Chi Alpha

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The groundhog might have declared six more weeks of winter, but our spring newsletter is here early! Take a look at some of what’s been going on in this last ministry quarter.

Click on the image, or hit the link and you’ll get in on all of the action with:

  • A report from our most recent XA team visit along with details about our upcoming project,
  • The perspective of one of our district leaders on our church planting program,
  • And a bit about what’s going on with our family.

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

http://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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The groundhog might have declared six more weeks of winter, but our spring newsletter is here early! Take a look at some of what’s been going on in this last ministry quarter.

Click on the image, or hit the link and you’ll get in on all of the action with:

  • A report from our most recent XA team visit.
  • Updates on the status of church planting in the Yucatán,
  • And a bit about what’s going on with our family.

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

http://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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TWMS4

What could be better than kicking off the New Year, spending 3 days discovering how you can fit into God’s plan to save the world? “Nothing,” answered the 6,153 college students that attended the 4th World Missions Summit (TWMS4) from January 4-6 in Houston, Texas’ George R. Brown Arena.

TWMS4 is a joint venture between the Assemblies of God college ministry, Chi Alpha, and Assemblies of God World Missions to engage the next generation in global service. During the event, the attendees are challenged to “give a year and pray about a lifetime.” When the event ended, over 1,800 students had responded affirmatively to that challenge.

As a family, we were invited to participate in the conference where we had the opportunity to connect with these students during four “Meals with a Missionary” and in the Latin America Caribbean exhibit and experience areas, sharing our calling and ministry and helping them to determine their next step in responding to God’s heart for the nations.

While the overall response was amazing, the highlight for us was the interactions that we had with the students on a one-on-one basis. Whether it was helping Liam* connect the dots from his past life of dealing drugs in the rural Midwest to serving God on a foreign field or praying for Hunter to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with each conversation we were encouraged by this generation’s passion to be a part of something bigger than themselves and humbled by the opportunity to direct them in living out that passion. Of course, confusing old and new friends alike by having my twin brother Mike at the event was pretty fun too! All in all, we return to Mexico blessed and revitalized for having been a part of TWMS4.

How is God leading you in the New Year? How do you see yourself engaging in missions in 2017?

Photo Captions:
Over 1800 students respond to the call to give a year (large).
Dave: making coffee and missions connections (top).
Kelly: stopping to visit with Lanley from Cape Girardeau (middle).
Rebekah: braiding hair in the LAC exhibit (bottom).
The whole Godzwa Summit crew (bottom middle).

*Names have been changed.

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We believe in the power of the Word of God to bring about transformation. This excerpt is taken from our vision statement[PDF]: “As individuals have a true encounter with the Word of God, applied to their context, their lives will change. We seek to provide this encounter for all those who live in or visit the Yucatan.” This past month we’ve seen opportunities to lead people into just this type of encounter.

Things began with a report from Ricardo Rodriguez, who had received the blessing of literature that we were able to coordinate in January of this year. He shouted an enthusiastic “Glory to God,” as he related the results of the campaigns that took place throughout the state of Yucatan. It was a pleasure for us to see the Bibles that they were able to purchase being grasped firmly by new believers now preparing themselves to confirm their new life by following the Lord in baptism.

The blessings continued internationally as, from April 18-21, Dave had the chance to travel to Panama, where several hundred educators had gathered for fellowship, spiritual enrichment, and continuing education. For two sessions, he teamed up with fellow missionary Paul Kazim to teach the course “The Teacher and Biblical Interpretation.” It was a joy to be able to lead the participative groups into the discovery of tools that will not only facilitate a personal encounter with God’s Word, but also help them to correctly guide others into the same experience.

As we wrapped up the month, we were excited to see how the Bible studies, which were reinvigorated by the Chi Alpha Team visit in March, are having an impact on the students attending the University of Yucatan. During one session, a new student chose to listen in on the conversation even though he admitted to being an atheist. In another meeting, Fernanda* was clearly moved as we talked about how God gives us comfort in our need so that we might offer that comfort to others. Following up with her, we found out that word had given her the courage to reconcile her strained relationship with her mother. Clearly, God’s Word has power!

Thank you then for your support as we continue to offer opportunities for others to experience God’s Word. And, as you thank God for His work, won’t you pray for these new believers, educators, and university students, that these encounters with God’s Word will continue to produce fruit in their lives?

*Name has been changed.

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From March 5th through the 12th, students across the United States were celebrating their Spring Break. Many of them planned to catch up on some much needed rest. Others were on their way to more exotic destinations, but one group of students had different plans. Sure, they started out as many of their peers, making their way from Dulles International Airport to Cancun, but the rest of their itinerary was drastically different. They skipped the parties to take up paint brushes and cashed in their chance at sleeping in for the opportunity to spread some joy to the people of the Yucatan.

