There is no greater delight than to have your disciples learning beyond the walls of your classroom in the real course of ministry. Peachy Sloan is in Central America, and has been serving there since her graduation from GCBI ’07-08 class. She was a blessing to us before, but you have to read her whole letter to see how God is enriching her life in Him now…
DO NOT MISS THIS! YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU READ IT!
Dear family and friends,
Here is an update on what is going on here in Waspam, Nicaragua. I have been here four months now, have two left, and am here as the only foreigner for the rest of the time. Many exciting things are beginning or continuing in a different way, as I had English speaking team members with me before now. It is amazing how life changes with the dynamics of a group. Here are some things I have been experiencing and learning.
Nutie, Camille, the Bagbys and I got to spend some time together discussing the events that had unfolded during the time of the teachers’ workshop, and planning for the DWD mission team to arrive before they did. One situation after another had come up where our plans were great, but apparently not what was on the Lord’s agenda, therefore were completely changed. We have been learning the lesson of maintaining open hands and extreme flexibility, while being willing to do what God asks of us, when it seems impossible. In a few words, nothing turns out the way we expect, plan, and prepare for it to. The description Mike Bagby came up with for this pattern we see is “flagrant disregard,” and it has continued to be appropriate for situations throughout the whole time the DWD team has been here.
Just before the team arrived, I experienced flagrant disregard that really upset me. I was abruptly uprooted, both physically and emotionally. I experienced a day that was one of the toughest in my life. I was going about God’s business, serving Him with a good heart, when suddenly I felt like several things I held very close were ripped away from me. I had hopes and plans that I really wanted to be realized. I had spent lots of time and energy preparing for what I thought would happen, but at least five different things, all very important to me, were flagrantly disregarded.
In a nutshell, I was assisting the first group who was here with their airport departure, while planning to see them off then head down to the teachers’ workshop, where my main English students were gathered for the last day of the workshop. I hoped to be able to teach them one last English lesson; I had a fun jeopardy game invented for them and spent lots of time on, while sacrificing fun activities with friends. I hoped to spend the next two days finishing my radio lessons for the following week that I would be gone so they could continue to be on the air. The payment for the radio time was due shortly thereafter, and I planned to pay before leaving. I also wanted to say goodbye to my friends and had some things to discuss before I left. My visa was to expire in 5 days, so it was necessary to get to Managua to renew it. That morning there was a rumor of a transportation strike, which could easily last a week, which meant that my flight would be cancelled and my visa would expire as I was stranded in Waspam. Nutie was in the same situation as I and she decided that we leave on the flight that morning… The flight that was to arrive any minute. As I packed my bags, I told God over and over, “I don’t like this!” But I knew God had a plan that I was a part of that obviously didn’t line up with what I wanted.
I could only look to God and from Him get the strength for the moment, truly living each moment at a time, because if I looked into the future I would have felt inadequacy, despair, and panic. I could only look at God and not at my circumstances. I felt like I was walking through quicksand, and if I took my eyes off my Lord I would begin to sink, like Peter did when he stepped out onto the water with Jesus. Throughout our time here, our plans are constantly flagrantly disregarded, and we find ourselves time and again holding our hands open before God, as our knees hit the floor, and we say, “Your will be done, even though I have no clue what is going on or how I will do this!” It is by God’s power alone that we see any fruit around here.
When we offer ourselves to Jesus Christ, He takes us up on it. Every year I have come here, this is my 6th trip, God has taken me to a deeper level of knowing Him and dying to myself. After all, that is what He called us to do, right? To take up our crosses and follow him… to death then into eternal life. Wednesday I began a Bible study, and since all four of the participants are believers with their own bits of wisdom to share, we had an interactive lesson. I taught on Ephesians 1:1-14, our identity in Christ, and the discussion went from what He offers us to what He requires of us, then to what I am willing to give. We talked about dying as a martyr for Christ, then to apply the lesson to our daily lives, I asked each one to give an example from his or her own life of dying to himself. I believe it was a great Bible study, and that God used me to impart a little more of His heart to the others. He also gave me insight into where these four teens are at spiritually. Three of them I have known for a few months now, and have grown to love them, and feel responsibility for guiding them spiritually. The fourth one I just met, she is a pastor’s daughter, loves God and has a fire in her spirit. I almost immediately saw a preaching gift in her, and as she is here on vacation, I encouraged her to start a Bible study when she returns to college.
I have been doing a lot of dying to myself recently. From parasites to the flu, I had been sick every other week since I arrived. Two weeks ago when the DWD team was here, I had the flu and was in bed for three days with a fever. My room was lovely, but it had a few leaks in the roof, causing an abundance of mold to grow in and on everything. I began to feel that if I stayed still long enough I too would grow mold. After the fever died down and I could put two thoughts together, I was so discouraged and sick of being sick. I considered changing my ticket to leave Nicaragua with the group on July 12th and to quit all ministry I was involved in to do something different with my life. The cost of my health was not worth serving God here. I had had enough. I began to hate everything except the people; the food, the surroundings, the weather, the smells, the culture, the poverty; you name it, I hated it.
At this point I cried myself to sleep on my moldy pillow, then woke up just as dismal as the night before. Nutie and a few others were just outside my room playing guitar and singing songs of praise to God that normally I would have loved to have joined in on. But instead I passed by them choking back tears. Usually there is a song in my heart, but at that time I could not possibly sing praise to God, I could only admit defeat.
I told Laura Bagby and Nutie Melrose how I felt, and they called the group together to pray for me. It may well have been a spiritual attack I experienced, because during their prayers my depression left, my attitude changed, and I felt hope again. Most of all, my perspective changed. God renewed the vision of serving Him here, and gave me His strength to persevere. Moment to moment, I chose to lay down my will, because it is not about me at all, but about Jesus and those He has called and who need to hear His word. I now have joy in living this lifestyle again, especially in the fact that I could not do it without my hero, Jesus Christ.
I had a dream a little while ago that I had a mission to complete, and everyone I knew was with me, but they could not help me with it. I knew it was dangerous and that I would get caught by the “enemy,” which was a vine, but I set out to complete my mission anyway. On the way to the destination, I asked everyone I knew where all the heroes were, who were the young men strong enough to fight the vine. None were to be found, so I asked everyone to send them as soon as they saw them. I set off on my mission alone, and got caught by the vine. It tried to kill me, and everyone came to watch but could do nothing to help. Just in the last moment, a young man signifying Jesus arrived and cut the vine off me. He was not too late, nor too weak to save me. The more pain I experienced, the more I appreciated when He rescued me.
This dream may seem silly to you, but to me it is very powerful, and I am encouraged often in remembering it. Here is a verse that I really like: 1 Tim. 6:17 – 19 “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” When we live in our own strength, we are not living that which is life indeed. God doesn’t want to know how capable we are, He wants us to be available to Him.
Now that the Americans have all left, it is just me here with the locals. I am not lonely or sad because first of all I have God’s presence, and secondly I have a family and friends here who love me. I am so blessed. Some things I need prayer for are that now my accountability is long distance, I always appreciate prayers for health and strength, and please pray also for the relationships with the locals I will be developing and for the Bible studies and both physical and radio English classes, along with the preparation and help I need translating. If you want to pray for them specifically, Mayga and Celia are the young ladies I live with, and other friends/ acquaintances are Abelina, Migdelina, Paola, Angelica, Felix, Tony, Silpa, Salma, Marlan, and Joiner. Thank you for your prayers and support, it is very much appreciated.
In Christ’s love,