The Wonder of Talking with Jesus

By Joe Henriques, Campus Pastor @MBCTysons

One nice part of being a child is that awesome things are still a wonder. I’m guessing that you’ve experienced children in your own family jumping up and down like grasshoppers with incredible energy and excitement, as they drag you along to see the smallest of things that adults don’t notice or think amazing anymore. We say, “Oh, yeah, that’s nice.” Kids exclaim, “Wow! Look! That’s so cool!”

Do you and I still think of the statement below as an awesome, amazing wonder?

“God intently listens to me when I speak to him,
and he personally answers my prayers
as he sees best, because he delights in me.”

Why not take a walk today and ponder that thought? Prayer for the work of the Lord, we naturally do. But, I’m slowly getting it that prayer is the work.

Imagine sitting across the table from Jesus and having a personal talk about your life, work, and ministry and asking him to provide this or that. Imagine that your meeting with him is literally the direct cause for every effect—everything that happens. Imagine it, because it’s true.

Thankfully, Jesus—the Sovereign Lord, Ruler of the Cosmos, and our Personal Savior—has his own agenda and makes sure that the universe, earth, and our personal lives move on per the counsel of his own will and for his good pleasure, all without us even thinking about it. Part of the mystery of how things work on earth, however, is that he makes much room in his plan to accommodate the “fervent prayers” of his followers, listening and answering every day. Surely, this qualifies as a wonder.

Getting to the Heart, Part 5

By Mike Kelsey, Campus Pastor @MBCSilverSpring

The Heart Is Always Trusting Something
In addition to our desires, we are also motivated by our beliefs. In fact, our beliefs usually dictate how we handle our desires. This is clearly seen in the account of the Fall in Genesis 3. Eve desired the nourishment, beauty and divine wisdom that would come from eating the fruit of the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6). But she didn’t eat it until she believed the serpent’s proposal to be more reliable than God’s promises (Genesis 3:1-5).

The same dynamic is at work in our hearts. Our minds are filled with thoughts that have been accumulated from and influenced by different sources: media we’ve consumed, advice we’ve received, stories we’ve heard, classes we’ve taken, experiences we’ve had, sermons we’ve listened to, etc. In the midst of these swirling thoughts is a constant battle for our hearts—a battle for what we will believe, a battle for who or what we will ultimately trust.

This battle is so important to understand because the biblical picture is one in which we are much more vulnerable and susceptible to deception than we often realize.

Deception is Satan’s primary strategy for influencing us (Genesis 3:13; John 8:44). The supposed “wisdom” of people around us can deceive us (Ephesians 4:14). And, because of our sin nature, even our own hearts and desires can deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9; Ephesians 4:22). Practically speaking, we need to become adept at evaluating the beliefs that drive us. Where did a belief come from, and is it true? Even if it is true, does it reflect the whole truth given in God’s Word? What do we believe about ourselves? What do we believe about the things we desire? What do we believe or fail to believe about God? As we begin to ask those questions, we will see that our behavior is an expression of what we really desire and what we really believe.

Here’s one example. A man begins drinking alcohol excessively [behavior] because he is depressed about his prolonged unemployment [circumstance]. What is happening in his heart? Well, we know that he desires a job. But his desire for a job is likely a mixture of more fundamental desires like financial security and self-worth, etc. Let’s go with his desire for financial security, which is partly a desire for peace. He doesn’t want to worry about whether he’ll be able to meet his needs. What might he believe? One possible belief is that without a job, the most reliable way to have peace is to get drunk. Is this true? No. Rather than trusting God for peace (Philippians 4:6-8) and obeying Him (Ephesians 5:18), he trusts alcohol.

God’s Word is always the most reliable source of truth. In every circumstance, God wants us to trust Him by relying on what He has revealed to be true. That means the time we spend reading, memorizing and hearing God’s Word preached is not just religious routine. Our minds need to be constantly saturated with the wonderful truths of God’s Word so that those truths become the predominate influences in our hearts.

