Homily: Psalm 34

Homily: Psalm 34

Through the Psalms we come to know David as a man after God’s own heart. Within this first half of Psalm 34 we can point to phrases such as ‘I will bless the Lord at all times,’ and ‘I sought the Lord,’ as reasons as to why he might be named as a man after God’s own heart. David is poetic and heartfelt in his speech, and it is by his words that he is known as a man after God’s own heart.  The words out of our mouths are what speak life around us. Our words are the vehicles of what comes from within our heart and they are just as capable of defiling as they are uplifting. Whether we think so or not, what we say matters all the time.

Read More

Homily on Luke 16

Homily on Luke 16

By any means necessary, do what you got to do, get yours before they get theirs, be about your business. Bottom line, be clever, or should I say be shrewd, or go home. It’s the “only” way to get what is rightfully yours in this world. And it is what we see in this parable directly demonstrated by the actions and words of both the enslaved manager, yes enslaved, and the master. It is what we see in this nation demonstrated by both the false sense of security and capitalism. The bondage of security ensnares us by wanting all we can have for ourselves, plus some. Nothing is ever enough. My children needs shoes, good shoes, better shoes, the best shoes. My wife deserves a good car, a better car, a luxury car. I work 12 hours a day, so I can play golf every Saturday with my friends at this fancy golf place…

Read More

Homily on Luke 10

Homily on Luke 10

We must remember as we go about the work of proclaiming the Gospel that the choice to listen to or to reject us, and by extension Christ, is not ours to make for the students on this campus. Let us not rush to judgment when we are not received by the town; when the town chooses to reject us and the Christ in Whose Name we come, let us not in condemnation cast them down to Hades. Let us, instead, remember our own repentance, our own mourning in sackcloth and ashes, when we, too, rejected those who came bearing the Name of Christ.

Read More

Longleaf Farm Community Event

Longleaf Farm Community Event

…You need to know that I am taking up this position as an extension of what Jesus, through Wesley Foundation at Louisiana Tech, has done in my life. And as I am an extension of the people of the Wesley Foundation, so too is Longleaf Farm an extension of the Wesley Foundation’s mission. And that mission is to testify solemnly of the gospel of the Grace of God and to bring up persons who are capable of doing so…

Read More

Mexico: June 20th

Hola!

The Mexico team would like to thank everyone who has been praying for us and encouraging us as we went through this month-long journey. During our final week in Mexico, we revisited the encampment on Monday where we completed the painting job that we started on Saturday. The people of the encampment were very kind to us as they cooked food, served and talked to us. We had a chance to play with kids and remind them of what it’s like to be a child. Unfortunately, that was our last day at the work site, and, even though it felt hopeless leaving them, we were reminded that our God is a redeeming God and that He will bring justice to those people.

The next few days in Cuernavaca, we spent our time being among the people, breaking bread and fellowshiping. We met with a man named Valintine who was excited to welcome us into his home. His family made us dinner and celebrated the beautiful things that God has and continues to do for us. We then experienced Tepoztlan, a mountain an hour drive outside of Cuernavaca. As we were climbing up the mountain, we met a family who helped us up along the way. We asked them to talk about Mexico- US relations, and it was a fruitful conversation.

On early Sunday morning, we prepared ourselves as we came back to the United States. We were sad to be leaving the beautiful people who cared for us and loved us deeply, but we were also ready to see our friends and family.

Now that we are back, we do not want to forget what God did for us on our month-long journey. We went to Mexico thinking that we were going to serve the people there, but they served us in more ways than we could have ever imagined. This month may be over, but our experiences will be with us. God showed us who the people of Mexico are. They are worthy of love and they give love unconditionally.

We as team cannot be thankful enough for the love and hospitality given to us by all the people we met. We loved them and they loved us, truly a miracle from God. Please continue to pray for us as we adjust back to life here in the United States, and continue to pray for the people of Mexico. They need our love and support more than ever.

