Tag Archives: Poverty

Our Week with the Tarahumara

There are so many places I could start writing about last week in Northern Mexico in the Copper Canyon or (Barranca del Cobres). So many God stories! As the Compassion Track leader for the C&MA for this part of the world, I am always looking for our niche, where God points us in the direction we are to follow. When I heard about Pastor Tomás’ ministry to the Tarahumara, I instinctively knew I needed to explore this. What a journey this has led Linda and I on! I am still working internally through what we experienced. So I am thinking that this will be a 3 part series to get some of it out and written.

Through the Global Emergency Relief Fund of the C&MA, I submitted a proposal for a $36,000 emergency food aid to the Tarahumara people that Pastor Tomás works with directly. Now you may think that this amount of money is a large sum and that will buy a good amount of food,  it is and it does. But when you measure it against the need….I am still overwhelmed.

There are between 50,000-70,000 Tarahumara people living in the Copper Canyon. Many years ago, there were over a million. They have become a forgotten people, ignored by the government to the point of becoming extinct. One news report team recently called the Tarahumara “the poorest people in the world”. Seventeen years ago, Pastor Tomás and his sidekick Brenda were led to reach out to this people group. Travelling for hours and days on burros and walking  through the canyons, they searched out the people. As Pastor Tomás told me last week, these people have been waiting over 2000 years to hear about the life-saving love of Jesus.

The Tarahumara do not have a word for “love. That makes it kind of hard to share that concept. Each group of this people has a dialect that is just a bit different but between them, they can make themselves understood. There has been little to no interaction between the various groups. As one Tarahumara leader said, after seeing Tomás’ unfailing commitment to them of walking through the canyons and helping out wherever he could with food and medical help, they began to accept him and understand that this man was not going away. This opened the door to the Gospel. Last week, Tomás had tears in his eyes as he explained to me that through the growth of new believers, the interaction is starting to be shared between Tarahumara groups for the purpose of sharing the Gospel (after 17 years).

You and I would think their living conditions as completely unacceptable. Most live in caves.  They usually marry when they reach 12 or 13 years of age. There is rampant abuse of all kinds. Water is a luxury. Imagine hiking 4 or 6 hours or even more just to get some water. I met a girl of 13 with a child. Then Linda told me of a 16 year old with 6 children. Yes, you read that right! While giving food to one group, there was a unfamiliar smell in the air, but then I realized I was down-wind. It was the basic odours of humanity. There has been much written about the lack of disease and lack of medical problems with the Tarahumara. But it is still prevalent. TB is a killer. Hunger…Suicide…. It seems like if the kids can get past the age of 10, they have a greater chance of growing old but up to 50% die before reaching 10. Lack of water and the availability of food are enormous issues.

So you may thinking, how and why should we help these people? There are those that would say, let’s move them into a town where there are hospitals and laws and water and bathrooms or that we need to educate them and teach them what is right and wrong according to…. Others have said leave them alone, they have survived to this point in time…

Let me leave you until the next time with this. Read Isaiah 58:6-9.
In my mind, how we are supposed to deal with this is straightforward.
My question to you “how do these few verse relate to you and your community that you live in?”
Oh ya, give to the Global Emergency Relief Fund!

PS. Click here to see many of the pictures from this first trip. 

Getting Food on the Table

Are there ever any times during the year when there is absolutely no food for your table? The kids are hungry and Dad and Mom are in despair. Read on!

The last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind for us. I started of in El Salvador spending 4 days with C&MA pastors from all over Central America. Once they understood that our ministry was in compassion work, we heard many stories of needs, usually centered around the poverty conditions for the kids in their communities. I am planning a driving trip through 3-4 countries to meet with the pastors and assess needs in the New Year. During my time there, I received word that a person from an Alliance church wanting to donate a sum of money for a clean water project so I was scrambling to gather information. It appears that a clean water source will be built for a children’s ministry in Honduras with the help of a partnering ministry (eMi). Pray for the details to work out.

