Character

We are locked down in Honduras as I write. COVID cases have begun to double on a daily basis. The borders and airports are closed. No one can come in or go out. There’s a 6 month to 2-year jail sentence awaiting anyone who violates a curfew.  Hondurans in our little community are obedient and calm. They are familiar with crises.  Two older American friends in another part of the country are locked down too.  He is a retired architect and has had a series of strokes. His wife is left to cope with his rapidly deteriorating condition by herself. They don’t have COVID but COVID is placing his life in jeopardy.

Meanwhile there are about two hundred North Americans, most of whom are short term missionaries stranded here.  Several of them are demanding their rights and that the US State Dept does something to evacuate them.  We strongly encouraged people to postpone their trips weeks before COVID first reared its head.  Unfortunately confirmation bias reigned supreme. I guess their plans, ministry and mission were too important.  I can empathize. I remember thinking and feeling the same way as a short-term missionary myself. 

As Seth Barnes founder of Adventures and Missions, (AIM) an organization with whom we serve as World Race GAP Year Coaches, said in his blog Courage and Prudence

“We are now in a wartime footing in most of the country. Most of us have no idea how to live life there. The things that worked before no longer work. COVID-19 is changing everything.”

Several months ago, I gave a teaching based on the book

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy-What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. By William Straus and Neil Howe. I had no idea at the time how prophetic it was.

Howe and Strauss are Historians and social scientists who observed an Ecclesiastes 3 cycle in American history that shows a new era, a season or “Turning” every 20 -25 years. Four turns or seasons amount to a Saeculum or the length of a long lifetime. In simplest terms, the most recent “First Turning” 1945 -65 was the “High” and could be likened to a honeymoon period.  It was marked by the end of WWII and the birth to the American dream. Families were strengthened as were social institutions like schools, local governments and church. Individual roles both inside and outside the family were clearly defined.

The “Second Turning”, 1965-85, the “Awakening”, was a period of questioning all those things. It was a time of spiritual upheaval, when the old order came under attack. It was marked by things like the birth of ERA, the Vietnam war and the subsequent student lead peace movements, the Water Gate Trial and Impeachment of Richard Nixon. Basically, every social institution was challenged. 

The “Third Turning”, 1985-2005, the “Unraveling” was a time when the individual reigned supreme. Punk rock and rap glorified criminality and anti-social behavior, swinging, divorce and open homosexuality became normalized. And culminated with the HIV AIDS epidemic and the destruction of the twin towers in New York.  Post Modernism grew to become the dominant world view and continued corruption and government scandals fueled an already growing distrust of nearly all established authority and institutions.  

The “Fourth Turning” 2005 -25 is the “Crisis”. We are in the thick of it now.

As Straus and Howe wrote in 1996.

“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. . .The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.”

The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort — in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”

Howe and Strauss predicted we Americans will be forced to make decisions that mirror the hardest ones made by our predecessors as

“great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order”.  “And it will require us to admit that our faith in linear progress has often amounted to a Faustian bargain with our children. Faust always ups the ante, and every bet is double or nothing. Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time.”

There is always talk of the end of days whenever a major crisis hit. I don’t claim to be a prophet and I certainly don’t know for sure.  My own bias is to doubt it.  Even so, my wife Cathy made a keen observation the other day. The beginning of sorrows that Jesus spoke about in Mat 24:8-13 translates to “Birth Pangs”.  Birth pangs progressively increase in frequency and intensity until the water breaks and the baby is born.  If this is the beginning of sorrows it will usher in the millennial reign of Christ. Fourth Turns gradually come to an end and are followed by another High.  

In either case if we are to survive in a war time footing, we need to accurately discern the time. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of discernment in Mathew 16:1-4.

“Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

Everything they needed to identify Jesus was already in the scriptures.  The problem was that Jesus did not match their interpretation and resulting expectations and Jesus remained hidden in plain view.

A lot of us have the same problem today.

Signs, wonders and spiritual gifts are all the rage these days.  Myriad charismatic leaders inspire people to follow in their footsteps.  Evangelists, prophets, those with gifts of healing and an angle on prosperity abound. Those with the most dramatic, feel good performances and the biggest followings on social media become heroes of the faith even if their teachings are scripturally unsound.  Jesus said,

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26 and “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Mat 24:37 Noah preached repentance and righteousness 2 Pet 2:5 then built an ark in the middle of the desert. He was mocked and rejected as a result.  How much more are those who preach the same message in 2 Timothy 3 world rejected?  

