Monday, September 12, 2011

A Treasure Hunt

One of the ideas I present to short-term mission team members is we are on a “treasure hunt,” (Short-term Missions Workbook, Tim Dearborn). Our greatest gift to our Christian brothers and sisters in another culture is encouragement. We can see with fresh eyes how God is working through and among them. I help team members with this “treasure hunt” by randomly assigning each team member a Fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Their assignment is to find a national and a team member who exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit they are seeking to unearth. However, this is not the end of their assignment. Each team member is encouraged to share the treasure found with the people they saw exhibiting it.

Samuel working
One of the nationals regularly identified as exhibiting several Fruits of the Spirit is Samuel. He is 17 years old and has worked as an apprentice for three years in the construction ministry of Misión a las Américas–Guatemala. Samuel and his mom were abandoned by his dad when he was about 11 years old. This experience and the influence of his grandmother led them to become believers and to trust God for their needs. Misión a las Américas provided a job and a place for their family to live as caretakers of a ministry property. Samuel works 5 ½ days a week and goes to school all day on Sunday. In addition, he leads worship in his church six nights each week and serves as president of the youth association for all the churches in his district. He sacrifices to work a full-time job to support his family and exhibits many of the Fruits of the Spirit. I had the opportunity to spend six weeks with him this summer and to encourage him. The truth is Samuel has been an encouragement and blessing to so many—his family, his church, the youth in his district, the team members who have worked alongside him and me.

It seems to me that every day should be a “treasure hunt.” Why is it that we don’t take this opportunity to seek out those we come in contact with who exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit and encourage them by sharing it with them? It is difficult not to be impacted by the events of September 11, 2001—my sister, Barbara, lost her friend, Rosanne, in one of the Twin Towers. One of the things that September 11 reminds us is that we never know how long we have in this life. Why not start today by “encouraging one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24)?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A New Direction

Pastor Armando and Phil after a cement pour.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of vocation vs. career for some time. In his book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner writes of vocation: “It comes from the Latin vocare—to call—and means the work a person is called to by God… The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done… The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

I have felt a deep gladness while working alongside fellow Christians in Latin America, and, after 22 years of working in Christian higher education administration—mentoring students, leading short‐term mission trips, leadership development, alumni relations and fundraising—I feel it is time to step out in faith and follow my calling to full-time mission work. My work and experiences have prepared me for this next phase of my life. I have been volunteering with Beyond Partnership since 1993 and I left my job in higher education administration on June 30, 2011 to assume the role of Director of Partnership Development.

Beyond Partnership is committed to the principle of “undership”—to be under the authority of the national leadership in all aspects of ministry. My role will include leading short‐term mission trips, spearheading communication and helping to develop a strategic plan for Beyond Partnership and our ministry partners. 

I'm excited about this new chapter in my life. My goal is to post bi-weekly. You can learn more about Beyond Partnership at