Saturday, October 29, 2011

Street ministry in Puyo

Street ministry is something I love doing. In fact, it is one of my favorite things to do. Martha and I prayed we would get the opportunity to do street ministry while in Ecuador, and God answered our prayers.

Martha, Karen and I have hit the streets twice this week with Rick and Andy, two missionaries living in Shell. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings we went to a nearby city called Puyo, which is a good deal larger than Shell. The first night we ministered around a small park, and the second night around a large shopping market, kind of like a mall.

Rick has lived here around 35 years, so he is very fluent in Spanish. Andy has been here a little more than a year. Rick starts out singing praise songs in Spanish, then Andy preaches a short message and Rick translates it into Spanish. Martha, Karen and I walked around the area handing out Christian tracts.

The three of us do not speak much Spanish, though Karen is getting better at it. However, God still used us to be effective, despite the langauge barrier.

Many of the people would stop and read the tracts, which amazed us. In the U.S., usually only the homeless will do that. A smile translates into any langauge, too. It was cool seeing people who looked down as we walked up to them change facial expressions as we smiled, said "Buenas Tardes" or "Hola" and handed them a tract. Most of them smiled back and said, "Gracious."

The first night, a man walked up to Martha and starting speaking. We couldn't understand him, so he tried harder to explain himself. He kept looking and pointing to the gray streak in her hair. Then he showed us a photo on his cell phone of his daughter. We were able to understand that she died and is in Heaven and that Martha reminded him of his daughter. For about 15 minutes he kept looking at her in amazement and talking about his daughter. You never know what will give someone hope.

Thursday night, Karen was talking with a vendor and figured out he had some kind of infirmity, and he allowed us to pray with him.

In Shell and Puyo, there are a lot of children running around the streets and riding bikes. They all wanted tracts and many read them. I had fun with the kids and played soccer with some of them, which was cool. That was one of the things I wanted to do while here. I grew up playing soccer, or futbol, and even played a year in college. Knowing it is their national sport, I was hoping to play some while here. Plus, these children crave attention from adults, so that made it even more fun.

I have seen God move through us over the years even with langauge barriers. It all comes down to faith and obedience. God will honor that every time.

Please keep the Ecuadorian people in your prayers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hurts so good

I have never been so happy to be so tired and sore.

Today, Ted, Rick and I mixed and poured concrete at Casa de Fe in Shell, Ecuador, for their education building. We were working on the first floor, mixing and pouring concrete for the flooring. Knowing the building is going to be used to educate orphans made every lift of the wheel barrow worth it.

Here in Shell they mix and pour concrete the old fashion way. Ted loaded three two-men buckets of gravel and dumped it in a cement mixer. Rick filled four buckets of sand and stones and dumped it in the mixer. I manned the "truck," better known as a wheel barrow, and wheeled it into the building and dumped it. We did that all day. We weren't sure we were going to make it, but we did. We did pray for God to give us strength, and He did. I prayed that prayer a number of times throughout the day. :-)

It has been a great privledge serving beside Ted and Rick this week. They are both true servants. No matter how tough the work has been, they have kept smiling and serving with great joy.

We have mixed and poured concrete, dug through dirt and sand pulling out wood and nails. We have pulled nails out of boards, built cabinets, modified a bed and repaired a bicycle. The whole time we have thanked God for this opportunity. Why? Because this is the heart of God. He tells us in James 1:27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."

This has been and awesome experience and we still have four days left. And, it won't be Love In Action's last trip to Ecuador. This is only the beginning.

Introducing Celebrate Recovery to missionaries

The Love In Action team is accomplishing a lot here in Ecuador. One of the areas we are seeing God work is spreading Celebrate Recovery in Shell and Puyo.

One of the goals of this trip is to introduce Celebrate Recovery and it is taking off. Love In Action CR Director Emily Hinderhilter and Love In Action's Tuesday night director Judy Olski have been busy telling missionaries and a couple of churches about CR, and they are all excited about it.

Love In Action Vice President Martha Tuck and LIA volunteer Karen Hils told Patty Sue, director of Casa de Fe about the CR children's program, and she was very receptive.

