Monday, June 20, 2011

On a Mission to Hold a Hand.

Jesus decided that He must go hold her hand. This was the task before Him.

That was Jesus' response to the pleading of Jairus (Mark 5) who insisted that Jesus must come and heal his sick daughter. And, fortunately, when Jesus decides to do something He follows through. This is great news for a cross-cultural missionary.

But it was not easy for Jesus to hold her hand. Many times it is not easy for a missionary to follow through on his/her assigned task. Some things get in the way.

There was the issue of the crowd. They were there with open hands wanting Jesus to 'bless' them. Missionaries are met with the open hands, too. 'We can do the work if you pay for it.' 'We can't have a church unless you build us a building.' 'We want ____.' Sometimes, the needs of the crowds are overwhelming. Did Jesus get as frustrated with these people as I do sometimes? Did Jesus EVER get a visit from a national partner simply to ask, 'Hey, how are you doing?' instead of asking for a 'blessing' every time? I'm sure focusing on the mission to hold a hand kept him sane.

There was also the issue of the bleeding woman. Unfortunately, she had been tossed in with the crowd and her deep faith and deep need were hidden. Do I miss legitimate needs by focusing on THE CROWD and not THE PEOPLE in the crowd? I'm sure I do. This bleeding woman was relentless; pushing her way to Jesus, pushing her way to abundant life and with a touch of hope her body was healed.

Jesus knows everything. He knew what had happened. But ministry is not complete until a personal touch is given. The woman, although frightened, knew this, too. She came to Jesus and heard some incredible words: 'Daughter.' 'Peace.' 'Suffering is over.' When will I treat every person Jesus puts in my path as a daughter or a son? Jesus knew that the physical healing was temporary but the spiritual healing He gave to the bleeding woman that day would last forever. Her spirit would bleed no more because of her faith. Lord, help me to always look beyond the physical needs to the spiritual needs.

There was the issue of the messengers. The messengers brought the news that Jairus' daughter had died. But, Jesus already had before him the task to hold her hand. The messengers' news was not a deterrent for Jesus. He knew the God who had called Him to this task was aware of this development BEFORE the assignment was given. The Father is never caught by surprise. Jesus' response to the news was Faith. And, he told Jairus, 'Just have Faith.' Missionaries with no Faith will Fizzle before the Finish. Lord, help me to keep my eyes on the task you have given me and to do so with a heart full of faith.

And, there was the issue of the weepers and wailers. These folks are sincere. They either love the little girl or they are a part Jairus' family or both. They have an investment in this. Their heart is in the right place it seems. 'She's only asleep,' Jesus says. They laughed. They lost their opportunity to see Jesus work with a simple, faithless laugh.

They might have said, 'Your strategy won't work here, you don't know the problems, your presence here is making things worse.' As a missionary, I've heard all of those things (from other missionaries who can weep and wail with the best of 'em.). Lord, help me to remember that if you have called me to a task that You will be faithful.

Jesus entered the room. The hand He had come to hold was small and sweet. He took her hand and spoke the words, 'Little girl, get up.' The task was complete. A life was restored. A family was blessed. The Father was glorified. The weepers and wailers were silenced. The messengers began looking for another message. The heart of the formerly bleeding woman smiled upon hearing the news. The crowd made plans for the next event.

There are so many lessons here for those of us who serve as cross-cultural missionaries. The most important lesson for me is obedience. An important key to fulfillment in ministry is obedience. Jesus demonstrated that over and over again. There are many weapons the enemy uses to cause us to take our eyes off the task: the crowd, the messengers, the weepers, and wailers.

We have a calling to hold a hand, to share a word, to train leaders, to proclaim a Gospel of hope. Lord, keep my eyes focused on you and the task you have called me to complete.

Father's Day at Church.

Haylee sang a song in 'English' in church on Father's day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

17 June 2011 Update!

Greetings from Peru!

The Lord is up to some great things here. Over the past few weeks we have seen the Father bring so many new people into His Kingdom. Peruvians from different people groups have been baptized. We've worked alongside some wonderfully talented USA partners from numerous Southern Baptist churches. We've seen new Bible studies started that will, we pray, soon become strong churches. Our teammates report great success in their work as well. If you are praying, then you are a part of the work. Thank you for all you do!

Only 7 more days and we'll be in the Great State of Mississippi for our Stateside Assignment. What is Stateside Assignment you may ask? Stateside Assignment is a time that missionaries can take advantage of after serving a certain length of time outside of the USA. For us, our stateside assignment will begin on June 25, 2011. We are currently planning to be in the USA until January 5, 2011. While on stateside assignment, we'll be serving at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS as missionaries-in-residence. They will put us in a cage in the middle of campus and students can come and see what 'real, live missionaries' look like. No, not really. We'll be available in a variety of ways to counsel students and faculty/staff considering involvement in missions and we'll be ministering to the large group of international students on the campus of MC. And, then there's the 'other duties as assigned' clause in the job description.

While in the USA for stateside assignment we'll be living in a home provided for us by Liesa's home church: Crossgates Baptist Church. We are excited about being a part of this church (they speak English, you know) and the kids are excited about being a part of the student ministry there. And, we're looking forward to chill-laxing a little bit. And, of course we'll be witnessing the Return to Dominance of Ole MIss Football this fall.

Haylee and Jackson will be attending the public schools in Brandon, MS and they are excited and nervous about that. Fortunately, they still have memories of 'big' school before we came to the mission field. So, they have lots of good memories. And, we've already been to the schools and met some of the folks there.

