Walk As Jesus Walked

Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). This begs the question: how did Jesus walk? Of course the answer is found all throughout the gospels. He walked with people. Real people. People who weren’t perfect and didn’t have all the answers. People who were sinners, who were poor, who were sick. People who were in need of a Savior.

This past May, after an arduous hike up the mountainside and through the jungle of Peru, we sent team members out into a community in small groups with no agenda other than to simply talk to people. To really listen. Just to walk among them. And so we stumbled upon Hugo in the jungle village of Los Olivos in desperate need of hope. Hugo revealed that he was struggling with a very difficult family situation and that he was at the end of his rope. He didn’t know what to do or where to turn to. This opened a door for a team member, Caleb Stinson, to share his own testimony about how God loved him through a difficult situation in his own family. In the middle of a hurtful and broken time, God not only restored Caleb’s family relationships but also made him a better father. He took broken pieces of broken lives and redeemed them, not recreating the same picture as before, but a wonderful new masterpiece. Hugo listened intently to this powerful testimony, and as a result of this team asking, listening, and sharing (essentially just spending time with him), Hugo surrendered his brokenness to the Lord. What else happened? Hugo’s brother accepted Christ as well!

Our team had nothing that could “fix” Hugo’s problems, but we had time to listen and we had time to love. Now, Hugo has the assurance and hope of a Savior who loves his family even more than he does. There are so many others in this remote village of Los Olivos who need to hear the message of a Savior who can redeem any seemingly impossible situation. Would you please pray for us as we continue to make this arduous 16 hour hike up to Los Olivos? We want continue to learn to walk as Jesus did, spending time with people, and allowing God to use our broken lives and willing hearts to minister to others who need to hear the good news that Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Transforming Hearts and Minds

Since we will close the books on our 2017 fiscal year in just a few short weeks, I wanted to remind you about the opportunity for your gift to be doubled, up yo $15,000, between now and June 30th.

GO International is focused on transformation, and as we look forward to a new year of ministry where both the challenges and opportunities are greater than ever, I pray you will join us in transforming the hearts and minds of those we serve across the country and around the world.

Thank you in advance for your partnership in the proclamation of the gospel!

 

Was It Worth It?

Was it worth it? This is what I asked Johnny, a member of a recent team to a remote village in the jungles of Peru. Before you hear his answer, there are few things you need to know about this trip.

Johnny Cobb got injured on the way to Mt. Olivos, so what should have been an 8-12 hour hike for him turned into an 18.5 hour hike through the jungle, at night, with no lights or water filtration systems. On top of that, the one thing you don’t want to happen when you’re getting ready to hike out of the jungle, happened: it rained. Rain means mud, which means more time and physical exertion, and Johnny was already injured. Rain also means strong currents when you have to cross the river, so strong, in fact, that they ripped our makeshift boats apart. So, was it worth it?

When Johnny answered this question he wasn’t thinking about his injury, the difficult journey into the jungle, or any of these other struggles. He was thinking about a young Peruvian boy. You see, once we got to Mt. Olivos, Johnny was able to work alongside a doctor to see and care for patients who otherwise would’ve had no medical care of any kind. One of the patients they saw was a little boy who had been bitten by a spider and, upon examination, it became clear that with no treatment this boy would not survive. The doctor was able to treat the boy, who now has every hope to completely recover. So, when I asked Johnny, “Was it worth it?” He answered exuberantly, “Yes it was worth it! That little boy was worth it!”

 James reminds us that “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised those who love him” (1:12).  Would you pray for us as we continue to persevere and take the Good News to those in remote villages like Mt. Olivos, so that all might know the length and width, height and depth of God’s love?

I’m Not Sleeping In The Jungle Tonight

“I’m not sleeping in the jungle tonight. . . at least not here.”

We knew the trip to Mt. Olivos was going to be difficult. Most of our team had either been there multiple times before or had at least been warned about the 16 mile hike, the “boat ride” back, and the possibility of rain and mud. As much as we had prepared though, we had no idea what lay ahead of us.

On the hike up to Olivos, one of our team members was injured.  The rest of the team continued on to the village and all of our packs somehow ended up going with them as well. And so, our 8-12 hour hike turned into an 18.5 hour hike through the jungle, at night, with no lights, food, or water filtration systems. Talk about a test of our faith!

As we hiked, we recalled scriptures that reminded us that our God is for us not against us, that He is a Way Maker and can speak to the storm and it must obey. We trekked on and on, but as the night stretched out before us our bodies became weak and thirsty and we  simply wanted to sleep in the jungle and give our bodies rest.

