“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”
This is a pretty popular quote among those who follow Jesus, especially those who are called to the mission field (that’s everyone by the way)! There isn’t any question that following Jesus means we will have to sacrifice, even up to our lives, but what we get in return is worth infinitely more. That’s the beauty of knowing and following Jesus.
The last days for us have required the sacrifice of time with our family and lots of sleep. We left the house in La Paz with our team at 12:30am on Friday morning so we could get them on their flight home at 3:30am. Our flight for Cochabamba left at 6:30 and we were on the ground by 7:30 so there wasn’t much time to sleep or rest.
However the Lord had great things in store for us here! We had a fantastic meeting with a potential partner here in Cochabamba and his excitement toward the idea gave us great hope. We also had the opportunity to visit the Jesus statue here where we could see and pray that Jesus actually would be Lord of the city!
Today is another day with many meetings, prayer, and planning for the future here in Cochabamba. Join us in praying that God would clearly lead us to the people and places were are supposed to meet. It’s all about him and we simply desire to be lead!
The last day on the field usually comes with different plans and less of a sense of time. Today began in just that way. We spent a few extra moments trying to line up transportation for all of the different plans and our Nuñomayani team decided we would wait for the decision once we arrived on top of the mountain. That gave us the opportunity to spend about 30 minutes in worship and prayer at one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Once on top of the mountain I sat down and felt the desire to sing to the Lord so I pulled out my phone and played the first thing that I saw which was “All That I Am” by Rend Collective. One line in the song says that “you are the pearl beyond price, greater than life, all that I am for all that you are.” How awesome it was to start the day declaring from the mountain top how great our God is!
Once we were able to get to the village we were greeted with the warm welcome of silence. The village was as empty as we had seen so far but we knew that the Lord had a great work in store for us! We spent some time in prayer asking the Lord of the harvest to lead us and bring glory to himself. My translator, Sergio, and I prayed that God would produce fruit in this village and he answered in a way we didn’t expect. As we began walking again we saw a delicious looking cactus fruit and decided we should take the challenge to peel it with my rather dull pocket knife. Although it wasn’t easy the fruit was absolutely delicious and well worth it! Through that simple fruit, we felt the Lord whisper that the fruit wouldn’t be easy but it would be well worth it and HE WOULD PROVIDE!
After getting a bite to eat we took time to train with our translators and nationals. We walked through the 3/3rds process (discipleship process) and the basic commands of Christ. It was pretty awesome to hear the questions and thoughts they had regarding the process. I am positive that these disciples will continue this great work in Bolivia once we are home.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
If you are like me this little line may take you back to early Sunday school classes. Unfortunately this line doesn’t always describe how I follow Jesus. I have found myself this week repeating the phrase “trust and obey” multiple times as we have been helping people follow Jesus for the very first time.
The last 3 days have also been an example of simply trusting and obeying. When our team arrived to the village on Sunday we were asked to join their small church service. My translator and I preached for their service but we sent the rest of the team to visit the community. We preached 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 that we are Christ’s ambassadors and challenged the church to be trained to make multiplying disciples. After the service, the entire church stayed to be trained! It was awesome to see their willingness to trust and obey.
Monday was a day that we entered with absolutely no idea what the day was going to look like. The majority of our village works in the harvest fields and said they wouldn’t be home between 7a-7p. Many of them walk multiple hours to their fields and back every day. The cool thing is that these people understand the cycle of the harvest and if they can connect the dots to the Jesus’ harvest they will do unthinkable things! Since we had no plans, we simply had to trust and obey. The Lord did exactly what he always does and showed up big time! We got to see multiple people start following Jesus and take some first steps of obedience. I spent almost 3 hours in a field with a couple who decided to follow Jesus and we were able to walk them through baptism, prayer and train them to share the gospel. It’s awesome to see what the Lord does when we have no plans and just follow him!
Yesterday was similar to the day before in that we had no idea who would be in the village. As soon as our team of 7 arrived we doubled the number of people in the village! We split up to see who we could find and ended up having some awesome conversations. My translator and I ended up in the village school and they allowed me to share the gospel as long as I taught the numbers and colors in English. Luckily I know all of those so that was a sweet deal! After an awesome morning, we spent the afternoon training a brother that will be continuing to work in the village. Our day wound down with an awesome time of worship and prayer in the mountains. It’s absolutely breathtaking to see his handiwork around us.
As we have walked the last few days and continue to walk from this day forward we will simply strive to trust and obey!
What an update I have for the last three days! Thursday began with a journey to a place called Uni (which we worked in during the October journey) that required two busses and a taxi. There were more than a few moments we questioned whether or not we’d make it at all. The beauty of God’s creation in that village however was more than worth the journey! We made contact and encouraged some of the new believers that have taken the first steps of obedience.
After our trip to Uni we got the awesome privilege to welcome the team at the airport at 3am on Friday! It was great to see their arrival and their excitement to join God in his harvest field.
After a few hours of sleep on Friday morning the team rose to take a cable car ride over the city to both see its beauty and take time to pray that God would change this city with the gospel. Pictures cannot do any justice to the vastness of his creation and the number of people present and in need of him. After returning from an afternoon of prayer we met our translators and did some last minute training before entering the harvest field.