We brought books and other literature so they can all see for themselves and decide. It looks like each group here is going to start CR groups. We are helping to start groups for children, teens and adults. We know what a great program CR is, and we are humbled and excited that God would use us to start it here in Ecuador.

I am really thankful for and proud of Emily and Judy. They hit the ground running here to fulfill their purpsoe for this trip. They didn't know how it would go or if anyone would be receptive. They just decided to trust God and be obedient to Him, and every day they have had meetings. People are calling the hotel to set up meetings with them. Wednesday afternoon a missionary just showed up at the hotel because she heard about CR and wanted to know more about it.

This Monday, a large group of missionaries and local pastors will come to the hotel to meet with Emily and Judy, and they will give the give a presentation and share about the great impact CR is having in Dothan.

Emily and Judy have really stepped into the calling and cause God has placed in their lives and hearts. They are great leaders and they lead with great compassion. I am so thankful to have them leading CR for LIA.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Praying in the Amazon Rain Forest

What an incredible honor we had today to be in the Amazon Rain Forest with the Houaroni tribe. This tribe killed the first missionaries who visited them 50 years ago. Today, the majority of them are Christians.

We flew to the Houaroni village in a Cessna. The pilot made a perfect landing on a dirt runway. Members of the tribe met us and warmly welcomed us. The pilot gave them bags of rice and other supplies.

They took us to their church and about six tribal elders welcomed us. They didn't know we were coming today, but two of them said they had dreams the night before that people were coming today.

They sang and talked in their native langauge. One of the elder's sons translated it into Spanish, and then our pilot translated it into English.

One of the elders was a member of the tribe that killed the missionaries 50 years ago. Thanks to the family of the missionaries who kept reaching out to the tribe for Jesus, he is a born again Christian.

The elders prayed for us, then I was honored to pray for them. It was an incredible experience, and one that none of us will ever forget.

It is so cool to meet people like the Houaronis and listen to them worship God.

Every tongue, every tribe and every nation will sing God's praises and worship Him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

God keeps opening doors

The doors God keeps opening up in Ecuador are incredible.

Today, Ted, Rick and I were back at the Casa de Fe orphanage working. We did more work on the school building, and we started work on modifying a bed for one of the orphans. Because of health problems, the child has to eat sitting up. We are modifying the bed so they can raise it up to a sitting when she eats.

Emily and Judy talked with Claudia, a missionary, for a second time about Celebrate Recovery. Claudia is very excited about it, as is another missionary named Sharron.

Martha and Karen spent time with Patty Sue, the director of Casa de Fe. They shared with her about Celebrate Recovery for children, and she was very interested in it.

Starting Celebrate Recovery in Ecuador was part of our mission here, and we are well on our way. Praise God!

Then tonight, Martha, Karen and I did street ministry in Pujo, Ecuador. Street ministry is at the heart of Love In Action, and to do it in Ecuador was great. We went out with missionaries named Rick and Andy. We handed out Christian tracts, Rick sang and Andy preached, while Rick translated.

Afterward I had the honor to pray with some people, including members of the tribe who killed the first missionaries in Shell, Ecuador, years ago. They are now Christians.

Then, I played soccer with some children in the park.

It was another great day. Thanks for everyone's continued prayers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

'A Father to the fatherless'

What an awesome blessing it is to be in Shell, Ecuador working at the Casa de Fe orphanage. These children are so beautiful and precious.

Today, Ted, Ricky and I worked all day at the new school under construction for the children. It was a day of hard work, but it was great. As I was walking back up the hill to the construction site with water I smiled and thanked God for this opportunity.

This past year God has sent so many volunteers to help us rennovate the Love In Action Ministry Center. Martha and I understand the importance of volunteers. We know how good it feels when people come along side us to help us fulfill the cause God has placed inside of us with Love In Action. Now, God is giving us the opportunity to do the same for others.

Casa de Fe is Patty Sue's dream. It is her cause. It is exciting to be a small part of it. The end of the work day was the most amazing part. As we walked around the front of the building the children currently live and attend school in, they were playing. They saw us, smiled and said, "Hola!"

