A two-hour flight to Houston, seven hours to Lima, one hour to Pucallpa, and a three hour flight to San Lorenzo in a four seat Cessna and I am almost there. Actually, it takes an additional five-hour boat trip to reach our destination, Musakarusha. We are deep in the...
A two-hour flight to Houston, seven hours to Lima, one hour to Pucallpa, and a three hour flight to San Lorenzo in a four seat Cessna and I am almost there. Actually, it takes an additional five-hour boat trip to reach our destination, Musakarusha.
We are deep in the Amazon Jungle. Few venture here, there are only the indigenous Indians, the Candoshi Tribe. It is not surprising then that these are largely a forgotten people. The only signs of outside support are a dilapidated health center, school, and a non-functioning water system all built by the government.
However, the Candoshi are not forgotten by Jorge Alverez and Pastor Victor. Both have committed their lives to bringing clean water and Living Water to these remote Indian villages. I first met Jorge in 2003 when I traveled to Peru to train Jorge and the American missionary employing him, Tommy Head, how to drill and install water wells. I continued to work with this team for about 10 years until I was more in the way than a help. It wasn’t long after this time that Tommy Head came to an untimely death in a motorcycle accident (his riding was part of his very popular motocross ministry).
With Tommy’s death the entire responsibility for the ministry was placed on Jorge’s shoulders. But with God’s hand on him, Jorge has met the challenge in a very inspiring way. Jorge made big plans, he made important changes in the services he offered and he formed a local charity that allowed him to expand the ministry. One particularly important change was to invite other like-minded Peruvian’s to join him in the ministry.
The key to it all is the personal relationship that the team establishes and maintains with each community.
It was at this time that he met Pastor Victor, a then new pastor in a jungle village. Victor quickly took over evangelistic activities teaching biblical based hygiene, counseling villagers, and preaching the Gospel each night they are in a village.
This effort has come with a price. The environment in which they work is dangerous, the rivers they travel are treacherous with huge trees laying just below water level ready to destroy their boat or motor; snakes, bugs, heat, floods; disease, particularly malaria that they both contracted this past winter putting them in the hospital for weeks; and even witch doctors that will incite drunken riots against them when they feel threatened. They also leave family and friends on a regular basis, living in hot uncomfortable conditions (there is not room service in the Jungle).
However, their work has born much fruit. Their efforts have seen many come to Christ, almost 700 wells have been installed and maintained, and the physical and spiritual health of the Indian’s has measurably improved. The key to it all is the personal relationship that the team establishes and maintains with each community. This is so evident as we motor down these remote rivers and in each village that we pass villagers run to the banks and cry out Jorge and wave vigorously. Jorge and Victor have gained the Candoshi’s respect, trust and appreciation. This is difficult given their past experiences with the government and outside world.
As I pack up to leave I am left with a single thought. These are the right men for the right job at the right time in this difficult environment. God’s hand is squarely on their ministry and it shows in their incredible heart for these people. I am also confident that we are a blessed church to be part of this ministry and able to support a portion of their transformative work. Please keep Jorge, Victor and the rest of the team in your prayers.
As Christians, we are commanded to spread the gospel to every tribe, nation, and tongue. We are called to go, send, and support. Depending on your individual circumstances, overseas travel may not be right for you. But, since begining our partnership with Food for the Hungry in Bolivia more than 10 years ago, it has been right for more than 70 of our congregation! An astonishing...
As Christians, we are commanded to spread the gospel to every tribe, nation, and tongue. We are called to go, send, and support.
Depending on your individual circumstances, overseas travel may not be right for you. But, since begining our partnership with Food for the Hungry in Bolivia more than 10 years ago, it has been right for more than 70 of our congregation! An astonishing number for the size of our church!
But not everyone has to travel overseas to be a part of mission work! Many others participate locally, through prayer, encouragement, financial contributions, sponsoring children in Bolivia, and participating on our Missions Team. Our church was founded years ago by a group of believers who thought missions programs were a critically important part of our being Christians, this commitment carries on today.
We have designed our missions program to spread the gospel locally, overseas through organized short-term mission trips, and through engagement of native missionaries in remote areas of the world. Below are short descriptions of some of our missions’ programs.
Juntos is a program located in Albuquerque’s International District. They focus on reaching at risk youth by giving them a place and programs where they can be safe while hearing and reading God’s Word. As part of the Navigators urban ministry, paid Navigator staff work with volunteers from several partner churches, including MCC, to provide evening, after school and summer programs to more than 100 regularly attending youth. This year with generous giving from our church, we are supporting a new program of workshops requested by the youth to introduce them to art, cartooning, pottery, wood working, and robotics.
International Students, Inc. (ISI) is a faith-based program at the University of New Mexico providing support to newly arriving international students from all over the world. With approximately 500 international students attending UNM each year, the opportunity to reach out and welcome new students is significant. ISI provides furniture, beds, housewares, transportation assistance, English training, Bible studies, and mentoring through volunteers who have a heart for working with international students.
Bolivia, through our relationship with Food for the Hungry, has been a vital MCC missions program for more than ten years. A short-term mission trip is held each year, usually in March/April. FH works with our team leader to organize the activities of these week-long visits to Villa Margarita near Sucre, Bolivia. These trips are about relationships that are led by the Holy Spirit to be transformational both for those who go from MCC and the Bolivians they meet in country.
Reaching unreached people, primarily in Peru and Ethiopia, is another focus of the MCC Missions Program. In Peru we work with a local organization (AMFA) to bring clean water to remote and mostly forgotten villages in the jungles where the Amazon River starts. As part of the team that drills and constructs the well, a native pastor teaches the gospel and shares about Jesus Christ through oral teaching and the Jesus movie. In Ethiopia, we support four native missionary pastors who have traveled to remote regions to share the gospel and plant churches in remote villages. In both Peru and Ethiopia, our efforts are bringing souls to Christ while transforming lives and communities.
As you can see, having a missional focus can take you across the world or just to Albuquerque. The programs with Juntos and ISI are a good starting point for becoming involved in our missions programs locally. If overseas travel is appealing, then joining our annual short-term mission trip to Bolivia is a great way to participate in a well-organized trip working with FH staff and our team leader in Villa Margarita Bolivia. Our missions programs in Peru and Ethiopia need prayer support and financial support. The native missionary pastors we support face many challenges including disease, venomous snakes and dangerous animals, armed robbers and attackers, and resistance from witch doctors.
I hope you are encouraged to learn more about our missions programs and to get involved. Please see me, Tom O'brien, or any member of our missions team (Emily Gray, Jake Gray, Sami Guiterrez, Tom Young, Vince Tidwell, Joann Talent, and Jennifer Ward) to ask questions or learn more about MCC Missions.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
- A challenge which required us to memorize the name of a Czech dish, walk to a nearby cafe, and order the dish properly. If we forgot the name we had to walk back and try again. Once we got the food we had to eat it ALL!
- A challenge which required us to find the castle in Bratislava, Slovakia, and have a 45 minute team prayer session in the garden (SUPER powerful).
- A challenge which required a member of our team to swim out to an island in the middle of a lake and back.
- A challenge which required us to ride this:
- Nine students signed up for the English camp after our school visits in a town called Havirov.
- We've gotten to meet so many young passionate Czech youth leaders.
- We're getting good at living in Europe! We do our own budgeting, travel, cooking, working, and team devotions.
- God is doing great works in each member of our intern team. Being here with this team has forced me to confront a lot of personal flaws I could have happily ignored my whole life, but God had other plans. He is really teaching us how our weaknesses are His strengths.
- Pray for God to be at work in the hearts of students in Zlin. Pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work there before we arrive, preparing hearts to hear the Gospel.
- Pray for my team and I to have mental and physical strength as we head towards camps season. Pray that we would be committed to doing our very best work for God's kingdom, even in the face of exhaustion.
- Pray for our relationships to deepen, with each other, with students, and with the local church leaders we get to work alongside.
- Pray for God to give us boldness as we step out in faith and ask Him to work in the uncomfortable parts of our lives. Pray for Him to give us humility as we confront sins we've been rooted in for a long time.
Five loaves and two fishes. You remember the story right?
Jesus had crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee and a crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. When Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down with his disciples he saw the great crowd coming toward him, and asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Simon Peter’s brother Andrew, spoke up, “Here is a boy with...
Five loaves and two fishes. You remember the story right?
Jesus had crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee and a crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. When Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down with his disciples he saw the great crowd coming toward him, and asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Simon Peter’s brother Andrew, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (paraphrased from John 6:1-9)
Just as the boy who gave the bread and fish never thought his meager offering would be enough, I wondered how my tiny contribution could make a difference in a country as big as Bolivia during a mission trip there in March. I knew exactly what he felt like!
Throughout the trip I wondered:
“How can conversations using my limited Spanish vocabulary have any Eternal impact?”
I don’t know but I did have fun helping Dakota Powell's sponsor child practice her English homework, I enjoyed getting to know the mothers in the Savings Group by asking them about their children and I enjoyed teaching a group of children about savings. All in broken English, usually through a translator, but always hopeful that God’s love would shine through me and shower them with His affection.
“Did hiking alongside 14-year-old Tatiana really have eternal significance?”
Again, I don't know, but I learned that Tatiana loves all kinds of flowers and that her favorite animal is a rabbit and for that day she had the full attention of one person who really wanted to get to know her and share the love of Jesus with her.
“How can sewing a hem into a sheet of plastic while telling our bus driver about my pets (because that is the only vocabulary that I knew) make a difference?”
Still, I don't know, but through our translator he shared that he and his wife have lost two babies and I was able to use that time, and my broken Spanish, to encourage him.
So that big question that continually pestered me throughout the trip: “How can my tiny contribution make a difference in a country as big as Bolivia?” I never actually found a concrete answer to that but I do know that I loved communicating with the children, FH staff and people I met in Villa Margarita and God taught me so much about myself and showed me what I COULD do in the midst of everything I was afraid I couldn’t! It seems small but it grew my faith!
And, do you remember the end of the story about the boy who gave the loaves and the fishes?
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There were about five thousand men were there and some likely had family. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (paraphrased from John 6:10-14)
My trip to Bolivia may not have had the same obvious abundance, at least not that everyone else could see, but it taught me that God can use me just the way I am, I don't have to try to be like somebody else; I need to be willing to do what he asks and trust Him with the results.
If you are interested in learning more about Nicole's trip, or other missions trips at MCC, join us Wednesday, May 16th at 6pm at MCC for a Mission's in Focus program where we will be talking about mission trips to Guatemala, Bolivia and the Czech Republic as well as MCC's Business as Missions program. Contact Jennifer Ward for more information about that event!
Everywhere you look there are children, people, cars, dogs, trash blowing across the road, busses racing by....a constant sea of movement. There are buildings being constructed, people at work, something for sale, a noise that never ceases; always a rush. But what for? People work hard in hope that opportunity will come, but sadly enough, for many here in Sucre, it seems that it never does...
Everywhere you look there are children, people, cars, dogs, trash blowing across the road, busses racing by....a constant sea of movement. There are buildings being constructed, people at work, something for sale, a noise that never ceases; always a rush.
But what for? People work hard in hope that opportunity will come, but sadly enough, for many here in Sucre, it seems that it never does.
We met with Esperanza, a mother of three who works hard all day, every day, handwashing laundry and still just barely getting by. We assumed she was single by the way she spoke of her "son's father." But none of us had the heart to ask. She lived in the heart of the city but spoke as if she were all alone. The only family she mentioned were the "cousins" of her children, as she called them, from her "boys' father's family". To get to her humble dwelling we climbed over a concrete guardrail, at a random spot off a steep embankment from a busy road, down a shaky set of rusty steel and plywood stairs. It was a tiny, hidden community unto itself, no more than five ramshackle dwellings. You never would have known it was there. It left us wondering how the women of FH had ever found it?
There were children, dogs and hanging laundry amongst the rubbish and mess. Yet children’s eager faces greeted us, hoping for a sponsor`s letter or even better, a visit! All three children were FH sponsored children and seemed more optimistic than most.
But on Esperanza's sad face, there was loneliness and exhaustion, embarrassment that all she had to offer her guests was Salvetti soda, one of which she provided in a wooden bowl because she had no more cups.
Though we knew that our 20-minute visit, gift of school supplies and simple words could not erase that, before we left we covered Esperanza with our prayers. What else can you do when you feel impossibly inadequate?
God's grace covers what we cannot.
His love was a hopeful light in Esperanza's dim, damp, single room dwelling. She smiled as we left, asking us not to forget her. It was heart wrenching.
How could we possibly forget?
Just as her sad face and situation was a profound example of those need, Jesus is a profound example that we NOT FORGET those in need.
"And the King will answer them,`Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Matthew 25:40
Just as Sucre felt like a city that would never sleep, I prayed that we would be a people that would never forget. That we would remember her as a member of the family of Christ and continue to lift her up in prayer.
It left me wondering, what will we do for the least of these? In a world that moves too fast, where distraction abounds and we race to keep up, how will you and I serve, how can we pray and be a people that never forgets?
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Have you been looking for a ministry opportunity that won’t take too much of your time? Please consider becoming a Shine classroom volunteer! We have 9 requests for volunteers to read with children for 30 minutes to an hour once a week! Please contact Ashley Procter if you’re interested in making a big difference in a young one’s school year!
SAVE THE DATE: Vacation Bible School dates are June 24 – 28, 2019! Will you join us as we serve the kiddos of MCC, the East Mountains Community and even Albuquerque? VBS is a huge outreach opportunity for MCC and we hope you will join us in this fun-filled week of Bible stories, singing, games and fellowship!