“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

James Hudson Taylor

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

This is a passage known as The Great Commission.  It captures some of the last words Jesus shared with his disciples.

I’m not a theologian, but I interpret part of this to mean we are supposed to share Christ and His love at home and abroad.

When people hear that my family is involved in short-term missions in Guatemala, they sometimes ask why we need to go so far away to serve others.  They point to the incredible need in the United States, and they don’t understand why in the world anyone needs to travel so far away and “waste” so much money to serve people elsewhere.  Some also point to the perceived inefficiency and ineffectiveness of overseas short-term missions.  (I’ll try to address that in a future post.)

I can’t be everywhere at the same time, and I definitely won’t have an opportunity to serve and make disciples in all nations; however, I can do for one or for a few what I want to do for everyone.  And if every Christian develops this mindset, we can actually reach all nations.  Our family makes a point of serving in our local community (this is one of the reasons we started H.O.P.E.), but we also try to intentionally invest outside of our local community and around the world.

Short-term missions provides the opportunity to live out part of the Great Commission.

If you and your family are looking for ways to make the Great Commission a greater reality in your lives, you might want to consider these ideas:

4 Ways to Make the Great Commission a Reality in Your Life

  1. SERVE – Serve in your local community.  You can serve at soup kitchens, shelters, food pantries, and nursing homes.  There are hundreds of ways to practically share the love of Christ right where you live.  Open your eyes.  Get involved.  Serve!
  2. GIVE – Give your financial resources to support others who are sharing Christ’s love.  Give to your local church first.  Then look for organizations or missionaries to bless with the overflow of your finances.  If you need help in figuring this out, you should check out organizations like Compassion International, CMF International, Lifeline Christian Mission, and Casas por Cristo.  In the wake of the recent catastrophe in Houston, you might want to check out IDES (International Disaster Emergency Service).  People don’t like to talk about money, but finances are one of the key ingredients for making life change possible at home and overseas.  Don’t underestimate that power of your gift to help others know the love of Christ.
  3. PRAY – Pray.  It seems simple, but prayer is essential to sharing Christ’s love around the world.  Pray for missionaries who are serving.  Pray for wisdom, for energy, for boldness, and for protection.  Pray for those being served.  Pray for God’s provision, for open hearts and minds, and for wholeness and healing.
  4. GO – Sign up today to go on a short-term missions trip.  My words can only give you a small glimmer into the power and effectiveness of a short-term missions trip on the lives of others and on your life.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Start planning your trip now.

Does the Great Commission involve more than short-term missions?  Yes.  The Great Commission talks about baptizing and teaching.  These are other important areas for you to discuss and discover.  Many people do not feel equipped to teach and baptize, and they use that feeling as an excuse not to serve others and to get involved.  The Great Commission was meant for the disciples and for you if you call yourself a Christ-follower.  If stepping into short-term missions scares you, remember the last sentence.  Christ is with you!

What are you doing to make The Great Commission a reality in your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

Going home and spending time with your family and your real friends keeps you grounded.
Jennifer Ellison

There’s no place like home!

Yesterday, I took the day off of work.  Leanne and I had intended on going to the shore for the day, but the temperature was a little chilly for Jersey Shore weather.  We stayed around our house for most of the day.  I went to my men’s group (DIBs – Dudes In the Basement) at 6AM.  Then Leanne and I went to The Energy Station in Vernfield, PA for a rare breakfast out together (that place is amazing).  We drove down to King of Prussia, PA to pickup a new pair of running shoes at Road Runner Sports and to try out some donuts at the new Duck Donuts in the King of Prussia Town Center (the donuts didn’t disappoint and my new running shoes are a welcome change from my old shoes).

Friday late afternoon, we drove to Mt. Holly, NJ to attend the family gathering at First Presbyterian Church to honor and celebrate the life of Phil Olson.  Phil was the Minister of Local Missions at the church for 13 of the 18 years my dad was there as one of the pastors.  Phil passed away earlier this week after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer.  The gathering gave family and friends a chance to greet Phil’s family and to say hello to old friends from the church and the community.

