Sunday, December 16, 2012


"Sweet" is the word that best describes how I feel right now. And, I'm not referring to the way its used among the youth (and I must admit, myself often!). I mean to use it more in the way it is used in the famous Doxology that sings: There's a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, and I know that it's the Spirit of the Lord...Sweet holy Spirit, Sweet heavenly Dove, stay right here with us, filling us with your love...

I say that, because the Lord has saw it fit to answer our prayer towards Celia! Last Sunday night, much of the church at Esperanza came to pray for her health to return, so that we would not have to return to the States to get a check-up. For over two weeks, Celia had either slept all day, or had gotten up to do a few things, only to be wiped out by the effort. A growing concern was developing. I recognized this to be Spiritual warfare quickly. I imagined that the hand of the evil one was upon Celia, and I concluded if it were so, it was because our Sovereign God permitted it. I thought that Satan meant to do us harm, and derail our ministry quickly, yet I believed God meant to work this for good (Ro. 8:28) as I mentioned in the last post, "Bang!"

However, in saying all that, the very real, very urgent need for God to "show up" presented itself, and all I (and everyone praying here and back home) could do was wait on the Lord in faith. I want to take you through what transpired in my mind in this process. At the group prayer for Celia, my main concern was for everyone to recognize this was Spiritual, and that we were pleading for God to do a big thing in our midst. Would prayer to God, really change Celia's state? Would she suddenly heal before Saturday (read the last post, "Bang!" to see why I mention Saturday) after she lay down for the count for two weeks straight? I wanted everyone there praying for us to know that if she improved, then they just saw the hand of God at work in their own life too.

On Monday (the next day), I was a bit nervous, and that might shamefully be an understatement. Celia had not woken up "healed," and doubts surfaced as to if God would respond the way I hoped, and thought He should to glorify Himself. My faith is not as strong as I'd like it to be-that was revealed to me. So that whole day, I prayed but continued to think of the "what if's." What if we had to go back to the States-would many back home question our call...would I...for literally the first time? What if the church in Esperanza (the one who came to pray) witnessed no fruit of their prayers? Would they think this whole God-thing was a "hoopla." What if God wouldn't get the glory He could have if had done this thing we asked? Would I ever even understand God then? Worse yet, could I ever ask anything in faith again? As I mentioned...the spiritual battle of faith was on.

However, that night an amazing thing happened. God comforted me! That is always a great thing. Tony and I went up on his rooftop to pray under the stars, and as we were talking before our prayer, I thought of something. It was that God doesn't need me to glorify Him. He can do that at anytime, and in anyway, even if  He didn't answer our prayer like we wanted. He's been doing it before my birth, and will continue after I'm gone. Immediately, I was relieved. I confessed my sin of presumption before my Father-that He needed to do this to glorify Himself, yet thanked Him for my desire to see Him glorified. Tuesday was filled with a lot less stress...but with a lot less prayer.

I hope I can convey the importance of all this that was worked out in my mind. Sometime, Tuesday evening, I talked to my dad. He was a bit alarmed by my sudden "aloofness" to the situation (though I think we'd both agree that wouldn't be the best word) as I explained to Him how God had spoken to me on the rooftop. The next day he called me again, and urged me to continue taking this before the Lord, as it was a mighty undertaking, and many back home were praying. Once again, I was convicted that I had swung to the opposite end of the pendulum. My painstaking prayers, my urgent pleas, my strong desire did please the Lord, because He wants to give good gifts to His children (Mat. 7:11), and He wants us to desire a thing according to His will and importunately ask for it (Luk. 18:1), putting all our hope in Him. So again, I fell to my knees, striving to honor my Father, Who wants to give me good gifts, and I pleaded to Him on Celia's behalf, asking Him to make her well before Saturday. However, I also knew He WOULD receive glory however, and thus my worries were relieved.