Fighting The Darkness with The Light

By Angel Turbeville, Director of Small Groups @MBCBethesda

As I look around at the world we live in, some days it feels like it is totally falling apart. One of the most devastating losses is death due to suicide. Can there be enough hope to break through to those souls struggling to hold onto life itself? I believe there is. I think the church needs to understand a little more, and I hope taking my mask off might help. Depression and the overwhelming darkness and despair that it brings strikes those who claim their salvation in God, just as hard, maybe even harder, as those who do not profess faith in Christ. I know that many in the church want to help, but they do not understand the complexity of how to be in transformational community with those who battle depression. Here’s my take from a heart that knows.

In many ways, I believe the battlefield of the physical darkness of the mind, is compounded for the Christian. Satan knows that if he can make us lose hope, we are rendered powerless from God’s kingdom. Depression is not foreign to me. I have watched many I love battle and even more devastating, stop fighting. I battle. I am a believer. I KNOW Christ. I know His love. I know the power of the cross. I minister to others. I share His hope. I speak truth even on the days when my heart is dark with despair. In the past, I’ve battled waves of anxiety and panic attacks. Thankfully, those have lessened. Because of the devastating depth of how broken my heart is, my past has even included begging God to take me to heaven. I’ve let a few close to me know the level of my pain, but for the most part, I’ve painted on the face I know I’m supposed to have and soldier on. Healing has occurred, but I still have days/weeks of struggles. In those times, eventually God’s light does break through. I’ll go from a heavy cloud of oppression to a realization of the hope that is at work within me. However, despite my constant prayer, God has not totally healed me.

God, in His gentle sovereign way, has taught me how to fight this darkness. I have taken practical steps—I have been in counseling for six years. I have tried medication, but unfortunately for me, aside from helping me through crisis points, this has not been a good ongoing solution. I know the battle is easier if I manage my diet, exercise and sleep. I try to do that.

Spiritual transformation has happened in the light of community. The few who know my battle are the dear friends who consistently love me through the dark. In the past couple of years the most healing has happened because of those within the church that I have been able to trust. They are the ones who persist. They know my patterns. They recognize when I am going into hiding or not being honest about my heart. They call me out. They sit in the despair with me and pray. They check in with me, text me verses, email me and are not afraid of my dark. Some of them have their own struggle and those who know deep pain have been able to penetrate to places that others can’t. However, the friends that most amaze me are those who don’t share this or a similar battle, but still schlep into the dark completely relying on God to navigate the right words or actions.

What are some practical actions you can take if you have people in your life who are battling depression, or for that matter, any pain that you have no idea how to relate to?

1. Be there
Be a consistent presence in their lives. This does not mean lecturing them on how to change their thoughts or refocusing them on “positive” thinking. It does mean pointing them to Scripture that affirms the despair of their hearts. Wrestling through where they are with God and praying with them and for them. My deepest “knowing God” moments have been the times when I have been able to apply the truth of His character to the depravity of my heart.

2. Persevere
In the worst times of despair, we disconnect. The pain drives us into hiding because “no one understands.” We believe many lies including that we are “totally alone” and “no one cares.” Even as believers, these thought patterns creep in. Outside of crisis points, have honest conversations to find out what is helpful when this level of despair hits. Open yourself up to be available via text or phone—anytime day or night. Does this level of care scare you? It shouldn’t. For the believer who is truly battling and seeking God’s work of redemption in their lives, this will not turn into co-dependence. It will be a mark of authentic community and the bearing up of one another’s burdens.

3. Be willing to ask the hard questions 
Understand specifically the trigger points that ignite moments of despair. For those you are in close community with, make sure they are keeping safeguards in place to manage their reactions.

4. Affirm and love
At our deepest levels, God created us for intimate relationship. We need to be free to let go of shame and be embraced by love. Shame comes with this struggle. Satan is whispering the lies of “where is your God right now?”, “you are serving Him and ministering to others, look at the fraud you are right now” and any other lie he can think of in attempt to disable God’s redemptive work. Do not add to the shame with a spirit of condemnation. Identify the lies and answer them with Truth from God’s Word.