Saturday (yesterday) was the first day we went out to the different sites to being prayer walking and gospeling. Wow. It’s amazing what God does when we simply obey. It’s also amazing the places that he had taken our team to work. My team of 3 North Americans and 3 South Americans are in a remote village called nuñomayani. It is a small village surrounded by absolutely breath taking mountains. We entered into the village and began to prayer walk and ask God to provide Persons of Peace (video on Persons of Peace) and open homes. Cool story from the day: Since the village has had little work I felt impressed upon by the Lord to spend much time praying for the hearts of the people. I walked up to a high point in the mountain from which I could see the entire village and simply asked God over and over to provide Persons of Peace and unity of his church. The cool part was that at that very moment one of our team was leading a potential Person of Peace to the Lord! How awesome is the most high God! We are excited to go back and continue to see what he does with us there.
You may be wondering why this has anything to do with weakness or why I haven’t updated in 3 days. The answer is simply that I physically feel miserable. I came down with a pretty bad head/sinus cold after a few days in Bolivia and feel like my head is a solid cement block on my shoulders. BUT I’m constantly reminded that I don’t have to be in a right mind or strong for him to use me. In my weakness he is made strong. In your weakness he is made strong. “What price are we willing to pay for the treasure?”
Join me in praying that God would be glorified no matter what the circumstances. I believe his word is true. If we lift Jesus, he will draw people to himself!
What a day yesterday was! We began with a journey to encourage the work and workers in an area we worked with in October called Mallasilla. We do this in an attempt to follow Paul’s model of visiting and strengthening churches throughout his journeys. We met with a couple that has stepped up to lead the follow up and host people in their home. Leo and Janet went out through the community with us to reconnect with new believers and start a discipleship relationship with them. Leo is a gatekeeper in the community and VERY well known which we are praying will make him very influential in the lives of these new disciples.
After spending morning and early afternoon in Mallasilla I met with a group from a town about 2 hours outside of La Paz that are hungry for some training. We spent 2 hours together going through simple discipleship methods that they can use to reproduce in their community. I’m praying this team will be true multipliers in their remote village.
As I finished that time to got to reconnect with pastor Arturo from the church we worked with in October and hear how they are continuing to invest in this community they’ve adopted. They are spending lots of time loving on the community and trying to disciple those the Lord reached in October. What a blessing it was to see him again!
Finally we ended the (very) long day with a dinner training from 8-10:45 with the leaders that will be working with us as the team comes up this weekend. We spent a great amount of time casting vision and encouraging one another in the work of making disciples of ALL the nations. I can’t wait to see how God uses us and them together!
It was a long day with lots of demanding training and activity but we are grateful to the Lord for using us to advance his kingdom. Gloria a Dios!
Yesterday was an awesome day working with leaders here in the Bolivian harvest fields. We spent all afternoon doing training with our coordinators at a coffee shop (I think the coffee shop assumed the gringitos didn’t really like caffeine so it was a little weak). The training however was definitely NOT weak. We answered the 4 questions on why 98% of Christians don’t make disciples which led to conversations on church formation, and indigenous leadership development. We mostly just scratched the surface but the Lord provided much needed answers to some of their questions.
Then in the evening I was able to catch up with a translator that is really trying to be obedient to what she was trained on when we were in the city last October. Since then, she has started a Bible study in her home for new believers and they have baptized 3 in the past few months! Tati has shown great steps of obedience with just a little training so I was very excited to share some more with her that she is now taking back to her new believers Bible study.
The day was also filled with many conversations and stories along the way about what God is doing in and around people. The question remained throughout the day, “what price are you willing to pay?”
Today is packed out with lots of follow up and more training so join me in praying for God to use us and empty us for His glory!
Here are so ways you can be praying for Gary and Ryan today:
- Rest (travel and then altitude wear you out!)
- Boldness to speak the truth of the urgency of the gospel to both unbelievers and believers
- Smooth transportation so they can get to where they need to be
- Complete dependence on the Lord for the steps they are to walk in
- Our national leaders are sick so that will make it really hard to get places and do things so pray hard they recover quickly
In unrelated business, you can also pray as we mourn the loss of a particularly new white noise machine that did not like foreign electricity.
On our way through security in the US yesterday I came across this sign that said “treat yourself” and thought it was an odd saying to have plastered throughout a TSA checkpoint. Where people scramble to basically derobe in order to get through the scanners and then quickly shove everything together to get as far away from security as possible in as little time as possible. Not exactly what I’d consider treating yourself. Needless to say I had to take a picture of such a sign. Once we boarded our plane for the first 5 hour leg of our journey to La Paz I settled in to read a book I was given for Christmas that has brought me an enourmous amount of encouragement over the past days. The book is “Let The Nations Be Glad” by John Piper. It is all about God’s supremacy in our lives, especially as it relates to mission. The section I was reading was about suffering which was quite a contrast to the “treat yourself” slogan we had just left.
I felt as though the Lord was intentionally grabbing me in a place I didn’t want to be grabbed. As I read story after story, and scripture after scripture on how God used suffering to advance his kingdom I found myself engaged in an inner battle between what I was reading and the “treat yourself” world I live in. I was then challenged with a story that I’ve heard many times. The story of the man who stumbled upon a great treasure in a field and immediately sold all his possessions so he could go and buy the field and enjoy the treasure. It would be easy to think that this man didn’t suffer, but think about what he did. He sold everything he had worked his whole life for. Imagine he had just paid off his big house and 4-5 year old sedan. He had nice furniture and maybe a manicured lawn with some nice landscaping. He gave up his comfortability in order to attain a treasure much greater.
I felt, and still feel, convicted with the thought, “what price would you pay to see the nations reached?” “What price to see the father glorified?” That’s the ultimate treasure. If the answer is anything less than everything I am not willing to suffer to see the Great Commission be completed.
We have now reached our destination in La Paz and will begin some much anticipated training with local leaders today. The question for all of us today should be “what price are we willing to pay to see the name of Jesus glorified?” Join me in praying that today no price will be too great!!
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