Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11 ESV)
I am so pleased to report that the Lord is blessing our labor!! We had a really encouraging meeting Sunday with about 14 people in attendance. We are excited because we are planning on hosting a conference here in Cuenca for all of the Cristo Vive folks in Ecuador, the third weekend in November. This will be a first, and virtually all of the responsibility falls on Noele’s and my shoulders. Also, we have lined up at least three foundations with a total of about 230 children with special needs to do Christmas activities. We are in process of raising funds and planning out those events! We have also been discussing plans for the April camp in Guayaquil, as we have a special job to do -- build a wheelchair accessible ramp so that we don’t have to carry the campers and their chairs up a flight of stairs to the cabins. Anyone interested in coming along to help, or sending extra funding for this project would be greatly appreciated!! Now is the time to start planning! We will need to raise approximately $3,000 for materials and such to complete the task. These last few days Noele and I have been beside ourselves because everything is falling into place right under our noses!
There is so much going on here, it is hard to put it into words. Unfortunately, not all is positive. Our friends here have been battling big time. I know it is because they are working hard to be a light in this dark place. We recently learned that Cuenca has the highest concentration of Satanic churches of anywhere in Ecuador (about 80 total). That said, of course we are in the middle of a war! We are dealing with depression, manipulation, lying, insecurity, suicidal thoughts, marital problems, doubt, fear, persecution, and the list continues. From the beginning I had decided not to get too heavily involved with this one church because we wanted to be open to working with many churches without difficulty. The problem is, that this body is becoming like family, and, as they encourage and lift us up, what can we do but offer the same to them. We have decided to invite all of the leadership of the church over for a time of prayer. We are here as missionaries, to bring in new believers, and to encourage those that are here. This may not be directly part of our calling, but we willing to allow Him to use us. Wherever we are, God puts us there to bear one another’s burdens in love.
God is putting us through the fire and bringing to the surface all of our impurities. He is bringing to light the things that we want to keep hidden from the rest of humanity, in order to give us new minds and new lives, entrenched in Truth, integrity, and love. Do we really and truly put our trust in Him as we say we do?? When push comes to shove, are we going to make the right decisions, to do what is right, pure, and holy?? Or, will we succumb to the pressure, take matters into our own hands and try to manipulate God’s perfect will and timing. His gifts are beyond our imagination, and He longs for us to ask for them, to wait for them, to believe that He is going to give us the desires of our hearts, but first our desires need to be righteous. We are all capable of doing so much good, and SO much harm. And the second we let our guard down, thinking we are strong, that we’ve got everything under control, we fall flat on our faces, having to scrape our pride off the pavement, and start over from square one. I long to see us living lives of victory, showing the world just what it means to live life to the fullest. We need to take captive every thought, every moment…and give our all for the glory of the Father, and then watch and be amazed at the extraordinary things He wants to do with us ordinary people!!!