Monday, October 22, 2012

God's Ministries International

In 1998 a group, of mostly youth, from Mary and Ty Spire’s church in Florence, SC went to Managua, Nicaragua.  Upon returning, they shared stories of the beautiful families they met, the 3rd world living conditions, and starving children.  Some were so hungry they would eat the leaves off of nearby trees just to stop the hunger pains for a while. 

Mary was moved to prayer.  While cleaning houses, her full-time job, she would pray and weep 6 to 8 hours every day for several weeks.  She learned to hear from The Lord in new ways.  She heard the audible voice of our Heavenly Father say, “Mary, I want you to send a container to Nicaragua.”  It took a few weeks to figure out that G+d indeed meant a shipping container and not the plastic storage bin Mary had in her mind.  Through praying, listening, and depending on The Lord she was able to coordinate and procure enough resources to ship not only a single container, but three containers to Nicaragua!

In October of 1998, the infamous Hurricane Mitch decimated Nicaragua.  For almost 3 days the category 5 storm tore roofs and houses apart with 180 mph winds.  The storm dropped anywhere from 1 to 6 feet of rain which caused major flooding and landslides.  In January 1999, Mary’s small group from Florence, SC and the 3 containers sent months earlier were the first outside aid to reach victims!

Mary had never flown on a plane, she had never traveled to another country.  She was trying to be obedient to The Lord and cultivating the desires He had put on her heart.  When she arrived with her team the poverty and need were readily apparent, but she started asking the question, “Why aren’t these kids in school?”.  In that first trip they had a clinic and an evangelism team, but she began asking The Lord what was next?

God has given Mary favor with the local government.  After she arrived with her group and the containers some government officials approached her.  She thought they were going to put her in jail, so she prayed, “Lord what do you want to tell them?”  Mary expressed her intention of building a school and applying for non-profit status.  The officials began weeping and were asking, “Why are we crying?  We don’t cry!”  She simply told them that is the power of G+d they are feeling and it is overwhelming.  The government officials received everything that Mary’s group had to give.

Through subsequent prayer and action, God’s Ministries International was established, defying a lot of the supposed truths about Nicaragua.  (1) Shipping containers won’t make it through customs.  (2)  It is impossible to get non-profit status in both the U.S. and Nicaragua.  (3) Problems of poverty and government corruption are too widespread to make an impact.  And they continue today, by listening to The Lord and obeying.

-In February 2000, Escuela de Dios I was built in Los Torres barrio as a feeding center, church gathering place, and elementary school.

-In 2002, Escuela de Dios II was built in Manchester as a feeding center, church gathering place, and pre-K school.

-In 2008, Mary heard The Lord say to close Escuela de Dios I, because the money would not be there.  GMI turned the school into a job training center for local women and soon after the government announced they would provide free education for all children!

-Currently, The day-to-day ministry is run from Nicaragua now by Logos Rhemas church led by Pastor Ernesto.  Escuela de Dios I is now a Bible School for about 300 people! There are 5 neighborhoods with feeding programs and Sunday schools!  Two of those "neighborhoods" are communities in city landfills.

Nicaragua Brief

Republica de Nicaragua
Brief History:  The Pacific coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. The west of the country has a similar culture to other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries and is composed of mostly Mestizos.  The eastern half of the country still holds much of the British influence and English is the first language of most people in this region and its culture resembles other Caribbean nations. There is a large population of people of African descent, as well as a smaller Garifuna population. 

Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. After losing free and fair elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra was elected president in 2006. The 2008 municipal elections were marred by widespread irregularities. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt, but democratic institutions have been weakened under the ORTEGA administration

Capital city:  Managua (pop. 934,000)

Country size:  120,254 sq km (slightly smaller than New York state), largest in C. America, but least densely populated
Region:  Located in Central America, Nicaragua borders Honduras to the north, Costa Rica to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to east.  It is a warm and friendly land of lakes and mountains; rivers and volcanoes, sea and sun. Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific Lowlands, the North-Central Mountains and the Atlantic Lowlands.  Lago de Nicaragua is the largest body of freshwater in Central America. 
Natural disasters:  Twice in the 20th century Managua was destroyed by earthquakes, 15 faultlines run throughout the city.  There are many active volcanoes in the region.  Flooding and wind damage from hurricanes is common.

States/Provinces:  15 departments - Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, and Rivas; 2 autonomous regions - Atlantico Norte and Atlantico Sur
Population:  5,675,356 in 2007
Ethnicity:  Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
Languages:  Spanish (official), Miskito, English
Religions:  Roman Catholic 72.9%, Evangelical 15.1%, Moravian 1.5%, other 10%
Per Capita Income:  $3,100 in 2006 (third lowest in the western hemisphere).

