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My History with Latin American Missions Efforts
by Bob Young

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| Introduction | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1999 | 2000 |
| 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |
| 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 |

Introduction
My interest in Latin America, and in Latin American missions has developed over a long period of time and been influenced by a variety of factors. In retrospect, the fact that my mother's family had lived for a time in New Mexico was an early influence. As I grew up, my mother from time to time spoke a few words to my sister and me in Spanish, although now I know the phrases were simple, and her Spanish was far from fluent. My sister and I got to hear my mother's Spanish also when she and her sisters were together, especially one sister (my aunt) who lived only 30 miles from the Mexican border. Aunt Jessie, a school teacher, knew even more Spanish than my mother, and had students in some of her classes who were bilingual.
The world I knew was pretty small in central Kansas in the 1950s and 1960s, and the possibility that I would ever need to know any language other than English was not apparent. Because I was interested in languages, I took a year of Spanish in high school. Spanish was the only foreign language offered in that small school district. The year was not particularly helpful. If my teacher knew Spanish by the book, she did not speak it conversationally, frequently mispronounced words with written accents, and was not a particularly good Spanish teacher. In retrospect, I do not remember that I learned any Spanish that I was able to retain, but I learned a little about how languages work, and my linguistic and phonetic skills made it possible for me to read fairly rapidly in Spanish even though I did not understand what I was saying.
My life experiences in the 1960s did not move me closer to Latin American interests. Influences toward Latin America were still far down the road, although there was a small foundation developing. The little church in Kansas was involved in mission work--in Nebraska. Nebraska was right next door, but was considered a mission field because the church was small and struggling. The elders encouraged me to attend York College, but I chose instead to accept a scholarship from Boeing to attend Wichita State University (WSU). During my studies at WSU, majoring in mathematics and music, and then in mathematics and chemistry, I took two semesters of German. I enjoyed the study of German. During my time at WSU, I gained a better understanding of foreign missions through meeting Maurice and Marie Hall, recently returned from mission work in Vietnam.
After two years at Wichita State University, I went to Oklahoma Christian College in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where I earned a B.A. in Bible, with a minor in biblical languages (19 hours of Greek and 8 hours of Hebrew). My first three preaching ministries in southwestern Arkansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Plymouth, Michigan were each about two years. The church in Tulsa was heavily involved in missions as primary sponsor of missionaries in Austria, Italy, and Japan. I never traveled to these mission points, but I remember the missionaries from each of those places coming to visit the church in Tulsa, so I had opportunities to understand and appreciate more of the challenge of missions. Later, the Plymouth church was involved in mission work in Canada so I made trips to Canada to preach and teach and also attended the annual lectureship at Great Lakes Christian College in Ontario. While at Plymouth I also made several mission trips to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) of northern Michigan, experiencing domestic mission work for the first time. After six years of full-time ministry in three different congregations, in 1976 I moved to work with the Holmes Road church in Lansing, Michigan.

The 1980s--A Developing Interest in Missions
When I arrived in Lansing, the church was heavily involved in the bus ministry. When interest the bus ministry flagged, the church found in its place a new interest in missions, especially in Latin American missions. This was influenced by several factors. First, the church was integrated with significant black and Hispanic elements. From time to time, I practiced the little Spanish I knew and learned a little more, remembering more and more words and building some vocabulary. The Spanish-speaking members seemed pleased at my efforts to learn their language, even though they were perfectly bilingual and most communication was in English.
For a time, as a part of a Hispanic outreach effort, a Hispanic congregation conducted services in Spanish simultaneously with the English assembly. Sunday evening services were also conducted in a parallel format for a brief time, but most if not all of those attending were bilingual and eventually that effort ceased for lack of interest and leadership. During this time, the regular attendance of an even larger number of Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters gave me an increased opportunity to practice my limited Spanish. (These were very elementary efforts--I remember having trouble asking how many had been present.)
It was these factors, along with the providence of God, that provided missions opportunities in Latin America when the church decided to develop a missions program. The first efforts began in Costa Rica in 1980. When the congregation sent Tab Brown to San Jose, I heard the names of Ray and Liz Bynum for the first time. (It was not until 1999 that I visited Ray and Liz in Costa Rica. After Tab's work ceased prematurely, the church continued the work in Costa Rica with Rene and Consuela Barrios, and then with Carlos Ulate Gonzales. The work with Carlos provided our first stability after several false starts, and when Carlos moved from Costa Rica to Honduras to establish and work with the Honduran Bible School, the church continued to support him. I constantly encouraged church leaders and missions committee members to travel to Latin America, but never went myself.

Into the 1990s--More Mission Influences
In 1987 my family and I left Lansing and began a new ministry with the church in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Any thoughts about traveling to Latin America were for the time put on hold. (At this point, I had never been out of the United States except for day trips to Palomas, Mexico near where my aunt lived; and brief trips into Canada during my ministry in Michigan.)
The youth group in the Fort Gibson church participated in a missions trip to Mexico in the early 1990s. Although I was unable to go, I was impressed with the experiences they reported upon their return--the openness of the people and the great possibilities for evangelism. I borrowed a phrase book one of the members had purchased. A little Spanish popped up from time to time at potlucks and other church events.
This church had a great interest in missions and had begun an extensive missions effort as the supporting congregation for Phil Palmer in Tanzania, Africa. The goal of the church, with about 300 members, was to be involved in mission work on every continent. Two of the elders had missions background--Roy Ramsey in Africa and Budo Perry in Brazil.
During my ministry in Fort Gibson I did my masters' work at Oklahoma Christian and met several professors with extensive mission experience. Teaching at OC were Howard Norton, Don Vinzant, and Johnny Pennisi, all of whom had known Budo in Brazil. Also at OC was Clyde Antwine with extensive mission experience in Germany. These brothers were role models and willingly shared their experiences through interesting mission stories.
When the Fort Gibson church decided to become involved in foreign missions on another continent, I suggested a work closer at hand that could be visited and monitored more easily than Africa. Budo had an interest in Brazil, but the logical step toward South America was to continue missions trips to Mexico and perhaps into Central America.

March 1995--My First Foreign Mission Trip
In 1995, with the encouragement of the Fort Gibson elders, Doug Brannon, a deacon in the church, and I had the opportunity to travel with a group that was going to Honduras. This group was interested in works in Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras, and included several whom I had known previously. Pete Brazle, who had lived and worked in Catacamas for a couple of years, was related to one of the members at the Lansing church. Also I had known Pete's dad during my ministry in Tulsa and had known Pete's brother during my masters' studies at OC. I had previously met Pete and his wife, Janene, at OC lectureships and at the Tulsa workshop. Also on this trip were Howard and Joan Hagerman, board members for the School of the Good Samaritan, and members at the Lansing church where Howard served as one of the elders. I remember that there were two other Christians in the group, one another board member of the School of the Good Samaritan. Thus in the fall of 1994 I got my first passport and in March 1995 I made my first "long-distance" mission trip outside the United States. I studied the phrase book and a word list or two, but what I remember of my Spanish efforts on that trip is that I kept getting ir, ver, and venir mixed up. Those who know Spanish will appreciate the problem with such basic words which have similar forms to the barely initiated!
On that trip I got by on my own a time or two (barely) with the help of the phrase book, but depended almost exclusively on the communication skills of others. Because of the work of the Lansing church with Carlos Ulate I had heard almost ten years earlier about some of the initial successes in the eastern regions of Honduras, but now I was awed by what I saw. With the group, we visited local congregations, saw the works at Predisan, the School of the Good Samaritan, CEREPA, orphanages, a medical clinic, and more activity than one could imagine in a little town of barely 20000 persons. We traveled into the mountains to see the work of Predisan in remote villages and to visit the churches. We perhaps helped a little, but we mostly oriented ourselves. The week was too short, but we came home excited and encouraged. Surely there was something in this region that the Fort Gibson church could be involved with.

