Sunday, October 26, 2008

Risk is Right

Over the past week since I sent out my update letter, two responses have come in.  There are those who sent a word of encouragement.  They are praying and continuing to give in faith that God will provide them the means to take care of their families as well as take part in furthering God's global kingdom.  For them my heart give thanks.  They are choosing to actively have a hand in the work of God.  They are willing to be tools in the hand of the master craftsman.
The second response once more discouraging.  Their concerns were of safety and provision.  Times are difficult world wide financially.  Countries from the 1st to the 3rd world are being effected.  Times are tough and will likely be tough for a while.  Also, it is not safe to be here in Ecuador.  Over the past two months I've been here there have been multiple robberies, muggings and murders on the very streets I walk each day.  The community here is not safe.  It does not help to not carry money because it just makes the ladrones (thieves) more angry.  
There is a man in my building that has lost may basic motor skills because he was shot in the head by a man trying to mug him.  The guy had five dollars on him, and was shot on the street in front of a popular shopping mall down the street from the school.
Not only am I and the missionaries here in danger from muggings, but also from unclean water and unclean foods.  God has spared me from stomach diseases thus far so I can do the work He has called me to.  Terrible traffic and dangerous drivers flood the streets.  We are fortunate to be more welcome in this country than despised as white people, discrimination still happens.  
Still I live on ready and willing to preach the gospel as God has called me to.  There is still so much to do here.  Everyday has held a ripe opportunity to be Christ and share Christ to someone.  Galo, the guard here at my apartment building is a testimony to this.  The students of the Alliance Academy and their initiative to worship God and pursue Him on their own is a testimony to the work of God here.  He has put me here for His purpose.  Those around me are carrying on their hearts the testimony that I bear.  It is being written each day as I show Christ love.  Many times I fail, but those times also bear witness to how God works bad things out for His good.  He will show me how much I must suffer for His Name that my life and my death will be a testimony to the greatness of God.  I will gladly give both my life and death that I would know Christ, for all other things have become rubbish to me.  Oh that I might gain Christ and be found in His love.  And I also pray that you will be of the same heart and mind, having the same desire.
Finally, it has been suggested that I ask for no more money and soon discontinue the work here and then return "home".  To this I say, "My home is in Him, where else can I go?"  My King is King over all and I can find no place where He does not rule.  Over money, government, man, body and soul, He rules.  What should I fear but His might hand?  Who should I fear but Him who made every man?  No it is not in safety that we see God clearly, but in risk and in suffering and sacrifice do we show Him as more precious in our lives, treasured far above money, comfort and earthly security.
Now may we each risk much that we would find find much.  He is proved more satisfying when we risk much to see Him.  Please continue to pray for the work here and around the globe as He is God and is in love with the people of this earth.  Too many people are lost and still don't know that they are loved by their Creator.  So continue in faith that He will be your provider and he will see His kingdom come.  Freely you all have received your life and the gifts of God, now freely give life to others.  I pray for you as you encounter your own mission field each day.  May God have His glory and His praise from our lips and the lips of all people.

Student Worship and the Gift of Tongues

The past couple weeks have been an open view to the hand of God.  Some really incredible things have happened.  Most recently the students of the Alliance Academy have chosen to take a huge step forward in their faith.  This past Wednesday's chapel concluded in prayer at 10:10am after a 40min. chapel.  They were encouraged to spend some time praying for each other.  So they did, for the rest of the day.  Not all, but at least 30-40 kids moved in and out of the chapel for the rest of the day praying and encouraging one another while singing worship songs and truly desiring to encounter God.  It threw the whole morning off for many teachers, but none the less was received well.
Out of a desire to continue worshiping and encouraging one another through prayer, the students (not the chaplains or any other staff) decided to have a worship night this past Friday night.  They asked me to be there to play songs and give what guidance I could, but they entirely took the task on themselves out of a desire to worship Him.  What a blessing it was to see students pray and edify one another in love and desire for God.  That does not happen often as many of you know.  Please continue praying for these students as they are stepping up as leaders in their school and this world.  They need your prayers and encouragement as they fight to make eternal choices every day.  Thank you.
As I mentioned in my earlier note, the guard of my apartment building has chosen to follow Christ.  Because I am the only truly solid believer around him I am charged with the task of discipling him.  This is where I've been praying for the gift of tongues.  I thank God that I know Spanish language as well as I do, but in describing the things of the heart and the things of God, I find myself struggling often.  Pray that I can communicate the gospel of Christ and the Christian walk well, not only in speech but in actions and attitude as well.  He is so thirsty for God's Word and eating up anything I can give Him.  Thank you for your prayers and support to make this ministry happen.  You are seizing the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing and for that you will be richly blessed.  Our God desires that none should perish and that all would come to a knowledge of Him.  We know that not all will, but know that we are chosen according to His purpose.
Thank you all for your prayers.  Continue in Him rooted and build up.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October Update