Not sure that was a good plan without any supplies of any kind, I spoke out what I heard in my mind: “We are not sleeping in the jungle tonight!” A few yards away, our beloved Peruvian translator, Daniel Richtor, replied back with, “At least not here. Maybe over there!” In spite of ourselves and our situation, we all started to laugh, and in the midst of that laughter we felt God’s reassurance that He was indeed with us and preparing the way before us. We took courage in this, and forced our tired bodies to keep moving through the dark jungle, reminding ourselves that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. With only a small pen light to guide us, over and over again we declared the truth of God’s Word and pressed forward.

When we felt like our bodies could go no longer without water, we bent down near a stream and decided we would just take our chances drinking without a filter because we so desperately needed water. At that very moment, we saw a small flashlight and slowly realized it was one of our Peruvian friends . . .  who had brought us a water filter!  We had nothing to store the water in, but we sat and took turns drinking in the life-giving water, knowing that God had once again provided for us.

Finally, around 2:00a.m., we stumbled into the village where the rest of our team was and were able to get the rest that our bodies were craving. We were tired, thirsty, mentally and physically exhausted, but we also knew we were well cared for. God provided for every need we had on our journey, and He didn’t leave us alone in the jungle that night, nor did He ever intend to. We pushed through, trusting in Him to make a way where there seemed to be no way, and He did not falter. He lit our path, He filled us with His power, and He gave us living water.

Please continue to pray for our safety and for open doors as we travel to places like Mt. Olivos, Peru in the future.

 

In Their Own Words

At the end of our recent Community Health Evangelism training in Asia,  our trainees were given the opportunity to share what impacted them the most from the training.  Here are a few highlights.

I am the only Christian in my family and village. Sometimes I lose hope that they will change. But now I have hope that through CHE I can help my village and family

I learned multiplication. We don’t have to do it ourselves, we can teach others and reach more people

We are rejected in the village when we talk about spiritual things but now I know we can start with the physical and integrate the spiritual

From the River Crossing story I learned that when people have problems, we should not do things for them but teach them do do it themselves

I am a schoolteacher. I will take this new way of teaching back to my school

These are just some of the lessons learned through our Community Health Evangelism training. Please pray that our students will keep their enthusiasm and implement this training in their region so that individuals and communities are transformed.

 

Medical team returns from South Asia

img_1885Our medical team of 8 people just returned from South Asia.  We saw 1429 people and gave general medical care and reading glasses. We worked in conjunction with an indigenous ministry which is reaching out to unreached peoples in their region. In one village they served, there were only a handful of followers whose had come to faith in the last few months as our partners had been working among the people. Another village had a small church begun from a crusade that they had done a couple of years ago.   We saw many people with common medical problems who simply lacked access to care or medicines. Our main impact spiritually was our care and love for the people we served. Open evangelism is much more difficult there now as there have been new government restrictions on believers, so we were mainly just planting seeds. Some accepted prayer, others didn’t. But all were cared for with the love that we have been blessed to be able to share.

 

Celia’s Story

This is the story of a lady I met on our team to Nicaragua in

Our team of doctors in Nicaragua

Our team of doctors in Nicaragua

August. Her story reminded me of many lessons I have learned about missions, medicine and wholistic care.

Celia came with multiple medical problems and insomnia. She had also been having pelvic pain for 8 months. However it became quickly clear that something else was going on.  It turns out that her symptoms began when 15 month-old baby died. He had been having diarrhea and she took him to the hospital and he died. She hadn’t been to the doctor for her own symptoms because she felt like they didn’t do anything to help her son.  Several things ran through my mind as we talked.

1. What happened to her son? Was this a preventable death?

Our Nicaragua CHE team, working to prevent illness and bring life in Christ

Our Nicaragua CHE team, working to prevent illness and bring life in Christ

15,000 children around the world die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea. Had there been a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program in her community, maybe better water and hygiene would have prevented his sickness.  Maybe she would have recognized his illness sooner and begun home treatment or taken him to the hospital sooner, both of which might have prevented this death. Of course I don’t know the details. He may have had some other illness or a surgical emergency like intussuception that the local hospital resources weren’t adequate to treat. Or, he may simply have had some other catastrophic illness that would have resulted in his death no matter what care he received. We simply don’t know, but we do know that many children like her son still die of preventable illness. Are we doing enough?

