation until the Lord brings her back to us. In the mean time, I will be moving over to the mission house to assume the responsibilities over there.

 

This is the group that helps out with the English Service, with Julia to top row second to the left. We call ourselves the servant leaders.

All in all God is faithful, and His grace is sufficient. We have all been going through weaknesses here, and I ask that you would please pray for us diligently since we are all feeling attacks daily from the enemy. Just recently I have been having severe heart pains that persists throughout the day and at times feels like it is seizing up. I have been told that it is probably just stress and am going to get it checked out tomorrow, but prayer would be appreciated. That said though, God has also been showing Himself stronger and stronger despite all our weaknesses.

Praise God for His grace,

Matt

 

 

 

 

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Along The Way

Enjoying “The Color Purple” a fundraiser put on by Gary and Sue Gaither from the English service to help raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Hospital.

“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice… Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:17,22

I have been crying out to the Lord; evening, morning and at noon and it seemed as though He was not hearing my prayers. That was until I read these verses and the Lord comforted me that He was listening. He just had to bring me to the point where I had nothing and no one to trust in but Him alone. He has heard my voice and I have cast my burden on the Lord. I am not so worried about the things I was worried about before, because I know the Lord has heard me.

It has been a while since my last update, as usual. A lot has passed since the last update and now, also as usual. I am not sure if I have already mentioned to you guys or not but I was finally able to get my visa, which was an answered prayer and a miracle. Most people have to wait years before they get their visa, I got mine in two months. Also, first time missionaries rarely get a visa for more then 6 months… I got mine for two years. The Lord has just shown me in so many ways that this is the place for me and everything has just fit perfectly. Waiting on the Lord for 5 years payed off, since everything is perfect in His timing. I think, praise God, my Spanish has improved a lot… although it is still always a work in progress. I have been keeping myself pretty busy and have just been getting busier. I joined a Wing Chung Kung Fu gym a few months back and finally made my white belt (in Kung Fu they don’t give you the white belt, you have to earn it). For me it has been something to look forward to and it helps me stay mentally and physically fit (something I think every missionary needs to be concerned about).

Ohhh yeah, getting dangerous!!! No, actually my motivation was to have something to keep myself healthy and also to learn how to defend myself and defend others… something I think every man needs to know.

Woooo!!! I’m legal! :)

Besides that the Lord has moved on the heart of some of the people in the English service to start fixing up the mission house next door, being that it was in need of some loving. We have two houses here right next to each other, the Pastor’s house where I live (which also functions as the church office, Sunday school rooms, and a place for fellowship and prayer) and the Mission House (which is designed to allow visiting missionaries and teams to stay while they do work here, there are also various Bible Studies held there as well as Sunday School classes). I am pretty proud of the people in the English Service, we have been going through the book of Nehemiah and how God moved on his heart to repair the wall and help out Jerusalem, and I have a feeling they are just applying what they are learning. I haven’t been able to help out in all that they have been doing, but the Lord did lay it on my heart to restore and repair all the cabinets in the kitchen. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would do it and had mentioned to George (one of the Ecuadorians at the church) for some advice in how to do it since he was a carpenter. To my surprise he offered to help. We spent about a 4 days or so working on it and they ended up turning out really nice. The rest of the group from the English Service have been doing some painting of their own, including all of the downstairs floor and Julia’s room (the resident missionary in the house).

Other than that I have just been working to help bring more order and structure into the English Service. I have been praying about leadership and observing many of the people from the church to see who they are and how they would fit into leadership. We are going to have our first bi-weekly (every other week) servants meeting this Friday at 10 to spend some time together praying for the church, organizing, and seeking the Lord and His Word in order to be of the same mind. I am going to be calling it a servants meeting since I think that’s the most Biblical thing to call ourselves, since when God calls people to leadership He calls them to serve and not to be served.

Being a missionary here hasn’t been a whole lot different than when I was back in California, and I think that’s God design. One thing that I admire about Jesus’ ministry is that wherever He went He ministered along the way. That is something I have tried to imitate, but really I haven’t had to try too hard since it has been the Lord opening the doors for me all along. For example, I have made it a habit of going to a local coffee shop to study, for two reasons; one the coffee is great, and two I never can study at home… I have to go somewhere with the purpose of studying in order to do so. Besides that coffee shops have always been a Gethsemane for me. While I am there though the Lord has always opened up opportunities to minister there in one way or another.

