What can happen in 4 months? More than we can pass on to you in one blog in any detail. In a nutshell, we began the framework for a quasi agricultural cooperative in La Lidia, Costa Rica using the concept of small greenhouses that will couple with small group Bible training in basic growing and business initiatives. The development of the community centre in Guizaros, Costa Rica continued with the laying of cement for a back patio (terraza) including a 20m retention wall and the building was painted. Also, almost 850 children from 4 poor communities were part of the Christmas celebration receiving a present, food and enjoying games. In Mexico, the medical clinic/women’s shelter was chosen as the National Women’s project for the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) of Canada. An engineer has drawn up preliminary plans with building to start in 2014, God-willing.
And we spent 3 months in cold, snowy Canada (High River, Alberta) for our home assignment that occurs every 2 years. Not only did we spend time building and strengthening our relationships with several southern Alberta C&MA churches, we were able to come alongside High River Alliance church and help with the process of church and community renewal after the June flood; the flood that was the 3rd highest damaging disaster in North America after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. I can’t forget that we lived only 15 minutes from our kids and we were able to spend alot of quality time with them. Oh ya, and I turned 50 and we had our 26th wedding anniversary. Great milestones to see how God has worked in us and through us.
What’s happening in the next 4 months? Well, you will be better informed with monthly updates now that we are getting back in rhythm. There is a work teams from Brooks, Alberta coming in a week to construct a bathroom and classrooms for the community centre in Guizaros. Then a several weeks later, Lethbridge Alliance is sending 6 leaders to see what is happening and how they can fit into our community development ministry. More news to come!
Check out the new catalogue that not only details our development projects and how you can support us but the many projects that are occurring world-wide with the C&MA. Thanks to all for your financial support of Global Advance giving, the support that keeps all international workers in the field doing what God has directed us to do.
I have been reading every update I can on the disaster situation (from floods) in southern Alberta but more specifically in our town of High River. The whole town has been evacuated and thousands have been displaced creating refugees. It has affected my parents, my sister and her family and many, many friends. As an ex-firefighter for the community, I just want to return and help. This situation is so much bigger than the “big” floods that have occurred in the past. It is amazing the different ways that people are responding. Many are looking outside themselves and looking to help and assure the person in need. Others just don’t have the coping abilities to understand what to do next. While others are forming to bring a court ruling to allow them back into the middle of a fluid disaster zone. Talk about a sense of entitlement!
There are so many parallels with the Slave Lake fire situation where Linda and I were able to respond and be in the thick of things. Being there when town was opened up for people to return and seeing the desperation and frailty on the faces. Being a listening ear because people needed to talk their most innermost feeling out. Hauling fridges and freezers filled with rotted food that created an unbelievable stench. People trying to find out what insurance covered and what it didn’t. There were so many affected, who lost houses and belongings; and yet they were the ones to turn and help the next person in their time of need. So many people deeply affected and hurt. In our work of community development where this type of crisis lives itself out every day, we have learned that no matter how rich you are or how poor you are, a disaster of this type in High River puts everyone on the same footing. How a person chooses how they will respond respond to a crisis directly reflects on their character and values. Life is a daily race. How you compete and finish this race of life is vitally important. Don’t let the daily distractions (ie. on “things” you have lost) affect how you compete. I want to leave you with an excerpt of a blog of a friend of mine.
At the finish line on this dramatic day were the announcers and many, many people. Some friends, some family, but mostly people from the city gathered to cheer the athletes on and home. This made me think of Hebrews 12:1 and the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! Jesus himself said: “I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew 28:20, NCV) and Zephaniah 3:17: “He will take great delight in you; in his love… will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV). What a song! Can you hear it?
“10 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1; ESV)
Encouragement from the Scriptures:
“29He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31;ESV)
Think about the encouragement given to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11: “Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown” (The Message).
Not only were they encouraged to keep a tight grip, but also not to be distracted. Why? I do not think they were meant to just keep a tight grip or hold of things for the sake of keeping a tight grip on things. I do not think they were instructed to remain in the same place or position but rather, as they are encouraged, not to become distracted. They were encouraged to press on or continue growing and going about their purpose.