A Twist in the Road
During the summer of 1995, I was asked to consider working with Ohio Valley College (OVC) as chairman of the Bible program, an offer which we accepted after some excruciating decision-making and prayer. It seemed that the dream developed on the 1995 mission trip would be cut short. In reality, it was merely put on hold a little longer for a different purpose, place, and time.
I had barely arrived at OVC when I received an invitation to speak at the 1995 Pan-American Lectureship (PAL). I knew at least one of the lectureship committee members--Howard Norton. Because the PAL date conflicted with the Huffard Forum, an event sponsored by the Bible program in the Philadelphia area, I was unable to accept the invitation. God works in mysterious ways! Because the date of the Huffard Forum presented several conflicts with the college calendar, within a year the date of the Huffard Forum had been moved forward a couple of weeks, and when an another invitation to speak at the Pan-American Lectureship came in 1996, I was able to say yes.

Fall 1996--Another Trip to Latin America
[Note: I will not rewrite reflections and details that are already in print, but will simply provide links to those materials. An
Ecuador travelogue and reflections, and a copy of my Pan American Lectureship presentation are available on this website.]
With the invitation to speak on the Pan American Lectureship, in the fall of 1996 I made a second trip out of the country on behalf of missions. My wife, Jan, and I traveled to Quito, Ecuador for the Pan-American Lectures where I spoke on the assigned topic, "The God-Breathed Scriptures." Bob and Ridglae Stephens accompanied us on this trip. Again, our horizons were expanded. As we took in the sights, we saw people, we saw opportunities, we viewed hearts, and we met other Christians with a heart for missions. In retrospect, I think I was hardly a capable speaker for the program because of my lack of awareness of missions, but when I read the material I presented, it is representative of my own personal missions awareness at that time.
We visited the North Quito church on Sunday, and later in the week visited various regional attractions. Above all, we saw a different part of the world. We were excited about visiting South America. A part of our awe is archived in the travelogue of that experience.

March 1997--Back to Catacamas
[Note:
Reflections and reports from this trip are available on the web.]
As part of my work at OVC, I became missions club sponsor. Upon my arrival, there was almost no missions club activity. Initially, a few students with hearts for missions showed up for meetings and eventually more students came. The school had a long history of missions works, primarily stateside, and the opportunity was ripe with the students God was sending. Both in the fall of 1995 and fall of 1996, OVC students had attended the World Missions Workshop. By the fall of 1996, I was ready to organize a missions trip for OVC students. Where should we go? I turned to my past experience and organized a trip to Catacamas, Honduras. The OVC missions team for spring break 1997 ended up with five students and me. I probably would not have succeeded in this initial effort had it not been for the on-site efforts of Bobby and Jody Broyles who had recently come to Catacamas as missionaries. They made local contacts to arrange visits, projects, activities, orientation, and opportunities for service. Meanwhile, I worked more diligently than before on my Spanish, but made only minimal headway. Nonetheless, I was understanding more of what I heard and able to communicate somewhat, as long as we stayed in the present tense.
Several items were on our agenda. First, EBS was building a new school building and in my own contacts in Michigan, I learned we could be of some help by taking pictures of the construction, checking with the jefe about progress, and reporting to the Hagermans. Second, through the Broyles, the Por Los Ninos orphanages indicated they would appreciate a student group visiting, helping with the children and perhaps some other activities. Also, there were area churches to be visited, CEREPA, supplies to be provided, and opportunities to orient the students to missions. None of the students who went had ever been out of the country.
Thankfully, our agenda was not overly ambitious--for good reason. God is so good! A week before departure, I had an emergency surgery to repair a strangulated hernia. I was walking stiffly but trying to look normal by departure. Jan made the students promise to carry my bags. I found out that walking on level sidewalks is one thing, walking on rocky, uneven streets is another. The students quipped that it was good I was slowed down a bit so they could keep up. We shared a week-long mission trip on Latin American time and schedules. We went, not knowing everything we would do. We cleaned up the town center for a group of eye doctors on Sunday morning. We met Honduran Christians. We walked to church, we walked to the orphanages. We walked to the school construction site. We visited the school in its prsent location and also visited CEREPA. We served in a variety of ways. Overall, while one could always hope for more, we felt we had accomplished a great deal more than we planned, and the students returned with renewed enthusiasm for missions work.
The Broyles were gracious in writing about their own renewed hope for short-term mission trips, based on the amount of work that our small group had accomplished. My own thought is that the success of short-term missions depends upon the hearts of those involved and the willingness to serve rather than be served.

Opportunities Outside Latin America
Since this report is focused on Latin America, I will only mention in passing that in July-August 1997, I spent about two weeks in Guyana on a mission trip with David Newberry, Bob Long, several Christians from area congregations, and some OVC students.
In May-June 1998, I spent about a month in New Zealand with five students from OVC. The New Zealand trip was largely arranged by Jordan Setters. Jordan was studying Bible at OVC as an international student from New Zealand. We worked with the church in Wellington where Jordan's brother was serving as minister.
[Note: Reflections and reports of the New Zealand trip are available on the web.]

Spring 1999--Back to Catacamas
[Note: Various
reflections, an article, and a report of this trip are available on the web.]
By the fall of 1998, there was a growing demand on the OVC campus for another foreign mission trip. A group of 13 persons was formed, largely students. The group included a nurse and the son of one of the students. We were encouraged by the fact that one of the students spoke fluent Spanish. The last of the group signed on just as Hurricane Mitch wreaked devastation in much of Honduras. Until the hurricane, we did not know what God would want us to do, only that we were willing to go. I worked again on my Spanish, making some headway but still almost exclusively working in the present tense.
With the help of the Broyles, we arranged two major activities. One activity would be at the local clinic where donated medicines could be sorted by the nurse and relabeled in Spanish with the help of a translator. Also general maintenance and upkeep could be done to keep the clinic in repair after a period of such intense use. The second activity involved helping the church in Santa Maria del Real, a small village about 8 kilometers from Catacamas in the construction of a new church building. Their old building was bulging slightly from the ground water which had eked into the adobe mud construction after the hurricane, and besides they had so reached out after the hurricane that their building was filled to overflowing. Further, the preacher had worked diligently with several small congregations in the surrounding area so that he was helping with the work in multiple congregations.

Santa Maria del Real
The OVC group that went to Santa Maria del Real in the spring of 1999 was the first North American group that had ever visited that church. Individuals had visited, but no group had made Santa Maria del Real their primary work during a missions trip. The preacher for the church is Rocendo Antunez (Chendo).
On Sunday after we arrived, we worshiped with the church in Santa Maria del Real. That evening, we shared a "gringo worship" with some of the Americans who were working in the area around Catacamas. Between the works in which we were involved at the clinic and with the church, we took the opportunity to visit some of the other works in the area, and especially to view the devastation from Hurricane Mitch. Reminders were everywhere. Also, no trip to Catacamas could be complete without making the journey to the cross, which sits overlooking the city at the top of a long series of steps.
As a result of the initial work of the OVC group, along with help from the Christians in Santa Maria del Real and some area Christians, much of the initial work on the building was completed during the spring break trip. The foundations were already dug upon our arrival and supplies had been purchased with money sent ahead of time. Rebar was available and the church had made hundreds of concrete blocks by mixing cement and filling forms for the blocks. During the week, the foundations were poured and blocks laid. By the time the group left, at least half of the block had been laid.
Eventually the church building in Santa Maria del Real was finished and the church was able to make rapid progress with minimal support from the U.S. The total U.S. contribution to the building was only about $3000. The original group raised and contributed about $750 and another $750 was provided about a year later. Another U.S. church helped complete the project. The construction, done primarily through the efforts of the local church members was finished in the summer of 2001. Later the church constructed an additional classroom and bathrooms primarily through their own efforts and funding.