(I’ll always remember Phil as an important friend and co-worker for my father.  I’ll remember his love for the New York Mets (I’ll never understand this one).  I’ll remember that his family always eats ice cream on Christmas morning (I love that tradition).  I’ll remember catching up with Phil a few times at the Plymouth Meeting Mall where he served as the Pastor at The Church on the Mall.  And I’ll always remember his passion for practically ministering to the local community.)

For me, it was a real homecoming.

First of all, being back at First Presbyterian Church felt like home.  It felt like I was going back in time to a significant time in my childhood and teenage years.  This was the church where I worshiped and grew in my faith from 8 years old (1980) until I married Leanne in 1996 (now you can figure out my age).  The building itself is beautiful – stained glass windows, stone exterior, tall steeple, majestic pipe organ (but that’s a story for another time).

More than the building, the people made it feel like home for me.  People remembered me (and my family), and I remembered most of them.  Some people had changed (as have I), but many people seemed exactly the same.  I’ll treasure the opportunity to talk with people like Ray and Joann Rivera, Mark Redlus, Dave and Nora Kennedy, Dan and Marla Kennedy, Thad Livingston, Larry and Linda Taylor, and so many others.  They asked about my parents who were part of the congregation for 18 years.  It’s hard to imagine it’s been over 20 years since my parents moved away from Mt. Holly.  It seems like it was yesterday.

After our time at First Presbyterian Church, Leanne and I met up with some wonderful friends (the Grovers and the Becks) for dinner and time to connect.  It turned into a later night for us, but it was so heart-warming to be at home with old friends.

Home means many different things to me.

Mt. Holly, NJ will always be home to me in some ways.  I treasure the memories and the people there.  They saw me grow up, and many of them helped me grow up.

Schwenksville, PA is my home now.  In fact, I’ve lived here for longer than any other place in my life.  I’m thankful for the community we live with here, and I look forward to the memories and friends we will create in the years to come in this area.

My physical home is my sanctuary away from the rest of the world.  It’s where I find real encouragement.  It’s where I often find rest.  My home is a place where I can leave a mark on those who mean the absolute most to me.

Phil’s passing was a reminder that there is another home that is waiting for me.  As we passed through the receiving line waiting to greet Phil’s wife, Holly, and the rest of the family, I noticed a verse that was posted near some of the flowers and other memories of Phil:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.  Philippians 1:21-26

I don’t know what the future days hold.  I strive to make the most of the opportunities (Colossians 4:5) here in my earthly home.  And I yearn for the day when I’m in my eternal home.  From what I can tell, Phil lived his life this way.  He impacted the lives of so many people here on earth (I’m sure the funeral service today was packed with some of the many people who were impacted by Phil and his ministry), but this verse was a clear reminder that Phil also longed for the opportunity to be home with Christ in heaven.

What comes to your mind when you think of home?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Have you ever wanted to start an online business but you didn’t know quite where to start? 

Have you ever thought about the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur?

Have you ever wanted to start a blog?

Last night, I talked with entrepreneur and encourager, Ellory Wells, about these questions and more.  As part of the conversation, Ellory shares about a program he is launching this fall (8 Weeks to Exit) to help people get started in their on-line business.

This is a conversation you don’t want to miss!

During our time together, we talked about a few things you may want to check out for yourself:

Exit Strategy (the book) by Ellory Wells

Thrive! Giveaway

Catalyst Mastermind (for entrepreneurs)

ElloryWells.com

8 Weeks to Exit

 

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

This month I failed.

At the end of July, I signed up for Ellory Wells’ 31 Day Writing Challenge with the intent of writing a new blog post every day during the month of August.  I started on the right foot with several new blog posts.  Then the wheels fell off my ride of best intentions during the second week of August, and I’ve struggled to regain momentum since then.  When it comes to the Writing Challenge, I am a failure.

Now, I could give you ten or twenty excuses as to why I failed.  Do those excuses really matter?  The facts are I did not even come close to writing every day in August.  As I look back on August and on my weak efforts during the challenge, I’ve learned a lot.