I took a photo of them and they all ran to me. I knelt down and they started hugging me. One child who was born with his brain exposed wanted to touch my beard. Another child, a beautiful little girl, started kissing the right aide of my face. She wouldn't stop kissing me. I just wanted to break down crying at their wonderful love for a person they have never seen.

God tells us in Pslam 68:5 that He is a "Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His dwelling place." Theses orphans are close to God's heart. In fact, they are in His dwelling place.

As the children hugged and kissed me it was like God saying "thank you for helping My children." I am the one who is thankful. I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me this opportunity. I thank Him for providing Martha and me with the resources to come to Ecuador.

I serve an awesome God. He is worth of all my praise. I love God so much, and I keep growing in love with Him more and more every day.

Please pray for the children at Casa de Fe and the amazing staff there. And, please keep the Love In Action team in your prayers, too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ecuador bound

It's hard to believe Oct. 22 is already here. We started planning our trip to Ecuador early in the summer. We even took six weeks of Spanish classes. I'm pretty sure none of us are ready to communicate completely in Spanish, but at least we know some phrases.

Seven of us are going on this trip, and we are excited. As we go to minister the love of Jesus Christ, we all know that we will be forever changed by what God does in our hearts through this mission trip.

We are going to serve at the Casa de Fe (House of Faith) orphanage in Shell, Ecuador. These precious children are shown the love of Christ and given a new chance at life through the love and compassion of a wonderful staff and volunteers.

Some of the children were born to tribes in the Amazon jungle with birth defects. In the jungle, the weak do not survive, so they are tossed away. Thankfully, Casa de Fe is there to catch them.They take these beautiful children in and raise them. Other children are at the orphanage because their parents have drug and alcohol problems and are in jail. There are various other reasons, but the main thing is to let these children know that there is a God in Heaven who loves them and people who love them.

James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)

Martha and I have never served at an orphanage, so we are excited about this opportunity. We know it will be heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time.

Another reason for this trip is to introduce and teach Celebrate Recovery to a group of missionaries who are interested in the program. Love In Action's Celebrate Recovery director, Emily Hinderliter, and Love In Action's Tuesday night Celebrate Recovery Inside director, Judy Olski, are going on this trip mainly for this reason. This is exciting, and a great opportunity to make a positive impact and bring great encouragement to missionaries who are on the front line every day.

Another aspect of this trip we are excited about is flying into the Amazon jungle to minister to a tribe.

All of Love In Action's ministries back home in Dothan, Ala., will continue. We have great leaders and volunteers who will keep everything running strong.

This trip is not costing Love In Action any money as all of us are paying our own way.

Please keep the seven of us going in your prayers. We will keep you updated throughout the trip on this blog, and also on Twitter (www.twitter.com/liaministries) and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lia.ministries
So please follow us on Twitter and "Like" our Facebook page.

I also have a nifty little device called SpotConnect. It's very inexpensive satellite technology that allows my smart phone to connect to Twitter and Facebook with messages up to 41 characters when there is no cellular service. It also tracks our location, so you will be able to keep up with us even when we are in the middle of the Amazon jungle in Ecuador. Pretty cool.

Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A grand Saturday celebration

What an amazing Saturday we experienced this past weekend at the Love In Action Ministry Center as we opened the ministry center for the community. There were seven people who made decisions for Jesus Christ, and we served 282 lunches. Praise God! Now that was a grand, grand opening!

Our friends from Baton Rouge, La., No Place Outreach and Cooking for Jesus, traveled to Dothan to cook for our celebration. Oh man, did they do some cooking! They started early Saturday morning and cooked a delicious meal of Jambalaya, white beans, rolls and brownies. Watching them put it all together was fun.

I took a team of volunteers into the community around the ministry center Saturday morning, and we canvased the entire area inviting people. Many of them responded.

A good number of the homeless attended. We got the word out to them and they enjoyed the afternoon with us, and we enjoyed them. We get to meet some great people doing this ministry.

A surprise to the lineup was a praise team from the Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu, Hawaii. They were leading a revival at First United Methodist Church in New Brockton where one of our board members, Dwight Deal, is pastor. They wanted to do something on Saturday, so they came to Love In Action. Our new Hawaiian friends were great and led two worship songs.