August 1999--Costa Rica
Shortly after the group left Catacamas in the spring of 1999, Bobby and Jody moved to Costa Rica from Honduras. Jan and I were privileged to visit them there later than summer. This trip was both personal and mission oriented as we had several reasons for going.
I list some of those reasons in no particular order. (1) With conversations ongoing on the OVC campus about beginning an international studies program, the trip provided an opportunity to investigate the feasibility and details of taking a studies program to Costa Rica. Pepperdine was opening a new study program in San Jose, the cost of travel was very reasonable, and several interesting possibilities had been suggested. Among possible studies were Spanish, biology focused on ecological settings, sociology/history, culture/art. (2) I was interested in encouraging Bobby and Jody. Part of the reason for their move seemed to be discouragement, and I was interested in seeing them in their new setting and encouraging them. (3) We would have the opportunity to see the work in Costa Rica first hand. We could meet Ray and Liz Bynum, and we could talk about the challenges of a new small groups approach that was being used by the church in San Jose. Is a small groups ministry approach unique to the U.S. in the way we have developed it, or does it have applications in mission work? (4) For Jan and me, it was our 30th wedding anniversary, and the plans we had made for our 25th had not worked out due to last minute illnesses of the hosts of the ministers' retreat center we had scheduled. Costa Rica provided a memorable occasion for our anniversary--only Jan's second trip out of the country. I was very interested in her traveling without illness so that she might be encouraged to accompany me more often in extended trips out of the U.S. (5) As it turned out, the trip also provided a huge boost for my Spanish studies.
The week was fairly uneventful yet filled with opportunities for seeing missions in a new light. A couple of days in San Jose provided orientation, cultural awareness with a trip to the Children's Museum, and an opportunity to meet with the Central church and to meet Ray and Liz Bynum. We had the opportunity to see the meeting place which we had helped purchase in the early 1980s, the place I had only heard Tab, Rene, and Carlos describe. We discussed the plans of the church, we talked about other groups and their approaches to mission efforts. We continued these conversations later in the week at Ray and Liz's. A day trip to the Pacific and views of Costa Rica, along with a couple of smaller day trips to local attractions, bed and breakfasts as possible hosting sites, and Christian conversation brought the week to an end too quickly. A major move forward for me, however, was learning of a new Spanish book which quickly brought me into the past, imperfect, and perfect tenses. By the end of the week, I was hearing much more of the conversations around me, and speaking in tenses other than the present. Also, word studies improved immensely. In conversing with others later, I think the opportunity to hear the Costa Rican Spanish was a great help to me, both an encouragement in that it was easier for me to hear, understand, and communicate, and also an encouragement for me to continue onward. I returned home with a renewed commitment to my study of the Spanish language.

November 1999--El Salvador
In the fall of 1999, Jan and I were again able to attend the Pan-American lectureships. It had been three years since we had attended the lectureship in Quito. The opportunity to see El Salvador and to know of the work of the church in that country provided new concepts and ideas. While we met several Salvadoran Christians during the lectureship and saw some of the country on a day trip, we generally felt isolated from the Christians who lived in El Salvador. We did, however, renew several acquaintances and meet new friends in Christ. Special among those was the opportunity to know Calvin and Linda Henry better.
For me, the highlights of the lectureship were the presentations of the history of missions work in Latin America by Bill Richardson from Harding University, and, as always, the cultural awareness presentation by Dan Coker.

March 2000--Mexico, When the Plan Doesn't Come Together
During the fall of 1999 I made an effort to organize a spring break 2000 mission trip to Cozumel, Mexico, but I began late since we were not able to finalize the plans until after Thanksgiving. Students were not firmly committed even as they went home for Christmas, and the trip was eventually canceled. The serendipity was that instead of the OVC group visiting Cozumel, Dan Coker brought a group from the preacher training school at Toluca, Mexico, for the campaign, and a great harvest was reaped.
I continue to be amazed at the way in which God works in our frailties and insufficiencies to accomplish his will, to advance the kingdom, and to use our meager efforts in ways we do not understand. I am certain this is true around the world, but I have seen it firsthand in my awareness of Latin American missions.

May 2000--Baxter Institute
In January 2000, the Calvin Henrys e-mailed us and several others from Pan-American Lectureship contacts to ask about our possible involvement in the work at Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Baxter Institute trains preachers from a number of Latin American countries and provides a great service. I had first met the Henrys in Quito, and had taken both of my Honduras groups (spring 1997 and spring 1999) by Baxter for quick tours. On both of our trips, the Baxter people, and especially the Henrys, had been of great help in working through Honduran immigration at the airport in Tegucigalpa, simply because they happened to be there meeting other groups.
Jan and I responded favorably to the invitation from Calvin and Linda, so May found us in Tegucigalpa for almost three weeks. I was scheduled to teach a short-course on expository preaching and to make a presentation on the missionary heart of the apostle Paul at the Baxter Seminario. My presentations at the lectures were presented in English and ably translated by Calvin and by Pablo Sanabria.
When I began teaching my class, Calvin encouraged me to try my presentation in Spanish. I had been working diligently on my Spanish for over six months, with tapes, reading, study books, dictionaries, and reading the Bible. I had prepared my materials in English and translated the main points. After the first day of class, Calvin concluded I could survive on my own, given the abilities of the students in English, and that somehow we would communicate when we had special needs beyond my Spanish. My Spanish definitely improved!
Again, I will not rewrite here reflections that are already in print, but will simply provide references to those materials. An
article was published in the Baxter report concerning my visit with my reflections upon the students and their hearts for missions. The materials I presented are available on this site. The Expository Preaching class syllabus and materials and the Seminario Baxter missions class, "The Missionary Heart of the Apostle Paul," presented at Seminario Baxter may be accessed on this site.

May 2001--Baxter Institute
In May, 2001, we found ourselves again in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for another month of teaching and working at Baxter Institute. On this occasion, we spoke at the annual seminario. My seminario sermon on the restoration of worship is available in Spanish at
bobyoungresources.com/spanish/adoracion-restaurada_sermon.htm. A link is also available for the syllabus for the licentiatura class I taught on worship. Other materials from the worship class can be accessed through my Spanish Index page. Jan presented a women's class at seminario. In addition I taught a class at seminario and taught an English class during our stay.
A highlight of our stay was a weekend visit to Valle de los Angeles and to the historic town and church of Santa Lucia. This brief respite provided the opportunity spend a night away from the city at a beautiful little posada nestled on the hillside above the church building.

November 2001--Pan American Lectureship, Toluca, Mexico
A special blessing of this year was the opportunity to participate again in the annual Pan American Lectureship held in Toluca, Mexico. The work in Toluca is quite interesting as a study in mission methodology. After approximately 10 years of work, the church was evangelistic, self-sustaining, and appointed 4 elders and 16 deacons on the Sunday the lectures began. This church was also the site of a preacher training school.
The lectures gave an opportunity to renew friendship and acquaintances with those whose hearts are in Latin America, to renew spirit and zeal with regard to missionary endeavors, and to meet new friends in Christ whose hearts beat as one with ours for Latin America.

The day we returned to Mexico City for the flight home, we spent half a day in Taxco, the silver capital of Mexico. I want to tell you again Irma. Irma was the clerk at the last shop we visited before leaving the town. We had completed most of our shopping, but were interested in spending the rest of our pesos. Irma notified us immediately that discounts were available (an invitation to barter). The transaction was completed with ease, and we began talking--we were the only customers in the shop.
"Are there many different religious groups in Taxco?" I asked.
"Are you Catholic?" We found this was a question we were asked many times in Mexico when we said we were there to visit a religious conference.
"No, we are not Catholic." We shared briefly the plea and hope for returning to the practices of the early Christians.
Irma went back to my question. "Yes, there are several different groups." Irma recited a partial listing of some of the groups. "But I do not live in Taxco, I live in Cuernavaca," she volunteered.
At the PanAmerican lectures, we had met some of the Christians working in Cuernavaca. Thus we were able to describe to Irma in more detail the uniqueness of restoring the message of Jesus and the church of the Bible, and to invite her to visit the assembly of Christians in Cuernavaca, with the assurance she would be welcomed warmly, and would be glad she visited.
We sow the seed everywhere we go, and God gives the increase. We had a similar conversation with Leo on the square in Toluca. We talked to a number of waitresses and shopkeepers.
We left Mexico City anxious for our next return to Latin America. There are lots of people we want to see, acquaintances to renew, but more important, souls with whom to share the precious good news of Jesus.

May 2002--Baxter Institute
May 2002 found us in Tegucigalpa again for another month of teaching and working at Baxter Institute. In addition to attending the annual seminario (with the privilege of delivering the Saturday morning devotional), my primary work was to teach two week-long short courses in the licenciatura program. Both the
church administration syllabus and the expository preaching syllabus are available.
Jan presented a women's devotional, and as always, we were involved in the English classes during our stay. It is a privilege to interact with the students at Baxter and to hear their hopes and dreams for effective ministry. We were also privileged to participate in the dedication of the new married students apartments. Jan took about 70 pounds of fabric and made curtains for the new apartments.
New activities during our time included an increased awareness of the prison work being done in Honduras, with a Sunday afternoon visit to a women's prison facility where I preached from Luke 4. Six responded for prayer, and we were very warmly received. Due to conflicting schedules, I was unable to accept an invitation to preach in the men's prison, but hope to be able to do that on a future trip.