Cathy just read some headlines as I write. 

“Vegas strip club offers drive through peep shows” in response to COVID and “Man beaten to death by mob for having Corona Virus.” 

You might be on fire for Jesus.  But a quick skim of the daily headlines should be all one needs to discern the times and the message that the world needs.

Discernment drives action

I’ve heard people quote and seen people post Psalm 91 so many times in the past few weeks that everyone including unbelievers should have it memorized by now. Problem is – many receive it as a magic incantation that allows them to fearlessly continue with their lives as if nothing was happening.

A cursory word study quickly reveals that dwelling in secret place of Psalm 91:1 upon which one’s protection is contingent, refers to both the secret place Jesus talked about in Mat 6:6 . It also means a literal “shelter, a hiding place.” 

By the way, has anyone stopped to consider that COVID could peak during Passover?

I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

If nothing else this situation is facing us with a very real question.  God or mammon?  

Many young people are assuming, they are invincible and choosing to party rather than comply with recommendations, warnings and ordinances.  We have young friends and relatives who seem utterly oblivious to the crisis at hand.

Spring Break 2020

The keys to surviving a crisis and thriving in the subsequent high lay in how we respond. There were people who jumped to their deaths from high-rises when the market crashed in 1929.  Those more prudent made fortunes. The most grievous error we can make is to fail to discern the time. We may assume a Fourth Turn crisis is the end and enter what AIM calls the “Q” (quit) zone. Or we could mistake the crisis for a First Turn high as so many spring breakers are doing now.

Good things come out of crisis. Rom 8:28

“Great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order.”   That means a return to First Turn values. People have been praying for and prophesying revival for decades.  Yet how soon we forget that revivals begin with radical repentance.  More often than not this repentance is preceded by an event that causes people to recognize their spiritual bankruptcy. An event like like the great San Francisco earthquake that preceded the Azuza Street revival in 1915.   Yes, Jesus healed and does heal people but His primary reason for coming was to be a propitiation for our sin. He came to rescue us from hell.  Miracles and healing look more spectacular to our disbelieving and entertainment hungry eyes. But they are secondary to dealing with our sin. John 1:22   As Ray Comfort says, “God comes to us with a subpoena in one hand and a pardon in the other.”  We love to tell people about the loving pardon while avoiding the subpoena all together. 

As the current COVID crisis grows, I have yet to hear anyone under the age of 85 preach a message of repentance.  There seems to be a correlation between this and the fact that those 80 and older were alive during the previous Fourth Turn.  Hope for a nation that has murdered over 61,000,000 babies’ since Roe v Wade, maligned the name of Jesus as a matter of public policy and rejected His substitutionary work on the cross isn’t going to be found in Psalm 91 without embracing 2 Chron 7:14 first.

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

My oldest surviving uncle Lester will be 90 in June.  He built his own sugar house and makes his own maple syrup in Ashfield Massachusetts because he needs something to do when it’s too cold to work. 

His wife Nancy is a retired biologist with a passion for conservation.

The last time I visited, Aunt Nancy had just chased a mother bear and her cubs away from her beehives on foot. At dinner Lester and I spoke about the last Fourth Turn. Uncle Lester is a retired Navy Vet. His brother fought at Normandy.  He doesn’t speak a lot but when he does it behooves people to find the parable. Uncle Lester grew up poor during the Great Depression but says he didn’t know it. He never complains and talked a lot about the value and power of gratitude and community during hard times.  Elders in places like Ashfield Mass still work hard and have a lot of character. They are our national treasures.

I recently saw a meme directed at chronic COVID complainers.

If our culture persists in a collective belief that our individual rights reign supreme, that we are somehow owed something and that it’s the government’s job to provide it for free at the expense of other people simply because they have more; then I can assure you that the authoritarian outcome or worse mentioned by Straus and Howe is almost certain.

