Speaking of broken, first I have to tell you a pretty funny story! (I know, not what you were expecting;) Time is certainly flying by for us down here in the Dominican Republic. We are almost finished with our first round of Spanish classes, Christmas is right around the corner and it officially feels a little funny when we forget that back at home, the time difference now in Cincinnati is an hour behind us. (We don’t change here & sorry if we call/text you too early;) Time is also going fast because of all that we are involved with here in our ministry with Project Manana!
On Wednesday nights, Rick and Colin are helping in discipleship in San Pablo, with the young men that live in the community . A group started by our friend and coworker, Matt Vryhoff, along with Johan Desings and Chris Dove. (To check out the specific ministry- go to Matt’s FB page here https://www.facebook.com/VryhofRD/ )
This past Wednesday night Rick lead the group in a lesson and when acting out Peter drowning in water (Matthew 14:22-33) for some reason he thought it would be a good idea to stand on a plastic chair. He carried out the scene. As Rick shouted out to Jesus “Save me! Save me!” from the storm (which again, was a plastic chair), the front legs of the chair gave out, broke and sadly Rick (Peter) fell into the water! The guys lost it in laughter! Colin loved it! Rick had no injuries and thankfully landed right on his feet (you know, he just started walking with Jesus!) I loved hearing this story. I hope you do as well. I also know that God is certainly working everywhere and all the time (not exactly on that chair at that very moment or was He?)
Sadly in the midst of so many things going on, I feel as if my mind is also occupied with really just a bunch of noise. Distractions. Things that I feel like in the end can even sometimes pull me away from time with God. Now I know what some of you might be thinking. “Karen, your family is working in ministry. All your time is with God.” With that thought process, I can find some agreement, however, sometimes I ask myself the question, “Is the work itself becoming mundane? Am I allowing it to form more of what I want and not what He wants?” Let me tell you, it’s easy to fall into that position.
And Jesus continued “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”
Literally right before I started writing out this blog post, I felt that I finally had the time to pray with God. But really I’ve had plenty of time. Plenty of moments. I just make excuses and the reality is that I sin in not putting Him first. It can sometimes be a constant struggle. Sometimes daily. My heart doesn’t stop desiring Him. It’s just that with so much going on in life, my moments to want to talk and pray with God usually end up when I’m in the shower, first thing in the morning or when I’m laying in my bed to fall asleep. And yeah, you probably guessed it! Most of those moments, my prayers tend to dwindle off….I can tend to focus more of my attention on this world. “What do I need to do? I have to get this and this done. I have to help my kids. Darn it, another mosquito is in here!” These thoughts definitely turn my one-on-one time with God off track or completely taken out.
“YOU WILL SEEK AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART.” JEREMIAH 29:13
The way I treat God in these moments, it makes me feel broken. But when I feel broken, I know I need Jesus. It brings me to Him and He wants my brokenness. He wants my heart, seeking after Him and thankfully when I am able to get it right, I can finally come to Him with my whole heart. We can easily get distracted in “our” work for Him. However, it’s in “our” work that we can very quickly put the attention on ourselves and what “WE do”.
Jesus fixes all of that though. It’s not about what we do, it’s what He’s done for us. It’s not about what we feel, but what He felt to love and forgive us. There can be an ongoing struggle of knowing my position. I need to humble myself at His feet in prayer. For comfort, wisdom, confession, guidance and remembering that we can’t lift ourselves up in what “WE do”. We have to step aside for Him to do the work. Am I making sense here? There’s a balance. We need to be His hands and feet but we have to let Him enter our hearts and minds with what are hands and feet are doing.
We have so many friends and family within the church that are supporting us in this great work together! We love you all! They lift up our family in prayer and we love to do the same for them. In fact, please remember- if you would like to be a part of our ministry, please let us know on here and we would love to connect with you too! Anyway, during a conversation with one of our partners, they had asked me to pray for their family to just live in the now. They talked about how it might not seem like a big prayer request because really the family was all well. But I said, I believe it’s in having the moments to live in the now, that we really can get the opportunities to grow in our faith with God. We hope and pray that the family can enjoy the blessings and time from Him, to seek Him more.
As my twins now say in Spanish, almost all the time- MIRA! (In English, LOOK!) Our family only wants to do His work. With Project Manana, some may ask “So what do you all do?” We are a family restoration ministry sharing the gospel. Then some may ask “What does that mean?” It means that we help to break the cycle of poverty by investing in impoverished children, their families and communities, through clean water, nutrition, education and discipling projects. And the core of our ministry? (Please read this verse carefully:)
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in god, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. in this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19
That last of part of the verse is what can come upon you without you even knowing. For me it’s the icing on the cake “…that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Project Manana came from God, our friends Brian and Carolina Berman, are just being obedient to the work that God leads for them to begin. His good work and deeds. If you come down here to take part of the work, you too can share in the experience! In Jesus! So much has been done with this ministry and we can only give God all the glory for making it happen! The first thing you can do, for Him, is choose Him, Jesus. Believe in Him. Realize that you need Him as your Savior, He died for all your sins and that God brought Him back up from the grave. He’s alive and He can be living within you for Him. It’s that work that will bring true living. Life worth living!
As for our family, within the ministry, yes, we have our “roles”. Rick the Director of Development, Karen the Child Sponsorship Coordinator. We can now offer more hands and feet for Project Manana. We also chose to be obedient in the work. Yet in the work, God brings our attention to what matters most. Rick talking and meeting with mission teams and sharing stories, Karen working on building relationships with the kids and their families in the communities, Rick helping to lead the young men, our family serving the church in the community with our pastor Diogenes and his wife Wendy, Karen leading the young girls in the community with Wendy and our friend Hannah! (Hannah is from back home, living in the DR as a teacher, Vincents teacher and she stepped up to be an extra helping hand) We will continue to build relationships, share the gospel! Talking about Jesus and our relationships with Him!
Can you help continue to pray for our family to keep our focus on Him and Him alone! We only want to do His work. His work is not mundane, His work is to save the lost and transform lives. Christmas is exactly 39 days away. You could celebrate Christmas in only the foolish fun, NOT believing Him as the son of God OR you can stop ignoring reality and receive the free gift that Jesus gave by coming into the world. We all have the free choice. The way of faith is open. We can believe or not believe. But I encourage you, let your brokenness bring you to Jesus!