December 2002--Baxter Institute
We returned to Honduras in December for our first experience in attending graduation at Baxter. Jan was slowed down considerably as a result of a recent foot surgery, but I was able to visit the churches in Miraflores and Mateo, and on Sunday to preach at La Cienaga. Meeting people from across the United States was delightful, and the week in Honduras was wonderful. I attended the board meeting for the Amicus Association at Baxter Institute, where I had been asked to consider becoming a member of the board of directors.

2003--Honduras
In May, I traveled to Honduras to attend seminario and to visit again in Santa Maria del Real. It had been four years since I was in Santa Maria del Real. On Saturday I visited EBH. I preached on Sunday and also visited several congregations in the area, including three new congregations. I also had the opportunity to visit the various children's homes in Catacamas and Predisan.
Jan and I spent the month of July in Honduras, primarily teaching at Baxter, although I preached in a different congregation on each of three Sundays. The opportunity to visit for the first time at Jovenes en Camino was especially meaningful, as well as the opportunity to visit the church which meets nearby. The TORCH groups were active and were a delight to watch, along with other US groups. This was the first time Jan and I had spent an extended time in Honduras during the summer.
In December I was formally accepted as a member of the board of Association Amicus--guaranteeing that December trips to Honduras would become a regular part of our schedule. To make my presence even more certain, the board immediately elected me secretary of the board once my board membership had been formalized.

2004--Expanding Horizons
In 2004 we had several opportunities to increase mission involvement. In June, I sponsored a group from the Main and Oklahoma Church of Christ in McAlester, Oklahoma on a trip to Olancho, Honduras with the primary focus in a campaign and building project in Santa Maria del Real. The group did a great work, interacting with the membership, helping in construction, and nearly completing a new classroom. In the campaign there were seven requests for baptisms (3 baptisms during the campaign with the remainder involved in additional studies) and fifteen restorations. In addition, the group visited works in Arimis and in Jicaro Gordo. New buildings are under construction or soon to begin in both of those locations. The group also visited other works in the Catacamas area--Predisan, the radio station where the regular radio program is broadcast, the Honduran Bible School (EBH), and School of the Good Samaritan.

In July, I traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to assist in a seminar at the La Fuente congregation in Managua. During the visit, I had the opportunity to visit other congregations, and 13 congregations were represented at the seminar. I also visited the orphanage under construction near Jinotepe, named Ninos del Rey. There is much potential in Nicaragua and a receptive population.

In November, Jan and I traveled to Guatemala to participate in the Pan-American Lectureship. A highlight of the trip, besides the opportunity to spend a week in beautiful Antigua, was an increased familiarity with the work being done by Health Talents International. The lectureship group spent one day visiting Clinica Ezell, learning more about the medical mission work being done. In December we returned to Honduras for graduation at Baxter Institute.

2005: More Opportunities--More Successes
2005 brought additional opportunities for mission involvement. A disappointment was that I was unable to travel to Aquiles, Mexico with the Edmond church in March due to the ill health of my father. In June, we traveled to Honduras, where our first stop in Tegucigalpa was devoted to consulting with Baxter Institute as part of their effort to apply for and achieve academic accreditation in Honduras. This communication helped me understand more of the challenges faced when students from the Central American system seek to study in the U.S. at the graduate level.
After three days in Tegucigalpa, we traveled by bus to Catacamas, where we stayed with Dr. Amanda Madrid as recipients of gracious Honduran hospitality. On Sunday morning I preached at the El Colegio congregation and also led the Sunday evening discussion class. Monday evening I was able to attend one of their home study groups. The early part of the week allowed us time at Predisan, especially focused on discussing and evaluating the spiritual development program which Santos Espinoza, a Baxter graduate, is working with.
A group composed primarily of members from the Main and Oklahoma Church of Christ in McAlester, Oklahoma arrived on Monday and Jan and I were able to participate in most of the activity of the group. Included in the group were members of the church from Mullinville, Kansas; Kiowa, Hartshorne, and Madill, Oklahoma; Mena, Arkansas; and the Northridge congregation in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The group was involved in distributing medical packets, conducting Vacation Bible Schools in the local schools, pouring floors, distributing beds, and making blocks for future construction projects. A primary focus was another campaign in Santa Maria del Real. In addition, the group visited and assisted with works in surrounding villages. Due to the efforts of many folks, especially some from Northridge, there were 42 baptisms during the week the group was in Olancho.
Jan and I also worked with Predisan, CEREPA, and Escuela Biblia Honduras. At EBH, I conducted a seminar focused on "Healthy Christian Marriages and Families" on Saturday morning. The seminar was attended by about 50 preachers and wives from mountain villages in Olancho.

Our second trip of 2005 occurred the first week of December as we attended the annual board meeting and graduation at Baxter. I spoke at the Sunday evening service for students and guests. While one is always encouraged by seeing the marvelous work of the Institute and the Clinic, and sharing the fellowship of the U.S. guests and Christians from all across Central America is a spiritual treat, we were blessed to visit three works we had not previously visited--in Ramon Amaya, Villa Union, and Valle de los Angeles. All three locations have new construction underway and/or plans for future construction. The work in Valle de los Angeles has been blessed with a new building since last year. We visited the youth group on Sunday afternoon as they were learning new songs. The work in Villa Union has been done almost exclusively by Hondurans, now reaching 50-60 members and an equal number of children--with a part-time Honduran preacher who is paid by the local congregation, and the help of two Baxter students who assist with the work on the weekends.

2006: What Is God Up To?
By God's grace, multiple opportunities for involvement in Latin American missions were provided in 2006. In early July, I was able at the last minute to participate in a return trip to Olancho, Honduras with the group I had previously worked with from various southeast Oklahoma churches. Eight congregations were represented among the 27 team members. Even with last minute arrangements, the Hondurans are flexible. Just a week before the trip, I was asked to present a leadership development seminar. I worked very hard for that week on preparing materials, not certain of how many might be present. There were 50-60 present for the seminar, some of whom had traveled 2-3 hours from other areas of Olancho and from the mountain villages. The seminar was a part of the ongoing training provided by Escuela Biblia Honduras. I was also asked to preach an evangelistic campaign to help establish a new church in the barrio San Isidro. We taught Bible studies and saw 10 precious souls baptized into Christ. The new congregation is functioning and growing with the preacher in place, and the building is completed. The group also completed the floor in the building in La Mansion (the building was erected in March 2006) and the building in Arimis was painted and dedicated. Various other service and benevolence projects were completed.
Later in that same month, I made a trip to Guatemala with Health Talents International. I served as trip chaplain and assisted the eye surgery team in a variety of ways. The greatest benefit for me, however, was the opportunity to see firsthand the progress of the churches in Guatemala and to understand more of the opportunities and challenges as I visited various mobile clinic sites and was able to see some of the more rural areas of Guatemala.
In late summer, an invitation came to serve as a speaker and resource person for an elders and preachers retreat in Colombia. Thus early October found me in Colombia interacting with brothers from Venezuela and Colombia. I taught the adult Bible class on Sunday morning at the North Bogota congregation, and then spent the remainder of the week at the retreat center near Santa Marta. There were about 80 brothers present for the retreat. In Santa Marta, I visited Carlos Escobar, a Baxter graduate, who is working in a new church plant. I was encouraged by the progress and spirit of the churches.
Throughout the fall, I was privileged to teach the Spanish class at the Capitol Hill congregation in south Oklahoma City. Each Sunday afternoon, a group of about 15 people gathered faithfully to study the Scriptures and to learn more of God's will in our lives. What a blessing this opportunity was to me!
Although plans were confirmed and all details arranged for the annual Amicus board meeting and graduation at Baxter Institute in December 2006, the Oklahoma weather did not cooperate, and the trip was postponed due to ice and snow and cancelled flights.