Economy:  Distribution of income is one of the most unequal in the world; based mainly on agriculture (coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, seafood, mango, papaya, avocado, tamarindo, cattle), textiles and apparel,  and growing tourism.  Ranked 2nd poorest nation (behind Haiti) in Latin America and Caribbean.  The incidence of poverty is highest among rural populations, where 46 percent live in poverty and 15.1 percent live in extreme poverty.
Unemployment:  8%

Underemployment:  47%

Population living under poverty line:  48%

Internet users:  90,000
Cell phones:  202,800
Land lines:  171,600

Infant mortality rate:  22.64 deaths/1000 births
Life expectancy:  71.9 years

Environmental issues:  Deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution

Monday, June 25, 2012

Learning about work...

“No settled family or community has ever called its home place an “environment.” None has ever called its feeling for its home place “biocentric” or “anthropocentric.” None has ever thought of its connection to its home place as “ecological,” deep or shallow. The concepts and insights of the ecologists are of great usefulness in our predicament, and we can hardly escape the need to speak of “ecology” and “ecosystems.” But the terms themselves are culturally sterile. They come from the juiceless, abstract intellectuality of the universities which was invented to disconnect, displace, and disembody the mind. The real names of the environment are the names of rivers and river valleys; creeks, ridges, and mountains; towns and cities; lakes, woodlands, lanes roads, creatures, and people.

And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth.

The name of our present society’s connection to the earth is “bad work” – work that is only generally and crudely defined, that enacts a dependence that is ill understood, that enacts no affection and gives no honor. Every one of us is to some extent guilty of this bad work. This guilt does not mean that we must indulge in a lot of breast-beating and confession; it means only that there is much good work to be done by every one of us and that we must begin to do it.”

by Wendell Berry (excerpt from "Conservation is Good Work")

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We have a lot to learn about farming...

My best gal turned me on to this farm she heard highlighted in Dan Barber's TED talk from 2010.  Veta La Palma is a farm in Spain with an ecological bent...

And an article TIME magazine did on Veta La Palma...

"The point isn't to make use and conservation compatible. The point is to use in order to conserve."
- Miguel Medialdea

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thursday is World Water Day!

... from the UN Water website

"International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day."

Now, the UN means well, but with all their facts, figures, Millenium goals, monetary wealth and actual on-the-ground projects they have only been mildly successful at getting clean water to all those needing it. We believe that G+d is the best Father, He is good all of the time, and He never intended for those He created in His own image to live in any sort of poverty.  Jesus has answers to all of our problems and He chooses to work through His church to solve these problems.  We, The Church, now need to step up in love, prayer, and generosity. Here are a couple organizations we are praying with and financially supporting who are providing clean water around the world.
Water Missions International (Charleston, SC)

Ask The Lord what part you have to play in all of this.  Enjoy sharing from the abundance of resources you have been blessed with!  More information about defeating extreme poverty, and the power of fasting with prayer is available at the Live58 website

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Life Abounds

There are now an estimated 7 billion human beings cohabitating on our planet!  In a universe with approximately 300 billion trillion solar systems that have no indication of life, we are bursting at the seams.  Rather than rejoice however, most of this exciting news has been smotherd by the wet blanket of doom-and-gloom reporting pervasive in popular media.

As a child of G+d, I choose to rejoice!  Life is important and beautiful in all its forms.  Human life is an absolute miracle!  The diversity is absolutely astounding.  Each human is made in the image of Elohim, our Creator.  His breath brought each one of us to life.  He sustains us each day and, thanks to Jesus, into eternity. 

Enjoy this perspective from Charles Cowman's book Streams in the Desert ...

"It is not the great achievement of the Red Sea crossing by Moses and the Israelites that is so stupendous and miraculous.  The awesomeness of the Wilderness Journey is the fact that approximately 3 million people were sustained for forty years in a small, dry, fruitless desert.  Have you thought of what it must have been like to merely exist from day to day with every human means for survival out of reach?  Let us look at a few facts to see how impossible it would have been for Moses and his people to rely upon their own means of subsistence: "To get through the Red Sea in one night they had to have a space at least 3 miles wide, so they could walk 5,000 abreast.  If they walked double file it would have been 800 miles long, and it would have taken them 35 days and nights to get through. . . Then consider the amount of water required for barest necessities of drinking and washing dishes each day.  It has been calculated that they would have to have 11 million gallons every single day."  Now consider those figures and bare in mind that those numbers were not for the whole forty years.  They were for every single day of the forty years.  In other words, God placed His people by His own decision and plan in a situation where every natural source of supply was not available.  He did that to let them know that He is Almighty, that He keeps promises, that He can be relied on, and that He is not limited to any particular set of circumstances or any particular situation.  What was true for Israel is true for you and me."

And even that account leaves out the miraculous cloud G+d provided by day and pillar of fire by night.  No sunburn or heatstroke, and ultimate security!

Brilliant world leaders and scientists are trying to figure out how we will feed 9 billion people by the year 2030.  The crisis is that families in many parts of the world do not get enough to eat now, while we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic in the 'civilized' world. 

"It is more blessed to give than to receive."  (Acts 20:35)  Sharing is indeed caring...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:25-27)

"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I [Jesus] have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10)