Here is what I’ve learned as a result of my failure.

4 Lessons From My Recent Failure

  1. Intentions do not automatically translate into success.  I have great intentions when it comes to a lot of things in my life.  Unfortunately, I fall short in many of these areas of intention.
  2. Our actual actions indicate the reality of our priorities.  My words in late July indicated that I wanted to make writing blog posts a priority; however, my writing output shows I may have let other things have a greater place in my priority pyramid.  My family went on vacation to the Jersey Shore during the second week of August, and this trip was a priority for me.  My job has required a lot of attention this month, and this was an important and necessary area of focus for me in August.  Finally, I noticed that my fitness and overall health had slipped a little bit over the past few months.  In the second half of August, I took steps to make my fitness and nutrition more of a priority.
  3. Accountability is essential to achieving the results we desire.  I’m independent and self-motivated, but I need people in my life who will give me an encouraging word or a swift kick in the butt from time to time.  I rely heavily on my wife, the guys in my small group, a few of my co-workers, and the people in my mastermind groups.  They remind me to stay on track.  They encourage me when I’m feeling discouraged.  And they won’t let me wander off course for very long.
  4. It’s never too late to start over.  When we experience failure in our lives, we have a couple of choices.  We can let our failure define us.  Or we can use our failures to motivate us.  I’m making the second choice.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston Churchill

How have you responded to failure in your life?  What lessons have you learned from your failures?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

We love because he first loved us.  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

I John 4:19-20

I’m just returning from a week of vacation at the Jersey Shore.  This was actually the first time I ever stayed at the Shore for more than a night or two.  We had a great week!

As I was catching up on work emails and other news last night, I was surprised to see my news feed full of updates about what is going on in Charlottesville, VA.  I don’t claim to be at all up to speed on what is going on there.  In fact, I feel rather behind when it comes to knowing the details.

One thing I know for sure is that when I see signs promoting “white supremacy”, I know something is wrong.

What happened to the song we used to sing in Sunday School?

“Jesus loves the little children – all the children of the world – red and yellow, black and white – they are precious in his site…”

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Romans 12:9

Hate is alive and well in the world, and I hate this fact.

I have more questions than answers.

  • How can we change the hearts of those who hold such hatred deep inside?
  • What can I do to be part of the solution?
  • When will this kind of hatred end?
  • Where can I have the biggest impact on helping to encourage positive change and a move towards love?
  • Why do people think this kind of behavior is appropriate?

God, again I ask You for a heart that breaks for the things that break Your heart.  Give me wisdom in knowing how to share Your love.  Help me to be a voice against evil.  Thank You for loving me despite my shortcomings.  Thank You for sending Your Son and for showing us how to love.  I ask for peace and understanding in Charlottesville, and I ask for Your wisdom and love to fill the hearts of our leaders as they respond to the current situation.  Amen

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

I John 4:10

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Seriously, the thought of blasting into space and exploring the “final frontier” was an amazing dream I had for a few years.  Now, I’m quite content to have my feet firmly on the surface of the earth.

Over the years, I’ve had many other dreams.  I’ve dreamed about the possibility of writing a book (a dream that came true with my first book – On Track).  I’ve dreamed about the possibility of going to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona (a dream that did not come true).

I think there is something positive about having dreams and desires for our lives.  These dreams give us reasons to live intentionally.  They give us an avenue to escape from some of the realities we face in our everyday existence.  Dreams can give us hope for what is yet to come.

Sometimes our dreams and desires get twisted and tangled.  Maybe we let the dreams of our parents become our dreams.  Or maybe we look at the “perfect” world of those on television or in the movies thinking our lives would be better if we were just like them.  And sometimes we simply chase after the wrong things.

One of the things I love about going on a short-term missions trip is that they always seem to have a way of recalibrating my dreams and desires.  Besides expanding your community and changing your perspective, they have a tendency to adjust the way you think about the future.