Well, today is Sunday. Yesterday was that Saturday I keep mentioning. Celia was in church today...strong...healthy...graced by God. The previous Wednesday, the day my dad called the second time, Celia finally said to me, "Jared, I think I feel better." 17 days after her incident, and two days after our corporate prayer, I heard the words I was longing for!!! Like I said, "sweet" is how I feel. God has done such a work in my heart and mind through all this. My faith has increased. I am finding myself praying for more things as a result. God really does hear us. God really cares. Oh, we know it because we know we're supposed to know it, but do we really know it? I think Celia and I do now for sure, or at least are learning it more deeply.

Couple this whole "ordeal" with the "Bang!!!" that you read about in our last post, and it is clear to see that we are in spiritual warfare, and that we have to rely on God for everything. Never have we had to rely on God back in the States, as we do now. Back home, we just have a solution for everything-so much "stuff" that fixes other "stuff" that goes wrong, whether it be health issues, or a leaking faucet. For example, back home I would have just taken Celia to the clinic. Here, I had to take her to the Master Physician. And when you are forced to rely on God as we are, Satan starts to rear his ugly head and attack because he knows it is a scary thing (to him) for a Christian to start walking in faith with their God. And with Satan, come trials and tribulations. I think we're seeing the horizon of James 1:2-4... where we praise God in our trials, knowing that the trying of our faith will work maturity and Christ-likeness.

And I hope that everyone involved in this mission with us gets there too (if you are not). I hope some of our experienced shared here encourage you who are reading this in America..."the hardest place to be a Christian" as says John Piper (Pastor, author) look to Christ first, and trust in Him alone-even before you look to other means that may be available to "fix" your issue. May God bless us in this endeavor, as it brings Him glory.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I'll get to the "bang" in a minute, but first I wanted to talk a little about Celia. Actually, the whole post is centered around her.

Last night, we had a prayer "meeting" in our home for Celia, Arianna and myself. I felt the need to call the elders (Pastor Jose and Pastor Tony) to come pray for our family so that we (mainly Celia) could "raise" us up again (James 5:13-17). Ever since we arrived here, a bit over one month ago, things have been tough. Nothing is really, "easy" as you might expect it to be (and as we have grown to expect so many things to be because of our life in America). Most of this stems from not yet having a vehicle, and not speaking the language fluently (often times I am still "signing" to convey my points). I believe the stress of all this, and more, coupled with Celia catching a "bug" of some sorts, wiped her out the other week. Since that time, she has improved somewhat and I have made sure that I posted that on facebook a few times, as well as in our first newsletter. As time has marched on, however, I find myself continuing to say, "she is doing better", and never, "she's completely better." In fact, she has been relatively the same ever since the few days following the night she was hospitalized (over 2 weeks ago). What does, "the same" mean? It means that she sleeps most of the day, and when she does exert herself a little, she gets very tired, and needs to go back to sleep before long. The next question I'm sure your asking is, "How can you say she is doing better?" The reason I kept saying that is because I'm comparing everything to that night she became ill and literally could not move.

The time has approached, that serious decisions have to be made as to what we will do regarding Celia. I was leaning to taking her to a hospital in Santiago (a bigger city about 40 minutes away) so more tests could be done, but Pastor Jose (along with a few in Ocala of Hispanic decent) advised against that. Their reasoning was that there is a large possibility that the doctors will only see "dollar signs" when us Americans walk in. According to them, there is a good chance that we could be kept in the hospital for days for no reason, and have tests run on Celia that are unnecessary, which would only be done to raise up the bill. Jose said it was only by the grace of God that the doctor in Mao did not take advantage of us when we brought Celia in the first time. Their recommendation was to take Celia back to Ocala, FL to get a check-up, (along with Arianna, who got sick the other day, but is now getting back to normal).

However, that is plan B. Our first plan is to go to God and pray the "prayer of faith" (Jas. 5) over Celia if it so be that the Lord grant us that ability. So that is why I called the elders last night. Come to find out, Pastor Jose had already planned on doing that as well. The only difference, it turned out that 1/4 of the church came with Jose and Tony (as you can see in the pics)! Luckily, Celia had just made two loafs of bread (and then got tired) so we could feed everyone. We have no furniture yet, but I hardly think the Dominicans care-they just plop down on the ground as if that's normal! After eating and fellowshiping a bit, they formed a circle around us and prayed. Our hope and prayer is (and was) that the Lord heal Celia. That he restore her health, that a trip back to the States would not be necessary. After all, Jesus is the "Master Physician." While praying, many recognized (as Celia and I do) this to be spiritual warfare. Many prayed for our protection, and even for our safety in our new house.