5. Pray and rely on the Holy Spirit
Those who deeply struggle with depression and mental illness have needs and thirsts that are insatiable. We can only be redeemed through His Living Water. Our community must be built with those who will not retreat in hurt, but will strive to understand and love through the power of the cross.

6. Recognize when practical help is needed in addition to spiritual
For those who battle this deeply, there is a need for professional counseling and other resources. However, even in those cases, the five points above STILL apply. A counselor is not community for the Christian.

The body of Christ MUST take steps to understand how to engage with one another so that we are living the Gospel victoriously. 1 Thessalonians 5 is a beautiful picture of what the church should be doing. We need to realize that we have not been lost in the darkness of this world, and we need to encourage each other to live as children of light. In vs. 14 the command is given to comfort the “feebleminded”. The word actually means “small-souled” and in context indicates one who is despondent. Are we in close enough community with each other to know the size of our souls?

Are our lives prioritized around our agendas or knowing and loving others in a way that is transformational and exhibits a taste of the love we have received through Christ on the cross. Let’s get there. Let’s be patient, know each other at the soul-level, and love deeply as Christ has loved us. Simple statements that call for bold living.

Getting to the Heart, Part 4

By Mike Kelsey, Campus Pastor @MBCSilverSpring

The Heart Is Always Seeking Something

For the most part, our behavior is our attempt to attain what our hearts desire.[1] Christian counselor and author David Powlison explains, “My daily behavior is my attempt to get what is important to me in various situations and relationships. My choices and actions always reveal the desires that rule my heart.” These can sometimes be inherently sinful desires, but usually even those can be traced to legitimate desires that are not necessarily sinful but that can begin to take the rightful place of God (approval, companionship, success, respect, etc.). In fact, this is what the writers of the New Testament mean when they use the word “lust.” Lust is often used in reference to sexual desire in particular (which is how we most commonly use the term today), but throughout the New Testament, the term “lust” is a generic term that basically means any “controlling desire” (James 1:14-15). It is almost as if these desires become mini-kings (or in religious terms, mini-gods) that demand our attention and obedience. For example, the Apostle Peter writes about conforming to our lusts (1 Peter 1:14), and the Apostle Paul mentions being enslaved to and obeying our lusts (Titus 3:3; Romans 6:12; also “appetites” in Romans 16:18). These controlling desires have profound significance because as the 19th century Puritan preacher David Clarkson said, “Every reigning lust is an idol.”

“Every reigning lust is an idol.”

So how do we know when we have allowed a desire to take the rightful place of God? How do we know when natural desires have become sinful desires?

We can usually tell that a desire has taken control in one of two ways:

  1. When we are willing to sin in order to get it.
    (In order to get approval, I gossip. It feels great to be the one “in the know.”)
  2. When we sin in response to not getting what we want.
    (When I feel I’m not getting the respect I deserve, I retaliate with harsh words.)

However, outward and obvious sins are not the only places where sinful and controlling desires lurk. Sometimes, these subtle desires can also be found underneath our seemingly righteous behaviors. We must be careful that our good deeds are being done with holy motivations. Jesus was very critical of Jewish religious leaders who were doing “good” things in public but were motivated by impressing people rather than serving God and people (Matthew 6:1-18). In other words, they were using religious piety as a way to attain what their hearts truly desired, which was praise and admiration. That is not true piety in God’s eyes. True piety is doing the right thing with the right motives. It is ironic and yet true that idolatry can motivate our Christianity. God doesn’t just want us to do good things; He wants to be the true ruler and treasure of our hearts.

Practically speaking, we have to understand that our choices, attitudes, words and behaviors are being driven by the reality that our hearts are seeking something. Our deepest and most controlling desire should be to please God and enjoy His presence. This is what it means to love God with all of our heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:29-30). In His love for us, He created things for us to enjoy, but those things become idols, God-replacements, when we desire them more than we desire God (Romans 1:25).

Read @MikeKelsey‘s first, second, and third posts from this series!