For example, my dream of building 100 houses in Guatemala for widows and their families didn’t just appear suddenly while I was working at my job in Blue Bell, PA.  This dream and desire came about as a result of spending time in Guatemala serving widows and orphans.  My short-term missions trip experience in Guatemala allowed me to see the impact a house could have on a family, and I wanted to replicate that for other families.

Last year while our family was coming home from Guatemala, Leanne and I made a decision to sell our house, so we could live more, save more, and give more.  After an unsuccessful attempt at selling our house this spring, we remain committed to seeing how this plays out in the coming year.  We believe the dream and desire to downsize was not placed on our hearts by accident, and our trips to Guatemala for short-term missions were instrumental in recalibrating our dreams and desires in this way.

When you go on a short-term missions trip, you open yourself up to the possibility of new dreams and desires that go way beyond your wildest expectations.  And they go way beyond your self-centered, normal way of thinking.

If you like to dream but need to dream bigger, you should consider going on a short-term missions trip.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
Colin Powell

How has the practice of serving others impacted your dreams and desires?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

“I just want people to take a step back, take a deep breath and actually look at something with a different perspective. But most people will never do that.”

Brian McKnight

When you always look at something from the same angle, you almost always see the same thing.  When you look at something from a different vantage point, you see something different.

Going on a short-term mission trip gives you the opportunity to see things from a totally different angle.  The different angle will cause a change in your perspective.

For many people, this idea can be quite terrifying.  “I’m too scared to see life from a different angle.”  “I might not like what I see.”  “I might even be convicted to change things in the comfortable life I live everyday.”

For many other people, this idea can be downright unnecessary.  “Why do I even need a different perspective.  After all, my perspective is the correct perspective.”

Regardless of where you are in life – your age, your economic status, your employment condition, your health, whatever, you need the perspective provided by putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

One of the reasons I value my short-term mission trips is that I always come home with an adjusted perspective.  For one, I have learned to appreciate the material blessings in my life, and I’ve learned to hang on to them much more loosely.  This comes from seeing how many people live on so little.  Secondly, I’ve learned that contentment in life can truly come without the hurried pace of life that seems to exist in many parts of the United States.  The mission trips I have experienced have also taught me that I actually have more to give.  Life is not just about me.  It’s about giving; it’s about sharing; it’s about spreading God’s love through words and actions.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve found it easy to slip back into the rat race of life.  One of the reasons I write so frequently about short-term missions and about my experiences in Guatemala is to make sure the perspective changes stick.  I do not want the positive perspective changes that have come as a result of going on a short-term missions trip to be a short-term thing in my life.

A short-term missions trip can change your long-term perspective if you let it.

“Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.”
Henri Nouwen

How has your perspective changed as a result of serving someone?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about short-term missions.  They ask me why I think mission trips are important.  And sometimes they even tell me I’m crazy for thinking short-term mission trips are worthwhile at all.  This week, I’ll share with you some of the reasons I believe short-term mission trips are worthwhile and important.

Before I start, I think it’s important for you to know my history with short-term mission trips.  I’ve been on more than a few trips.  When I was in high school, I went on five mission trips with my high school youth group.  We went to Bellefonte (Pennsylvania), Cherryfield (Maine), Coatesville (Pennsylvania), Rochester (New York), and Syracuse (New York).  Each of these trips gave me the opportunity to serve with my fellow students building houses and doing other handyman projects.  As I look back on these trips, I remember how much we accomplished, and I also remember the fun we had together working hard and playing.

When I was a college at Grove City College, I had the privilege of going on two Inner City Outreach (ICO) trips to Chicago where we worked with Habitat for Humanity providing housing to people in need in the Irving Park area of Chicago.  I’ll always remember playing softball across the street from the Irving Park Methodist Church with Hunter Boyd, Erik Anderson, and Mike Black.  These trips gave me an unbelievable opportunity to bond with students from Grove City College while we served during our Easter break.