The other day I was reading my Bible and notice that two girls were talking in English next to me, I also noticed that their conversation started out talking about cute guys. Once my food came that I had ordered I decided to pray silently, bow my head and close my eyes (I don’t normally do this, I find it showy and Jesus said let your prayers be done in secret… so I normally just pray to myself in my heart). Yet, I had a feeling though that these girls needed to see that. After that, their conversation changed and they started to talk about the Bible and how they wanted to give a Bible to one of their friends. Seeing the change in the conversation I leaned over and asked them if they were from California. They told me that they were originally from Ecuador but were living in New York. They asked me if I was reading the Bible and if I had prayed before I ate, to which I replied yes and to which they told me they thought was pretty cool. Come to find out they were Jehovah’s Witnesses who were here visiting family. We kept it cordial and just sorta vaguely talked about God, I had been praying in my heart on whether or not to bring up some of the doctrinal issues but decided now wasn’t the time. We said our goodbyes and ended on a good note, I told them I was there all the time and hoped to run into them again. Sometimes it is not always what you say but how you say it, the light and love of God can shine out of you and be a witness even if you don’t speak of it directly. Although we never got to speak about the divinity of Christ directly, I had hoped they would see it in my life, being that I shared I was a Christian Missionary.

After a while an American guy and girl (college aged) sat down next to me, and I over heard one of them ask “So I guess I got to try the coffee here”. To which I replied “Get the cappuccino, its the best one they have here”. Which began another conversation, which ended with them asking why I was here. The guy sounded like he was a Christian (just wasn’t practicing) and the girl was an atheist, both had come to live in Ecuador to study abroad and both told me they were very open to hearing about God. We talked about everything from the problem of evil, to the evidence for the existence of God, the ethics of missions, cultural relativity, the nature of truth (is it absolute or relative) and ended with me having the opportunity to share my testimony and the gospel. This sort of thing happens a lot to me, and I pray for it to happen every morning and more-so that God would go before me and give me the words to say and the love to show when it does happen. The key is to be willing to be used anywhere at anytime, watching for the leading of the Lord, and ministering to people as you go about your day. I have learned you don’t have to go out of your way to evangelize (although I am not opposed to doing that, in fact we will be going out to street witness and give coffee and bread to the prostitutes and drug addicts this Friday night), and in fact it is much more successful and personal when you allow God to work through you in a more natural and normal way.

Coffee Tree, my Garden of Gethsemane.

On the way home as I was walking down some steps I noticed a young adult aged street vendor with his head hung down low, and hitting the side rail repeatedly out of frustrations. I walked by and my heart was struck, and decided I couldn’t just keep walking on. I went back and asked him (all in Spanish of course) if he had had a bad day. He told me he just hadn’t been selling anything, and also that no one wanted to listen to his music since he only knew how to play the traditional tribal type of music. I started to tell him how much of a blessing it was that God has separated one day from another, because if you have a bad day today you always have tomorrow to have a good one. After talking with him for a while I decided I wanted to give him some of the money I had, as well as a gospel of John, and told him that I had stopped because I saw how down he looked and wanted to share God’s love with him. I told him that God is love and because of that I couldn’t just keep walking on when I saw that he was sad. I got the chance to explain the gospel to him and he said he would read it and we got to pray together. Just as I was about to get up and leave he told me he wanted to give me a gift, and handed me a bracelet, which I have to say is probably one of the most precious possessions I now own.

This is the lesson that I have learned though; as you go about your day make time to let God use you along the way. Let’s look at the Samaritan woman at the well for example. Jesus ended up at the well because He was wearied and thirsty, then when the woman came he started up a normal conversation in asking for water until He eventually brought her to a correct understanding of who He is, which then lead to the salvation of an entire village.

So many things have been happening that I am pretty sure I would just bore you if I wrote them all down, but every step of the way the Lord has shown Himself to be with me. Last Saturday night I had the blessing of going to a wedding and got to dance up until 2 AM, followed by an unexpected funeral Monday night (quite the contrast). I also got the chance to go to a fancy dinner that some of the people from the church put on to raise money for the children’s cancer hospital (oh the sacrifices we missionaries make, fancy dinners and all, hehe). God has just been using me in so many ways, and unexpected ways at that, and I am just so blessed and lucky to be a part of what He is doing. His grace is ever astounding and unending. So, my encouragement to you is this; don’t get too busy to let God use you as you go about your way.