Trust me, I know, there are times in our lives when all we can do or feel we can do is hold on and not even sure how tightly at that!
There are things that happen in our lives that can cause us to stumble, perhaps lead us into thinking about giving up, but at these times, possibly more than ever, we need to endure and “press on toward the prize” (Philippians 3:14; ESV). When we feel there is absolutely no strength left in us, we must look to Jesus and draw on His strength to sustain us. He is able to keep us from tripping, stumbling or falling (Jude 1:24)… but if we do fall, may we have the strength, courage and obedience to get back up again and start afresh: “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16; NLT).
Friends I want to encourage you, no matter what and I mean no matter what has happened in your life, perhaps happening in your life right now or anything that might happen in the future. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2; NASB) and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14; ESV). May our desire increase, our preparation be more specific and focused and may the fruit of our discipline and obedience equip and empower us to endure until the very end! Let us not give up but live the abundant life Christ has in store for us!
This is the first official blog on our new site. You may ask of all the names out there to choose from, why livepassion.ca? Because we want to live our passion, what God has instilled in us because of the personal relationship we have in Him through Jesus. Because we want to live our passion, that God has prepared for us, everyday. Have you ever wondered why God has you in this or that job, living through this or that circumstance, and experiencing life in this or that way? I remember over the last 25 years, as I worked in a seemingly non-linear pathway, I asked myself those questions often. I am continuing to learn that I need to live my passion, and trusting in God that He is directing my steps. Now I can look back and say… AHA! that is why I experienced this or that. Daily, it allows me to live my passion deeper and fuller. I just wonder what will tomorrow be like!
The pictures on the website header are of a few of the people that cross our path in the various countries we have been in. We get to learn passion from people like them.
A brief update of what is happening with us. The project of building a women’s shelter/medical clinic in the Copper Canyon of northern Mexico is advancing. This project was chosen by the National Women’s ministry of the Christian & Missionary Alliance for its 2013/14 fund raising project. I was with the video team recently deep in the Canyon as the video was put together to share the story to the churches in Canada. An engineering ministry (eMi) is donating an architect and design team to design the building. This will occur this August.
In Costa Rica, in the barrio of Guizaros, we work with Cecilia and her family. We are able to move ahead with plans to revamp their community ministry centre and how they use their land. Again, eMi donated a architect and a earth engineer to make a plan. We hope to start building the first phase in May of this year with money that has been donated.
As many of you know, we had the privilege of teaming up with some donors from Canada to get 50+ kids into elementary school that otherwise would not be able to attend. We were able purchase uniforms, shoes and school supplies. This resulted in a problem, but a good problem. There were not enough text books for all the students so we were able to help supply these books for 20 kids.
Linda continues to send out weekly prayer needs and she is grateful for those who have chosen to join the team in this way. It is gratifying to see the prayer requests go both ways and be part of seeing God respond. If you would like to be part of this let us know. It’s not hard, you talk everyday. Now you’re just adding God to the equation and watching Him work.
What do you think of the website? Let us know. Add a comment with your thoughts to the “What is J & C?”
Curtis and Linda are international workers with the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada. We are regional leaders of a compassion oriented work in the Central/South America, Caribbean and Mexico. We are currently based in Salitral de Santa Ana, Costa Rica. We call our ministry SunCompassion.
We are part of the ministry movement of Justice and Compassion for the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada.
Our Canadian base is in the Calgary area. Our two children (Jordan and Briana) are living, working and going to school there. We are members of the High River Alliance Church. In High River, Curtis worked as a fire fighter, a youth pastor at HRBC, and at the public high school as a counselor. Linda was a lifeguard/instructor as well as several years at Ambrose University College in administrative support.
We completed Spanish language school at ILE located in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2009. Prior to arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica, Linda and Curtis were located in Quito, Ecuador with the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Canada at the Alliance International Academy.