Then the praise team from Crossroads Community Church in Enterprise, Ala., led worship. We always enjoy worshiping with Crossroads. They did a great job, then Crossroads pastor and LIA board member Gene Oden preached a wonderful message.

Following Gene's message, seven people made decisions for Jesus Christ. Praise God! That's what it's all about. We also had a great time of prayer with people about a number of different needs.

Then, as we like to say, we strapped on the feedbag and ate some Cajun food. It was delicious! Our Louisiana friends have a passion for cooking for the homeless and needy, and they do an awesome job.

After lunch, the "Gospel Jubilees" sang. These precious women love to worship the Lord.

Later in the day, we loaded up the back of my pickup truck and took a team of volunteers to deliver food to people in the neighborhood. We also visited a homeless camp. The excitement of our volunteers was incredible, and the people were so thankful.

We also delivered some blankets to the homeless.

It was a great day and we thank God for giving us the opportunity to serve Him. What an honor and a privilege it is to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is awesome!

We thank God for all of the volunteers who helped us on Saturday and who help us every week to show God's love to the needy. We also thank God for everyone who prays for us and gives financially. We could not do this without you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shower Ministry up and running

When you come home after working hard and sweating all day at work, doesn't a hot shower feel great? Imagine being able to take a shower because you live in a tent in the woods or under a bridge. Or, imagine not having the money to pay your water bill or only having cold water because you cannot afford the electric bill to make the hot water heater work.

All of those scenarios are reality for many people, and Love In Action is providing a way to help through our Shower Ministry. A hot shower can go a long way in helping people feel better about themselves. I often tell people that the homeless really do care about their hygiene. They care about if they smell or not. But, when you don't have a place to go to take a shower, there isn't much you can do about it.

That has changed now in Dothan as our Shower Ministry began yesterday (Oct. 8) at the Love In Action Ministry Center. George, our volunteer plumber, finished installing the shower yesterday, and four men were able to take hot showers. You should have seen the smiles on their faces as they felt good to be clean and to have such a nice shower to get clean in.

We want to thank George for his hard work. He has re-worked the entire plumbing system at the LIA Ministry Center. Thanks to George's expertise and dedication, and people donating the finances for us to purchase all of the plumbing supplies, we are now able to wash people's clothes with our Laundry Ministry and provide a hot shower with our Shower Ministry. Praise God!

These are real needs and we thank God we can help meet them. These two ministries are more ways we can spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion. When people see you care about their needs, they are open to listening to what you have to say. And, if you are showing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ to them, then they realize this Jesus we talk about really does love and care for them, too.

The Laundry and Shower ministries take place every Saturday at the Love In Action Ministry Center from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Of course, if the homeless need help on a different day we will certainly help them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lighthouse Cafe opens

Friday nights can be rough out on the streets, so we decided to give people a safe alternative, create a safe haven for the homeless and people who live in the hotel and neighborhood around the Love In Action Ministry Center.

Friday nights are mine and Martha's date night, and one of the things we usually do is go to Barnes & Noble to enjoy some Starbucks coffee and a good book. It's our place to unwind and relax at the end of a busy week. We wanted to create the same kind of place at Love In Action, so we opened the Lighthouse Cafe.

The grand opening was last night (Oct. 7) and it was a great night. Cynthia is the leader of this ministry. When we first mentioned the idea of this ministry her eyes lit up. She excitedly told us how she managed a coffee house and would love to be involved. Cynthia has been a faithful LIA volunteer for more than two years, so Martha and I had no problem letting her take charge and lead.

The goal is to create a safe, Christian environment where people can come and relax, play board games, listen to Christian music, talk, and of course, drink coffee. We also have delicious homemade desserts and Chill Yogurt donates "Yo Cakes." Oh man, those things are delicious. I have to do quality control on food items, so that means tasting them. Our desserts at the Lighthouse Cafe passed with flying colors. One of our new volunteers, Lauren, baked homemade blueberry muffins. I told her to make one extra, because I was going to eat one before we opened. :-) They were great, and our guests agreed. I gave an older gentleman a ride home from the Lighthouse Cafe and the first thing he said as he climbed in my truck was, "Those blueberry muffins were good."

