Sunday, August 25, 2013

25 August 2013 Update!

Greetings from Foz do Iguacu, Brasil!

We are here this week as guests of the great people of Corryton Baptist Church.  These fantastic folks are footing the bill for a few days of retreat for missionaries and have brought us all here to Iguazu Falls, Brazil.  We are having a great time of fun and some sweet times in worship and Bible Study.  These Corryton folks sure know how to love on missionaries.  We are so thankful for this opportunity.

A special blessing today was receiving letters from our Oxford, Mississippi family.  We have letters from Robert and Beth Allen, Donna Atwood, Greg and Rosemary Brewer, Bubba and Mistie Robinson, Beth Fitts, Jamie and Heather Hopson, Heather Card, Drehr and Peggy Harris, Earl and Pat Freeman, Lanny Shackelford, Holly Abel, Matt and Paula, Peyton, Kaitlyn, and Hayden Moore, Pam Abbott, and Mitchell, Tammy, and Carter Diggs.  What a blessing to hear from home folks and to have you continue to be such important influences in our lives.  We love each of you dearly.

We'll be headed back to Mexico in just a few days.  We thank you for 'holding the rope.'

Jeff and Liesa

Monday, August 12, 2013

12 August 2013 Update!

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We are winding down our time in Mississippi and will be headed back to Oaxaca in the morning.  We're ready to be home but we've really had fun with our family and friends while in Mississippi.  If we did not get to see you this time, maybe we can get together next time we're in the Magnolia State!

We are so thankful for your prayers.  Here's some general prayer requests that you can pray all the time, anytime, sometimes, daytime, nightime, get the picture!

  1. Pray for us to love the Lord with our whole hearts.  We are tempted in so many ways just like you.  Pray for us to not have divided hearts and to keep our lives focused on the task He has for us.
  2. Pray for us to be humble and submissive to the leadership of the Spirit.  Pride is dangerous in the lives of missionaries so pray that we'll be able to avoid that.
  3. Pray for us to be diligent and disciplined in our personal study of the Word.  We're busy just like everybody else and we need to be reminded to keep the study of God's Word a priority.
  4. Pray for our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
  5. Pray for us to have wisdom and understanding of God's plan for the work we are doing.  We want to be doing what the Father needs done.
  6. Pray for purity and holiness in our thoughts and actions.
  7. Pray for boldness in sharing the Good News.
  8. Pray for us to find our comfort and rest in the Lord when the days are overwhelming and when people and circumstances are challenging.
  9. Pray for us to have favor in the eyes of local governments.  We work among indigenous communities where there are few or no churches.
  10. Pray for us during the lonely times when we miss our family and friends.  Pray for the Lord to provide a peace that will overwhelm the hard days.
Thank you for your partnership!  Come and visit Oaxaca when you get a chance!

Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

8 August 2013 Update!

Greetings from HOT and HUMID Mississippi!

Cousins having fun in Mississippi.  August 2013.
We are in Mississippi for a few days of vacation and we're enjoying our time of family, friends, fun, and food!  We wanted to update you on a few things:
  1. Summer 2013 was a great one!  We saw the Father do some amazing things through our family and through our Mexican brothers and sisters and through some great folks from the USA.  We are grateful for the prayer support you all have supplied us.  We saw new doors opened for the future, several new believers become a part of God's family, USA partners with a clearer understanding of missions, and some young folks who sense a call to missions as a career in the future.  God is so good to allow us to be a part of all of this.
    We were blessed to have some great friends to help with
    International World Changers 2013.
  2. We have SIX young adults coming to be a part of our team until December.  Hannah, the other Hannah, Jasmine, Katherine, Sarah, and Shelley will be arriving on August 20.  They will be with us until December.  We are thankful the Father continues to send us workers to help us.  Please pray for them as they adjust to the crazy life we live in Oaxaca.
  3. Community Transformation Training is coming to Oaxaca in early September for USA partners and IMB personnel, and other interested folks.  If you would like to come down to Oaxaca and be a part of this training, we would love to have you.  Email us and we'll get you the info you need.  Please pray that this training would better equip us to plant churches in southern Mexico.
  4. We have several USA churches coming to southern Mexico on Vision Trips in the next few months.  These churches are seeking the Father's plan for them as they engage unreached communities.  Pray for each of these fellowships to have a clear understanding of where the Father wants them to work.
  5. Haylee and Jackson return to school in a couple of weeks.  Pray for them.  Haylee is entering 11th grade and Jackson is attacking 9th grade.  Pray for them to have a great year!
Thank you so much for your prayers!  We definitely need them and they are so important to the work the Father is doing in southern Mexico.

Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson

Thursday, August 1, 2013

1 August 2013 Update!

Then and now: How missionaries have impacted Mexican villages
By Nick Smirniotopoulos (Summer 2013 Student Worker)

Several decades ago, there were no known Christians in this small village outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. However, one man's life was radically changed by American missionaries.

In the 1980s, Pedro accepted Christ and became the first believer in his village, yet he immediately encountered persecution.

"When they found out, they threw me in jail," Pedro said. "I was scared. I didn't know what was going to happen to me."

Pedro only stayed in jail for several days, but he endured a full year of loneliness as the only believer until his wife came to accept Christ.

Today, Pedro is a part of a bustling Christian church in the village with about 30 regular attenders. This summer, another group of missionaries, from IMB's Nehemiah Teams who were serving with the Holeman and McLamb families, joined Pedro and his church in reaching the village.

Nehemiah Teams is a 52-day mission trip aimed at reaching the world for Christ in this generation; Joseph Lewis, 
Destinie Duckworth and Ashleigh Prejean served in Pedro's village this summer.

"I initially thought people would be less inviting," Duckworth said. "I had no idea that even if people didn't want to accept the gospel, they would accept us purely because of their hospitality."

This hospitality differed radically from the days of the early church in the village, which allowed the team to make meaningful relationships. They had four or five families with whom they returned to weekly to share various Bible stories and talk about Jesus.

Many of the families were devout Catholics, who attended mass, had elaborate altars to saints in their homes, but seldom read the Bible. Many of the families were very inquisitive and interested in learning more about the Bible. However, one day they received a question they didn't feel equipped to answer.

"He brought out the Apocrypha and I was thinking, 'Lord give me the words, the wisdom'," Lewis said. "I had never read it so I said, 'Lord I cant do this, so you're going to have to'."

Since Prejean didn't speak any Spanish and hadn't read the Apocrypha either, she did the only thing she knew to do: pray.

"God clearly spoke through him," Prejean said. "He didn't understand it at all at first, but after praying it just came out so clearly."

Prejean experienced a lot of frustrations this summer being the only one unable to speak Spanish. However, God had a different plan for her.

"Even if my purpose here all summer was to pray for my team and the people in my villages then God was going to do big things," Prejean said. "Prayer is the most important part of it."

While the team encountered many obstacles sharing the Word, they had a constant encouragement in the local believers, like Pedro. They attended Pedro's church every Sunday and a local Bible study every Wednesday night.

Growing alongside local believers encouraged Duckworth to put others, whether it was the nationals or her own team members, before herself.

"I've learned that I should submit myself to others because Christ first submitted himself for the world's sin," Duckworth said. "It's a daily struggle learning to walk in humility."

Lewis encountered some similar growth in humility this summer.

"The Lord has made me listen a lot to what He and other people are telling me," Lewis said. "I realized that this summer that I have a lot of issues in my heart that I haven't allowed The Lord to heal. He's begun to heal that."

Leaving after two months of building relationships with the people in this village was hard for the team; however, God has already moved in the hearts of the national believers to pick up where they left off.

In their last Bible study, they talked about the power of sharing their testimony with the people in their village. The next day, they went out together and shared the gospel to people in a nearby village.

In that village, one man named Luiz, who had struggled for a long time with alcoholism, accepted Christ into his heart. It may have taken all summer, but they were ecstatic to see the fruit of their labor. 

Having the opportunity to share with so many people over the summer, like Luiz, made Lewis want to share more when he returns to the US.

"It's sort of like God has taken my life and turned it upside down in just a few weeks," Lewis said. "The same way I shared here, I can share at home and not fear."