Instead I found an example of the requisite attitude for success, especially for Christians during a Fourth Turn in Acts 14. During the Apostle Paul’s 1st missionary journey he and Baranabas were kicked out of Antioch. So they traveled 85 miles to preach the Gospel in Iconium. Unbelieving Jews stirred up dissension and tried to beat and stone him.  So, Paul and Barnabas moved on to Lystra and Derbe where taught and people were healed. Everyone thought they were Zeus and Hermes and started to worship them.  No sooner had they put an end to that craziness then the previous Jews who had followed them from Iconium showed up.  This time they were successful in stoning Paul.  They dragged what they thought was his dead body outside the city gate and left him there. The disciples gathered around him probably in mourning. But before they could do anything Paul jumped up brushed himself off and went back into the city where;  

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

This May we will have lived in Honduras for three years. We’ve been through our share of crises and we stocked up on beans and rice a few weeks ago in anticipation of what is happening now. The other day we gave some away to a neighbor in need. I’ve been racking my brain as to how we are going to feed people when the food runs out. What will we do if someone gets sick?  How will we care for people?  Last night some girls from the tiny Catholic church down the road delivered dinner to our door.  Being a full-time missionary is teaching me just how unimportant I am.  

I don’t know what is happening or is going to happen. If you read my previous blogs, my conclusions regarding COVID remain the same. 

Believe what we want “We still don’t know jack.”  

What I do know from both God’s Word and my own experience is that

Jesus did not come to give us our best life now. He came to redeem and transform us.

Everything will be shaken. Only what can’t be shaken will remain. Heb 12:26-28

Who we are and what we do “will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” Only that which is of God will survive. 1Cor 3:12-15

While our eternal hope is definitely in Jesus. Our ability to remain in that hope will be determined by our individual and collective character.  Character is produced by perseverance. Tribulation is its catalyst. Rom 5:3-7

Please keep us in prayer. Apart from divine intervention we are in big trouble if COVID gets a hold of us.

If you are receiving this it’s because we love you.

En El Nombre De Jesus!

“A Word on Fear”

Applying our God-given 2 Tim 1:7 sound mind in COVID-19 World.

So what do you know?  What have you heard?  You know about this COVID-19 thing… Apart from trusting God; in the natural we could be in a serious pickle if Corona comes to Honduras. I don’t know about you but I’ve never put much faith in mainstream media predominantly owned and controlled by six corporations. Its not I that have a problem with corporations per se. It’s just that the IRS classifies them as individual people. Individual people are biased.

In any case, my wife and I have done some digging amidst the myriad rants we see on social media.  

Specifically, we searched for credentialed sources like  Dr. James Robb former professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, and one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on corona-viruses.  He says,

“The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April.” 

That seems balanced and realistic. He also provides some very logical steps for prevention in case you are interested. All my sources are hyperlinked so you can dive deeper if you like.

A more radical view is that of Professor Dr. Francis Boyle from the University of Illinois an author of the 1989 UN Bio-Weapons Treaty who claims he has the legal paper trail that proves that COVID-19 is a genetically engineered bio-weapon sold by UNC research labs to China who then tampered with it further before accidentally? releasing it.  

Another notable medical research scientist Dr. James Weiler  says he initially believed Covid 19 was created in a lab and has since changed his mind.

Perhaps the most prolific view published on social media is that of Dr. Drew, an addiction specialist best known for his role on the show “Celebrity Rehab”. He was livid about media propagated, click-bait driven, misinformation regarding COVID-19.  “Essentially the entire problem we are having is due to panic, not the virus,” he said.  

Dr. James Weiler says that regular MD’s and Public Health officials don’t have the background to understand the intricacies of viruses like COVID-19.

While the rest of the world is taking radical steps to test for and manage COVID-19 our CDC and NIH struggle to explain why at the time of this writing they can’t come up with an adequate number of test kits  They appear to be downplaying the problem.  Which might actually be adding to the panic instead of quelling it.

Then again the social unraveling that might take place in an overwhelmingly narcissistic and lawless society could be worse than the effects of the virus itself.

Investors are freaking out about markets and supply chains. Never the less toilet paper manufacturers are making a killing. People in my home state of Hawaii are buying toilet paper in bulk. That is Hawaii’s first reaction to almost any crisis.  That said, a run on toilet paper, might be an indication that someone is full of something other than the truth.