More recently, I’ve been to Guatemala five times in the past six years where I’ve had opportunities to serve in the villages of Santo Domingo Xenacoj and San Raymundo.  These trips have included house construction, feeding programs, and ministry to orphans and widows.

I’ve helped to plan several of these trips, and I’ve attended as a participant.  The experiences have all been very valuable.  I share this to let you know that I’ve gone on multiple mission trips (and I hope to go on many more).  While I still have a lot to learn about short-term missions, I believe I have some experience that has served me well and will hopefully cause you to think about going on a short-term missions trip of your own.

Short term missions provide an incredible opportunity to expand your community.

On a short-term missions trip, your community expands by putting you in a foreign place.  Whether you serve overseas or domestically, you are likely to find yourself outside your normal community.  Thanks to my short-term mission trips, I’ve connected with people from across the country and around the world that I normally would not have met – people like German Espana in Santo Domingo, Guatemala.  He’s a man who had tried to provide for his family by working in the United States.  His heart for widows and orphans expanded when he moved back to his own village and deepened his relationship with Jesus.  I also count as blessings the families we have served – people like Lydia, Betty, Angela, Maria, Dolores, and Carmen.  These women and their stories have touched my heart and expanded my understanding of community.

On a short-term missions trip, your community expands by drawing you closer to your team members.  This summer when I traveled to Guatemala with a group of 33 people from my church, my community expanded tremendously as I connected with each of the team members and learned many of their stories.  The trip gave us an intense and intentional time together where we were able to share together, pray together, eat together, serve together, and even play together.  I laughed, cried, and huddled with people I may never have really known outside the missions trip.

On a short-term missions trip, your community expands by opening your eyes to what others are doing to serve.  I have connected with so many great people from organizations like Casas por Cristo, Habitat for Humanity, Adventures in Missions (AIM), and GO Ministries as a result of these trips.  My community expanded to include people like Tyler Miller (Casas por Cristo), Pete Dockery (Casas por Cristo), Joshua Crabbs (Casas por Cristo), Dave Sgro (GO Ministries), and Seth Barnes (AIM).  I’m thankful for these ministries and missionaries who have showed me what it looks like to expand your community with the intention of sharing God’s love.

You and I were meant for community.

That community should be happening right where you live, but it doesn’t have to stop there.  Now is a great time to consider expanding your community outside your neighborhood through a short-term missions trip.

How has your community expanded as a result of a short-term missions experience?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

It’s been nearly a week since I returned home from Guatemala, and I’m still in recovery.

The other day, I mentioned that I might have a case of post mission trip depression.  A good friend said that was a real thing.  I’m not sure if I’m all together depressed, but I’m definitely dealing with some feelings I don’t normally have.  My stomach has been a little unsettled that past few days which could be a result of a couple of meals I tried toward the end of my visit – namely the street side tacos from San Raymundo or the meal I enjoyed at the house dedication.  Beyond that, I’ve missed the team we spent the week with in Guatemala.  I’ve also been pondering the next moves in building more homes for widows.  And I’m feeling the realities of being thrust back into a high pressure, fast paced world after being in a low pressure, slower paced Guatemala.  I’m confident things will improve in the coming days, but these feelings got me thinking that I’m probably not alone.

Today, I want to give you some advice on how to overcome a case of post mission trip depression.  (And by the way, I’m writing this for myself too.)