Dear Friends and Family, Thank you for bearing with me as you wait in eager anticipation of my next newsletter. Here are a few of the things I am involved with. Spiritual Emphasis Week – For a solid week chapels are held each day where the students (high school through middle school) here and message and take part in worship music. This semester’s theme was Unlearn: making room for the path of Jesus. The goal was to shatter some preconceived ideas about our walk with God. For example few understand that we can encounter God anywhere. Not just at church or bible study, but anywhere. The response from the students was amazing. Many were moved to follow God more seriously. A few chose to follow Christ in a way that they had never experienced before. Praise God for a school like the Alliance Academy where the church can grow and move and prepare leaders for this world so desperately in need of Him. The Chaplain’s Office – The day to day in the Chaplain’s Office is filled with small administrative ministry tasks, but often riddled with wonderful conversations with students and teachers about a huge scope of spiritual issues. Often I feel unprepared and unworthy to even engage, but my God works in and through me. Pray for the ministry that happens here. Already I’ve watched students change their actions, words and attitudes after encountering God through a conversation or a worship service. He moves in ways that we cannot comprehend yet are sometimes privileged to witness. Youth Group – For the next three months I am filling the position of youth pastor at English Fellowship Church. This has been a burden of responsibility more than a joy given all of my other primary tasks, but still a blessing. A full time youth pastor will arrive in January and take over, but until that time I have been charged with the task of “keeping it alive”. Youth mean more to me than just being alive, but unfortunately I don’t have the time to help it thrive. Thanks to God who provides all we need, I do have a few well needed and well equipped volunteers. Our theme at the moment is of “Denying ourselves, Taking up our cross, and Following Him”. This is truly an opportunity for some well informed Christian kids to become mature and bold believers. Pray for them as they become involved in the youth group and encounter God in new ways. Worship Teams – At the Alliance Academy my official title is Director of Worship. This means I lead and develop six teams of students that lead worship for chapels, Guardians and Youth Group. So far God has brought me almost thirty students who desire to know more about worship and learn more about how to do that. Pray that I can be a conduit of true, spiritual worship. There is a true potential for some radical transformation in the hearts and minds of the student body through ardent and genuine worship of our King. Guardians – Guardians is a Christian Service Outreach that targets middle school students. A group of 12 high school students whom Adam and I have identified as potential leaders and who are solid in their faith and belief in Christ partake in running a youth group like ministry for middle school students. The group we have this year is incredible. I have been blown away by their maturity and capability. They are willing and active in sharing their faith and trying new things. Pray that they would grow more than we could ask or imagine. Day to Day Ministry –Last Thursday while having a general conversation with the man who guards my apartment building, we began to talk about religions. He was unchurched and has not heard the gospel. After him asking me a few questions about what I do and why I’m in Ecuador he paused. I realized he was debating whether to ask this question or not and decided it would be ok. He asked “Loren, how do I become a Christian? How do I do that?” and I was more than willing to share the gospel of our Savior with Him. Please pray that I can find an Ecuadorian pastor and church to connect Him to. He really knows nothing about God or Christianity, please pray that God would give me the wisdom and words to speak to him and may he be first of many to accept His Word and lead others to Christ. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers. They are truly priceless. May God continue to bless you each as you seek Him and use your worldly treasure to make others glad in Christ. What else should we use it for if not to bring others to Him? I pray that God would open the eyes of every believer to the great needs of this world and that we would gladly give all we have if it would further the cause of Christ. There are several needs that have arisen over the past two months. 1) I have two small groups of guys that I meet with regularly for lunches and discipleship. You have a heart to give toward this ministry please do as my budget is not covering this cost of taking boys to lunch. This is where the majority of lives are impacted and changed, when they know that I care enough to talk with them and challenge them over a meal. 2) As the Director of Worship I need a guitar. The office owns one that is in poor shape. It is shared with other departments and therefore often not available or not in the place I need it when I need it. The guitar would need to be an acoustic electric guitar able to be plugged in. If you know of a guitar available to be given to the ministry let me know. If you are willing to give towards us buying a guitar here in country that is also doable. Thank you. 3) As some of you know. My shoulder was injured at the beginning of the summer and has increasingly become more painful to lift or carry things with that arm. What is needed is an MRI. This runs around $350, this is not enough for my insurance company to cover as I have a $1000 deductible which would cover surgery. If you can help me with this expense it would be greatly appreciated as I would be able to better participate in ministry if this could be fixed. This expense would be personal, so checks would have to be made out to Loren Holland and sent to my state side address (at bottom). Thank you again.4) Alaina and I are preparing for marriage and are going to begin the book Love and Respect. Please pray for us as we do so and are guided by God and couples who have agreed to walk us through this material. Thank you all once again. Loren Holland 6233 15th ave. Meridian, MS 39305
View of Cotopaxi Volcano from my apartment roof