Saturday, April 25, 2015


Unity - that was the theme of our Leader's week in El Salvador. It wasn't the theme that we had selected beforehand, however, it became apparent right from the start that this was the theme that God had selected for us.
On Sunday morning, at our first team devotion, Wayne Drudge from Listowel EMC shared from Psalm 133:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.

As we worked alongside each other, many of us meeting one another for the first time, unity would be crucial. With each of us being "leaders" learning how to be mutually submissive to each other through the building of houses and also in our meetings, is no easy task and yet there was unity among us. Not uniformity, because we are all different and have different strengths and talents and gifts, but there was unquestionable unity. 

Today (Friday) as we went back into the community called New Hope, for the key giving ceremony, Pastor Oscar gave a message on Psalm 133. He talked about the two fold promise: the first being the setting apart by God, in the way that Aaron was set apart to minister as High Priest. God blesses unity and works through unity to accomplish His purposes. Secondly, there is a unique inspirational refreshment, like the dew in the morning, which comes through unity. 

Lastly, this afternoon, we gathered all the volunteers and workers from all the communities that we have worked in over the course of this last season. There were about 140 people in total. I had the privilege of sharing from Romans 16, a message the Lord had given me to write two weeks ago - the theme - you guessed it - unity!  A unity forged through our common faith in Jesus Christ. A unity fuelled by the power of the Holy Spirit. A unity that uses diverse kinds of people. A unity, through which God desires to reach the nations, including Canada and El Salvador, as people make God honouring choices to resist evil and obey the truth. 

The lasting impression of the stories we've encountered (sorry, we've had poor internet connectivity this week which have limited our ability to share) and our experiences have fuelled our desire to serve the Lord in the upcoming year because of the way in which we've seen Him work through all of us, Canadians and El Salvadorians, through the unity that He continues to work within us. 

The 140 people gathered in an upper room in San Vicente, had an unmistakeable feeling that God is using each and everyone of us, and through us to our various communities, team members and partner churches and organizations to bringing healing and redemption to the lives of both Canadians and El Salvadorians. 

Thank you for sharing in this ministry, we serve an amazing God who in these days, has brought Psalm 133 and Romans 16 to life before our eyes. 

"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages  but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why We Come

There so many stories that need to be told. Some cause us to be inspired. Others can stir anger within us. Many should cause us to reflect on our own lives and how we ought to live in such a way as to reflect the love of Jesus to others. I could write my own reflection on how this looks, but a friend of mine, another team leader, has written it much better than I ever could. Together we helped build this lady's home. Let me invite you to listen and reflect with my friend, Matt Duxbury:

"I am again so fortunate to be in El Salvador. I am here on the Leaders week. 
Today my team built a house for a woman who has had quite a life. She has four children from 15 to 2yrs old. She is a single mom who has been through two men. The first one who gave her the two older kids left her for a different life. The second man gave her the next two kids and a beating for almost every day she was with him. He also beat his then 1 year old daughter. Unfortunately this is all too common in this country. She finally kicked him out. She works at the market selling candy. Some days she makes $3-5. Some days she makes nothing.
She broke down crying saying thank you from the bottom of my heart over and over.
This is why I come to El Salvador. To be the hands and feet. To start a new path. To begin to generate a different journey for those who cannot generate it for themselves. To wrestle with the thoughts of how a man could beat his wife and 1yr old daughter. Instead of dismissing the thought in disgust and acting towards the afflicted in warm hast to alleviate the tension in my heart I ask what are all the factors that take a man to this place. This type of evil is rarely sudden but more often compounded by environment and many other factors. I come to learn from those in the communities how to be a better father and husband. If they can do it here amidst what confronts them I can do it at home.
I come to give hope to those that need it. I come to receive hope in some of the most unlikely ways. If I am open and can see behind the obvious it is there and can have immeasurable inspiration. As much as the woman today was in a desperate place she has a strength that most do not.
Look for the inspiration behind the obvious. It exists everywhere. Maybe I am more aware of it here because I come to El Salvador looking for it. I treasure my times here because it moves me to a posture I long to possess more often than one or two weeks a year. Thank you people of El Salvador once again for your steady hand on the inner aspects of my life. You are a gift in the hand of God and you have made impact that will affect my family and their children as well."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Being here for the third time I've found that although everything is still unexpected, I know what to expect. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are all familiar to me. When we go to build the houses, I know what to do and how I can help. I feel like I am contributing rather than having to be taught how to do everything separately. It feels good to be helping as part of the team. One thing that will always stick out from all the rest is the stories of the families we build houses for. While these stories all share a common theme of struggle and hardship,  they now can share a theme of hope. 

A Great Welcome

As we often do at our leader's meetings, we went to a new area to build homes. Upon our arrival to this community called, New Hope (Nueva Esperanza), there were people waiting to greet us. They held two signs, one in spanish and one in english. This community is one that you would walk through and you would likely say without too much effort that they were poor - but only if you measured poverty in terms of material possessions. They were rich in hospitality - not just in welcoming but in caring for our team as we worked. It was hot today - real hot, and we definitely had people struggle with the heat. The ground was so hard for our two houses (we built six total), which somehow makes the sun seem even hotter. Just as we finally finished digging the holes and getting the walls of the house up, our hosts came to our worksite. This time they were carrying cans of Coca-Cola covered in ice and they had a bag of chips for each of us. None of us had ever experienced this before! Even though we might consider them materially poor; they sacrificially provided this extremely welcome refreshing snack at just the right time - it was a richness of generosity that I have rarely seen.

There are several stories from today that will be important to share. They come from the people that we met, spent time with and listened to. If time allows over the next couple of days, I may share them in this space. If not, please feel free to ask me about the little girl with down-syndrome or the man with kidney failure.

We serve a God who continually welcomes us into His Kingdom work, sometimes in the most unlikely places...I am so thankful for that.

Good night,


Monday, April 20, 2015

Picture It

A typical first Sunday in El Salvador means that we meet the families that will be receiving new homes. Today we met the 8 families. Some of them had a married couple, some of them had single moms, some of them had inspiring stories of hard work, some of them had tragic stories of illness, abandonment or worse, loss of hope. What purpose does this serve? Is it worth it? Those are always good questions to ask.

In the late afternoon we attended church in San Vincente. It had actually been a two or three years since I have had the opportunity to join together with these brothers and sisters on a Sunday. The message was on Numbers 6: 26-27 (I think), the benediction or blessing. Pastor Oscar gave an excellent and inspirational message - encouraged me all the more to keep up our use of benedictions.
He then transitioned into a time of giving thanks and blessing to the team leaders, 30 of us. He spoke of the importance of long term relationships and how the presence of the team leaders and the teams throughout the year give encouragement and inspiration to their church family. How it has compelled them to be more intentional in their own mission endeavours, in fact they have changed their name, from Templo Christiano, to Templo Missionaro. They want to be about mission, all the time.

The best part is the music we sing here at this church. They make a point of singing two or three songs, that Canadians know, and doing them at very high enthusiastic volume. It's actually incredibly powerful to sing songs of worship to our Lord in one Spirit, though in different languages. Today songs like: God of Wonders, Agnus Dei, Free to Live - all very powerful and all a reminder that one day we will sing these songs together in Eternity. But for now, we're given a little glimpse of what it could be like. Can you picture it?

Thanks for praying.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Always New

It shouldn't surprise yet somehow it always does.  As familiar as our trips to ask Salvador should be the Lord has something new for us to discover.  Today it was a conversation with the person beside me on the airplane (not Aynsley, the other side). I had just put the book I was reading in the magazine rack in front of me. Entitled, "When God Talks Back", it obviously caught his attention because he took it out and started to look at it and then proceeded to ask me questions about it.  Turns out that my new friend 's name is Jerome and he heads a mission team that also works in El Salvador.  Our discussion about how we've seen God reveal himself over the years was quite interesting and encouraging. Then he decided that I should talk to one his team members so they switched seats and I had the chance to share a little bit with Nancy. In the course of conversation she mentioned another team member Doug who, if I'm talking to God, could I talk to God about Doug. Doug's adult son died tragically about a year ago and Doug has struggled since that time. A couple months ago while on Vacation he had enough and shouted to God that he didn't want to go on like that anymore and wanted his life to count for something. That's when some friends connected him with Jerome and got him involved with this mission team.  Over the next 12 days would you pray for Doug, that he would find healing in Jesus and come to a place where he enters into relationship with Him. That was my promise to this team that we would pray. 

Well it's been a long day of travel and my little traveling buddy is gone to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day of meeting the families for whom we will be building houses. Thanks for your prayer and partnership.