[1] Desire includes what you value, crave, treasure, long for, set your heart on, hope in, cherish, worship, love or seek.

Truth Literally Saved My Life

By Stephanie Green, MBC Staff Applications Analyst & MBC Tysons Attendee

In a recent discussion with a close friend, I realized why I get so concerned about “relational sanctification” (as I would label it). I’ve found that relationships I’m in now can have a way of resurrecting the past, and all of the hurts that have been hiding under its webs. Previously in my life, these flashbacks have been so painful that I didn’t know how to deal with or face the reality of the hurt. For example, in high school, after being stood up on the day of my boyfriend’s prom, I began cutting. Several years later, while in a disastrous relationship with a college boyfriend, I tried to take my life.

These acts of brokenness were fueled by my deeply rooted insecurities. My dad left me waiting a lot, and my mom made me believe that God was going to send a replacement father who wouldn’t abandon me. I was raised by three orphans, two of whom had deep fears of abandonment. My own fears of relational pain and abandonment grew deeper, and my ability to trust faded away.

God is Different
God is faithful to keep His promises and says in His Word that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I’ve been to Christian therapy, and it has helped greatly, but there is nothing else on this earth (or beyond) that can fulfill the promise of God’s eternal love. When I first heard that God’s love was unconditional and everlasting, I was drawn to this message of hope.

Prior to committing my life to the Lord, I heard truth from His Word, but it wasn’t until my last suicide attempt (shortly after leaving college) that I surrendered my life completely to God. I didn’t feel comfortable trusting or believing anyone at that point, but I knew I needed help and prayed: “God if you are real, please help me.”

God Heard Me
He did help me. God brought me away from all that I clung to in order to teach me to trust and know Him as my Heavenly Father.

I wasted a lot of time focusing on Satan’s lies such as “you’re not good enough,” “you have no value or purpose,” etc. But I was literally rescued by Truth. If I breathed my last breath today, and I had to give my final words of advice, with no doubt I would say: “Cling to the Truth of His Word—God is faithful. Believe in the Lord Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He literally saved my life.”

The Truth Will Save You, Too
Not all of us have traumatic life stories, but we all face the same battle of believing lies from Satan and being deceived. Fight strong, not by trying to control circumstance but by clinging to Truth—God’s amazing truth found in His Word.

If you or someone you know is struggling with similar emotional pain and would like to speak with someone, please call The MBC Counseling Center at 703-770-8670 or the reception desk at McLean Bible Church at 703-639-2000 and ask to speak to the “Staff of the Day,” Mondays-Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm.

PURSUING CHRIST

By Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams @MBCLoudoun

Many of you may be aware of the Alcan Highway. It was built during World War II to connect Alaska with the lower 48 states. Up until the 1960’s, it was all gravel and a challenge only a bold driver with a tough truck would want to tackle. The difficulties of the Alcan Highway in those days are captured in a story told by Ray Stedman, an evangelist in the Bay Area. He told of crossing the border into Alaska and seeing a sign that read, “Choose your rut carefully – you’ll be in it for the next 200 miles.” Choose your rut carefully.

That’s good advice for any four-wheel-drive road, and it’s wise advice for life, more generally, because it reminds us that our actions and decisions are not independent of each other.

Every thought we entertain, every step we take, and every choice we make influences the choices we make in the future. What we do and think in this moment is not just about the “now,” but it influences what we will do and think, and who we will be tomorrow and the next day. Repeated thoughts and repeated actions create ruts in our lives that become the path of least resistance; with enough repetition, habits make our decisions for us. Left to ourselves, our habits will master us, and they will be driven by our desires and shaped by our fears. Only Jesus can set us free from those; and once he’s done so, he calls us to follow and serve him. He went hard after knowing us so that we can go hard after knowing him!

We all know we should pursue Christ. But, HOW do we pursue Him? First of all, start getting to know Him. The Gospels and the New Testament epistles are a great place to learn more about Christ.