After a 12 hour “layover” at home, I joined a Canadian Food Grains Bank delegation in Honduras. We visited with poor Honduran farmers and local development organizations about conservation agriculture. Through conservation/organic techniques, small-plot farmers (less than 2 acres) are able to increase their yields to beyond “subsistence” to actual selling produce at a market. This means that many farmers have been able to go from having no food to eat several times a year to having food to put on the table and actually think about having enough seed for the next crop. All of these farmers live in poor areas with varying soil conditions. After adopting new organic techniques, some farmers were able to afford to send some of their kids to school. It was very gratifying to see that through changing  their farming techniques to that of respect for the land around them, the land gave back. Reforestation, erosion prevention, water retention, crop rotations were some of the transferable and organic principles we worked with. These farmers had a history of killing the soil with crop burning and heavy use of insecticides/herbicides. To paint a clearer picture, this all occurred up in the mountains where soil differed from place to place and farming was being done on slopes up to 60 degrees. Very steep! Needless to say, we walked many mountain-sides.  I learned many new ways of assessing and enabling communities in their food needs towards poverty reduction.


Linda kept busy and adventurous while I was gone. She drove by herself for the first time with the local traffic conditions. Our regional directors were traveling too so Linda helped keep their household organized and making sure the girls got to school. She continues to develop her prayer ministry. I know that she communicates with several of you.

Continue to pray for the needs of the Alliance workers world-wide. Financial support was very short of the needed goal last month to provide for the basic living needs of the international workers. This has created budget issues. Linda and I remain faithful that our needs of funds to purchase our ministry vehicle will be supplied. As we look to the future, pray that God goes before us as we strive to work compassionately through the local churches to reach out to those in their communities that don’t know Jesus.

The Horizon is Huge!

Coming back from Canada, the focus has been about “getting focused”. The title of the blog says it all – “The Horizon is Huge”. When we look at where our Relief and Development ministry can go, it is overwhelming when you know the depth of the physical and spiritual needs that are all around us. God has been working in us too. Over the last 2 years, one of my prayers is that God will show us our niche, a ministry direction that we can have direct impact for Him by not doubling up on what others are doing (especially in terms of dollars and time), but being able to increase out effectiveness through relationships and partnerships. We want the local churches in our region to be the “hero”. We want to equip the local church to be more effective in being the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.

For those that are interested, here are our Ministry Objectives for 2012. I welcome any thoughts or questions.

My next 2 weeks is filled with travel. I am in El Salvador for the Alianza Congresso. This is a gathering of Alliance pastors from Central America. I am looking forward to this opportunity to network and hear what God is doing in the various churches. Also, this is a great opportunity to help to me know what and where there are areas that we can look at assisting with. It should be easier this year as my Spanish speaking has improved abit. I have a one day break at home and then I am part of a CFGB delegation (Canadian Food Grains Bank) to Honduras. I am joining 4 others from Canada to visit Honduran farmers and learn about how they are adapting their agriculture practices to farming on mountain-sides and steep slopes. We will also be evaluating how to improve farming practices and how to improve market access.  What we learn from here can now be transferred to other parts of the world. This is especially important to our ministry as Central America has the mountain chain running down the middle and we want to focus on improving food security issues for the poor. Honduras has similar statistics to other nearby countries. From a recent report, 49% of Hondurans living in the rural areas live in extreme poverty.

Linda has been working hard at developing a prayer network of individuals and Canadian churches. She has lofty goals of how to make this interactive. We desperately need you to be praying for us but vice versa, you need prayer too. Drop Linda an email with any questions or requests.

With our family, there has been a change. No, Linda is not pregnant! Briana has chosen not to go back to college this year. She is pursuing her dreams of being an EMT/Paramedic. Jordan is back for his 3rd year at Ambrose University College. He has changed programs to International Ministry.  We were wondering how we could have a family Christmas together. With using some airmiles, we have Jordan coming down during his Christmas break. We are still unsure of if and how Briana will make it down. That’s something to pray about.

Last but not least, I will close with a huge concern for us. Many of you have been following our vehicle saga. Our ministry vehicle was in the shop for 4 months due to transmission issues. We have it back now but it is not 100%. There are still computer codes errors showing. As one person put it, Linda and I have experienced “longsuffering” through this months-long ordeal. We pray for completion with this. The major concern for us on-top of this is our ministry vehicle funding. We are at just over 50% of raising support to purchase this. We have $6000 left to repay an account (for other international workers to get their vehicle). If you feel led to assist us with this, we would be grateful. Direct your giving to the Doell Vehicle Fund, through any Alliance church or through the C&MA office in Toronto. Until next time…..bendiciones.