As a child I remember reading the story Stone Soup. Recently I had a chance to revisit it. In case you have never read it, hear is the short version:
Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, the stone (being inedible) is removed from the pot, and a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all. Although the travelers have thus tricked the villagers into sharing their food with them, they have successfully transformed it into a tasty and nutritious meal which they share with the donors.
It made me wonder, how a group of people were able to change their world and the world for others. Through a little bit of trickery, and a lot of collaboration- they were able to share what they already had to make a difference. Did you know that the world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet? (Huffington Post) That's enough to feed 10 billion people. So why do we still have hunger? You see the problem is that there is not enough food, the problem is that hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity.
It's not a simple solution- obviously. Kelly and are passionate about helping to end poverty and helping to create sustainable food. "In Guatemala, the face of poverty and hunger is young, indigenous and rural. Guatemala, with the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, faces a serious challenge to reduce chronic undernutrition, currently at 49.8% among children under five." (WFP)
So, what does this story have to do with all of us? I look at how these travelers started with nothing, and through the help of others were able to make enough food to feed themselves and their community. Kelly and myself's prayer is that we too can have a community to bring in their ingredients, and while a single item will not create a soup- with the help of everyone we can create a change to feed the world.
Jenni and I have been taking ministry classes for about three years now. This months class is Prayer and Worship and one of the books they are having us read is The Spirit Helps us Pray. This book had a lot of interesting things that I never really thought of before. One of the questions the book asked was why did Jesus pray? I had never really thought about that before, after all Jesus was God incarnate.
So, if Jesus is God why did he have to pray and who did he pray to? Although Jesus Christ is God, he was not only God on this earth he was fully man as well. Just like Moses or Abraham, Jesus was a Jewish believer and it was natural for them to pray. The nature of the Trinity allowed for communication between it's members. As God the Son, Jesus could pray to God the Father. We also know from Luke 11:1 that seeing Jesus pray is what sparked the disciples curiosity to learn about prayer as well. These are just a couple of the reasons Jesus himself prayed. This made me really think?
If Jesus, fully God, had to pray to his Heavenly Father, how much more and how much more persistent should we pray to our Heavenly Father. We know as believers that prayer is powerful and it is essential for spiritual growth. We as believers talk about prayer, we study prayer, we say our prayers, but how many of us earnestly seek God to teach us to pray the way the disciples did. This is the prayer life that Jenni and I need to focus on so we can better serve the people of Guatemala. I know our mission in Guatemala will go nowhere without it. So we ask you not only to pray for us as a family, but pray that God's will be done in Guatemala and that the people and children of Guatemala will have hope of a brighter future and that God's mission not ours will be accomplished.
Zander takes a minute to talk about a worry and what he discovered about Guatemala
Kelly and I have always wanted to travel west and visit the many beautiful national parks. I can't imagine what it would be like to stand next to the mighty redwoods, looking up at all their splendor. Did you know that the giant California redwood trees can tower 300 feet into the sky? It would seem that they would require extremely deep roots to anchor them against strong winds. But we're told that their roots are actually quite shallow -- in order to capture as much water on the surface as possible. And they spread in all directions, intertwining with other redwoods.
If you have ever seen a Colorado aspen tree, you may have noticed that it does not grow alone. Aspens are found in clusters, or groves. The reason is that the aspen sends up new shoots from the roots. In a small grove, all of the trees may actually be connected by their roots.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a pretty independent person. It is a strength and a weakness. Yes, I might have crawled on my hands and feet, broken foot and all, to get the things I need to prevent someone from getting for me. Maybe I go without, simply because I want to prove that I don't need it or can make it on my own. I have always considered this a good quality. I thought it meant I was strong.
In recently weeks I am beginning to see that standing alone doesn't always make one strong. What I am coming to learn is that God never intended us to do it alone. Even from the beginning God looked out and said that it was not good for man to be alone, and thus Eve came into the world to be a helper (Genesis 2). God set us up to need people to work together. Even Jesus himself had the help of others to support him in his ministry (Luke 8:1-3). Paul traveled with many people who helped him as well.