The young and old came last night. A couple who lives in a hotel has a three-month old baby named Destiny. We have been helping this family, and Destiny has quickly stolen all of our hearts. She is such a beautiful child and is such a good baby. She always has a smile. The mother, Tiffany, brought her to the Lighthouse Cafe last night. Destiny instantly became the center of attention.

We also had the opportunity to ministry to another homeless man last night. His name is CW. He is in his mid 80s. His back is bent over to the point where he is about halfway bent down toward the ground. He cannot straighten his back, but that doesn't slow him down. He rides and pushes his bicycle everywhere.

One of our volunteers paid for him to sleep at a hotel last night, and others fixed him up with hamburgers and other items. That was a first big step to building trust with CW so we can reach him for Jesus and provide the help he needs.

So another outreach begins at Love In Action. We are excited about everything God is doing and we give Him all of the praise, honor and glory. We thank all of the volunteers, people who donate financially, and those who pray for us and those we serve. It takes all of us working together to make it happen. It's called the Body of Christ uniting to reach the lost and hurting. Thank you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

'I was sick, and you cared for me'

God's wonderful display of mercy and grace continues to amaze me. As we opened our free health clinic for the homeless tonight at the Love In Action Ministry Center I watched in awe the goodness of God in action.

Doctors came to volunteer. Dr. H.L. "Chief" Lassiter was our doctor on duty and Dr. Steve Stokes grilled hamburgers for everyone who attended. Other doctors came to support our efforts and check out the new facility.

Volunteers lovingly served the hamburger dinner to our guests. Our six patients enjoyed the meal as did others we invited in who were walking past the ministry center. We were also able to provide hamburgers and chips to about 20 homeless men.

When I look at the health clinic I think about the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:36, "I was sick, and you cared for me." Then he tells us in Matthew 25:40, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"

Jesus had to be smiling tonight at His Body of believers coming together to start a new outreach out of the LIA Ministry Center. He instructs us to care for the poor, and one of the things we need to do is take care of the sick. That happened tonight and will happen every Thursday evening as we open the clinic for the homeless, women from the House of Ruth and the men and women from Houston County Community Corrections work release.


They do not have insurance. They don't have money to pay for medical care. Thanks be to God, we are able to provide them with medical care, including medicine. At the same time we provide a dinner for them, and we are there to pray with them. That is a powerful combination.


I was honored to speak to a large group of social services organizations in Dothan this week and I told them that Jesus tells us to provide social services to the poor. He didn't use the term social services, but providing food, clothing and shelter is what we call social services. I also told them that social services without Jesus doesn't work.


We have to show and tell them about the great physician. Jesus is the one who can heal our bodies and spirits. He is the only one who can save us.


We are so honored that God would allow us to provide this type of ministry to the homeless population in Dothan, and it is an honor to minister alongside such great men and women who will give up their Thursday evenings to take care of the needs of the needy.


One thing this clinic does is show people we care about them and love them. More importantly, it shows them that God loves them and cares about their needs. It lets them know they are of great worth to God.


Please continue to pray for this medical outreach. Next week we will have eye care, and in the near future, dental care.


We thank and praise God for everything He is doing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays

If Wednesday nights get any better I don't know what I'll do. Well, yes I do. I'll keep shouting praises to God.

Last night was another incredible Bible study at the Love In Action Ministry Center as three people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Praise God! If that doesn't make you shout for joy something is wrong with you.

Two of them were homeless people we just met last night. They are a married couple and they met another homeless man we met for the first time Tuesday night. They met him outside of a local restaurant and he told them he was going to church and invited them. Praise God!

The third person was one of our guys from work release. We love our guys. They are part of our family and to see what God is doing in all of our lives is incredible and just blows me away.

A great transformation is taking place. Souls are being saved, mindsets are being changed, and the reality of God's love is radically rocking people's world. It is so cool to watch.

We have grown to about 30 people now on Wednesday nights, and it's always a wonderful time. The food and fellowship is great, and the Bible studies are outstanding. The prayer time at the end is always incredible.

We serve an awesome God, and when you seek Him you will find Him.

Lives are being transformed by the power of God. Dreams are being restored. People are realizing they are of great worth. That's how God is moving through Love In Action, and we give God all of the praise, honor and glory.