Prayer is also key! The great reformer Martin Luther once wrote, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” It is how we communicate with the Lord of the universe. It can be done anywhere. Anytime. Why not try turning off the radio in your car on your way to work each morning and spending time in prayer as you’re sitting on the beltway? Or if you take your kids to school each morning, pray out loud with them before they get out of your car.

Journal about what you see the Lord doing in your life. Write down what He has revealed to you through a passage of Scripture. Record prayers that have been answered so you can look back and reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness in times of trial and hardship.

Be intentional. It doesn’t just happen. Like all good relationships, you have to be proactive in love, word and deed. Spend five minutes reading Scripture from a Bible or an app on your phone. Think about those words. Pray those words. Write them on a card so you see them throughout the day. After you have been consistent with five minutes, try 10 minutes, then 15 and 20.  Pick the best time of your day to give to God. Your quiet time with the Lord doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. I’m not a morning person; so to give God my first waking moments would not be best. I wouldn’t remember a thing about my prayers or any passage of Scripture that I read. My handwriting would be indecipherable—even to me. Reserve the best time of your day on your calendar so that it is set in stone and trumps all else.

Find accountability. I cannot stress this point enough. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Hebrews 2:13 says, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Ask someone from your discipleship group to text you to ask if you spent time in the Word and prayer that day. Do the same for them!

Find a resource that guides your reading, reflection, prayer and application. With all the books, devotionals and apps out there, make sure that the ones you use are grounded in Scripture. Many “inspirational” quick-reads never offer a Bible verse of any kind. You are to know Christ, not a human author’s opinion or feel-good God verbiage. Stay connected to the source—Jesus Christ!

Lastly, don’t get caught up in the snare of compare. Your relationship with Christ will look different from the next person’s. Our standard is not our neighbor or small group leader, but Christ. When we measure ourselves against Jesus, we will always fall short and must continue to strive, as Paul says, “in order that I may attain to the resurrection” (Philippians 3:11-12). This translated literally means “if somehow,” meaning it is not attainable to actually arrive at the final destination here on earth. Paul, this great hero of the Christian faith who wrote the majority of the New Testament and who taught some of the greatest doctrine of evangelism and the church says, “not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect.”  He knew this would be a lifelong process and that he had to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God” (3:14).

Press on to make your relationship with the Lord the most important thing in your life. Getting to know Christ is worth every bit of your intentional pursuit!

A Dose of Grace in a Simple Question

By Will Pavone, Former Young Adults and Edge Community Pastor @MBCTysons

In our summer preaching series, we’re talking about recapturing a zealous love for the Lord Jesus and how we need to live a life of ongoing repentance from everything that tempts us to stray in our fidelity to Him. One of the steps in the process of repentance is having a “holy resolve” to walk in obedience to Christ. I have found that in my Christian life I need the sanctifying grace that God dispenses in the context of biblical community to overcome the many ways my heart is tempted to sin.

Below is one of the best and most practical tools I’ve ever used in order to grow in my obedience to Christ and my resolve to refrain from sinning. These diagnostic questions help foster deep accountability with our close Christian community. I want to encourage you to work through these in the context of a small group or discipleship relationship. Discipleship is a two way street, so be prepared to answer any of the questions that you choose to use in your group. My suggestion is to work through one of these questions each time you meet. I know you will be blessed, and God will use them for your good and His glory!

Diagnostic Questions:

  • What are some specific things that God is teaching you from His Word right now?
  • How is God’s Word making its way to application in your life?
  • What areas of growth have you identified in your own spiritual life? What’s one area you need to grow in?
  • Where are you finding life right now? (What we mean by “life” is joy, satisfaction, meaning, identity, etc.)
  • What verses are you using to fight the temptation of impurity? (i.e.“fighter verses”)
  • When is the last time you looked at pornography?
  • What’s an area in your life that God wants you to be free of?
  • How are you living on mission this week/month?
  • Is there an unbeliever in your life that you are intentionally engaging with in spiritual conversations?
  • Who have you been intentional to edify (build up) recently? How could you intentionally encourage (spur on) a fellow believer this week?
  • Is there a specific sin area in your life where you are seeing change?
  • How can we celebrate God’s transforming grace in your life this week/month?
  • How are you currently using your finances to glorify God?
  • Are there any upcoming spending decisions that I can speak into or pray for wisdom with you?
  • Is there any person in your life from whom you are withholding forgiveness?
  • When is the last time you practiced the Matthew 18 principle of conflict resolution? Is there anyone in your life you currently need to engage in this way?
  • Do the people you work with know that you are a believer in Christ?

