This month marks another miracle that I don’t understand, but am thankful for..the monthly miracle of sending close to $10,000 to our Miskito friends on the Coco River. The needs abound and many of you have been a part of providing the fundamental needs of our fellow brothers and sister in one of the remotest corners of the earth. It is a battle surviving.
In the midst of being a part of this monthly miracle, you and I get to engage in many other potential miracles of lives being touched and changed right where we are and in what we are doing. This daily life can be quite the battle.
No matter where or what we are doing, there is a fight going on….we all fall short and each comes to some disappointment in this life in some way usually by another imperfect being we deal with in life. Many of us can wallow around in the muck that is ever before us wondering if it will all get better.
Nah, I am realizing at age 57 that things will always have that edge of irritation, sadness, bad behavior, evil abounding, and as human’s…..stupidity will always rear its ugly head of ridiculousness…in myself and others until I am with God who is in prep of our arrival in that place called Heaven.
Yeah I believe in eternal destiny and my Hero coming to rescue me from all the shizzle in this world, in myself and others…I am fully aware of
my need of such a Savior, My Knight in shining armor, One that can never fail or be imperfect. The One that will Rule Heaven and Earth. The One that is to come and will be the Victor of all over all and daily I try to succumb to Him and His power, peace and Love.
I was asked by one of my dear friends, “How do you do all that you are doing?’ My initial thought was, “one moment at a time. One person at a time.” It’s why I have come to hate crowds at times…being pressed, in a line (like being in the Sistine Chapel in high tourist season) My meditation on this question brought me to this
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms & hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God…Col 3:12-16
All FOR, IN ,WITH God…
As many of you know, we made a study tour to Israel in May of this year.
It had been 12 years since our last trip with our family, and they wanted to recreate some of our previous photos.
When God Says No
In 1994, I was getting restless. For 10 years had been working with Miskito Indian refugees in a most remote corner of Central America, where I felt very cut off from civilization. I was enjoying the flying in our Seneca, making trips from Florida to Honduras, and throughout the Miskitia. It was very exciting, but I was getting stale in other areas of my life.
I had earned a degree in History from Miami University in 1973, and felt a stirring to continue my education to learn how to teach the Bible in a culturally relevant manner. As I looked at my options, I discovered a school in Jerusalem which offered a Master’s Degree in three summer sessions. “This would be perfect,” I thought, “as it would allow me to continue working with Truman and our Miskito leaders and teachers.”
I wrote to the school and received their application for the Masters program. Then a strange thing happened. When I began to fill out the form, I sensed that the Lord was saying “No”. “But Lord, this is my profession and I need education to teach the Bible”.
“No.” I heard him say. “No.”
That was disappointing. I felt further in the hole, but my new responsibilities as a father to Mikaela and Lukas filled my hours. I resigned myself to my life in Honduras, my annual trips to Florida and Hawaii, and personal study of books like “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” and others. The months flew by.
One night in early 1996 I was sitting with my friend Truman on his front porch in Sawa, which is very “Fourth World”. We were swatting the bugs, and enjoying the breeze. Suddenly I asked Truman: “Do you have any dreams? What is something you want to do before you die?”
Without hesitation, Turman replied; “I want to go see where Jesus lived. Nobody from my culture has ever been there. Many of my people think Jerusalem is in Heaven, and not on this earth. I want to go so I can tell them the Bible is true.”
I was shocked! “That’s my dream too Truman. I want to go to Israel and see the places of the Bible.” We got excited as we talked, and the annoying mosquitos seemed to disappear. We agreed to ask our Heavenly Father to allow us to go soon. When I returned to Florida and Hawaii later that year, we told our parents and pastors of our dream to go to Israel and asked them to pray with us. They did.
In early 1997, we returned to Honolulu, and the first Sunday at church one of our friends gave me a $100 bill. “This is for your trip to Israel,” Zee said. “How did you know we were praying about going?” I asked Zee, one of our child sponsors. “Laura’s mom told me,” she said. I turned to Laura and said; “Well, I guess we are going to Israel.”
The next night we were invited to Bryan’ house. He was a builder who was working on the Hope Chapel Kaneohe project, and had begun a Full Gospel Businessmen’s group at his home. That night he surprised us by telling the group that we were taking our Miskito Indians to Israel, and he was going to give us $1000 for our trip and would match any gift others might give that night. Our friend Charlie gave me a check for $1000 that night. Wow! Bryan was pleased, saying “Now pray that I can come up with the $2000!”
Wednesday we flew to Maui. Thursday I was at my friend Karen’s office in Wailea printing our newsletters. As Karen and I were folding them she said “How’s your trip to Israel going?” “How did you know about that? “ I asked. “Craig (Hope Maui pastor) told me that you were praying about going. My husband and I decided to give you the money you need for your airfare to go. You need to take them to Israel. We went last year and it changed our life.” Wow!
I called my friend Roy, the former worship leader at our church in Vero Beach who moved to Israel to work with the International Christian Embassy. I asked him if it was possible to bring three Nicaraguans to Israel. “Of course it is Mike. We host the Feast of Tabernacles event each year, and Christians from over 100 nations come.” That was encouraging. I asked him about housing for our three Miskito leaders, and our Maui pastors Craig & Kathy whom we asked to come to be our teacher. A few weeks later Roy called to say that there was a three bedroom apartment available in October/November if we wanted to come then. When I asked him how much the rent would be, he said his friend Tim would give it to us for free. Wow!