Just sayin…

But I digress.

Of course, politics is at the top of the narrative. Those who don’t like the current president blame Trump whose legacy is rooted in the economy, accusing him of putting the stock market before the lives of people.

Those who do like him are joining in on the apathy, “it’s all a hoax” argument.  Others not so sure its a hoax are concerned that Trump might be gambling his chances of re-election on Corona being nothing to worry about.

I for one, hope he is right.

That said, I’ve been telling people the Global economy is a giant bubble waiting to be pricked since 2007. The Fed has been kicking the proverbial can down the road with rate hikes and rate cuts since 2008. Recent rate cuts basically prove the previous stimulus didn’t work. It occurs to me that a pandemic makes for a perfect cover for an inevitable global economic crash.  

But what do i know that’s just my own conspiratorial speculation based on my own bias. 

The word “Bias” is key here.

Meanwhile, I see multiple well-intended brothers and sisters in Christ disseminating all kinds of varying numbers, theories and prognostications. Some not old enough to remember Y2K, compare it to Y2K. Others compare it to the Flu, SARs, and MERs.  Still others are fearlessly walking in faith.

I remember someone telling us in mission school that there are “two reasons for suffering and being persecuted in the body of Christ. One is for the sake of righteousness and one is for stupidity.”

It’s great to have great faith.

Sometimes denial masquerades as faith.

Anyway, if we put all this info into our proverbial brain blenders we are faced with one undeniable conclusion. 

We don’t know Jack!!

We don’t like not knowing Jack so we defer to our preferred logical fallacies. Confirmation bias is the biggest. If you want to know more about how this applies to markets and politics you can check out my blog Truth or Trump.

But here is a basic illustration based on an all too common conversation I had when I counseled middle school kids on drugs.

Me: Studies show that regular marijuana use reduces IQ scores an average of eight points.

Client: “Mr. I researched on the internet and found out you are WRONG! Marijuana makes you smarter!

Me: Really? Where did you read that?

Client: Motherjones.com

You get the idea. As the Simon and Garfunkel song says, “a man see’s what he wants to see and disregards the rest.”. The bottom line; everyone has a bias.  Refusing to admit it only makes us dumb, easy to manipulate and possibly dangerous.

Hardcore doomsayers are going to listen to Dr. Francis Boyle and say, “I knew it! Time to stock up on toilet paper, lock and load and dig in”

Uber optimists are going to listen to Dr. Drew and say, “Exactly! See? Nothing to worry about. Party on dudes!”

The next logic fallacy through which we filter our world view is the sister of confirmation bias otherwise known as the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy determines the accuracy and validity of information by its source alone. We see this everywhere. Conservatives who don’t believe anything on CNN because it comes from CNN and Liberals who reject everything from FOX because its on FOX. By the way, Adolf Hitler claimed to be a Christian therefore all Christians are Nazis. Right?

Which leads me to…

…the false equivalence fallacy that says if one part is the same then everything is the same. Everyone was freaked out by Y2K and but nothing happened. It only follows that everyone is freaked out about COVID now so nothing is going to happen. Granted the gross annual number of deaths from flu far exceed current deaths from COVID-19. The problem is that we’ve only just begun seeing COVID-19. As for SARs and MERs, the regular flu has an average annual mortality rate of 0.1% and as of Feb 18, 2020, “despite the lower case fatality rate, covid-19 has so far resulted in more deaths (1871) than SARS and MERS combined (1632)” The uber optimist argument doesn’t hold. If you watched Dr. James Weiler’s video posted on Feb 24 the Covid-19 mortality rate was at 2.0%. If 50% of the US population is exposed that means three million people could be dead in a year. On March 4th the WHO stated the mortality rate is now at 3.4% but it should drop. One thing is certain. All four are viruses. Things that apply to the Flu, SARS and MERS do not necessarily correlate with COVID-19. Chances are all the COVID- 19 numbers and information will have changed by time you read this. That’s ok. It’s not my main point.

Incidentally the False equivalency fallacy also drives things like climate change, the gun control narrative on the left and the anti-immigration argument on the right. The truth is, most legal gun owners are not criminals. Most Hispanic immigrants just want an opportunity to work hard and get paid in a day what they make in a month in places like Honduras. As for climate change; no real science is ever settled. That’s partly what makes it science. It’s also why we have so much conflicting info about COVID-19. Unfortunately thinking errors and drive society more than logic. Don’t blame the media. They are just saying what people will listen to.