2007: Lift Up Your Eyes!
God opens doors and challenges comfort zones in amazing ways. While in Colombia, I became aware of a need at the El Varal congregation. In October 2006, I shared this need with the congregation of about 125 members in Mena, Arkansas during a Missions Emphasis Day. The elders gave permission to ask for assistance, doubting that much would be given because of a recent special collection. The need of $750 was more than met! In fact, there were funds left over to do even more than expected, and the church in Santa Marta was helped along with the El Varal congregation. Additional funds were contributed during a gospel meeting in April, and the work continues to advance with new preaching points and leadership development.
Early in 2007, the Edmond church approached me about the possibility of beginning a Spanish-speaking ministry. This gave me a new experience in serving as a regular class teacher and minister to Hispanics. I am confident God has many people ready to be touched by the gospel around the world. We must be willing to act.
I traveled to Nicaragua with a group from the Edmond church the first part of June. (The schedule meant that I was not able to be part of the McAlester trip to Honduras for the first time in 4 years.) In Nicaragua I presented lessons to strengthen marriages, a Saturday leadership workshop, and was privileged to preach and teach.
In June and July, Jan and I traveled to Guatemala to visit churches and work on language skills. The time in Guatemala was a delight for us, and we trust an encouragement for the churches there.
December found me in Honduras again, attending the annual board meeting and graduation at Baxter and planning additional mission activities. God continues to open doors. Let us all pray that we will faithfully walk through those doors to his glory.

2008: God at Work!
As plans were developed for mission activities during 2008, the fact that God is at work in our world was impressed upon us in fresh ways. With a July trip to Guatemala already planned, new contacts at the annual Ohio Valley University lectureship opened a door to work in a campaign during the exact weeks of our planned stay in Guatemala. Two weeks later we found eight new volunteers to help with another short-term mission trip. We are continually amazed at how God works out the details--indeed God is good.
Thus June and July found us involved in three campaigns. We also found time for some additional study and language training. First, we joined a campaign group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. From there we took the bus to Guatemala. Along the way we visited the Copan Ruins and overnighted in Copan. In Guatemala, we spent a week in study before the campaign group arrived. Our second week in Guatemala involved the second campaign--daily activities and a final event with almost 400 present. From Guatemala, we took the bus back to Tegucigalpa and arrived in time to visit with the brethren in two different congregations on Sunday. We met the third campaign group on Monday and spent the week in eastern Honduras. In the three day campaign which I preached we had nine baptisms and several reconciliations. The next week there were five more baptisms. I must admit that we were glad to be back to the States after a month away. Even more, we rejoiced to see how God works and blesses our feeble efforts.
During the fall of 2008, we participated in three more mission trips. In October, I went to Leon, Mexico with a group from the Main and Oklahoma church. This trip provided an opportunity to see firsthand the work the church supports, to evaluate the work, and to teach, preach, and share in several small groups. A casual contact with a Sunday visitor resulted in a Bible study. During the following week (after the group left) the studies continued, and the next Sunday Enrique was baptized into Christ. In November, we traveled together to Ecuador where I spoke on the Pan-American Lectureship. We made a post-lectureship tour of several new church plants, and on Sunday evening I preached in Portoviejo. In early December, I traveled to Honduras for the Amicus Association board meeting and graduation at Baxter Institute. I was elected chairman of the Board of Directors, which will mean not only additional responsibilities but also additional travels to Honduras.

2009: In the Service of Our Magnificent God
Many of the activities of 2009 are connected with my increased activity on behalf of Baxter, due to my role as board chairman. During the week of May 11-18, I went to Honduras for Seminario Baxter where I served as a class teacher (8 hours of classes during two days of the seminar). I had the opportunity to introduce Howard Norton as the next president of Baxter, to visit with many friends and to make new contacts.
After barely a week in the States, I returned to Tegucigalpa in late May and spent almost two weeks helping with the Strategic Planning Initiative at Baxter and the JMA Clinic, as well as helping with some of the activities involved with the presidential transition. I returned to the States to speak on the Quest program at Oklahoma Christian. I returned to Honduras for another week in mid-June and returned to the U.S. just prior to the removal of the Honduran president. This event precipitated a period of great instability and uncertainty in Honduras.
Nonetheless, we went back to Honduras during the last half of August to help welcome Howard and Jane Norton as the new President and First Lady of Baxter, to finalize additional details of the Strategic Planning effort, and to share the work with Bob and Ridglae Stephens who accompanied us on the trip. Despite the political situation, the trip was wonderful with no problems. We visited several new church plants and Casa de Esperanza orphanage in Santa Ana, and made several off-campus trips. The opportunity to spend time with Noe and Gloria Perez and their family was special.
In November, as board chair at Baxter and the Amicus Association, I traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia to visit VCOM (Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine), a partner in the Honduran medical mission work. Early December brought the annual board meeting and Baxter Institute graduation. Although the group of U.S. visitors was smaller than in recent years, the activities of the week were especially encouraging, and attendance at the Sunday united worship was near 1000.

With the increased involvement in Latin American missions, during 2009 we came face to face with the fact that we would not be able to personally fund all of opportunities that were presenting themselves. We adopted the phrase, Esperanza Eterna [Eternal Hope], as a description of our work. This was a phrase we had formerly used in presentations, but now we began more consistently to describe our work using this phrase. The Main and Oklahoma church in McAlester, Oklahoma agreed to be our sponsoring congregation.
We also began to include more requests for prayer and financial assistance in our reports: "We solicit your continuing prayers. We solicit also your assistance financially when possible. There is always a need for more funding, both for travel and to assist with needs and works we learn about. We receive many invitations to participate in Latin American missions, many of which we cannot accept due to lack of funding and an already full schedule. We are confident that God will continue to work in the marvelous ways we have seen, whether we are able personally to be a part of those efforts or not." Certainly, God was preparing to do more than we could ask or imagine--a story that would develop in greater clarity over the next two years.

2010: New Beginnings, New Opportunities
This year was especially memorable with regard to the mission work we strive to do, primarily because we concluded our full-time ministry commitment in the local church and had more time available to devote to the work of sharing the gospel--in the US, throughout the world, and especially in Latin America. During the summer, we transitioned to a limited ministry role in the local church with a primary emphasis in assisting churches and mission works in other places.

During the year, speaking appointments in many different places provided an opportunity to encourage God's work and put in a good word for sharing the gospel through evangelism and missions. While we are pleased to support mission work around the globe as churches ask us to participate in Missions Emphasis Sundays, always our personal message is of the opportunities and receptivity in Latin America, and especially at Baxter Institute.
In February, I spoke at a Missions Emphasis Sunday at the Northwest Church of Christ, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This good church has a Spanish work as part of its ministries, and I met with the Spanish brothers and sisters during the Bible class hour. This church is heavily involved in mission work around the world.
In May, we spent almost three weeks in Honduras. A primary purpose of the trip was to serve as a class teacher in Seminario at Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa. The first Sunday we were in Honduras, we attended the combined worship that annually concludes Seminario, but the second Sunday I preached at Iglesia de Cristo Kennedy in Tegucigalpa. One Wednesday night, I preached at the Los Pinos congregation. We enjoyed some time with Phil and Donna Waldron and their children during this trip.
In September, I preached at the Park Plaza Iglesia de Cristo in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for their fourth anniversary. We were blessed with a total attendance of 64, including 18 children in class. Also in September, I chaired the Amicus Executive Committee in Little Rock, Arkansas, and then gave a mission report as part of a special series of lessons at the Northside Church in Mena, Arkansas.
Events and travel accelerated as the end of the year approached. In October, we were in Michigan where I presented two weekend leadership workshops and participated in two Mission Emphasis Sundays at the Holmes Road church in Lansing. We were home only briefly before traveling to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to teach at the Pan-American Lectureship October 30-November 6.
The year's activities climaxed, as usual, with a trip to Honduras for the board meeting and graduation at Baxter. This trip (November 30-December 6) allowed involvement in several mission-related activities. I was encouraged that representatives from the Main and Oklahoma church and from the Fort Gibson, Oklahoma church accompanied me to investigate possibilities for summer 2011 mission trips.