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Yes, just last week we had the pleasure of hosting a combined Spring Break team of Chi Alpha students from American and Virginia Commonwealth Universities. The team of 14 students and staff, including my twin brother Mike, worked together with Bible school students at Instituto Bíblico Bethel to advance our construction project and give the existing buildings a much needed fresh coat of paint. They ministered in area churches, blessing congregations with their songs, skits, testimonies, and messages. They also spent time in Sierra Papacal, preparing the church land for upcoming construction while hosting services for children and adults alike.

But these Chi Alpha teams are valuable for more than what they leave behind, be it roof raised, or a wall painted, or a service celebrated. They serve as catalysts for new and continuing ministry.

Through our eight years working with short term missions trips, we’ve seen how they’ve facilitated pivotal relationships with people that we count as partners to this day. We’ve watched as their foreign investment has encouraged nationals to move forward to complete the work they they had begun, and we’ve witnessed how their example has been emulated by others who have been touched by their ministry.

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This trip was no exception. Interested in investigating the situation of students in secular universities in Mexico, Mike had asked me if I could coordinate a time of prayer and fellowship with a group of students on a local college campus. We held a meeting at the School of Architecture that was to last for only two hours. Instead, it stretched to more than three as the blended group of students worshiped together, encouraged one another and prayed for each other.

Come to find out, it was a shot in the arm for the campus fellowship that we visited. Having gone through a time of transition, they were having difficulty meeting and were at the point of disbanding. Rosy, a university employee who had been serving as a sort of sponsor for the group, thanked God for the timeliness of their visit and expressed a renewed vision for rejuvenating the flagging ministry.

So 14 students returned home last Saturday, perhaps a bit worse for the wear–maybe walking more slowly across their campuses or dozing in some of their classes. It’s to be expected; they didn’t have a vacation, they were participating in catalyzation, and we along with many others here in the Yucatan are grateful that they did!

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When it comes to accomplishing our goals on the mission field, we realize more and more that partnerships are crucial. Hit the link here or click on the picture to find out how those partnerships came into play during our Spring Impact construction and outreach project! While you’re there, don’t miss the rest of our latest quarterly update from the field, and be sure to follow the links for more content!

Our online newsletter is viewable as a PDF document. If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed, you may download it here.


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It was Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting in the hospital trying to take it all in. We had planned the most ambitious Chi Alpha Spring Break Missions Trip we had ever undertaken: two teams from American University and the University of Virginia, construction, community outreach, and evangelism, Mexicans and Americans working together. But at that moment, everything seemed to be unraveling. Six of the 20 team members were sick, 5 had received antibiotics and one was hospitalized. Instead of working to meet our goals, I seemed to be scrambling to avert disaster.

But God, who makes all things work together for our good, never stopped working, not even on that Tuesday afternoon. The work never stopped. The Chi Alpha teams, working together with students from the Bible Institute, raised six columns of the second story structure of the Institute’s new multipurpose building and painted the entire first floor. They also collaborated to beautify the communities of Sierra Papacal and San Bernardo, painting the walls that lined the main streets of the villages. It was beautiful to watch how those who might not otherwise had asserted themselves rose to the occasion to keep things on track. We were deeply moved as even local pastors who had heard of our situation arrived to help us to achieve our goals.

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Not only was the work done, but our planned outreaches took place as well. By Thursday, our teams, including those who had been sidelined by sickness were up and active, coordinating a social outreach that saw dozens of kids deloused and taught dental hygiene while moms were able to select from new articles of clothing for their families. Following the social outreach, evangelistic services took place, where children and adults alike were able to hear and respond to the message of salvation.

Reflecting upon the trip, it became clear that it was through the adversities that we faced that the work became a group effort. Those of us who had arrived looking to put forth our best efforts found, through our weakness, a new found interdependence within the international Body of Christ and a renewed reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain, to heal, and to accomplish His will. Spiritual gifts were utilized that would have otherwise remained dormant. Friendships were formed which otherwise would never have been possible, and our celebration of the work was correctly shifted from what we had accomplished to what God had done in our midst.

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On the Saturday before the teams arrived, the song, “He makes Beautiful Things” had been playing in my head. The chorus of the song repeats, “He makes beautiful things out of the dust. He makes beautiful things out of us.” Although it was difficult to see on that Tuesday afternoon, God indeed worked our adversities together for our greater good. He created something beautiful even out of us.

Have you enjoyed this Spring Break Report? Be sure to check out our photos as well!

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Spring Break is a well known concept here on the Yucatán Peninsula. Many residents have personal experience working in the Riviera Maya, where students descend to spend their week-long vacation. They speak of the droves of sunburned gringos on the beach or of the wild all-night parties in the clubs throughout that region. So imagine the surprise on their faces when we tell them that Spring Break can mean something radically different!

Starting this Saturday, March 9th, we will be hosting two Chi Alpha Campus Fellowship missions teams from the University of Virginia and American University. These students and their leaders have repurposed their Spring Break to make an impact here in the Yucatán!