Then I asked Roy if he would have time to take us around to the Biblical sites. “No, I’m very busy, but I have a friend who does it for a business, and you will like him. His name is Randy Smith and here is his number.”
I called the office of Christian Travel Study Programs, and told Leslie, the manager, what we wanted to do in October. She ran through the list of the various study tours that CTSP did, and the details of hotels, transportation, and meals. We finally settled on a 12 day study tour that encompassed the entire country and Old and New Testament sites and themes. She promised to get back to me with availability and a price for seven of us.
A few nights later I was sitting in my office in Vero Beach and got a call Don, a friend from Vero who had travelled with us to our schools along the Rio Coco in ’90 and ’91. I hadn’t heard from Don in years.
“Hey Mike, I hear you are going to Israel!”
“Who told you that?”
“My mom. Your mom told her.” Joanne ran a travel agency in Vero and was friends with my mother Mabel, who ran a hair salon with her sister Polly.
“The Lord has told me to give you money for your trip.”
“Don, we don’t need any money. We have our airfare and a free apartment. Why don’t you just come with us?”
“No, I can’t. The Lord told me I was to give you a specific amount, so when I collect my rents on my commercial properties at the end of the month, I’m going to send you $5000.”
“$5000? Are you sure Don?”
That is the number that the Lord gave me. You will have it in a few weeks.”
The following week, I received a call from Leslie at the CTSP office in Jerusalem. “Dr. Smith had a cancellation in mid-October, and can take your group. The cost for hotels, meals, transport, and entrance to the sites for seven of you will be $5005.” “Please book it,” I asked Leslie.
I immediately called Don. “Are you sure the number was not $5005….???”
We laughed as I told him the details of the study tour.
In October we all flew on a Lufthansa 747 from Miami to Frankfurt and on to Tel Aviv. Roy picked us up and took us to the apartment in Gilo, a suburb in south Jerusalem next to Bethlehem. Kathy and Craig arrived the next day. Roy took us to the International Christian Embassy where we met Tim, one of the founders, who provided the apartment. The next day Dr Randall Smith arrived at our apartment, and we loaded up in his Mitsubishi van. After a few moments of Randy speaking, Craig leaned over to me and said “I’m not saying a word on this trip”. We soon realized that Randy was not just a tour guide. In fact he had a PHd from Hebrew University in Rabbinical Literature, had lived in the land for the past 14 years, and was currently training all the guides for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Randy was one of the local “experts” on Biblical culture who was hired by the History Channel and other media groups to teach on Biblical history.
We spent the first week with Randy travelling through Galilee, with a stop at Yardinet on the Jordan River where we baptized and commissioned Truman, Augusto, and Onofre for their mission with the Miskito people. It was a special moment for us all.
After we returned to Jerusalem, we volunteered to spend an afternoon with Randy moving some furniture. Craig took me aside and said “Mike I think there is something here that is for more than this moment. Pay attention. This may be a long term relationship.”
Prophetic words which proved to be very right on.
The following year, Randy and Dottie were in Florida, and came to Vero to visit us. During that dinner, Randy shared his vision of starting an online Bible school for those not able to travel to Israel, and asked us to come in the summer of 1999 and help him with this project. He arranged for an apartment downtown, and we went. It was a hot summer, but we learned so much!
Since then we have taken nine groups for study tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Israel, and co-authored a book, Living In The Spiritual World, with Dr. Smith. In the process, I have learned more than I would have attending the university in Jerusalem for the Master’s program. I have had my own private tutor in Biblical culture, who has become one of my closest friends.
In 2006, our friend Tim King, who had supplied us with the apartment in 1997 and again in 2000, told us about a project he was doing at Yardinet, the baptism place on the Jordan River.
He and an Armenian artist were going to make large tiles with the passage from Mark 1:9-11 where Jesus comes to the river for baptism and many languages.
He asked us if we wanted one in the Miskito language. The cost would be $3500. Tim’s daughter Anna had traveled with us to Nicaragua in 2004, and had a very life changing experience. We agreed.
We stopped by Yardinet a few weeks ago (May 2018) on our way to Jericho, to see the tiles.
As we walked up to the entrance, there were about 15 languages outside.
The wall inside stretched from the gift shop to toward the spot at the end where 21 years before we had baptized Truman, Augusto, and Onofre.
We passed many languages before finally discovering the Miskito language tiles.
It was exactly in front of the place where we had baptized our Miskito brothers! Exactly!
Random chance probably……
It was a very touching moment for Laura and I to realize God’s special plan that began with the 1997 trip.
We were smitten by God’s special love for us all.
I have learned that when God says “No”, it probably because He has a better plan.
Please pray that God will:
1) Protect us as we travel to Utila this month.
2) Provide us with workers for the Utila Café this summer for the fall season..
3) Protect our team in Niccaragua during this political unrest.
We appreciate your prayers
1) Pray for us!
2) Support one of our teachers.
3) Support one of our missionaries;
4) Help us buy school supplies.
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