If you are a social media user, you can connect with us on FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
We have proof…that God is at work! Our last two days of work needs it’s own blog to describe how we have seen God at work, literally!
We left for the Limón prison to be with a team from the Alliance “jungle” church for their weekly visit to a men’s high-security jail. They expected to have 2 baptisms. When we got there, 6 men wanted to be baptized. Here is Linda’s description of what happened. (Sorry, no pictures as I couldn’t take my camera in).
What made me come alive yesterday was walking into the Limon Prison & stepping into what could’ve been the New Testament! What an experience to witness a Christ-movement. Wow!
We were invited by our Alliance Sarapaqui Pastors to attend a baptism of 2 men from their prison ministry & God began moving in their hearts before we even came. Two men were to give their testimony & be baptized but God had other plans. Yesterday not only 2 were dunked in a 40 gallon barrel but 20!
My mind was thinkin’ “this must be what happened when Christ would come into a town, preach & started baptizing”. Well, the same movement happened yesterday with Pastor Rodrigo preaching & inviting men to radically change their lives, & proclaim that they are Christ’s. What started out as 2 became 6, & as the men heard the Pastor & Curtis praying for them, saw these prisoners make a proclamation of faith, it had men passing the small bucket outside to get more water so that MORE men could be baptized as well.
I had so many thoughts racing through my mind & heart this afternoon. Yesterday I experienced what salvation, in a very dark place, looked like. I saw GRACE in action, I saw tenderness on hardened men as they sang or stood in adoration after the ceremony, I could almost hear the angels rejoicing over not just 2 but 20! Tears flowed down my face as I thought of what Christ would do for one lost sheep but He brought 20 home!!
This was a day that my heart resonated loudly & saw the power of the Spirit move in these men’s hearts. I didn’t understand all that was said (it was all in Spanish) but I could see the impact of the presence among these men today.
My last farewell to these men as we left the prison was seeing them clasped together in cuffs to be taken back to the barracks. What were freed men in Christ today are still chained men to their consequence of their sin.
The next day, we visited Cecilia and her family. If you have been following our adventures, you know who she is. If you don’t, you need to look at past blogs. She moved to a community called La Lidia.
La Lidia is a community far from nowhere. We drove a really bad road to get there, past fields of yuca, pineapple and banana. If you can find work, you find it as a laborer in one of these fields. It’s common to get up at 3am, cycle to work by 4am and work till 4pm. Lunch is very short as you would rather keep moving in the heat that just sitting there. All for $10/day. Houses are made of plastic over a wooden branch frame or if you have the skills to make a house from tree, you make a makeshift building.
Cecilia knows that these people need Christ. She has become a mother to many. Yesterday for the weekly kid’s program, there were 70 kids. She told me she gets as many as 130. It’s a day filled with music, games and Sunday School. (Then there is the women’s ministry…another time)
Many come everyday just to hang out and get food. I do not know how she does this as the family makes about $400/month. The kids are loved and and taught Biblical values and morals. I had a blast. For hours, I played foose ball on this old table that we would normally use for firewood! The kids kept repeating my name so they could get the pronunciation correct. Living conditions are so poor. A 13 year old girl has basically lived on green plantains (cooking bananas) for the last 6 months. I talked with two boys who have absolutely nothing, even food and they rely on Cecilia and her family. Most of these kids cannot read. Those that can afford to go to school (about $150/yr), still can’t read and they certainly don’t get the 3 “R’s”. Most of the kids are barefoot. At the mininum, 70 pairs of shoes are needed for the kids that are at the local school.
Cecilia, her husband Marcos, and their son and wife, Gerson and Rocio, have the biggest hearts. Wow! They hope to add 6 computers + English + more reading + more math…. to their program to give the kids a future and hope. Please pray for them as they will be hosting 4 different Christmas parties for about 650 kids this month. She says “God will provide” and He does.
Can you help? You are part of the answer! If you can help financially, support for food or schooling or shoes or a Christmas fiesta, email me at email@example.com and we can work together to help out.