Incidentally, Adolf Hitler was not a Christian.

Finally, we have the appeal to emotion fallacy.  Every advertiser and media outlet knows it’s a nifty tool, whereby people avoid, confuse or otherwise manipulate truth by manipulating the emotions of others. It’s what causes people to confuse feelings with thinking and gets them to buy things they don’t need and invest in sure things that are sure to fail.  Physiologically speaking, our higher functioning cerebral cortex where logical thinking and reason takes place is subordinated to the lower more primitive limbic brain, from which our emotions and physical desires pour forth.

Many refer to this as “Coming from the heart”.

Guilt, fear, and outrage are the most popular emotions to which people appeal.  

The bio-weapon narrative works great here.

There’s been some talk about ISIS creating the bio-weapon. Looks like the caliphate is more concerned than we are.

Does that mean its not a bio-weapon? Heck no!  COVID-19 could be one, all or none of the things I’ve mentioned.

What I know for sure is that I don’t know and neither do you.

Applying our God given sound mind means thinking critically and being honest about our biases, what we know for certain versus what we have been told. It means hearing and trying to see things from another person’s point of view. It means desiring the truth instead of wanting to win. It means clarifying our opinions as opposed to proven facts. It means being willing to be wrong and admitting it when we are. It means seeking the truth not what we want truth to be.

So here’s what I do know.

Approximately 150,000 people in the world die each day.

We are all going to die. At that point the Bible says we will all face judgment.  Heb 9:27  

That might be today or tomorrow. James 4:13-14

If you are a Christian

The bible says “love your neighbor as yourself.” Things might get bad as in really really bad. We haven’t faced this level of uncertainty regarding a virus since the Spanish Flu in 1918. We are committing some of the same thinking errors. That said, its not about you or the risk to you. As a Christian it’s about you looking out for others. You might be healthy and relatively unaffected by COVID-19. However, people who are older and or perhaps those with compromised immunity might be made safe or placed at risk by your actions. You might think it’s all hype and that the precautions are stupid. Do you really believe you have the right to make that determination when another person’s life might be the one at risk? Yeah those are hard words. I know.

The apostle Paul said dying is ultimately better than living.  Phil 1:21

Jesus said if you try to save your life you will lose it. Mat 16:25

I believe the words of Jesus. John 20:28-29

What do you really believe?

If you are not a Christian

You are not alone. The Bible says a lot of people think Christianity is dumb. 1 Cor 1:18

Yes I know. All Christians are hypocrites. That’s why we need Jesus.

People generally don’t recognize their need of a savior until the reality of their frailty and mortality sets in. Mark 2:17

Jesus said there is only one way and He is it. John 14:6

I realize people don’t like “one way” any more than kids like being told marijuana makes you stupid. It doesn’t matter. Marijuana still makes you stupid.

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation. – Herbert Spencer-

Now might be a good time to really question the eternal viability of your world view and seriously investigate the words and claims of Jesus in greater depth.

If you are a Christian

What are you doing to comfort, exhort, encourage and lead people to the Truth?

Granted we walk by faith and not by sight. Ultimately Christianity is a relationship. However, there is a reasoned response to every assertion that Christianity is silly or false or nothing more than blind faith in fairy tales. Do you have questions? Do you need help providing a logical reason for the 1 Peter 3:15-16 hope that is in you. Submit your questions and comments and subscribe to this blog.

As always, if you are receiving this its because we love you.

En el nombre de Jesus!

GRAY HOPE MISSIONARIES NEWSLETTER

Our New Neighborhood

If you haven’t heard yet Cathy and I left the City of Refuge and moved to Cerro Azul near our friends Josh and Paulet.  

They are more than friends. They are family to us.

Josh is the former mission’s director at the City of Refuge and the president of Hope in Time Ministries. We are coming alongside them to bring the voice of experience and elder-ship to the ministry as well as our usual media support.

If you haven’t seen our intro video to our tiny house rehab project then, by all means, click here.

We are still coaching our AIM GAP year mission squad and recently returned from Guatemala.

They are a pretty resilient and independent group of young adults with a passion for intimacy with God. They are headed to Ecuador as I write where they will have less direct oversight and more independence regarding ministry. We will be encouraging them to be scripturally sound in accordance with a 1 Peter 3:15 apologetic approach as they move forward.

Being in Guatemala again…  

allowed us to reconnect with good friends Kevin and Nicole in Santiago. They are like a young Heidi and Rolland Baker as I imagine them.  They’ve been through the proverbial wringer this year that included losing the house in which they were doing foster care for young unwed mothers.  But they are not giving up and are currently preparing to drive a truck and fifth wheel with their two children from Texas to Guatemala. They will live in the camper in Santiago while they build a home/mission base. Please keep them in prayer.  

Thanks to our friend Jason who is a missionary pilot…

…in Guatemala our return trip from Santiago to the airport in Guatemala City was quicker and a whole lot cheaper than the usual shuttle.  If you are planning a mission trip to Guatemala City you can contact us.  His base has an extremely affordable and comfortable missionary housing that is close to the airport.  

As might be expected, people are beginning to ask us why we left IMI. 

“OMG. Is there something wrong?”  “Is there something we should know?” “Is there a reason why we shouldn’t go to serve there?”  

Let me be clear.  We love Tom and Teresa. We are not done with the children at the City of Refuge. We have a perfect venue for youth retreats here and they are excited to visit. We’d be visiting more frequently to do church services and discipleship but we don’t have a vehicle to get there. As for anyone wondering…

You should “give”, “go” and “do” according to how God leads you. Period!  

That is what we are doing, and we are being led in a different direction.  If you’ve watched some of our personal outreach videos, then it should be clear that we’ve had a different philosophy regarding priority and method in missions.  That’s ok. No single ministry can do everything. The current direction that IMI is moving in does not match our passion, priority or our skillset.  

Moving on…

Hope in Time just received 501c3 status from the IRS.  You’ll be able to read more about our vision soon on the Hope in Time blog as we get the ball rolling. 

As stated in the video we are in the “forerunning” stages of our mission.  That means building relationships.  In missions school, we learned the importance of going “low and slow”. That’s hard for me and is Cathy’s passion. Low and slow means not riding in on our proverbial white horses to fix people and things and save the day.  Even the most cursory internet research will reveal how many grandiose activities carried out by “first worlders” in the name of good end up bringing more harm than help. We were taught to honor locals as modeled by Jesus when He honored the woman at the well in John 4 when He asked her for a drink before informing her that He was the living water. We are not Jesus and are coming in on equal footing, sometimes less than equal footing as brothers and sisters in need ourselves. The truth is right now we need them more than they need us. This will be the subject of the next Hope in Time blog.

Cathy is slowly mastering the art of making traditional Honduran beans and tortillas over a fire.

The very first order of business in forerunning is to find the man and or woman of peace.  These are the people that God puts in your path to help pave the way to building relationships within the community at large. One sure way to identify them is that they seemingly appear out of nowhere and are knowledgeable about the very things you need most.  

First ministry team meeting featuring Brian’s spaghetti

Karen was our first.  She speaks a fair amount of English and periodically shows up to give impromptu Spanish lessons. God blessed Cathy and I with many gifts. Languages is not one of them. Thank God for people like Karen. Her sister sells eggs and she’s also knowledgeable about local plants.  Here she is showing Cathy a natural Honduran sleep aide that comes from a tree outside our house. We don’t really need sleep aides here but its cool info and Karen was excited to show us what was growing just outside our door.

Cathy and I were exploring our new community during a three-hour hike when we ran into our second new friend Alfonso. It just so happens that Alfonso lived in the USA until he was deported 13 years ago.  He speaks fluent English and was excited to befriend some North Americans for the first time in years. Hondurans are extremely generous and relational. Alfonso usually stops in to see us a few times per week and brings Yucca or some other vegetables.

Alfonso tried to buy land in Santa Barbra Honduras after he was deported.  He paid a certain family for the land then they changed their mind.  One of the family members did not want to return his share of the money and tried to murder Alfonso with a machete instead.  His hand was cut off, he lost hearing in one ear and sight in one eye.  His nose and part of his mouth were almost cut off, his neck was slit and he very nearly died. But Alfonso is a miracle.

