Minute for Missions – Hope in Ethiopia

Ethiopia 2014 049

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As we entered the one-room mud hut, the first thing we noticed was the absence of light. The one window was tightly shut and there was no lamp to illuminate the darkness. The second thing we noticed was the woman lying on a straw pallet quietly moaning in pain. As soon as we saw her, we stopped, bumping into one another, dumb in stupor. We’d come to visit her and the little boy, her son, who was playing outside. But, how do you visit the dying when you thought you were going to see the living? As we fumbled through the darkness, our translator took over, “I will ask her how we can pray for her. It is not appropriate to ask other questions at this time.”

This was one of our first visits to families supported by a partnership between Food for the Hungry, local Ethiopian congregations, and our home church in Austin, Texas. The AIDS pandemic has created a generation of orphans in the world’s second largest continent. In years past, grandparents and aunts & uncles would care for these children, but many of those potential caregivers have died as well. For those caregivers who remain, there are just too many children and not enough resources to care for them all. The result: children living alone, trying to act as grown-ups as they grow up. These young ones are incredibly vulnerable to malnutrition, disease, exploitation of the cruelest kind, and the fate of living in an unbroken state of extreme poverty. Our cross-Atlantic partnership tries to catch these little ones in a safety net of love, protection, and grace.

We’d traveled halfway around the world to visit these children and children who had parents still battling this ravaging disease. The woman lying on the floor answered our translator’s question by saying that she was worried about what would happen to her boy if she were to die. She was worried about how she could pay her $20 rent every month when she was too sick to work. She was worried…and she began to weep. By this time, the little boy had entered the room, and as his mother wept, he curled his little body up next to her feet and began to weep with her. After a quiet pause, we asked if we could pray over her. With her permission, we gently laid hands on her frail frame and began to pray. As we prayed, the darkness that seemed to be so overwhelming was inched out by the one true Light. He was there, before us, but it was prayer that opened our eyes to see Him.

John 1:5 says, “…the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I don’t know what darkness the Lord has asked you to step into or what battles he has asked you to fight. You might be waging war for someone in your congregation stuck in sin, for a family member who’s fallen ill, or for the children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. There are times when the fight can seem overwhelming, crushing even. There are other times when you know that the Lord has called you to just a little more fight before a breakthrough is secured.

Whatever war you’re waging, can I encourage you to not give up? to not stop pressing into Him? to fall a thousand times, but get up again? And, if you have called it quits, can I tell you that it’s not too late to ask to be re-enlisted? He is still the God who gives flesh and breath to the dry bones of warriors long dead.

Ephesians 6 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” And 1 John 4:4 reminds us that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Romans 16:20 tells us that “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” And, finally, after a long treatise on the victory Christ secured for us over death, Paul encourages us with these words from 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Kristina Vandiver works at WORDsearch. She loves the Lord,  her husband, her pets (especially her cat) and studying God’s Word. 

Grasp a “Master’s Level Overview” with The Portable Seminary

protHave you ever wondered what gives seminary graduates confidence in their knowledge of the Bible, and why they’re so well-equipped for ministry? Seminary programs are designed to immerse students in the Bible. They give students a deeper understanding of theology and church history, while also teaching important disciplines like apologetics, hermeneutics and homiletics. Today I’d like to introduce you to The Portable Seminary. It’s been described as having “the breadth of a Master’s degree in biblical studies.” This remarkable volume normally sells for $34.95, but, for the next 14 days, it’s on sale for only $19.95.Click here to order and you can be using it today! If you prefer to order by phone, call us at 1-800-888-9898 (mention special offer 8169).

Take Your Biblical Knowledge to the Next Level
As you study the contents of this volume, you’ll gain a valuable overview of the subjects studied by those seeking an advanced degree. You can study what you want at your own pace. You’ll be surprised at how well the information is organized, and how easy learning can be. The knowledge you seek is here for those who approach it with humility and prayer. The author gives you excellent advice on spending time with God and cautions against short-cutting a humble and prayerful approach.

Enjoy the Same Topics and Disciplines Taught in Seminaries
I am in no way suggesting this is an alternative to a seminary education. Many of us will never have the opportunity to attend a seminary, but that doesn’t keep us from seeking advanced knowledge. Even if you’ve had seminary training, you’ll find The Portable Seminaryis a wonderful refresher course. Here’s a partial list of what’s covered:

- Surveys of the Old and New Testaments
– Systematic Theology
– Biblical Languages
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– Missions

Click here for more details or to download The Portable Seminary today.