It’s been a busy fall and God has been very faithful (no surprise there). We took Cecilia (from Costa Rica) up to El Salvador to meet with other like-minded leaders who work very hard in their communities with their own ministries. She fit right in and it was great for her to know that she is part of a larger network of Christ-followers who want to change their own community for the better. One of the six police officers guarding us during the meetings was baptized! Nicaragua was a great time meeting with C&MA pastors from all over Central America. This meeting was extra-special as 5 Alliance churches from Peru partnered with 5 churches in Central America to help with leadership development and training of pastors. It is so encouraging to see strong national churches coming along side their weaker brothers.
Bird feathers from a Mayan witch doctor stuck to the cross
In Guatemala, I joined a mission team from Stony Plain Alliance for 5 days up in TacTic. This was a great time for me getting to know some of the people from Stony Plain. I got to see missions through their eyes and it made me see things in a brand new way. I also got to see this ministry that several Alliance churches support. I spent time with the leadership and made an evaluation for future possibilities. This area had a weird mix of Catholicism and Mayan god worship. Afterwards I took a bus in Guatemala City where I spent time with Pastor Merari of Iglesia Galilea. I also sat in a workshop for pastors that presented some ministry perspectives from the book When Helping Hurts. I really enjoyed sitting down with Merari and dreaming of future opportunities. We talked about some leadership development of pastors in the area of community development and how we could come along side the community initiatives they have started.
The barrio I visited filled with the poor and disenfranchised.
Columbia was another 9 day trip. The first 5 days was South American C&MA Leaders/Mission conference. After talking with many pastors from Columbia, I was convinced that Columbia’s need for church training in initiatives of community development is vital. This was strengthened when I spent the next 4 days in Bogotá with the jefe of one of the largest community and development banks in the country. It grew out of the need in Alliance churches and now serves1300 people in small business loans and small business training. I visited a couple of the projects up in a barrio overlooking the city. It was the highlight of my trip as I met another “person of peace”. Someone who has a love of Christ for their community and is doing unbelievable things with being the “hands and feet of Jesus” to the poor. And through this, the Gospel is being shared. Her name is Lucy and she has the same heart as Cecilia. Wow!
Have you ever heard of the Leadership Matter Course? Hands down, it is THE best leadership development course I have been part of and its coming to Canada (Alberta) in the spring of 2014. It is filled with extremely practical and hands on learning that cements your leadership abilities into practice. Linda and I spent 12 straight days with 25 other learners here in CR. The trainers come from all over the world. An Amazing time.
Visited a maternity ward where 2 babies less than 2 hours old
December is fast approaching and for most, that means busyness too. We will be part of sharing Christmas with needy children from several communities. Jordan is able to come for a month and he will be a big part of this. Pray for these opportunities to share Christ with the kids and their parents. This weekend, we will be going to a baptism of a couple jail inmates. Very exciting to see them choose to express their relationship in Jesus this way. Also pray as we continue to work with the pastors from Sarapiqui in the use of resources and how to add a component of sustainability to their community outreach. Briana and her boy (Paul) will be coming down Boxing day so we will have the whole family together. We welcome Brem and Donna Frentz as the new VP of Global ministry (our bosses). Thank you for your continued support. We rely on you for partnering with us prayerfully and financially. If any of you want Linda’s weekly prayer letter, drop her a line at L7doell@gmail.com.
PS There will be a new website coming out where we will have a blog. Coming soon!
Things are frantic around here as we plan and pack for 1 month of traveling. We have to pack for the heat and humidity of Mexico and the rain, dryness, heat, snow, cold and mosquitos of Canada. We have regional meetings in Mexico (that’s where the biggest group of International Worker’s live) and then we travel up to Canada for General Assembly in Winnipeg but more about that later.