8 Ways to Overcome Post Mission Trip Depression

  1. Find a way to serve in your local community.  Serving around the world in places like Guatemala is important, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be serving right in our own communities.  When we serve others, it uplifts the people we are serving and us.
  2. Share your story with others.  Don’t let your mission trip story fade into the past.  By sharing your story, you may inspire others to serve others, and you get the benefit of reliving your experience.
  3. Get some sleep.  Typically, a missions trip throws your internal clock for a loop.  It’s important to get appropriate sleep to help you return to the “normalcy” of your typical routine.
  4. Schedule time to get together with your team.  If you served with a group of people, you should consider setting time aside to get together with the team.  Maybe it starts with dinner out with some of the friends you just met.  It would also be a good idea to schedule a “reunion gathering” for your team to share pictures, stories, and general feedback on the return to home.
  5. Don’t forget to eat.  Food is often the key ingredient to keeping us emotionally stable.  Make sure you take time to eat.
  6. Get some exercise.  Even a walk in the park can do wonders for our emotional health.  Make sure you get out and exercise when you come home from a mission trip.
  7. Read a good book about missions trips or about serving other people.  This fall, I’ll be releasing my next book, Rooftop Reflections – Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy from an Extraordinary Place.  I’ll share more about this in the coming weeks.  This kind of book can keep your brain on the right wavelength as you try to remember your experience and as you try to find ways to apply it in your everyday world.
  8. Start planning your next mission trip.  Why wait until next year to sign up for a trip?  Start fundraising now.  Start collecting donations to give to the widows, the orphans, and the poor you might be serving in the future.  Take an active role in getting ready for another trip to serve others.

I’m already feeling a little bit better just thinking about taking these actions.

How have you handled your thoughts and feelings upon returning home from a missions trip or life-changing experience?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

The year, we build with Casas por Cristo.  Casas is a fantastic organization, and I learned a lot through our experience this year that will be helpful as I pursue building 100+ houses in Guatemala.

Today, I’ll give you a glimpse into the building process.  Our large team split into two smaller teams, and we both completed our houses in 2 1/2 days.  The actual construction may have gone fast, but there were other steps before our build that paved the way for our visit.

Applying to Get a Home

In order to get a house, the pastor of a family in need must complete an application.  Through this process, the pastor and associated church commit to coming around the family in an effort to disciple them and help them with their ongoing needs.  The families selected make an average of $60 per week, and they typically live in huts made of cardboard, cornstalks, or bamboo.

Preparing the Site

The job site is prepared in advance of our arrival.  In our case, the church community dug dirt out of the hill in an effort to level the site for the house, and they carried all the wood, stone, concrete, sand, and other building supplies down a huge hill to the job site.

Building the Forms and Leveling the Ground

When we arrived at the site, we gathered to meet the family and pray before the fun began.  It didn’t take long to set up the cutting station and build the forms for the concrete foundation.  Making sure the ground was as level as possible was critical to the next step.

Pouring the Concrete

Next we mixed the concrete with two mixers.  Each batch of concrete included just the right mixture of sand, stone, concrete, and water.  Before lunch on the first day, we had completed the concrete slab.  This was a critical step, and we were reminded of the importance of having a firm foundation in our own lives to withstand the storms of life.

Building the Walls

Wall construction started on Monday afternoon and rolled into Tuesday.  We build the walls on the ground before lifting them up onto the slab.  Once the walls were square and attached appropriately to the concrete floor, we began the process of installing the exterior tongue and groove panels.

Installing the Roof

While the exterior walls were being covered, a few members of our team climbed to the top of the house and began installing the roof.  The roof consisted of wooden beams which supported the metal roofing material.  By the end of the second day, the roof was installed and the exterior walls were mostly complete.

The Finishing Touches

Wednesday morning, we arrived on site, and we quickly worked on finishing the house.  The exterior panels were completed.  The front door and windows were installed.  The interior walls were covered.  The electrical was installed and tested, and the trim work was completed.

Dedicating the House

This was my favorite part!  After completing the house in the morning.  Lydia and other ladies from her community cooked us all lunch (chicken, rice, corn tortillas, and a delicious red sauce).  Our team sat down at a long makeshift table in front of the house, and we enjoyed the meal before a quick rainstorm interrupted things.  When the rain died down, we all gathered in front of the house.  Lydia received a Bible and a set of keys for her house.  And we nailed a “Casas por Cristo” plate above her front door.  After a time of sharing, we laid hands on Lydia’s house and prayed for Lydia, her new home, and her family.  Listening to her pastor pray was one of the most moving experiences of the trip.  He wept as he prayed aloud.

Missionaries from Casas por Cristo will head back over to Lydia’s house in a few months to see how she and the house are doing.  And the pastor will continue to keep an eye on her as well.