Until next time,

Matt

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None Of These Things Move Me

Acts 20:24 NKJV

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

I have to confess I am quite the Lord of the Rings fan. *Places nerd glasses on* I have read all the books, own books of the compiled notes of Tolkien (there are over 10 books or so just on notes), have seen all the movies and am anxiously awaiting The Hobbit movies. One of my favorite scenes is at the end of the third movie where Aragorn and his army decide to mount an offensive against the very gates of Mordor themselves. They place their hope in two small Hobbits to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom to finally defeat the incarnate power of evil, Lord Sauron himself.

Aragorn stands fast against all hope.

This offensive had one purpose; to distract the eye of Sauron long enough in hopes of giving Frodo and Sam (the hobbits) a chance at destroying the ring of Sauron (comon I know you know the story, everyone saw the movie!!!). They don’t even know if Sam and Frodo are alive, they are just taking a chance on hope.

The battle is against all odds and they become surrounded on all sides, just when all hope seems dim and death certain weary eyes look to the horizon to see the tower fall and the army of darkness flee. They did it, Frodo and Sam destroyed the One Ring and Middle-Earth is saved from certain destruction. Everyone had a part to do, but Aragorn fought valiantly and stood fast; not counting his life dear to himself. Despite having hope in such a small thing, in something that he couldn’t even see happening, he stood fast in the face of death so that hope could have a chance.

Thankfully our hope is much more sure than Aragorn’s; although it can feel sometimes like we are in the same circumstances.

There is only so much I can tell you guys on here. I have learned that part of being in the ministry means there are very few things you can talk to people about, you know too much of the in’s and out’s of a church or of people lives to talk about your day. When someone asks me, how was your day and what did you do? What can I really say? Especially if you know things people have told you in confidence. It takes a faithful spirit to serve God in leadership, to those of you who want to serve in the ministry start praying for self-control ahead of time.

What I can tell you is that I am battling. I am fighting for my faith and I am fighting for the faith of others. I have already thought a few times about going back home. You may have noticed not many posts recently, it is because I couldn’t find the strength to do so.

God is faithful though, I have learned I have none but Him to trust and rely on.

A few weeks ago I was walking home on Calle Larga and the sun had started to set. Once the sun goes down Calle Larga turns into a party street, where people gather to wait for the clubs to open. I started to remember how much of a joy it was for me to share the Gospel in the streets of York, England to the same type of people. Mostly college or high school kids drinking in the streets. Since the Lord had been stirring my heart it was an easy answer to Klever (the new worship leader for all the services, he will be going on staff in October) when he asked if I wanted to go street witnessing last Friday night. We passed out at least a thousand tracks and three girls accepted Christ, and many more were interested in learning more. We are praying about making it a regular thing.

Besides that we will be having an all night prayer vigilia October 5th, a mission trip to Loja November 1-3rd and a Thanksgiving Day Feast November 22nd. We are starting to get more and more active, but I am not really sure how ready the English service is for that. The English service is what I would call explosive. This can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s explosive because it has people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, different denominations, different ideas on how a church should be run, etc. Because it is primarily made up of people over 50 these are ideas they have had for a long time. The good news is we can use their ideas, their lifelong experiences with Christ to explode for Christ in a good way. The bad news is that there may be some things that they have been taught for years that are not Biblical and changing that might be difficult. What we need the most right now is structure, a solid leadership team, and the grace and miraculous power of God to make it work. I can already tell you if God doesn’t build this house, there is no way it will stand. In fact it is already starting to split at the seems, so pray for us.

Despite all these complications the Lord is adding to the church daily, although they are always surprised to see such a young shepherd serving the flock there.

Although for the past week I have felt overwhelmed by one thing after another the Lord has strengthened me. The secret is alone time with the Lord, in prayer and in His word. I have decided to stand fast with the convictions and vision the Lord has given me for the English service or die trying.

None of these things move me, I will finish the race that I started. The key will be endurance and laying aside the things that weigh me down. One step after another. Thankfully I am not running alone, the Lord goes before me and with me, and if I do finish this race that I started it will be for no other reason except the grace of God that caused me both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Get back up. Purpose in your heart to fight and do what the Lord called you to do, only then will your heart begin to heal from the pain of defeat. Place your hope in the sure confidence of Christ, your God and your Savior, the promises of His Word, and the empowerment of His Spirit, only then will you be able to say “None of these things move me”.

Stand fast. Fight the good fight. Keep the faith.

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