Adios y Dios te bendiga (Goodbye and God bless you)

    

Romania: June 20th

The last week of Romania got busy with a new project. River of Life recently discovered that they must lay a drain pipe under their campus because of a new Romanian law. The team had waited the first two weeks to get started working on this, but the work had been delayed due to some hired workers falling through. Once it got started, though, the team worked hard (and in the rain!) to shovel dirt and dump gravel into ditches to lay the foundations for the pipes. It was very muddy and very messy, but the team still found ways to have joy in their work. During the few days of working on the draining ditch, the team completed 1 1/2 of the ditches. 

In addition, during the last week, the kids’ summer vacation began, so the team took turns spending more time with them during the day and playing a variety of games. The games were focused on building friendships and really being a light of Jesus. They taught them that being a friend to each other shows just how Jesus loves them. The children at River of Life have difficulty being kind to one another due to their past traumas and stories, so they tried to break through those walls they put up between one another through their VBS lessons and the games they played together. 

This month showed the team just how much abuse and neglect can affect a child. As they learned the children’s stories, they were able to see that play out in their lives still today. One child, David, was abandoned at the ministry 3 years ago. His parents didn’t want to raise him due to his mental handicap. Despite this, David has a brother that was not abandoned by his parents that goes to his same school. We realized David has to see his mother pick his brother up from school every day and she does not even look at him. The team hurt with him to know he feels rejection every day from his own mother. We heard stories like his so often. 

This last week, the team really began to reflect on the time spent in Romania. The team said they experienced a lot of growth and a lot of healing on this trip. While not everything goes according to plan, the team learned the power of prayer and how to find joy in every circumstance. They discovered the importance of the community that is the Body of Christ and how we can never take it for granted. In addition, many team members experienced true family, which was healing. As they spent their last days saying their goodbyes, the team express gratitude and joy in the goodness that had taken place in Romania. During our last day at River of Life, each member had the opportunity to share what they were thankful for and the answered prayers throughout our time. It was a beautiful and faithful end to the mission to the Romanian people.

Haiti: June 20th

Our final week in Haiti was a time for reflection and goodbyes. The team tasted the bittersweet ending of a month-long mission where we devoted themselves to each other and our Haitian brothers and sisters, evidenced in the tears on both sides as Thursday afternoon approached. We are grateful for our time in Haiti where love was given and received among our team and the faithful of Sous a Philippe. One of our sweetest times during the final week was a gathering with the community leaders of Sous a Philippe as they celebrated us with affectionate words and delightful treats and shared with us the incredible and miraculous history and presence of the Methodist church in Sous a Philippe. We felt so loved by them, and Alana was our voice as she expressed our love and gratitude for the privilege of living and working alongside them. After everyone finished making speeches, we dug into some delicious sweet potato cake and celebrated with dancing.

We left Sous a Philippe Thursday afternoon and traveled by boat to the mainland. We arrived in Petit-Gôave around 7:30 and spent one (AIR-CONDITIONED!) night in the guest house of Pastor Admirable, the superintendent for the Methodist church in La Gonave. The next two days were full of sightseeing: the National Museum of Haiti, which told of the tragic yet triumphant history of Haiti, Pacot and Papillon, fair-trade artisan stores (Papillon had air conditioning AND FROZEN TREATS), and the Baptist Haiti Mission, another ministry organization devoted to sharing the Gospel and supporting Haitian farmers, artisans, and people at large. These last two days were exactly what the team needed to close out our time in the beloved country of Haiti well.

We're so grateful for the prayers, gifts, and services that made our mission to Haiti the successful reality it was! Thank you so much for reading this blog, reading our letters, sending your prayers and financial gifts, and being with us every step of the way from buying supplies to arriving in Shreveport last night. We love you, and we hope we get the opportunity to share the stories of Haiti with you personally! Bondye beni ou, zanmi (God bless you, friends)!!!