This Spring Impact has a three-part mission:

1. Advance the construction of Instituto Bíblico Bethel.

Bible school facade

Advancing Construction

Thanks to several key donations at the close of 2012 and the fundraising efforts of these students, we’ve been able to dedicate over $7,000 to this ongoing project. With these funds and the their hard work, the second floor of the school’s multi-purpose building will begin to take shape.


2. Stimulate ministerial formation among Bible School students.

Student Sergio Ek and Pastor Rudy Cano together with Dave in San Bernardo

Ministerial Formation

We’re teaming up these American students with their Mexican counter-parts. They’ll be working side by side thoughout the week, putting their education into practice both in ministry and in plain, honest, hard work.


3. Encourage evangelism efforts.

Antonio Armando Balam sharing in Sierra Papacal

Encouraging Evangelism

More than 40 individuals will be divided between the villages of San Bernardo in the south and Sierra Papacal in the north in support of two, newly-planted churches. The groups will spend their afternoons in community service, door to door evangelism, and the invitation of residents to a special community day, where they will have the opportunity to respond to the message of salvation.

Would you pray especially for this time of construction and outreach? Pray for the health and safety of all involved. Pray for an ability to communicate both within the teams and among those who would hear the message of salvation. Pray that the churches would grow as a result of these efforts, and pray that both the Americans and the Mexicans would finish this trip with the sense that they have been used by God.

Thanks for standing with us!

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The following post is a guest submission from my brother Mike.  He’s a missionary to the university students of Washington DC where he directs the DC Chi Alpha Team and pastors a Chi Alpha chapter @ American University.  This post was first uploaded to his personal blog at theGodzwas.com and recounts his experiences with us here in the Yucatan.

I will always take students on short term mission trips. It’s amazing how the simplest truths become profound whe you experience them in a different cultural context. This exactly what happened on our spring break trip to Yucatán, Mexico.

I lead a group of AU Chi Alpha students to work with my brother Dave, who’s just beginning his second term as a missionary there. We partnered with Pastor Eucebio Pech in his outreach to 4 different communities in central Yucatan. It was a full week of ministry! We led or participated in 7 services and dug out the foundation for Pastor Eucebio’s mission in the town of Tunkás.

We were able to experience some amazing moments. On Sunday night, we saw God hold back the rain so we could lead the mission’s first ever open air outreach in Tunkás. On Monday, we participated in an outreach where dozens were fitted with a free pair of glasses–a daily reminder of the love of Jesus every time they put them on. The next day brought a surprise visit to the local cenote and we got a chance to go swimming in crystal clear water 80 feet below ground level. Wednesday gave us a chance to practice our balloon tying and help a share the gospel to all of the kids in San Antonio Chuc. O our last day of ministry, we experienced God’s presence as we prayed for the churches and visited members in 2 small communities. God held back the rain again that night, and we were able to do one last open air service in the town square.

I mentioned simple truths becoming profound on mission trips. For us, it was the power of pushing past discomfort to allow God to work through us. We slept in hammocks and shared one toilet for the entire team. It would have been more comfortable to stay in a hotel, but the location of the house helped us to maximize our work and opened a door for the owner to hear the gospel. It would have been easier to hide behind our limited Spanish and keep the Yucatecos at a distance, but when we pushed aside our embarrassment, relationships were formed and the love of Jesus was expressed. It would have been much more comfortable to use our lack of construction experience as an excuse to give a half-hearted effort, but when we pushed past inefficiency and sore muscles, wer able to see a hole turn into the foundation of a church. It was a lesson learned in Mexico, but it wasn’t left there. Our team prayer is that God would help us to step into the uncomfortable places we avoid on campus so we can depend on His power to do what we can’t. Profound truth, learned on the mission field, but meant to live by.

It’s interesting how God seems to speak more clearly to us as we move from our familiar surroundings and everyday routines. Did this article bring to mind something that God spoke to you when you were pushed past your comfort zone? Share it with us!

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Mun Ha We’re headed back to Muna with the AU Chi Alpha Team for a week of ministry. For the first two days, Kelly and the kids will join me as we minister in the Sunday School and Sunday night services, sharing crafts and teaching with the kids and stewardship training for the adults. On Monday through Thursday, the family will be returning to Mérida while the team and I will continue to involve ourselves in construction, general labor, outreach, and evening services. Pray for us as we seek to make an impact.

While I have you, I’d like to mention a the changes we’ve made to our Contact Us page. We’ve updated our VOIP phone. The new number is 814-746-4952. You can call us via your US based land line or cell for the cost of a US long distance charge. (If you happen to be located in Erie, PA, it’s a local call.) Also, check out the other options to communicate to us through email, IM or Skype! So visit the page, and drop us a line, however you choose to contact us. We’ve got our ears on!

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