Leprosy Center

by Kylie Billings

Today on the last leg of our trip God once again showed me the kind of joy only the Holy Spirit can bring. I received special permission to switch teams for our last round of ministry work because we were visiting the only Leprosy hospital on the island. I had been once before on last year’s trip here, and I was impacted mightily by the love poured out on both ends of the people visiting and the patients. God worked on my heart all year using that memory as a source of peace and joy in my life. Getting to go back was a gift from God that I was so thankful for. I was able to revisit certain individuals from last year and see the impact of the patients on our team. The Lord works in amazing ways when we serve Him and are able to have our hearts broken for what breaks His. Personally, I was filled with gratitude, joy, and love being back in that place which was dear to my heart. I saw many other team members be moved to tears by the influence of the lepers and words spoken about them. A large portion of the group was shocked by the physical deformities of the lepers, but they were able to see past that and touch them through some discomfort, to show the patients the love of Christ. It was an encouraging thought that if Jesus was here in the Dominican right now, that Leprosy hospital was most definitely where He would be. After praying all week to be used by the Lord, we all got to be the hands of Jesus to the people who needed His love and renewal of faith. Today was the positive highlight of the trip for me, and I think I can speak for many others when I say it was theirs also. To wrap up this post for our last day, I can only say that I am extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to serve with both teams and see God move among the Dominican people. We’ll see you all soon!

This has been an amazing trip that I cannot be more thankful for. We are grateful that so many of you have supported us financially and spiritually as we see God’s Kingdom expanded and Him Glorified through the time we spent in the DR. We look forward to celebrating the Lord’s work when we arrive home tomorrow night.

The Most Important Thing

By Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams @MBCLoudoun

Why should we know Christ? If we have accepted the free gift of grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection, live a good and moral life, read our Bible every now and then on our own, pay attention enough during the sermon to recite facts about the Bible and who Jesus is, then we can pass as a Christian, right?

In Philippians 3:4-6 Paul says, “…If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

Paul gives us his “spiritual resume.” He has a pretty impressive one, too! Others saw him as impeccably religious. His righteousness was seen and acknowledged by all the important Jews of his day. He was found blameless! No matter what your involvement in the church—whether you are a discipleship group leader, head of the usher team, a member of the choir or part of a team flying around the world to serve on a mission trip in the slums—that is not what you should be known by. Those are all good things. Those are all important things. In fact, I depend heavily on my volunteers who serve faithfully and sacrificially! But religious activity is not the most important thing.

Paul continues in Philippians 3, “…but whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (vs. 7).

This “loss” is damage or loss like you would file as an insurance claim after some sort of disaster or accident. Isn’t that a crazy picture of how some Christians live their lives today? They invest their good deeds and religious-ness in hopes that one day they can cash in for a return on their investment. Almost sounds like using the sacrifice of God’s Son as fire insurance to get out of hell free, doesn’t it? How sad! Paul counts this type of good behavior as a measurable, verifiable loss. What he once trusted in as religious assets, he now sees as liabilities, which got in the way of truly knowing Christ.

Paul continues in verse 8, “more than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish….” We need to lose ourselves. Our identity in people and positions. Our good deeds. Count it all as if it were in a can going to the curb on trash day, that we may gain Christ. He is enough. All our self-righteous deeds are worthless compared to knowing Christ.

What losses are you currently experiencing as you actively pursue knowing Christ? Do you truly consider knowing Him the most important thing in life? If we view Jesus as our Lord and Master, shouldn’t He have full control of our days? Our schedules? Our titles and identities?

We need to lose ourselves to be found in Christ, as Paul writes in verse 9. We must be so closely intertwined with Him that we cannot be separated. I’m not married, but have been a part of enough weddings that I feel like there should be some sort of “Frequent Bridesmaid” card that when you purchase a dozen dresses, you get one free (or at least half off!). My favorite line of the sacred wedding vows, “forsaking all others and being united forever,” chokes me up every single time. Matthew 19:6 commands, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” This picture of marriage is a picture of the Gospel. If you are in Christ, God has joined you together with His Son so that you are one. The Father no longer sees just you or your sin, but Christ. There is no separation.

Knowing Christ is the most important thing in life. We don’t have to lose ourselves for nothing because Christ is everything. He is worth any suffering because He made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Day 6: Broken, Yet Sustained

By Dave Kroeze
Director of Outreach

I must state before we get too far that my “ChicAAAAgo” accent has become quite the topic around our team. It has been stated that my accent is so thick that it makes it unbearable to hear me say that word “challenge.” In light of this, I must start my blog using the word in the first sentence! Today was the most challenging day as a leader in my entire life. My heart has been broken on numerous occasions throughout the week, as it should be, but today I saw areas where Jesus would weep and Christians should interject.

The first village that we went to had some unique difficulties. I was able to engage in a variety of pick up games of baseball: pitching, batting and even fulfilling a life-long dream to serve as an umpire for a period of time. Throughout the courst of these games, I sensed a hightened sense of aggression towards a particular child. I would turn around and he would immediately be attacked by 3 or 4 children. I later came to find out that this child was seen as a curse upon the entire village because of his special needs. I internally wept and made it my morning task to encourage this particular little boy anyway that I could – mostly in the form of keeping the others away from him. As we were driving away, a fight broke out alongside the bus, with this child in the middle of it. My heart immediately broke for the people of Los Colucos because they do not understand the beauty and depth of children who have special needs. Unfortunately, we were unable to intervene on this boys behalf anymore, but I plead to the Lord that he would be safe, and that the village would come to see these children as an incredible blessing so that the Lord might be glorified. God is doing amazing things through our team, as the “alpha male” of the village accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior this morning. Additionally, SCORE is working to plant a church in the near future. God is good, and I look forward to visiting next summer and seeing the mighty tranformation that can only come at the hands of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

The other village we went to saw us revisiting a village from Saturday afternoon. We adapted our program and played a variety of games with the children. Every
individual had the opportunity to share their faith and many were able to walk through a new decision as Christ transformed hearts. What JOY that brings us! The angels were rejoicing with singing and dancing as the Lord found many lost sheep today. Another little boy had scabs and scars all over his head. When he was pushed over, many of these injuries were reopened and infections are likely to follow. I pray that God would heal this little boy and that he would do mighty things for the Kingdom. What a joy that would be!

I cannot possibly communicate the emotions I felt today as I had to lead my team out of a village as a boy was being physically beaten. Today was a hard day because I felt totally helpless for the first time this week. There was absolutely nothing that I could do to help either of these little boys, and it fell into my lap to inform members of our team that we could, unfortunately, do nothing outside of praying for them.

I want to shout out to a few members of our team. I could share stories of each member, but a few need special recognition. Miriam Jensen, Maria Isaza and Raquel Pine have faithfully served us each day as translators. This is hard work and we could not do door to door evangelism without them. Dave Fackler, Jonathan Harris, Matthew Kim, and Katelyn Leidy (Happy 16th Birthday!) have faithfully led our team in worship each night. What a blessing they are. Nick Venegas, David Dodge, and Troy Bennett have faithfully led our ministry teams into the field and done an AMAZING job providing flexible but creative leadership in the midst of less than ideal circumstances. I am grateful for the team that God has built and the amazing work that he has done in our lives. I cannot believe that tomorrow (Thursday) is our last day of ministry. Pray that the Lord would move another mountain for His namesake and Glory!