Haiti Team: June 11th

Haiti Team: June 11th

Week 3 has been a hard one. Many team members were sick throughout the week; Kyle was out sick for most of it, and had to be taken to the hospital twice for inflammation in his throat. Happily, he is doing much better and has been able to eat normal food and join in our team’s activities again. The church service today was the first time all week that we’ve had the whole team together, and it was made sweeter by celebrating communion as a whole team, together with our church family here. It was a great way to begin week 4….

Read More

Mexico Team: June 11th

Mexico Team: June 11th

As the third week of our mission comes to a close, the team would like to extend their thanks for all of the prayers and support we have received over the past 6 months. God has spoken to each and every one of us in very personal and very communal ways through the beautiful Mexican people who have unreservedly taken us in, and the reason we have been able to be here is because of the prayers and giving of our supporters. As we enter our last week, know that your giving has been blessed by the Lord and lives have been changed. ..


Read More

Romania Team: June 11th

Romania Team: June 11th

The Romania team has finally settled into their routine at River of Life during week three. We wake up every day for breakfast, have morning bible study, start work, pick up the kids from school, have evening VBS, and then spend time with the mothers and children in the ministry after dinner. This week the team has been diligent in getting to know the stories of the women, children, and workers at River of Life…

Read More

Haiti Blog: June 4th

Hello friends! Week 2 has been a good one! We began work on the housing project, which was quite a work load adjustment from the road, but everyone has been really glad to start the work we’ve planned to do for so long. We worked on a house for one of our cooks, Misoul. We were able to complete three of the concrete floors out of the four rooms needed, and see the start of the outer walls. We hope to have one of the rooms completed before we leave as she is expecting a new baby! We also held our first of two community meals Saturday, and kids from all throughout the village came to laugh and play and be fed. As many families go long periods without eating, this was a time of great joy for everyone. 

Tuesday was really exciting because some officials from Port au Prince came to look into installing a cellphone tower. Anyone who is familiar with cellphone service in Sous a Philippe knows it is spotty and calls can only be made from a rock. So, we are excited for the people to be able to call and text from their houses! This and the road that we helped pave last week have been a constant source of joy and giving thanks for the things that are happening here, especially for the people who have been here before. The men will be back very soon to install the tower, and we hope we’ll still be here to see it happen! These community developments are not just luxuries for the people of SAP, they drive more commerce and resources through the village, allowing for development of much needed progress for the community: schools, teachers, access to vehicles to go to and from work, doctors, and secondary schools (as schooling in SAP only goes to 6th grade now.) As more people travel into and through the village via the progress of the past 5 years: the boat dock, the roads, the water system, the sea wall, etc, fishermen and gardeners have more opportunity to sell and trade, and more opportunities are opened up for future generations. It is an exciting time and exciting work to be a part of in this remote part of Haiti. 

The Bulldogs Without Borders left early Friday morning, and we all felt the loss of their presence. However, we have cherished our time of work and fellowship with them, and we look forward to the weeks we have left  together here. 

Everyone is really happy to be able to call home today and talk to their loved ones and tell them everything that’s happened so far. This week, we hope to continue our work with the housing project, have VBS with the kids Thursday, and hold another community meal Saturday! Please pray for our work this week, continued strength and perseverance, joy, rest, and selfless giving of ourselves to one another and the people here!

**These photos are from previous missions to Haiti, as the team is unable to send pictures due to service. 

Mexico Blog: June 4th

As we write, the Mexico team is in disbelief that the mission is already halfway over! The time has flown by, but God has filled it with amazing people and experiences, all brought to us by the urging of the Holy Spirit. In fact, that has been the thought permeating the minds and souls of the team since we arrived; that the Holy Spirit is with us and leading us where God wills. It is empowering and humbling to be called as servants of God, and we give him thanks every day for teaching us and using us.