He is also resilient. Many people in his shoes would have just given up. But Alfonso recovered and started farming a different piece of land.  We visited his farm which is a forty-five-minute walk up a mountain from his house. He keeps the land cleared with a machete.  We are in pretty good shape but this walk alone is exhausting. Alfonso has planted hundreds of coffee trees and recently planted 1000 Yuca by himself. Alfonso loves the Lord and while he doesn’t have a church to attend, he is our new disciple and reads two pages in his bible every day. We are working to get him a prosthetic hand. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen before January.  

Even so, God is a dot connector.

Alfonso used to care for horses and attend church in Ohio. 

As it turns out our good friend Matt Burris who used to pastor in our home church in Hawaii moved back to the mainland.  The people Alfonso used to work for are Matt’s current pastors.  

Seriously what are the odds?! 

We can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store.

Living off base means perfecting the art of shopping in the Sunday street market. It’s something like a farmer’s market in the USA. Another new friend Jenny is a master “marketeer” and even teaches Paulete a thing or two.

Living in the mountains in Honduras also means learning to roast your own coffee Honduran style. Jenny is Cathy’s roasting teacher. It’s safe enough here in Cerro Azul for Cathy to walk the three and a half miles to Jenny’s house by herself. That is not the case in the places we normally do ministry.

Jenny learned the recipe from her mom. The process begins with roasting rice.

Then coffee is added

Then sugar

Then cinnamon and pepper

Then the coffee is ground and bagged.

The whole process takes about four hours.

At this time we are pursuing God, coaching our Gap year racers online, building the website, and developing a scholarship program to help families who can’t afford to send their children to school.

Stay tuned for our upcoming devotional.

In about ten months. I’ve always wondered what my father and grandfather(s) thought about life and God etc.…  The older I get the more I wonder and seek out wisdom and wise counsel from elders. There are a couple who are still alive. While our children and grandchildren might still be in the “we don’t give a rip what you think” stage of life.  Given our experience, we suspect that will change as they mature and come face to face with the abject fragility and shortness of life on here earth. Tomorrow is not promised and we won’t always be here.  So just in case they ever get curious, Cathy and I are writing together.  It’s a fun side gig and we want to leave something behind.

Speaking of our DEVOTIONAL

A word on fear…

There is a lot of fear permeating society lately with the advent of things like the Novel Corona Virus. Non specific anxiety and depression are off the charts with our youth. Here is one of our recent devotional entries that seems relevant at this time. We hope it serves as a reminder and brings you peace.

Oil

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7

When crises come as they inevitably will and do, there are always two extremes; alarmism, and apathy. Alarmists go from crisis to crises and live perpetually in the “wars and rumors of wars” of Mathew 24.  Meanwhile those prone to apathy which in the eyes of the world often looks like optimism proclaim, “don’t be so negative!” “…relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Luke 12:19 

Neither apathy or alarmism is correct.

Tomorrow is never promised and all our lives are like a vapor. James 4:13-14

As Christians, it doesn’t matter if we live one more day or ten thousand. If we have laid down our lives and picked up our cross then our treasure is laid up in heaven Mat 6:19-21  We have been given a spirit of love and the assurance that allows us to keep God’s priorities and promises at the forefront of our minds. We have the power of Truth and His word. We have been given a sound mind that allows us to remain calm and at peace amidst tribulation – however that may appear. John 14:27.  It doesn’t matter if we are on a beach in paradise or under machine gunfire in some dark corner of the world. Our blessed assurance does not change.  His attendant peace shouldn’t either. At the end of the day, the only question that matters is, “am I in God’s will?” 

Being in God’s will means walking in Truth. It is being in an intimate relationship with Him via Holy Spirit every day. Jesus likened Holy Spirit to oil and believers as lamps. One thing is certain. If you haven’t put oil in your lamp today you’ll end up like the foolish virgins who freaked out in Mat 25:1-13 tomorrow. One thing is certain. All things eventually come to an end. Fear is a sure sign of an oil shortage.

Truth is the only ANTIDOTE.

It is also the only real source of Hope In Time.

Pun intended:-)

If you are receiving this newsletter its because we love you!

En el nombre de Jesus!