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SER Trip Summary - July 2013

My trip was filled with miracles and incredible blessings. It is obvious now, why Satan launched a major attack on us two months ago and did not stop until our primary ministry activities were completed on Saturday.

It gives me great joy to share with you six of the activities the Lord used our ministry to accomplish this trip.

Training Seminar

A total of fifty-seven pastors, teachers, and church leaders attended our training seminar in July, 2013. The number of people attending our seminars over the past four years has consistently been 55-75. However, the number of pastors attending during that time has declined, while the number of young people identified as future pastors and church leaders has increased.

After an in-depth analysis, including pastor interviews, of why this is occurring we determined the number one reason for the decline is because many of the current pastors only understand about 50% of what is being taught. This is because Quiche is their primary language and our seminars are taught in Spanish.

At first this was disheartening, but after discussing the situation, David and Edilczar (the teachers), and I are excited about the opportunity God has presented us. These young people:

  • Are better educated, some having finished high school
  • Speak Spanish as their primary language, enabling them to better understand the material
  • Were in many cases born into a Christian family, so they don't have the baggage of having the traditional Maya beliefs of their ancestors
  • As a group appear to have a greater hunger for learning God's Word.

As a result of our evaluation, David and Edilczar are creating a curriculum more directed at these young people for future seminars.

Thank you Lord for this great opportunity!

Pastor Visits

Each trip I spend two to three days visiting pastors at their churches. It is at the same time rewarding and heart breaking. These servants of God who teach His word and minister to the needs of the congregation are often the poorest people in the village. Granted, their responsibilities are not as great as those of a pastor of a U.S. church but they are expected to have a church service every night of the week, and two times on Sunday, visit the sick, and be available to pray with those who come to the church in need. All for less than the U.S. equivalent of $25 per month.

For some reason a great majority of the congregations choose to ignore 1 Timothy 5:17-18, Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching." For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."

Note: The terms "elder, "overseer," and "pastor" are used interchangeably in the New Testament to refer to the same office or leadership position in the church (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).

When I visit the pastors, the Holy Spirit sometimes leads me to give them a small donation. However, when I do this I make it clear that I am being obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and that it is the congregation's responsibility to support their pastor; not an outside ministries.

School Project

nearly finished Bethel College

The addition of the second floor classroom of the Maya Christian School is almost finished. All it needs is a finish coat of cement, paint, windows, and a door, and it is ready for occupancy. The additions we have funded the past two years have increased the school space from 600 sq. ft. to over 2400 sq. ft. All glory, praise, and honor be to God!

We have also committed to funding 50% of the cost of building a kitchen for the school and a medical/dental clinic. We have established strict criteria for the Mayas to receive the funding and they will not receive any funding until they have saved their 50%. As always, they will do the labor on the project.

Dental Clinic

Our two day dental clinic for the Mayas was a great success. We conducted the clinic in a classroom of the Maya Christian School. The room had cement floors and cement walls and a tin roof. It was well over 100 degrees outside with 100% humidity. The windows of the classroom do not open so the only air was from the door and two fans.

Drs Garby and Torres hard at work in the dental clinic

Doctors Garby and Torres worked tirelessly in this environment to treat 73 patients (with no complaints and a cheerful disposition!). Most of the patient's teeth were badly decayed and many had teeth that were broken off at the gum line. Digging out all the pieces of the teeth slowed down the process dramatically.

An additional challenge was that the patients speak Quiche and doctors Garby and Torres speak Spanish. Therefore, and interpreter was needed for each patient.

Many of the patients needed teeth filled but we did not have the equipment to provide that service. Prior to our next dental clinic in February, 2014 we want to purchase two Portable Dental Units, which will enable us to fill teeth. These units are approximately $1200 each so please, join us in praying that the Lord brings us the funds to purchase them.

Lily sharing stories of Jesus with the children

As the people waited to be seen by the dentist, one of our team members (Lily) shared the Good News of Jesus with them. Without sharing the Gospel, the clinic would just be another honorable humanitarian act.

Our plan is to conduct two dental clinics annually. One of the conditions we have given Pastor Ismael (our liaison to the Maya community) for us to conduct the dental clinics is that he develop and implement a plan for sharing the Gospel with all who come to the dental clinic. This is a great opportunity because every person who comes for treatment brings several people with them for support. Pastor Ismael is going to present his plan to me at our training seminar in October 2013.

Scholarship Fund

A lack of education has kept the Mayas from raising their standard of living and from growing in the knowledge of the Bible and, therefore, God. I have wanted to establish a scholarship fund for a "high potential" Maya for the past two years. I have been watching several young men very closely. One of these young men is Rueben Sac.

Rueben is my official Maya guide so I have gotten to know him well over the past three years. He is the Worship Leader at his church and is a godly young man. He and his wife both graduated from high school and both want to go to college to become teachers in their community.

Rueben Sac with Larry Crabtree

They want to attend college together but have only saved the money for one of them to attend. After putting him through a grueling interview, and requiring him to make several major commitments, I granted our first "Generation of Change" scholarship to Rueben. The scholarship is for $480 per year (a huge sum of money for the Mayas) for three years. The money will be given to him every three months in increments of $120. If at any time he does not fulfill his commitments he will no longer receive the money until he does fulfill his commitments.

AG College

AG Bible College

During my trip I was blessed with the opportunity to visit a new Bible College in Quezaltenango, which is about three hours from our area of ministry. The college opened 13 months ago and is an impressive structure. It is a three story building with 25 large classrooms, a computer lab, four dormitories, sleeping space for the teachers, men and women's showers and bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a space for a library, and space for offices.

The college needs everything but their greatest need is a library. They only have about 80 donated books and although they are Christian books, they are not theology books. Pastor Juan, the Principal, said the only books the students have for studying are the personal books the teachers let them use. Our prayer is that the Lord provides a library before the spring semester starts in January.

A U.S. church has donated 10 computers to the college, but has wisely refused to deliver them until they have a security fence and two doors in place. This requires adding about six feet more height to the existing wall and putting razor wire on top of the wall. They also need two double doors at the front entrances. Thanks to the donations of supporters we were able to provide funding for the doors and the security fence.

So how do these seemingly unrelated ministry activities fit together? Our ministry has two objectives. First, and most important, is taking the Good News of Jesus Christ to the "lost". Second, is edification of the body of Christ. Each and every one of the six ministry activities mentioned above accomplishes one or both of these objectives.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.

In Christ's love,