Last I wrote, we hade two trips ahead. One to Guatemala and a return trip to the Tarahumara of Mexico. First, I had gone to Guatemala to join in a week-long YWAM-sponsored course on micro-loans focusing on the poor of Latin-America. This course was arranged by a local Alliance church, Iglesia Galilea. They have a focused community development program with schools, smokeless stoves and building new housing structures. We were shown a Mayan village where they have a strong ministry focus. This village gets shut off every raining season because there are 4 rivers to cross to get there. I had a great time playing with the kids at the local school. A special part of this course was that many from the community and local government attended so they could in-turn help their community. And they all were presented with a clear message of the Gospel and the Biblical theology of why you help others in need! It was all in Spanish so I lasted pretty well through the first 3 days before my brain just didn’t want to work anymore. The course was informative and I was able to take away many highlights. I had several outside meetings with other ministries that could lead into strong partnerships. I love how God brings these people into my path. It happens over and over. We also spent some time in Antigua. It’s a beautiful place to see.
On our return trip to the Copper Canyon, Linda and I brought in another $18,000 that many of you gave to the Global Emergency Relief Fund of the C&MA. Based on our last trip, this will buy about 14 tons of food that will be distributed to about 1700-1800 people. We did not have an Alliance Men’s work team to help us so I was wondering how we would be able to separate the 100lbs sack of food into 1 kg bags without a big group. When we were in Guacayvo, the kids came through and I think we were ready to distribute earlier than when the adults had helped :). After providing a hot meal and Pastor Tomás giving the Gospel to the group, we gave out food to about 225 families. This was less than last time as it was reported to us that many were sick and could not make the hike. We went to the second village, the same area as last time, but we went a bit further in to a more central meeting point. At one point in the traveling, we crossed over a dirt airstrip and we were told this was a drug cartel airstrip. Here we fed about 180 families. This was also less than less time but many of the males had been literally taken by the military to “volunteer” to fight forest fires. For both villages, we were joined by a Dr from Virginia who was on his 18th volunteer trip in to run medical clinics. We also were with 2 contractors who were doing an evaluation of water systems and buildings and drew up plans for a possible improvement project. Again what a blessing to be part of this humanitarian aid. Pray as we plan for the next step. I am looking to take an agriculturist specialist and a Geologist/Water specialist as we look at finding a local spot to drill a well and provide much-needed water and build into the ability to expand their agriculture ability.
We will be in Winnipeg for a week for General Assembly C&MA. I have the privilege of being a co-presenter along with two other members of the world-wide Justice & Compassion team. Linda and I have 3 other speaking engagements that you are welcome to come to. At High River Baptist Church on June 28 at 7pm. At High River Alliance Church on July 8 at 10am and at Brooks Alliance Church on July 15 at for the morning service. And we get to spend time with family and friends!!!!
Alliance church with house at back
I want to leave you with one story from Guatemala. This was back in the woods near the Mayan village we went to that gets cut off by 4 rivers. We were getting a tour by a local Alliance pastor through the community and saw the church which Linda said it looked like an outhouse; but it was a building donated from a local owner. At one point, I had asked the pastor about his family but he didn’t answer me. Later, our guide told us this story. This pastor and his family had been living outside of the community. Their young son, less than 10 years old, was found dead on the river bank outside of the community. He had been sexually abused and then killed. The community took an active role in helping and they found the man who had done this. It turned out that several kids had disappeared in this community and everyone had their suspicions who had done it but nothing had been done judicially. Remember, we are back away from any large towns. This is also a culture that went through many years of civil war and the scars run deep. This time, the man was taken to the police and he is now in jail. Here is the scary thing. If the evidence against this man disappears, the local police have no reason to keep this man jailed. The family of this man have made several threats against this Alliance pastor, his wife and 2 remaining kids. If this family is killed, (remember the recent civil war) then there is no evidence against this sexual predator. If the family is killed, he is released back into their community. The family is the only evidence that this child was killed in such a way. So they have moved to live immediately behind this little church for safety. This pastor says he will not move away. God has him and his family there for a reason. Please pray for his safety and God’s ability to work through this dangerous situation.
a ministry of the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Canada celebrating God working through Justice and Compassion