This will be a busy week as we pack up our furniture for storage here in Peru. We'll also be saying some 'see you later's' to some really, really special folks. So, you can see, we're experiencing excitement and sadness at the same time.

We've had a busy couple of weeks with Jeff working in Bolivia and a quick trip on the Amazon River to find Courtney Hunter. Courtney Hunter has been a part of our lives for almost 14 years. She was a little 7 or 8 year old girl when we first met her in Oxford, MS. Now, she's a grown, gospel- carrying, jungle-hopping missionary leading a team from her Southwest Baptist University. To say we are proud of her is a HUGE understatement. She is everything you can imagine and more. She's a wonderful follower of Jesus.

Liesa has been busy getting things ready for our departure and also helping with some last minute things for mission teams. It is time for Liesa to have a little break from keeping all of these mission teams on the right track. Hopefully, some time relaxing by a pool somewhere is in her near future.

Our next report will be from Mississippi. If you're in the area, holla.

Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson Holeman

Good News from the Jungle!

News from our teammates, Jeremy and Crystal Nelson:

Humble Area First Baptist Church, TX made a video of their March 2011 trip. They provided leadership for a leadership development/training as well as an eye clinic. It was a really amazing trip and I'm so glad they put together a video of some of those moments. Jeremy Nelson and the team were able to begin some solid Biblical teaching with believers, pass out Bibles in URARINA!!, have a Urarina pastor baptize someone for the first time and much more! Praise the Lord for what he is doing among the Urarina.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

7 June 2011 Update.

What is the highest and best use of your life? Find out and go do it.

Jeff read the above statement a couple of days ago on a website of one of his favorite missionary authors. He was reminded of a verse he adopted as his own 'highest and best purpose' when he was a student at Ole Miss:

2 Timothy 2:2
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Jeff has been in another South American country this week spending time with some of our missionary colleagues that we are blessed to serve in our role as team leaders. It has been a joy to hear their stories of what God has done and how God has used them to make His Name known. The stories of their faithfulness through challenging days has blessed us greatly. We have been humbled just being known as their friends and someone whom they trust. These past four years have certainly been the 'highest and best' use of our lives.

As we complete this term as missionaries here in South America we look back at an amazing journey full of incredible stories of how God has been faithful. He has been so faithful to send us so many of you out there who pray for us. We can never thank you enough. We owe you a huge debt.

We are committed to following the Lord's 'highest and best' calling on our lives. We ask that you would continue to pray for clarity in our understanding of how we can best serve our Lord. Pray that we will continue to find trustworthy people to teach so that they will teach others. Thank you for your partnership with us as you 'hold the rope.'

Student Ministry is still in our blood...

Please pray for the following student teams that were sent out this week...

Not pictured: Javier (translator) and Aracelli (translator)

Not pictured: Vladimir (translator)
Not pictured: Noime (translator) and Humberta (translator)
Not pictured: Gladys aka Mama G (translator)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Connecting. That's a word that we've become very familiar with over the past year. The emphasis of our assigned task within our missionary organization has become 'connecting'. The word 'connecting' has even been added to the logo of our missionary sending employer. The large cluster group of missionaries that we work with has been named 'The Connecting Cluster.' What does that mean? Why the emphasis on 'connecting'? Does it mean we've become dis-connected? Does the new emphasis imply that something is 'not' connected that needs to be?

I can't answer all of those questions for every missionary but in our hearts 'connecting' means several things:
  1. Connecting the lost to the One they were meant for. The ultimate purpose for us being here in South America, for taking our children away from family and friends, for living so far away from those we love IS to connect the LOST to their ONLY HOPE. Without a 'life-changing connection' to Jesus Christ, there is no hope.
  2. Connecting the church to its primary mission. There are missionaries who believe that 'missions' should be left to the 'professional missionaries.' I personally know some of them who hold to this view. Jesus clearly communicates to ALL of his disciples the challenge of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus clearly set apart 'the church' as the foundation (connecting point) for the building of His kingdom.
  3. Connecting the church to its missionaries. The missionaries that God has called to serve Him around the world can help a church move from 'Cross-cultural ministry' to 'Cross-cultural missions.' Missions involves church-planting and leadership development. Ministry is good works done in Jesus' name. Missions is making disciples who form churches who make disciples who form churches who make disciples...(and it continues...) A well-trained missionary can help your church connect Ministry to Missions.
  4. Connecting the church to cross-cultural national partners. A church's cross-cultural ministry works best when a member of that culture is a PARTNER in ministry. The most effecting church planting and leadership training is done with and through partners from the culture we are trying to penetrate with the Gospel. Every mission team should look to connect to a national believer before settling on a church planting strategy. (The photo above is a national Peruvian missionary named Humberta. She doesn't call herself a missionary but she is one of the greatest missionaries on the planet.)
  5. Connecting the missionary to the church. Being a missionary is a wonderful, difficult life. We would not trade these past four years of our journey for anything. But, it has not been easy. A source of strength for us has been the relationships that we have with many Southern Baptist churches who have loved us in so many ways. We are so blessed in our particular missionary assignment because we are able to have so many 'connections' with churches in the USA.
Those of you who are Southern Baptist will be hearing much in the coming months about 'connecting' with the lost of the world and 'embracing' unreached people groups around the globe. Why not pray about where you will 'connect'?

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family!

Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson