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December 25 is coming and with it, the pressure of finding that perfect gift to please those special someones on Christmas morning. Still, although I would include myself in those anxious to unwrap what awaits under the tree, I know that no present satisfies like the gift of presence this Christmas.

That’s exactly what God did for us some 2000 years ago; He gifted us with the present of Himself. But isn’t that what He’s always done? When Adam sinned, He came down and called, “Adam, where are you?” When cries for judgment went up against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He came down to see the situation before the sentence was carried out, and when He called on Moses to deliver his people from their captivity, He visited him though the burning bush and promised, “I will be with you.”

Still, nothing compares to what He did for us though His Son. He took on flesh that He might be touched. He limited his vision to human eyes that He might see from our perspective, and He set aside his divine power that He might be able to empathize with us in our weakness. Jesus was truly Immanuel, God come near.

This Christmas, as we too are able to spend some time with our loved ones, we encourage you to reflect the love of the Father, and give the gift of yourself to those who near and dear and perhaps even to those who might fall outside of that circle of intimacy.

As we encourage you to give of yourself this holiday season, we’d like to thank you for what you do to enable us to represent God’s presence here in the Yucatán. Whether it be the Maya speaker who hears the Word of God for the first time in their own language, an alcoholic who receives help from a church sensitized to their plight, or a Bible college student who finds direction on his path of spiritual formation, our presence in this place is a reminder to these that God would even call a foreigner cross the gap of culture and distance to show them, in an unmistakable way, that He loves them.

Thanks for your willingness to respond to and share our burden for the people of this region with your prayers, with your finances, and for some even your direct involvement. Blessings on you this Christmas, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

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AndresYDavid

I just wanted to post a quick update, especially for those who have been faithfully supporting our initiatives during this second half of our term in Mexico. Thanks to you, we now have an official, Teen Challenge certified, rehabilitation center director resident in the Yucatán.

This April, because of your generosity, we were able help send Andrés Vera, pastor and director of “Nuevo Amanecer” rehabilitation center in Tekax, Yucatán to Mexico City to be a part of a month-long intensive training seminar covering the Teen Challenge program. While there, he not only studied the program, he had hands-on experience as he lived and worked among those being served by the Mexico City Teen Challenge Center. He’s come back both ready to implement the program and train others who are desire to help those locked in the vicious cycle of substance abuse.

What’s even more exciting, Andrés’ training included certification in the Living Free small groups program designed to help families of substance abusers. These materials give pastors the tools to effectively reach out to families stricken by substance abuse, providing analysis and options for resident care as well as the ability to intervene even before resident care becomes a necessity. We’re hoping to provide these materials district-wide so that more churches are able to work to remove the obstacle that substance abuse so often presents to the gospel.

Thank you for being a part!

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Bethel Bible Institute 7/16/2011: Notice the hat.

Looking over the past year, we can’t help but be overjoyed at the opportunities that God has opened to us. We’ve seen the first floor structure of a new Bible School building constructed, lives touched and restored through evangelistic outreach, believers strengthened through the implementation of systematic discipleship, and new areas opened to the gospel through the introduction of the Jesus Film in the Maya language.
Still, we’re even more encouraged about what the future holds. There is the feeling that we are on the verge of a breakthrough here in the Yucatán.

Bold steps are being taken to bring about church growth. Our district superintendent has stated that his goal over the next two years is to see 100 new churches planted and 100 ministers trained in order to guide these new works. We’re excited about the possibilities of coming alongside our superintendent to help attain that goal.

There is a renewed emphasis on removing obstacles to the gospel as well. We are moving forward with the Jesus Film Church Planting Strategy to remove the language barrier for those who don’t speak Spanish, and we are planning to attack the obstacle of drug and alcohol addiction through the resource and networking of two drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers utilizing Teen Challenge materials and strategies.

The possibilities are too amazing to imagine! What could it mean to the Yucatán to have one hundred new churches with trained pastors able to reach into even the most dire situations and declare the hope of Jesus, leading the lost along a sure path to restoration? However, even as we ready ourselves to leap into the New Year and the new opportunities that God has opened to us, we find the reality of resources holding us back.

As we write to you, we face a shortage of funds in our missionary account. If trends continue, our cash reserve will be depleted in a few short months, forcing us to drastically curtail our ministry expenses and perhaps watch as these amazing opportunities pass us by.

That’s why I’m making this appeal to you, not to ask you to “bail us out,” because we know that God is faithful to meet even the most overwhelming needs. Rather, we are asking for what might be credited to your account (Phil. 4:17). As you choose to invest in what God is doing in the Yucatán, you take an active part the advancement of the Kingdom of God although you can’t be physically present. We believe that God will work miracles of salvation and restoration here in Mexico and we want you to be a part of it.

As you plan your year end giving, would consider sending us a special gift? Your donation of any amount is your investment in the fertile ground of the Yucatán. Furthermore, it’s your active participation in what God is doing as He advances His Kingdom.

To make a donation, just click on the link provided below. It will take you to a secure sever which will step you through the process of making your tax-deductible gift:

Donate to David and Kelly Godzwa, Missionary Account # 269613.

Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this special appeal. We want you to know that we are thankful for the partnership that you have had with us in the gospel. As we stand together, we are hopeful that the best is yet to come

This is part two of our progress report the comeback that started in January of this year.

Think you can't participate in a comeback? Jonathan lifts me showing that a little can go a long way.

When we last talked, I was detailing the return that I had made from sitting on the shelf after my marathon to racing with a personal record in the Kitchen Run 5K. But that was just half of the story.

Back in January of 2010, we were facing a mountain as we attempted to return to Mexico. Because of our change of status, from Special Assignment to General Appointed Missionaries, the increase in time from a three year term to a four year term, and the attrition that comes from being out of the United States for 4 years, we needed to raise an additional 2,000 dollars of monthly support.

Although the current economic climate didn’t make the prospect of reaching our goal by August 31st any easier, we were optimistic. We knew that God had called us to a work as yet unfinished. He had given us a vision and a passion to see it fulfilled. With this in mind, we set ourselves to the work.

January was a slow month, but February saw our calendar full with services, sectional councils, and Light for the Lost Dinners close behind. Momentum was building, but the bulk of our work was still in front of us. By mid-March, as I analyzed our progress, I found that we needed to average about $72 in additional monthly support each week if we were to reach our commitment goal at the designated time. So I set myself to work, recontacting churches and individuals and sharing our need.

The first two weeks saw us meet our goal as certain churches agreed to do more and others became new partners. Then we surpassed our goal by double the amount, then triple as partners, both new and old resonated with our message and responded to our need. We had worked hard, but we had the feeling that we were witnessing a miracle.

As I post this update, we now stand at 94%, needing just $469 in monthly support to reach the field by the end of August. We’ve seen new support coming in at an average of $97 per week, and our weekly goal has been more than cut in half as we have dropped from needing $72 each week to $34 in order to make our departure deadline. We’re ecstatic to say the least!

Our comeback is in full steam, but we take nothing for granted as we set our sights on our return date. We don’t want to limp to the end; we want to storm past the finish line, ready to throw ourselves into the work. So, we continue to travel the country. We continue to schedule services and announce our need to all who will listen. We work as if it depended on us, but we pray, knowing that it all depends upon God.

So, as you read this post, we’d ask you, Are you interested in participating in our comeback? Perhaps you’ve met us at a church and have kept track of us through our website, but you’ve never had the opportunity to partner with us. Perhaps you’ve been reacquainted with us through the wonders of Facebook or Twitter and are just now getting excited about what God is doing in Mexico. Perhaps you’ve partnered with us for some time, but feel led to do more. We’d love to talk to you about how you can help.

Just respond to using the email link at the bottom of this post, or contact us through our contact page on our website. We’ll step you through the ways that you can be a part of sending us and keeping us on the field in Mexico–a part of making our comeback a reality!

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2008-09 Evangelism Class

2008-09 Evangelism Class

I don’t like goodbyes. But ever since we got back from the World Missions Summit 2, we’ve been receiving reminders that our present time on the field is winding down.

It started at our home church where, during a planning meeting, I had to step down as coordinator of the Missions and Evangelism Team because I would not be able to finish out the year. Following that, I finished out the semester at the Bible Institute and was thrown a touching going-away party from my evangelism students. When I finally got over that reality, my itineration packet arrived detailing the steps that we need to take to return to the States.

So it’s real; our stay here in Mexico is coming to an end, but one thing is for certain, our call is for a lifetime. Yes, our cycle may be coming up but our career has only begun. So, I’ve been reflecting on our time here, but I’ve also been thinking about the future and our on-going work here in Mexico. We are returning to the States, but our stay will be limited because our call, and our heart remains here in Mexico.

Steven Covey repeats the phrase, “Begin with the end in mind.” It has to do with visualizing the goal, setting forth objectives in order to reach them. I’ve decided to modify the phrase just a bit in order to describe our goal for our remaining months and our upcoming itineration cycle: “End with the beginning in mind.”

Yes we are saying our goodbyes, but our goal in the remaining months is to strengthen the relationships that we have formed in order to begin our new term in 2010 with a running start. Concerning our return to the US, our desire is to immerse ourselves in our itineration, utilizing a broad array of means available to reconnect with current supporters and welcome new friends who would like to partner with us as we continue our work in Mexico.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the sidebar of our website, you’ve seen that one of those means of generating excitement and raising awareness for our work will be the running of Marathon for Mexico 2. Last itineration cycle, I ran the Springfield Marathon, raising funds to help us get to the field faster. Recently, I’ve been blogging about my recent weight loss and my training for the Bass Pro Marathon which will take place on November 8th of this year. It’s our desire that this marathon will serve as an even bigger part of our support-raising effort, so keep an eye on our Marathon Page for more information and updates.

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Door to the church called \"El Tabernaculo\"I don’t consider myself a builder. I’ve never created anything that I can remember, except maybe the lopsided pencil holder that I made for my mom in my Boy Scouts basket weaving merit badge class. Still, I can tell when things aren’t quite right. That’s exactly Pastor Rudy Manzano noticed shortly after he took the pastorate of “El Tabernaculo” church in Yaxkukul. The roof above his congregation was bulging in the middle, a sure sign that things were amiss.

He spoke with an engineer about his problem and asked him to give him his opinion. What he had to say was not what he wanted to hear. The beams that held the roof in place had not been cured correctly. Therefore, they were unable to hold the weight of the blocks and the cement used in its construction. The roof was in danger of collapse. It had to go and soon.

So the congregation tore down the roof. The danger has passed, but now they face a problem. The rains are on their way. Beginning in May, the Yucatán receives rains almost each afternoon, and hurricane season from July through November means that it will be months before this congregation will have a building to call their home.

Kelly, the kids, and I had a chance to visit the site on Sunday. Being the type of person that likes to worship outdoors, I found the service under the blue skies to be a welcome change from the traditional unfinished concrete structures that characterize so many Assemblies of God churches here in the Southeast. Still, I knew that my breath of fresh air was a day-to-day burden for Pastor Rudy and his congregation.

I preached on faith, from Mark 7:24-30 the story of the Syrophoenician Woman, and I spoke on resolutely seeking after God. In the passage, the woman surpassed the spiritual understanding of even Jesus’s disciples as her response to a supposed rebuff revealed a truly amazing faith.

Many times we feel that obstacles are things to be avoided. Pain and suffering are products of bad choices, or even worse, sin. But in Mark 7, and I venture to say in the situation in Yaxkukul, that isn’t the case. Suffering in the case of Syrophoenician Woman caused her to resolutely seek an audience with Jesus and not be put off until she had her response. In the same way, I see the loss of this congregation’s roof as an opportunity for them to see the hand of God moving in their lives.

We had a chance to speak with the Pastor Rudy and his wife Laura at length following the service, and we found them upbeat in the face of this situation. It didn’t take long to find out why. Their oldest daughter, now attending high school had battled years before with a life threatening case of pneumonia. The strength they found in their faith brought them through that crisis. Now, they wait patiently on God knowing that He will yet again provide.

The wonderful thing about the family of God is that we have an opportunity in this situation as well. We can be an instrument of God’s provision for this congregation. The people of Yaxkukul are doing what they can, but it will take time for this group to get together the $13,000 that they will need to finish the work, time that they do not have.

Would you consider being a part? If you would like to donate directly to this work, you can give through this secure web-server by entering your offering and the project name and number “RECONSTRUCTION OF CHURCH ROOF TABERNACULO” #14312.”

For pictures of the project click here.

Golgota ConstructionOur missions organization, Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM), promote a missions policy that seeks to create and nurture an indigenous national church. Therefore, we as missionaries are charged with the task of forming or motivating national churches that are to be self-propagating, self-governing, and self-supporting. What does this mean you ask? Simply, our job is to partner with the church in Mexico–working, modeling, and training, so that they can, with their own people and resources, evangelize the lost and disciple new believers, administrate the work, and fund the church.

If you noticed, the order is intentional. Often, a new work moves forward quickly in the area of propagation. New believers are eager to share with others about the new-found freedom that they have in Christ. Leaders are harder to come by. Time and training are required to cultivate those who would guide the fledgling work. Still more challenging though is reaching the point of self-support. In developing countries like Mexico wages are low (the minimum wage here in Mérida is $5 a day), and the requirements of ministry can be quite high, especially if the church wishes to take an active part in evangelization and outreach to the community in which it is located. Therefore, missionaries often find themselves called upon to lend a hand when it comes to stimulating the work.

This is the reason that I am writing today. Our home church is in need of a helping hand to meet its needs as it expands to reach out to the community. Pastored by Orlando Vazquez, El Centro Cristiano Gólgota, is located in a strategic area of the city, but it’s current size is affecting its ability to minister effectively. Therefore, the church has been expanding its facilities to keep pace with its vision.

The $55,000 expansion began in mid-April with about $10,000, not even a fifth of the required need, but, through the sacrifice of the congregation and the response of friends and the community, Gólgota has finished walling in, roofing and is currently using the lower portion of the expansion where the sanctuary sits. It indeed has been a blessing to see the response of the people as they have challenged themselves to move forward. Still, about half of the work remains, including classrooms to minister to the bulging children’s Sunday School classes.

That’s where we are asking you to consider pitching in. Kelly and I have seen the kind of contagious motivation and sacrifice that the congregation has displayed, and we would like to offer you a chance to participate. So we have created, as a project with AGWM, a fund in order to receive offerings from those who would like to help Pastor Orlando fulfill his dream of seeing the church built.

If you would like to donate directly to this work, you can give through this secure web-server by entering your offering and the project name and number “EXPANSION OF CHURCH BULIDING GOLGOTA #14290.”

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