2011: Now What?
This calendar year marked the first full year of our expanded ministry and mission focus and we eagerly awaited what God would bring into our lives. During the first part of the year, in addition to our continued work with the Main and Oklahoma church in McAlester, we were able to visit several US congregations, teaching and speaking on behalf of Latin American missions. We were privileged to spend time with the following churches: Northside-Mena (AR); Iglesia de Cristo-Park Plaza-Tulsa (OK); Edmond (OK); Fort Gibson (OK); Kiowa (OK); and Holmes Road-Lansing (MI). At Holmes Road, we finished our interim ministry commitment, assisted with the installation of the new minister, and participated in the 50th Anniversary celebration.
In March and April, we were in Guatemala. This trip included visits with churches in Antigua, Milpas Altas, and Los Pinares del Norte in Guatemala City. In addition to the preaching and teaching opportunities, I presented a Leadership Workshop at BICA-Guatemala, presented an area-wide Marriage and Family Workshop at the Zone 8 church, and participated in the dedication of a new facility for the treatment of alcoholic and drug patients at El Sembrador. The BICA students were very receptive to the classes on leadership and discipleship, even though we were all tired after six solid hours of seminar activities. Fourteen congregations were represented at the Marriage and Family Workshop with a Saturday attendance of 125-150. Jan and I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with Roberto and Marta Alvarez and their family. We were also thrilled to visit and see the location of the new downtown church plant.
In May, we were in Honduras for two weeks. During this trip, I taught a class at Seminario Baxter, was a guest speaker on the national television program, and preached at the Los Pinos and Guanacaste churches. At Baxter, we had the opportunity to make contact with numerous Baxter graduates and to hear updates on their ministries. Also at Baxter, I served as host for Eric Tryggestad from the "Christian Chronicle" as he spent a few days preparing a feature story on the work at Baxter and its long-term impact.
The June trip to Honduras with the Main and Oklahoma mission team was a special week. Not only did the mission group complete two houses in conjunction with the La Vega church, the time spent interacting with other groups and with Baxter students made the week even more enjoyable. We fought lots of rain and mud to support the outreach of the La Vega church, and also enjoyed visits to the congregations at Los Pinos and Talanga. The way the group bonded and worked together was a delight to see, and I was blessed to see the Baxter group experience from the "other side."
The last weekend of June, I spoke on the Latin American Leadership workshop in Houston and had the opportunity to understand firsthand the work Brother Bob Miranda is doing in leadership training across Latin America. I enjoyed time with brothers from Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela, along with numerous elders and mission committee members from US churches. On this trip, I had a new experience as I served as translator (Spanish to English) for the Sunday morning worship at the Memorial congregation in Houston. This was the first time I had been called upon to do translation in a "formal" setting.
In September, I accompanied Bob Miranda to Colombia for about 10 days on a preaching and teaching tour in four churches. In addition to preaching each evening for seven consecutive nights in four churches, days found us involved in Bible studies and teaching. Four (a preacher and his wife, along with two other preachers) traveled 12+ hours by bus so they could study the Bible and participate in the inspiration and encouragement of the activities. Also, a preaching brother from Bogota joined us for a couple of days. I especially enjoyed opportunities to study Romans 14-15 concerning principles that guide us through many of the problems that challenge churches everywhere. The primary purpose of such trips is to help develop leaders in local churches, supporting the process of evangelism and maturing Christians for the work of service as congregations become self-governing and self-edifying (Ephesians 4). The opportunity to participate in the Education for Vocational Workers (EVO) program will open new doors for ministry and missions. To establish firm foundations for our EVO participation, we spent a December weekend in Houston with the Miranda family.

2012: Open Doors
Three EVO Leadership seminars in January and February (Waukegan, IL; Lexington, KY; Nashville, TN), coupled with a Missions Emphasis Sunday and speaking opportunity at Park Plaza-Tulsa provided a busy start to the year.
The last week of February and first half of March found me teaching, preaching, and presenting leadership seminars in Guatemala. Jan also went on this trip. We visited and encouraged six local congregations and I presented two leadership seminars. A 3-day seminar in Chichicastenango was attended by about 25 church leaders from 20 congregations, and a one-day seminar for the students at BICA-Guatemala was focused on servant leadership. With several guests present, there were about 45 present for this seminar. We were encouraged by the opportunity to visit the Health Talents clinic in Lemoa. Along the way we shared numerous Bible studies and had multiplied opportunities for teaching and preaching. On this trip, I spent more time than previously in personal Bible studies with potential leaders--something that I believe will pay dividends. I hope to increase the number of these personal, more focused Bible studies in future mission travels. The trip to Guatemala involved almost 60 hours of teaching and preaching in 19 days.
In April, I spent three weeks in Chile and Uruguay, again presenting leadership seminars. In Chile, an evangelistic campaign resulted in four baptisms; a congregational family retreat saw four more baptisms. Meetings and studies with the elders, both as a group and individually, again appeared to be an effective tool for developing leadership. The time in Uruguay reminded that God's work is sometimes difficult as I worked with the Montevideo congregation. The last weekend of April I presented a leadership and congregational planning seminar for the Northwest congregation in Houston, Texas.
Immediately upon my return from Houston, Jan and I took the first steps toward a move to Tulsa. We listed our house, rented and moved into an apartment in Tulsa, and transferred our church membership to the Park Plaza church in Tulsa. Although the McAlester church continues to serve as our 'funneling' church, eventually our home office will be centered at the Park Plaza church in Tulsa, nearer to air transportation and also nearer to excellent libraries for research and writing.
The last half of May I spent in Honduras, serving as a class teacher at Baxter Seminar and presenting a leadership seminar at Escuela Biblica Honduras in Catacamas. After spending barely a week in the U.S. the first week of June, I returned to Honduras for eight days, assisting with the mission trip of a mission team composed of church members from McAlester, Fort Gibson, and Texas. On this trip I had several teaching and preaching opportunities at the Los Pinos congregation. Another June trip to Honduras was spent primarily at Baxter Institute, helping with various board activities and responsibilities.
An extended trip to Ecuador and Colombia filled the last half of August and first week of September. The days were filled and overflowing as I presented leadership and training seminars, met with church leaders, helped resolve problems and conflicts, and taught and preached the gospel. At least one local church was added to the list of receiving churches. Plans were solidified for new church plants which will be the work of the local congregations. On this trip I flew into Guayaquil, Ecuador, then traveled northward into Colombia, eventually flying back to the U.S. from Bogota. The work involved preaching, teaching and presenting the seminars in 14 local congregations, but as is generally the case, multiple congregations were present and in attendance at the seminars.
In October, Jan and I spent two weeks in Peru, first in Lima and then in Cusco. This was our first trip to Peru and gave us an initial opportunity to try to understand the history, development, progress, challenges, and current state of the church in Peru. We preached and taught in three congregations during the trip, but had the opportunity to meet with leaders from other congregations in our discussions of the needs of the churches in Peru.
For us, an exciting aspect of the work we do is the opportunity to share the story with others. The North Side church in Mena, Arkansas was especially receptive when I shared the progress of the church in Colombia where they have had a direct involvement. The Bella Vista, Arkansas church expressed appreciation for the time spent with the elders and also for the sermon in which I shared the story of the mission work with the church. We are blessed to spend time with leaders and churches who have a heart for missions--Park Plaza in Tulsa, Main and Oklahoma in McAlester, and the Memorial church in Houston.
November found me 'at home' with the Iglesia de Cristo at Park Plaza where I was blessed to teach in a "Training for Vocational Workers" seminar along with Pedro Sanchez from Santiago, Chile. The annual trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras for the meeting of the Baxter board and Baxter graduation bridged November and December and brought the official travels and obligations for 2012 to an end. This is only a part of the story. A brief summary cannot tell everything done. We often learn of things that occur behind the scenes, results that come after our visits and seminars, and evidence that God is constantly at work blessing the efforts of his people.

2013: Finding Our Rhythm
This year brought into focus the rhythms of our new "normal." In addition to seminars and presentations in the U.S. with both Hispanic and English-speaking churches, the schedule filled with international trips--Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and Panama, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, Chile, Guatemala, and Honduras. We continually receive new requests asking for help in the development of teachers, leaders, elders, and evangelistic efforts. It is difficult to keep up with and record the activities of my trips and of the churches visited.
Through the first five months of the year, I spent about 120 hours in formal teaching and preaching, speaking in 26 congregations. Those present at the conferences, seminars, and other activities represented at least 65 congregations from 7 nations. In June, July, and the first half of August, I spent almost 60 days in Honduras, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador.
In December, I included the following summary in the final mission report of the year.

Please pray for the work we do that God might be glorified as Christians and local churches are strengthened and edified and the Kingdom continues to expand. More detailed reports from all of the 2013 trips and activities are available on the Mission Reports Page.

