The copy of Nuestro Diario Sept. 16 page 4 featuring the band of the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.
The Guatemalan school my family and I started got into the newspaper today for its courage marching through drenching rain. Their courage, sacrifice and service to Christ is an example to us First World Christians who find all the reasons to NOT soldier through. And they make me proud. I see that 16 years of labor on the mission field was not in vain but left hardcore disciples.
The Liceo Bilingue La Puerta‘s marching band competed and won a spot in the national Independence Day parade (Sept. 15 for Guatemala). And they marched on despite rain that got them wet to the bones.
We didn’t have money to buy instruments. But God raised up finances through the sale of candies (!). We didn’t have know-how to teach the kids to play them. But God sent us a trained band leader, who free-of-charge offered his service.
I stood in awe of what God did. The instruments came out of nothing. This man, patiently and expertly, taught each kid and then the group to coordinate. We got into the Guatemalan Independence Day parade and on national television with the message of Christ that first year, and we’ve been there ever since.
This video, which was taken of a practice run, is a bit rough around the edges. But I can’t help but feel warmed with joy to see what God does. I can still praise God. When He does something, our best efforts pale by comparison. The Liceo Bilingue La Puerta continues to glorify God.
It was the fountain, seen in the background as this young girl explains why she likes the Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta, the school I founded and worked for 14 years. Whew! What a labor of love!
As I think back now, it is almost hard to remember the blood, sweat and tears invested into this place. The fountain is symbolic, a splash of beauty and tranquility to crown more than a decade of untiring work.
The beauty heals. To see children still being ministered to, to see the school functioning as a safe place, to see kids be raised up in God’s gold standard, is rewarding.
Even if you don’t understand Spanish, I invite you to watch this video, in which the girl, unprompted, unscripted, shares naturally what flows from her heart.
“You know we just can´t pass by without stopping in to say Hi.
It is considered the height of rudeness in Guatemala to not dutifully greet EVERYONE. No being too busy.
So Dianna went in to see Surama, and I waited. Apparently the Holy Spirit took over. She asked Surama if she had spoken in her heavenly language lately. The question provoked panic which brought repentance. Surama, who had lived years as a deadened Christian, came alive with a vibrancy with which she is still serving Jesus. She works at the school I started.
When you serve Christ 24-7, you never know when God will use you. Now God is using Surama.
It has been four years since I was missionary in Guatemala. As the years pass, there are old dear friends still in the work — and they warm my heart. Then too, there are new friends, also a joy. The video is of Andrea, who shyly explained what she liked about the school, el Liceo Bilingue La Puerta, that I left working in Guatemala. I’m proud of her.
Unperceived by parents, teachers, friends, aptitude tests, my giftings were perfect for what God designed me for. I’m posing with kids in the Guatemala Christian school, Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.
My gifting was not appreciated by anyone in high school. I wasn’t that smart, wasn’t athletic, wasn’t socially adept. What was I? I was overly sensitive. In high school being overly sensitive is not a good thing because you’re no good at the interchange of crass teasing that especially goes on among boys.
I actually thought I lacked a special trait.
Then I discovered my call: to pastor, to be a missionary. And being very sensitive (to God and to others) was a premium. But when I was a kid and took aptitude tests designed to surface giftings, nothing registered.
Comparisons are the worst because God made you absolutely unique. This uniqueness is reflected in your fingerprints, in your DNA, in your emotional makeup, in your interests and passions. It flouts comparison. To compare yourself to others is to ignore your God-given talents.
There is only one you on te planet. God made you special to do something nobody else will do. Only you can get the job done. It’s pointless to desire somebody else’s job. ?God didn’t design you for that.
It’s an insult to God to wish to be someone different, to have their beauty, their intellect or their wit. If you are young, take it easy on yourself. Don’t criticize yourself harshly. Wait and see what comes of your life. Strive to do well in everything but don’t panic if others do better in you in many areas. Because in one area, you’re going to blow them away. That’s where you’re a winner.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Christianity, church, comparisons, cutting, depression, Faith, giftings, Guatemala, inspiration, Jesus, missionary, pastors, pulling, self-harm
Thank you for your prayers.