The IS Series – Sale Ends MONDAY
This new 4-volume series will be a powerful addition to your digital library. Ministry experts Dave Earley, Rod Dempsey, David Wheeler and Ben Gutierrez have directed a laser-like focus on 4 crucial areas of ministry. “High-Octane equipment, empowerment and encouragement” are the words these authors use to describe The IS Series, which includes: Disciple Making Is…Evangelism Is…Ministry Is… and Pastoral Leadership Is...

Each volume is just $12.49 through Monday. Or, take all 4 volumes for only $39.95. Click here for more details or to download today. Or call 1-800-888-9898 and mention special offer 8169.

I’m grateful for the many publishers who partner with WORDsearch. Most are agreeable to letting us offer excellent materials, often new works for a limited time at discount prices. I hope you’ll take advantage of these specials before they expire.

In His Service,

Jim Baird

Guest Blog – Producing Fruit

erikstanleyOver the past 3 years my wife, two boys and I have been serving in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We first started out going down on the weekends, until we were called to go and serve full time.  We been down here for the past two years.

Before becoming a missionary I was working in the corporate world, working long hours and missing the life God had blessed me with at home. I became a slave to the things of this world and worked just to provide things to my family. I wasn’t spending time with them, which is what they needed more than all the material things.

In 2009 I felt moved to start working from home with my wife so I could be more involved at home, raising my boys and being a good husband. Being home gave my wife and I time to read the Bible every morning and get fed, and also helped us to get closer to each other.

I began to become more hungry for the Word and found WORDsearch. As I dug deeper into the Word, I began to not only read it but study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and most importantly apply it. I was hungry and thirsty to learn more and understand the Word more. The WORDsearch software really helped guide me and give me the tools to get a better understanding. The great thing that I found was I just needed more time in the Word. In 2010 I decided to read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation and began reading in December. As I read the Word I began to get convicted and repent from the way I was living.

In September 2011 my family and I sold everything and moved to Mexico to share the Gospel. It has been a real journey the past two years, full of ups and downs. We have been molded, stretched, disappointed, full of joy and many other different feelings. The things we have done and are doing would not have been possible without the hand of God. We have had doors opened and by faith and His promise we have stepped through them.

We are teaching families here how to make soil, and growing gardens in an area of Mexico where there is no soil, only sand as far as the eye can see. We now have over 20 families with gardens producing healthy fruits and vegetables. We call our ministry F.A.I.T.H. gardens, which stands for Food Always in the Home. We got this idea from a ministry that was started in the Philippians and is still growing strong. We also are teaching at local community centers here weekly and have just been invited to teach at local elementary, middle, and high schools. I am teaching and preaching at a local prison here twice a week, and I preach at a men’s rehab center once a week. I never would have thought I would be doing what I am doing today. Nor could I have been doing what I am doing without being led by the Holy Spirit.

The WORDsearch app for smartphones has been great. While I am waiting in the prison, or out and about in the community, I have at my finger tips all the devotionals, commentaries and Bible translations with me. When I am feeling weak, or discouraged, or overwhelmed with joy, I have with me on my phone the Word and the many other tools with me. Please make use of all the great tools that WORDsearch offers and keep daily in the Word of God. Seek Him in every step in your ministry and find strength in Him. Scripture I like to hold close to and can really relate to is:

Philippians 4:11-13 (NASB) 

11  Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

He is our strength! Over the past year we have baptized 12 people, six of which are convicted felons in the local prison. We disciple five families weekly and visit many families out in the community. I am thankful for all God has given us and the families He has put in our path. We must slow down enough to hear His voice and then be obedient to step in His ways and not our own. I never thought I would be preaching and yet He is giving me opportunities weekly. I never I thought I would be baptizing men and women and yet He is providing me the people and producing fruit in their lives and ours.

Ephesians 2:10 (NASB) 

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

God has created us with a purpose and He knew before we did that we would walk in His ways. What are you waiting for ? Trust in Him and He will make your paths straight. You will be able to experience the super natural life in Him. Keep the faith and watch the fruit produced and know Who it is that is producing it!

Erik Stanley and his family are missionaries in Rocky Point, Mexico, teaching the local community how to garden and make compost so they can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Please check out their ministry via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/erikandmarthafaithgardens