2014: Expanding Opportunities, Open Doors, New Horizons
Every year is different, but much of what happens from year to year remains fairly constant. In 2014 the beginning of international travels was delayed because I had to renew my passport, but I used the occasion to do some stateside work--applying and receiving Global Entry status to facilitate this mission work, preaching at an area-wide worship service at McAlester, arranging a meeting to help finalize the transfer of the Spanish side of "Quest for Truth," and two Houston meetings to help plan various 2014 and 2015 activities. In the early months of 2014, I also made reports to seven congregations about the work we are doing and taught a special adult class on "Restoration Church History" at Park Plaza during March, April and May. In early May I helped facilitate a seminar at the Park Plaza Iglesia de Cristo, presented by Pedro Sanchez, elder of the Nogales church in Santiago, Chile.
By late January, I was ready to travel and spent the last part of January and early February in Guatemala, working churches in three different parts of the nation. My first stops were in the western nountains where I preached and tuaght in three congregations around Lake Atitlan and presented a two-day seminar on Biblical Interpretation to leaders from 10 congregations. In central Guatemala I worked in churches around Antigua. Finally, the last week was spent in northeastern Guatemala, working in La Union and a network of 6 churches around that major municipality.
In May I spent time in Honduras (I was at Baxter for the annual Seminario), Panama, and Peru. In Peru I spok at the national conference of church leaders at Panamericana Norte in Lima. In addition to my keynote lecture on leadership, I taught the book of Revelation for two days. In many Latin American countries, major misunderstandings of Scripture are present in two major areas--the Holy Spirit and the return of Jesus. More written resources are needed in these two areas. In June I returned to Central America for efforts in El Salvador and Honduras. The network of churches I work with is on the border of the two countries. On Sunday morning the hotel did not serve breakfast, so we ate breakfast at the fair in the park before attending worship with the local brothers and sisters. As is often the case, sitting down for breakfast in a strange place (what are two gringos doing here?) gave an opportunity for Bible study, explaining our presence, and calling attention to the presence of the church in the community.
August and September found me in Colombia and Ecuador, teaching and preaching in numerous places that had invited me to speak. I spent late September and early October in Nicaragua. In Managua, with the Nueva Libia church, I had been invited to assist the new leadership team. Elders and other leaders had recently been named, and my description of them was that they were like race cars circling the track waiting for the green flag. This is an impressive church that is nearing 400 in attendance after 13 years. The building is small so they have three services every Sunday--morning, afternoon, and night. Also in Managua, at Villa Alemania, I worked with a church where the attendance each Sunday is 600-700. They had requested seminars focused on the family, leadership, and evangelism. Each weeknight I opened the Scriptures to present a different theme. In late October and early November I returned to Guatemala. The scheduling was unique; I do not usually have time to visit the same international locations twice in the same year.
My final international trip for 2014 was to Honduras for the annual Baxter graduation and board meeting. Along the way, I worked in stateside presentations and meetings in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan. By the end of the year, I had been on the road over 4 months, with slightly over 3 months of that time spent in Central and South America, speaking in 25 different locations to leaders and members from 117 congregations.
An exciting development in 2014 was the transfer of ownership and control of the Spanish evangelistic lessons, "En Pos de la Verdad," to this ministry. I had facilitated the translation of the lessons from English to Spanish (a project that had extended across five years of translation, editing and revisions), but I was surprised when I received a phone call in April from the director of the English program. The news was exciting--he had decided to transfer all of the rights to me, including a copyright for the derivative materials. The Spanish name for the lessons, "En Pos de la Verdad," translates to English as "Following after the Truth." Within a few days of the beginning of the process, Spanish Literature Ministry in Wichita Falls, TX had agreed to assist with the printing and distribution. After a smaller, initial printing, toward the end of 2014 and in the first part of 2015, a total of 30000 lessons were printed.

2015: The work continues--the results become more and more visible
Another busy year found me working with 12 English-speaking amd 7 Spanish-speaking churches in the U.S. Internationally, I worked in 8 countries in 28 different locations. The summary list follows: Nicaragua (2), Honduras (5), Chile (4), El Salvador (3), Colombia (5), Ecuador (1), Dominican Republic (4), and Guatemala (4). In November, Jan and I were privileged to travel to Israel and Jordan on a 15-day tour. With regard to developing materials and publishing, more evangelism materials were produced including the 30000 new evangelism lessons; I wrote for a online Spanish periodical; I produced various new materials, including several audios and videos.
Balancing the needs of churches in the US and the opportunities that are present internationally is always a challenge. The heart wants to help as many as possible, but the realities of time and travel make clear that one must pick and choose. One of the mysteries of the work in which God has placed us is how and where he is already at work and wants us to join him in that work. A second challenge for me personally is how to balance in my own life the tension between Sabbath-ing and working.
When the opportunity came for Jan and me to fly to Arizona for a week (frequent flyer miles) to spend time with some friends from our Michigan days, we jumped at the opportunity. Not only did we find time to relax, we were blessed with an opportunity to give a formal report on the mission work, I was asked to preach, and we were invited to a community group meeting that reminded us of how important relationships are in life. God has a wonderful way of balancing the resting and the working when we say "yes" to the opportunities he places in our lives.
A second event that helped us start the year with a lot of energy was the invitation to spend a weekend with the Empire Central Iglesia de Cristo in Dallas. Elders were appointed in this church for the first time in the fall of 2014. Thus, the invitation was to spend time with elders, a preacher, and a church that had very limited experience in how to work together in a new dynamic relationship as a team. During the weekend, the questions multiplied and I had to call upon my memory of days in the university to help focus on resources that would assist in understanding leadership, spiritual development, team-building, biblical organization, and alternate planning models. The result was that the leadership seminar that was planned expanded into the areas mentioned above and many other peripheral matters. The weekend was a blessing to me because I was able to see a "laboratory" where lots of different (and difficult) dynamics were at work. The challenge of naming formal local leaders that will outlast those called to ministry is not always easy.
My experience at Empire Central (but in many other churches previously where I have helped with the same process) is that we must develop, train, and convince the leader candidates to serve; we must work with the families of the leader candidates; we must convince the local preacher that his work will be easier with a qualified, capable leadership to function in biblical roles as a team; and we must work with the local church to establish reasonable expectations and biblical understandings of the roles of leaders--pastor-teachers, elders, evangelists, teachers, and ministers (both deacons and preachers as ministers of the word).
My first international trip of the year included time in Nicaragua and Honduras.
When I visited Nicaragua and was with the Villa Alemania congregation again, the primary question had to do with the process of naming additional elders. The dynamic is not easy when the church has two elders who have served together for two decades--both older, retired, able to devote full-time to the work of pastoring, well-known, aware of the needs of many members and families. The question that I raised was a simple one. How are we going to integrate new leaders into the current leadership system? They will be inexperienced, they will still have secular employment and responsibilities, they will not be full-time, they have fewer relationships and less intimate knowledge of the congregation, the members are less likely to approach them with problems--these are some of the more significant dynamics that I raised. I was also able to spend more time and to interact with the leaders in Nueva Libia.
In Honduras I spent time in Puerto Cortes in an effort to strengthen church and encourage greater involvement, especially in times of difficulty and stress. I counseled the local minister who was going through numerous personal difficulties. From Puerto Cortes I went to San Pedro Sula for a weekend Bible study series and seminar with the Barrio Cabañas church. Flying from San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa, I was able to spend a couple of days on campus at Baxter, speaking in chapel, classes, and spending time with the studies. In Talanga I worked with the men during their weekly Bible study and preached on the weekend. In Catacamas, I presented three seminars, a youth rally, with teaching and preaching in six different local churches. A total of 23 congregations were represented at the seminars. The churches in the department of Olancho are mostly small, but the Lord is obviously present in the efforts to plant numerous churches in the rural areas. There is a network of about 60 congregations in the department with a combined membership of 2000-3000.
The work in the U.S. during the rest of the year shows a part of the diverse nature of this ministry and mission.
During a weekend with the Bond Street Iglesia de Cristo in Dallas, I spoke about the nature of the people of God and the nature of the church, showing how this concept connects between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Almost always, I receive requests for studies and help in evangelism. Bond Street is a relatively mature church with elders.
At the Siempre Familia Iglesia de Cristo in Fort Worth, the request was for an entire weekend focused on evangelism. I returned to Empire Central in Dallas two more times during the year with seminars focused on leadership and evangelism, and also presented a seminar at Crieve Hall Iglesia de Cristo in Nashville.
At my "home" congregation in Tulsa, I taught an adult Bible class on the Minor Prophets, reported on the mission work, and spoke on the annual Summer series. I worked with the local Iglesia de Cristo during a weekend seminar alongside Pablo Sanchez from Chile.
I gave preached, presented mission reports, and facilitated Mission Sundays in Fort Gibson (OK); Levy, North Little Rock (AR); Western Heights, Sherman (TX); Broken Arrow (OK); Northside, Mena (AR); and preached a series in Dierks (AR) focused on developing stronger families, along with the requested evangelism focus. In Michigan I worked with English-speaking churches in a statewide conference, an evangelism worship, and a four-day preaching series with the Holmes Road church in Lansing.
Internationally, I was in Chile (national unity conference, preaching and teaching in three churches with seminars at Nogales and Providencia, and speaker at a men's retreat); El Salvador (preaching and teaching in four churches, weekend seminar at Miramonte with a seminar focused on leadership and the proposed naming of elders in 2016, and a youth rally); Colombia and Ecuador (seminars with teaching and preaching at six congregations; Dominican Republic (teaching and preaching at four churches; weekend area-wide leadership workshop in Santo Domingo); and Guatemala (seminar in Chichicastenango, visits to various churches in the western mountains and the area around Lake Atitlan).
Although not directly related to the work in ministry and missions, I should mention that in November Jan and I were privileged to travel to Israel and Jordan for a 15-day trip. I anticipate that this will not only make the events described in the Bible more vivid in our minds, but that I will be able to use what I saw and learned in this ministry.