More than 40 people were healed miraculously. Pastor Charlie Forman has an anointing for praying for the sick. A lady with stage-4 pancreatic cancer got up and went to her daughter’s wedding. A lady with a walker doesn’t need her walker. One leg grew out 3 inches. A 75-year-old with back pain got down on the floor and did three pushups to check if he was in fact healed.
People got saved in almost every service. Youths came! The discouraged were encouraged.
We played soccer and enjoyed the best of Guatemala cuisine (beans and rice with Jesus Christ forever! oh, and they gave me some tasty cinnamon buns.).
The Liceo Biliungue La Puerta school is doing well too!
The best thing was just the sense I got that 16 years of labor were not in vain. There are people who thank me for changing the direction of their lives. People are still getting saved.
It makes me want to keep going for Jesus.
This is obviously not Tom. Dozens of youth are challenged yearly to go the way of God, not the way of perdition, each year.
At the time, I had no idea that Tom* smoked pot. He just seemed like the sweetest kid. He fervently loved God. He even sponsored a friend to go to camp. At Q300, such “fruit” showed genuineness.
I had no idea of the tempest swirling in his background. The only sign of trouble was that quickly a room-renter in his house complained of being robbed. The amount? Q300.
El Liceo Bilingue La Puerta teaches youth to avoid alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, crime and other ways people look for happiness. We’re not official a reform school, but we have a decent reforming record.
It seemed clear to me who stole it because the amounts were precise. What was weird was that the money was not used for self.
Not long after, I fled organized criminals in Guatemala after almost 16 years of missionary work. I tried to eke out a life in the States and find meaningful ministry. After being away for four years, I visited the church and school we had pioneered with my wife.
Tom tracked me down to thank me. He gave me his testimony. He had been smoking weed when he came to our school, and God had challenged him to come out of a lot of confusion. I didn’t ask about the Q300 though. I forgot.
He had heard I was back in Guatemala, and he personally came to thank me. Praise God for what preaching the gospel can do. Next time you sponsor someone to camp, Tom, it has be your own money.
* Name changed.
Elder, at right. A big 13-year-old (for Guatemalans).
Christopher Hitchens couldn’t get by without alcohol. He said it helped him cope with boring people. I guess pretty much everybody in his life was boring. He was too intelligent. Why is heroized?
I find exquisite joy in saving souls. I have no need for chemical-induced happiness. Elder is the latest.
When I went to Guatemala, he pretty much came to every service, outreach and discipleship. This is new for him.
I was impressed with how simply kind he was.
Typically, the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta yielded one soul for year. By some measure, that’s pretty slim harvest, a gargantuan amount of work for just one soul out of a school of 150 kids. But if you consider that the one soul each year stays through all the years, it’s not bad. It’s not easy to save souls, even in Guatemala.
But now things seem to be picking up. Elder wasn’t the only one. There were three or four kids coming into the fold.
Before my atheist friends rankle, keep in mind that he who comes to church gets out of drugs, alcoholism, wife-beating, marital unfaithfulness, and — frequently — poverty as well.
It is exquisite joy to see all that. The Bible says that all the angels in Heaven have a party — for just one soul. Me too.
Tino was one of those drunks who you stepped over, who slept in his urine on the streets in Guatemala. You expected him to wake up dead after a cuttingly cold night. You tried not to think about it.
Ismael talked to him about Jesus and offered him a place to sleep. Tino got saved.
As a missionary, I had a soft spot in my heart for Tino. We let him sleep at the church as a guard. We gave him food. I let him play worship on his guitar in service, a throwback type Christian music. He became Tio Tino — Uncle Tino — for everybody.
On this trip to Guatemala, I was astonished at just how far the transformation has gone. Now, Tino leads outreach everyday, which his only honkytonk guitar, just off the edge of the Central Plaza. Everybody joined him on Sunday to street-preach.
He’s back on the streets, no longer homeless in a stupor, like Joshua establishing dominion, reaching out to others who are in the condition he left behind.