I remember waking to my 8 AM alarm that Spring morning, my phone buzzing on the floor next to my bed. The sun cast warm rays over Lake Michigan and stretched its golden fingers down my street, through the trees and into my dorm room. My eyes adjusted and all at once I remembered my flight to Houston left in just a few hours. Groggily, I reached for my phone and silenced the chirping... That’s when the text came.
Of the 640 million people in Latin America Caribbean, 550 million have yet to encounter the grace of Jesus Christ. In light of this unfinished task, a question has often been raised: Does God want us to continue to plant the church in this region, or to mobilize missionaries from these nations to reach the world?
I remember the first baby dedication I ever officiated as a missionary in Bolivia. I felt so privileged to be a part of a young indigenous family’s journey with Christ – that is, until I was told about them afterward. My heart sank as I learned that earlier that morning, the young couple had gone to a Catholic service to have their baby baptized, and the day before to an Incan witch doctor to have a spell cast on it for protection . . .
It was 1997 and we were working in a small church in central Ohio. John was the music minister and I co-youth leader/missions director. One day an unsolicited invite showed up in my mailbox. The caption on the postcard read “Caribbean Youth Mission Trip.” My heart jumped. And for the next few months I campaigned hard to convince the other youth pastors, senior pastor, and parents that a trip to Haiti was in the best interest of our teens. The opposition was fierce but in the end the trip was approved and in July of 1998 twelve youth and four adults filled a mini van drove to Florida boarded a plane which later landed in Haiti. And all hell broke lose! My mistake? I didn’t understand the importance of spiritual preparation . . .
In a few hours I would be touching down in Houston, TX ready to attend the World Missions Summit 4. I sat there excited and eager for what was to come. Of course, I didn’t actually know exactly what was to come. All I knew was that thousands of college students and hundreds of missionaries were about to come together in an attempt to see what impact could be made on reaching a lost world for Jesus. And I knew that many hours, days and months of prayer and fasting had gone into the event. I didn’t know what to expect yet had great expectation. I couldn’t wait to see what exactly it was that I couldn’t wait for . . .
I grew up the son of an Assembly of God Pastor. For as long as I can remember, that reality gave me an identity and also came with preconceived ideas from others. I wish I could say that I did everything I could to distance myself from that perception of a pastor’s kid, but I didn’t. So when I began to feel a draw into full-time ministry and the pastorate, it scared me death. I couldn’t understand why God would want to use someone like me, a person that had lived with more doubt than faith at times . . .
There has always been a concern about the preparation of new laborers and Matthew 9 continues to be reality, “the harvest is great but the workers are few.” When we talk about the harvest, it’s understood that we are talking about souls and when we talk about souls it means each and every person, no matter what race, color — or AGE. In my heart there is a passion to disciple and prepare workers that are willing to give their lives to reach children. . .
“My dad is drunk today, brother Kenton.” Those words speak of an almost everyday occurrence for Hazel, but they still mess with me. She doesn’t see any love from her parents because they are concerned with satisfying their own personal needs. When I asked Jacqueline how she was doing yesterday, her reply was, “Bad!” She continued, “every day is a bad day for me.” Jacqui is unloved by family, takes care of her younger brothers, and lives on very little. Our church is the only place she feels love . . .
Does the daily grind ever get to you? Maybe you feel like there is no variation in your routine and life, so when you see other people’s seemingly exciting and adventurous lives, you wish you could be them. And you start comparing yourself with others. Contentment is a word rarely found in our vocabulary. Many times we wish for the newest grandest thing that will bring ‘happiness’, and we have a hard time enjoying our day to day ‘boring uneventful’ lives . . .
I remember the hot summer day in July 2014 that God spoke to me. . . We had been praying for an answer for sometime. An answer to where we would spend our lives. An answer to the country where we would serve. An answer to where He was calling us to go. We had been praying about the possibility of many different countries, regions, and people groups. But we wanted to hear from the Lord. We didn’t want to be led by a sense of adventure or some romantic view of missions. We didn’t want to go without hearing from God . . .
August 14, 1982 was one of the happiest days of my life. It’s the day I married John Ramos. Throughout the thirty-plus years of our marriage I’d often look at him, smile and quote John 1:6, “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.” He loved it. As one of his gifts for his fiftieth birthday I wrote a condensed history of his five decades of life. I remember writing it and truly seeing Gods hand in John’s life and in our life. I ended it by writing that I couldn’t wait to see what great adventures awaited us in the decades to come. Well, there would be no decades for us, just another six years . . .
Hi Everyone, We are leaving the area now, because it is too dangerous to stay. The situation in Pedernales is devastating. They are still pulling bodies from the rubble, there is no food, and although many people are arriving to help, the city is becoming overcrowded and very dangerous! We were not able to sleep at all even though the we were given permission to be in the stadium with them. It is too dangerous to sleep or leave your vehicle during the night because of looting . . .
A missionary colleague and I compared notes on our feelings on entering a Roman Catholic cathedral in a Latin American context. In the quiet of that “sacred space” and beautiful architecture, she experienced a sense of the holy and the divine. I, on the other hand, sensed emptiness, oppression, bondage, and hopelessness as I looked at the empty pews, the altar with a casket containing a mannequin of Jesus, and the multiple images covered in soot from the burning candles. How could our feelings be so different in the same place? . . .