2016: New Opportunities, God Richly Blesses the Work
It is easy to give the summaries: visits to eight (8)English-speaking churches and five (5) Spanish-speaking churches in the U.S., speaker at National Hispanic Church Leaders Conference in Nashville; international travel to 8 countries to speak in 27 locations [Honduras (3), Chile (3), El Salvador (1), Colombia (5), Ecuador (2), Dominican Republic (6), Uruguay (1), and Peru (6)]. Over three months traveling outside the U.S.; another 16 weekends visiting and helping churches in the U.S. The challenge is that the numerical summaries do not tell the story!
First of all, in comparison to previous years, this has been a year characterized by more intense writing efforts and the production of new materials. The Spanish side of the website was revamped, audios and videos were produced and distributed, more evangelism lessons were printed and distributed, and the evangelism studies were revised and two new lessons were completed in Spanilsh (Holy Spirit and Second Coming of Jesus). The biggest step forward likely came with various written materials being e-published in English and Spanish. The e-books published in English included Bible Study Guides (for 8 of the books of the New Testament); Beginning Exegesis; How to Read the Bible Theologically; and How to Move from the Text to the Sermon. The e-books published in Spanish include Beginning Exegesis; How to Read the Bible Theologically; How to Move from the Text to the Sermon; En Pos de la Verdad: Eight Basic Bible Studies; and En Pos de la Verdad: An Evangelism Workshop.
In the U.S., I was privileged to work with the Rolla (MO) church during their interim between preachers. Other activities include preaching and teaching at Northwest-Houston (TX); mission reports and Mission Sundays at Fort Gibson (OK); Northside, Mena (AR); and McAlester (OK). In Tulsa, I taught a Bible study series titled "Letters from an Old Man"--a treatment of the last letters penned by the Apostle Paul and was again honored to speak on the annual Summer Series. In Michigan, I spoke in Kalamazoo and in Lansing.
At the local Iglesia de Cristo, I helped with a seminar presented by Pedro Sanchez from Chile. I also presented seminars in Lexington (KY)and Nashville (TN) and spoke at the National Conference of Hispanic Preachers and Church Leaders in Nashville.
Internationally, my travels tooks me to Honduras in January and February where I worked at Barrio Cabañas in San Pedro Sula (a weekend Bible study series, the appointment of two deacons, an area-wide Bible study seminar), Talanga (area-wide Family Seminar with teaching and preaching on Sunday; evangelism studies, home Bible studies resulting in three new Christ-followers being baptized), and Tegucigalpa (two days at Baxter Institute). In May I was in Peru for 16 days to teach at IBI (the Bible Training Institute in Lima), to teach and preach at the national church leaders conference in Lima (with approximately 40 churches represented), to preach and teach in Trujillo with a seminar and evangelistic campaign, to preach at Virú, and to work with nine churches around Huamachuco with teaching and preaching. In Colombia and Ecuador, a 15-day trip in August was filled with teaching and preaching in seven churches. September found me in El Salvador for 5 days where I helped appoint the first elders in the Miramonte church along with various teaching and preaching appointments, and in the Dominican Republic for 15 days to help appoint the first elders and deacons in the church in Neyba, to present weekend workshops focused on church leadership and evangelism, and to teach and preach in six churches. Finally, In October and November I was in Uruguay and Chile. Many of the churches are small and in need of help as they seek to develop healthy churches and spiritually-minded Christians. In Santiago, Chile, I spent time with the Nogales church and was encouraged by the growth I could see in comparison to my last visit. The days were filled with morning Bible studies and evening preaching. In La Serena, Chile, a primary focus was on evangelism. I am always blessed to see the kind of struggles Christians in small churches endure--I remember how blessed I am. This is especially true in the more secular societies of the southern part of South America.

2017: A Story Being Written
This calendar year was one of the busiest yet in this ministry and mission work. Ten domestic trips took me to six states and eleven churches, including five Hispanic churches and four mission partners. Eight international trips gave me the opportunity to encourage churches in Guatemala (4), Honduras (7, plus BICA and Baxter), El Salvador and Honduras (6), the Dominican Republic (22 near the western border), Peru (20), Colombia (5), Ecuador (4), the Dominican Republic (5 churches in and around Santo Domingo), Peru (various churches, plus the Encuentro Iberoamericano), and Honduras (Baxter graduation and board meeting).
Highlights of the year include (1) the appointment of deacons at Miramonte, San Salvador, El Salvador where the church is now biblically organized with elders and deacons; (2) the naming of elders at Metropolitana in Cali, Colombia; (3) building projects advanced in Tuquerres, Colombia and Cumbal, Colombia where the buildings are now complete; a building project in Otavalo, Ecuador where the church building is now complete; and continued work on church buildings in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Ibarra, Ecuador, and Tulcan, Ecuador; (4) major church planting projects in Puerto Gaitan, Colombia; on the El Salvador-Honduras border, and in San Lorenzo, Ecuador; (5) church planting projects in Cajamarca and San Clemente (Pisco area), Peru; (6) church planting efforts around Cusco, Peru among the Quechua; (7) teaching at Interamericano Bible Institute in Lima, Peru; and (8) eleven churches now have elders in the Dominican Republic.
New seminar locations have been added at Fort Smith, AR and Edmond, OK, numerous church plants have been undertaken, and new opportunities are being presented in the coastal towns in Ecuador. An exciting development in 2017 has been the opportunity to add audio and video teachings; I presented electronically at a leadership retreat in the Dominican Republic where there were about 100 elders, deacons, preachers, and wives present.
I eagerly await the story that God will facilitate in this ministry in coming years.

Prayer Request
That our powerful Lord continue opening doors to preach and teach His word. That He gives strength, health, heart and wisdom to help build His church. That He continually help find humble sincere souls that are searching for the truth. That we stand for only the truth of His word. We ask you to pray for unity and harmony in the church.

Epilogue
In many ways, our story is not very different from that of many others who are actively involved in mission work. (And we hasten to add that it is not our story--it is God's story.) Nonetheless, what we are trying to do in missions is significantly different from many other mission efforts. The focus is on sharing the gospel, developing healthy churches with spiritually mature members, developing indigenous leaders, and planting more churches.
We are pleased when others tell us they are encouraged by our story, even as we are encouraged by the heart for missions we see in so many places. We would be happy to visit your congregation to describe the work we are doing, to speak about missions, or to assist in whatever other ways you may desire. Speaking appointments provide us an opportunity to encourage God's work and put in a good word for missions and the apread of the gospel. We thank you for your prayers and interest.


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Last updated October 29, 2017