            This week has been spent ministering to the children of Monterrey. On Monday and Tuesday, we visited Refugio 121, a children’s home located in one of the poorest areas of Monterrey. Our time was split between helping them organize their recycling storage, painting the children’s bathroom, and teaching and playing with the children. All of the children there come from abusive and neglectful home situations, which has caused many of them to develop violent, abusive, and self-hating tendencies. It was hard to witness so many shattered lives, but the team prayed for strength to confront real brokenness in the world and were rewarded with many smiles and laughs from children who do not have much to smile and laugh about. This experience led us to many discussions about the importance of family and about how God never wills any child to be abused or left behind by their parents. When we left Refugio 121, we were saddened by the knowledge that, while we get to go home in two weeks, the children there do not have families to go home to. We believe this is an important realization for Christians to have in order for us to tell the truth about the world and to live boldly in the face of evil just as Jesus did.

After Refugio 121, we returned to the community of San Andres to be with the children there. We have been teaching them about Jesus through VBS activities, but also by inviting the church members into the mission work we are doing. We often take prayer walks through the streets and always invite the children to come with us. Many of them read prayers over people from a Spanish prayer book and join us as we love people whom we do not know. We told them that since we are only here for a month, the they, the church, are the real missionaries to their community. We are also thankful for the ways that they have taught us how to be children in the eyes of God. They love each other so fiercely and, even in the face of severe poverty, share all that they have with one another without reservation.

Here are some prayer requests as we enter week three:

            Pray for those of us who are experiencing homesickness. Pray for our well-being both in body and in mind. Pray for the children at San Andres as we go to them for a few more days before departing for Cuernavaca and Mexico City. Pray for the congregations who will receive us for the latter half of our mission. Pray that God’s saving grace would be made evident to all who we meet. We love you all and thank you for supporting us!

Romania Blog: June 4th

Week two for the Romania team has been a long one! Last Sunday we got to attend church where our host preached, and we attempted to sing worship in Romanian along with the members of the small village of Bircii. That afternoon we spent our last evening at the mission center and played extra hard with the children. Many of the members were sad to leave the children they bonded with, but left with high hopes for River of Life. 

Monday the team got their first day off and traveled to visit Bran Castle from the 1300s: the supposed home of Dracula. The team enjoyed exploring and touring the castle and experiencing a piece of history. Later that afternoon, they also traveled to a 1600’s military fortress on a high hilltop and enjoyed learning about the ancient structure. 

On Tuesday, the team finally started to make the trip to their next ministry, River of Life, in Cornesti, Romania. The drive was very long and the team was quite beat after a long day in a van. Upon arriving, though, we were greeted by another team that was staying here from Canada. This team was on their last week of a month-long stay. They were very welcoming, presenting the Wesley team with handwritten notes and necklaces made from Romanian coins! Throughout the week, the teams bonded over work, bonfires, and games. The work included painting fences, mixing cement, pouring foundation, and yard work. Throughout the week, our team taught VBS lessons that catered to the needs of the children within the ministry. At the end of the week, the Canada team planned a talent show for the children and both teams participated through singing, dancing, poetry, and watching the children preform. Although the Canadian team left yesterday, the Wesley team thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and work with them for at least one week. 

Yesterday the team got to have a rest day after church and even took a walk in the village to a convenience store and bought some Romanian treats. The team has already formed some wonderful bonds with the women and children of this ministry, and they look forward to a new week of work at River of Life.

Homily: Matthew 5: 20-26

Homily: Matthew 5: 20-26

It is a strange thing to read that unless my righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, I will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. For me and many others, Pharisees are the villains of the New Testament. They were known as hypocrites, haters, and all things evil. But there must be something here. Jesus knew that the Pharisees kept the Law to the T, and it wasn’t enough to enter into the gates of Heaven.

Read More

Homily: John 10: 31-40

Homily: John 10: 31-40

“There is no such thing as objective truth, and it’s a good thing, too.” Dr. Phil Kenneson said this in a title of an article that my fellow interns and I read at the beginning of the year. With this article, Kenneson explains that is not enough to say, “God is real just because he is. That’s just how it works.” To use objective truth as our model discredits the Gospel and our mission as Christians; it disregards any motives or actions taken to bring us to our salvation. If what Christians believe is objectively true with no way around it, what is there left to do? There wouldn’t need be any evidence; no change would have to come of our lives.

Read More