This Saturday (the 15th), the annual Christmas dinner is planned at our home. We are going to keep an eye on Celia and see how she progresses. If she is not nearly 100% by then, we will most likely purchase tickets and come back to the States. As I mentioned, this is not what I want to do, and I am praying fervently for the Lord to provide a healing for Celia. Please join us in this prayer. Even more than I wish for Celia to be restored (and that is so much), I want the church here to witness the glory, majesty, grace, kindness, and power that is our Lord's. I want our ministry to start off with the visible manifestation of the power of God, and His blessing. That being said, if it turns out she does not heal by the 15th, I will praise God regardless. Why? Because He is worthy, and circumstances should not affect our praise towards Him. We will know that He is still working everything towards good to us who love Him...and who are called according to His purpose (Ro. 8:28).

And now to the "Bang!!!" and to more proof that we are battling the forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). This morning, the three of us were sitting on the floor against a wall (in a spot where no paint can fall on our heads), where we often do, and eating some of the remnants of Celia's bread. Celia also started to bake crackers in the kitchen. She put them in the gas (hint) stove and came to sit back down with us. 5 minutes later, she went back in as I continued to feed Arianna. All of a sudden, the loudest "Bang" that I have possibly ever heard (it sounded like being right next to a transformer that blew up) cracked out of the kitchen. It was followed immediately by glass flying everywhere and a blood-curdling scream from Celia. I literally froze and could not think straight, but soon came to my senses. I ran in with Arianna in my arms to check on Celia. The first thing I saw were shards (big 18" pieces) of glass laying all around Celia and our stoves insides and toppings laying everywhere. She continued to just stand there screaming. I thought for sure she was injured severely. Through the broken kitchen window I could see neighbors from all around filling the streets to come see what happened.

Walking all over the glass (that was EVERYWHERE) I rushed to Celia, and gasped as she was...not hurt at all. Scared, some roasty feet, singed hair, and a hot forehead, but not touched by glass or burnt. Celia had turned the stove on to preheat it some 7 minutes earlier (and forgot that she did that), and was in the kitchen to put the crackers in. However, she did not notice a flame, so she decided to relight it (she knows not to do that from now on). 7 minutes of gas had built up in the stove and exploded upon the lighting of it. According to Jose (who has seen this happen before), that powerful of an explosion should have burned 90% of Celia and thrown her across the kitchen (she was leaning into the explosion). This is what happened to a man he knew. Yet, Celia stood there unharmed. As I swept up glass, examined the stove (which somehow works-only thing needing to be fixed is the stretching out of the oven rack so it fits again), and raced to and fro doing things, I could not escape the pressing thoughts of the fact that at every turn, Satan is after us. Some might discard that thought and say it is foolish, but I would say it is foolishness to not realize that. Satan is roaring here folks. He is trying to kill us, he is trying to destroy us. He cares not for civility, for repose. Only to continuously, relentlessly harm...

...But in the other corner stands the Great I AM! The Almighty, the God of my heights (Mic. 6:6), God who is near (Jer. 23:23), God of my kindness (Ps. 59:10), God of my refuge (Ps. 43:2), God of my praise (Ps. 109:1), God of my salvation (Ps. 25:5)...and we thank Him this day- for I have seen my wife stand through an explosion untouched. I thought she was in the kitchen alone, but another walked through the fire with her (Dan. 3:25) and did protect her. A warm feeling of gratitude trandsends my whole body as I write this. I have been encouraged in knowing that our God is watching over us, and not only has protected Celia's life, but will see her through her illness as well. Perhaps your prayers, combined with those offered last night at our prayer meeting were heard by God!

I am sure many have questions regarding this event. Post me on facebook if you do.