Faith is more than just doing things on our own, it's learning to put faith in God and others. It is making our roots intertwine with those around us, to draw strength and grow strong. This lesson we are learning as we speak-- as we seek to do what seems impossible to us. We see a mountain to climb and the only way to get their is to ask friends and family to come aboard. There is no strength in being alone, but by leaning on others. Our strength comes first from God (Psalms 121:1-2) and then from others.
Locked together in this way, all the trees support each other in wind and storms. Like the aspen, they never stand-alone. They need one another to survive. It does take faith to whether the storms alone, but sometimes it takes greater faith to reach out and trust others to weather them with you.
I pray as the weeks go on our roots continue to grow so embedded with those around us that it is not our ministry or about what we are doing,but the roots make those around us stand tall and they see the beauty in what they are doing. We all need each other, but the hardest part is learning to ask.
Ten years ago I would have laughed at you if you told me I was going to be a missionary. You would not have found me near a church. You see my journey with Christ did not start until October 2007. It is so amazing how the transforming power of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit changes a man. This is the same change that we want to bring to the children of Guatemala. Then they can take that change to their parents, and then to the community, then to the world.
The last nine years of my life have surely had its fair share of hard times and lots of loss, but knowing I have a God and a savior that I can trust in gives me hope. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us," Romans 8:18.
As we continue on this journey with God to Guatemala, I know that there is going to be trails and tribulation. It is guaranteed, but God promises to help us through those times. All those trials will be worth it for the future glory of the people of Guatemala. The journey is in his hands.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight,' Proverbs 3:5-6 #agmd
We want you to know that when you partner with us in this journey, that you partner with our whole family. We have prayed over our children and led them into this with them knowing that God has called "US,"- this means God has called them too. We want them to be a part of every aspect of this. We will all take responsibility in our family blog. Zander has decided to do a monthly VLOG, to let you all know important facts about the ministries we work with, and the country are serving in. Check out his first episode of "The Zander Zone."
I have always wanted to go cliff diving. To stand on the edge of the world, and jump. The faith you have in your para shoot, the wind, watching the world. Knowing exactly when to pull the cord and landing safely. I can't imagine the rush of it. Unfortunately, I am completely terrified of heights. Even short ladders make me green in the face standing from the top. Even so, I still admire those who do it, who embrace the moment, in spite of their fear and just jump
Now, I know a guy in the Bible named Joshua. He was Moses' right hand man. At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses dies and God hands over the entire Israelite nation to Joshua to lead into the promised land. I always imagined him standing on the edge of a mountain. Here is this man who has wondered his entire adulthood serving God alongside Moses. Now he stands at the top of Mount Nebo, with Moses gone and the Promised Land before him. I imagine that same feeling, that same rush as God shows him the view and Joshua hearing him say "Jump!" NO, God doesn't literally say jump, but he tells him, " Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:1-9) God says, "GO! I got this, get out and do what I have called you to do. " I always wondered what he felt at that moment... With his past behind him on the mountain, and his future ahead of him. I have always wondered until now...
This past summer has been a whirlwind of God finally bringing to light what Kelly and I have been working so hard for the past 6+ years. We are finishing up our pastoral licenses with the Assembly of God church and effective since last Friday-- we are officially appointed as Missionary Associates to Guatemala. Yes, you read that right! We are heading to Guatemala. Don't worry, it won't happen overnight-- but it will happen. We are set to depart December 2017, after our funds are raised.
We are so completely unsure of all the small details of our future-- but we know without a doubt who holds the future. We are beginning to understand what it feels like to stand at the edge of the world, staring at what God has promised us, knowing we have waited our whole lives to pour our God given passions into something he designed us to do. We feel breathless, and falling-- but our TRUST is in Him. We are not afraid, because we know he goes ahead of us. As we jump, we will have our hand on the cord-- because HE is the shoot that we put our trust in!