2.  Physical, emotional and spiritual health are connected. Her symptoms were clearly connected to her son’s death and her resulting grief and depression. God made us as whole persons and when one part is affected, the whole body suffers.  Her illnes could not be treated with a pain pill or by just prescribing an antidepressant. She needed care for her whole person.
3. Jesus is the answer, even when we have no answer.  My first response to her was just to listen and try to avoid platitudes and pat answers that are really of no help to hurting people. I told her I don’t know why her son died. I validated her pain and grief.  She said she was a Christian. I told her I understood that being Christian may cause her to have even more questions. Can God let something this bad happen even to a Christian?  Although I didn’t have answers to her specific situation, I could remind her of some things we know are true an that we can hold on to.
  • God is good. We may not understand. We may not be able to see His perspective. But we can cling to his goodness even in hard times.
  • God loves her son and he loves her. It may not feel like it right now, but she is greatly loved.
  •  God knows how she feels. He too lost a Son. He had to watch his son die a horrible, painful, unjust death. He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) because he too has been brokenhearted. However, because of Jesus death and resurrection we have hope. When we trust in him, we can know that we have a placed prepared in heaven where one day he will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4)
We prayed together through tears. I did address her medical condition as well with some treatment, but I am convinced that our conversation and time of prayer are just as critical to her healing.
I am also motivated to continue to serve those who are medically underserved. I am motivated to bring preventive care and improved health to communities through Community Health Evangelism. And I am motivated to share Christ so that people like Celia can have a hope in times of pain.

The Whole Gospel

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross. Colossians 1:19-20

Cultambo Mission Team June 2016

Cultambo Mission Team June 2016

Which is the most important thing we do on our medical mission trips, caring for the sick or sharing the gospel? This is a trick question. Caring for the sick IS the gospel. Just like feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, caring for those swept up in human trafficking, and all the other things GO InterNational teams do. This verse makes it clear that Jesus died on the cross, not just to save us from sin, but also to restore all of creation to its original state before sin entered the world. That won’t ultimately and completely happen until Jesus’ return, but his purpose for us who follow him now is to bring His kingdom into every area where we have influence. The gospel affects every area of life.

This was made clear once again on our recent trip to Peru. Our team helped construct a roof on the community center our partner Olinda is developing. This center will reach out to poor children with education and a medical clinic, while sharing Jesus love. We also ministered to over 900 people with medical, dental and eye care in three different communities. Many of those people would never come for a church service or to see the Jesus film. But they came because we cared about their needs. And in the process they met Christ. I was able to pray with several people to receive Christ. Our Peruvian doctor,

Dr. Willyams

Dr. Willyams

Willyams, said that one day the Spirit was moving so powerfully that almost every patient he saw prayed to receive Christ. That same day some of our team taught health lessons and showed the Jesus film in the public school. Without any prompting from our team, the children responded to the invitation at the end of the film and over 60 children professed faith in Christ! God was moving powerfully through everything that the team did to bring people to himself. This is the power of what we call wholistic ministry. Thank you for your support and prayers that allow it to happen. Come join us on a team soon and see for yourself!

Team gearing up to work at a newly established refugee center in Greece!

Ryan Smith, Nilah MacLean, Selena Herrera, Elizabeth Liechty, Emily Houp, and Sarah Houp are the team members. All of us attended Indiana Wesleyan University.
In March, Ryan and several others felt a burden on their heart for the Syrian refugees and the crisis they were facing. During the following two months of school, a small group of us with the same burden gathered and decided we wanted to help/contribute in some way. After months of researching and emailing different organizations, we got in contact with a man named Andreas through a Facebook page for volunteers in Greece. Ryan had emails and a Skype meeting with him over several weeks, and we finally decided to partner with him at Camp Elaya.
We will be going to Elaionas (Olive Grove), located right outside of Athens, to work at a newly established refugee center that has been approved by the Ministry of Migration. Currently, there are 2100 refugees at this location, and they are expecting hundreds more. About 50% are Syrian, but over 28 nationalities are represented in the camp. Doctors without Borders, Red Cross, and Greek medical services are already in this location, but there were no groups providing nonmedical support, so the new center will be a huge help. Their plan for the center is to have a variety of resources available for the refugees. This includes food distribution, non-food item distribution (clothes, toiletries, shoes, etc.), sports/arts/activities for kids, and a culture center with skills-sharing and English workshops for adults. People are now realizing that the refugees in Greece will be there for a while, so this project is trying to provide more long-term focused relief/support efforts.
When our team arrives to Elaionas at the end of June, there will be 15 other volunteers there to help jumpstart this new center. Although it is a small group to start with, Andreas is hoping to have 50 by July 15 and for more to be added weekly. The six of us will begin our time there by setting up the non-food-item distribution center, because the refugees there have not received new clothes in 3 months, and are currently wearing winter clothes in extremely hot weather.
For prayer:

  • Lift up the hearts of our team as we prepare
  • Pray for unity and favor amongst our team as it is a self-organized group and we will be living/working together for almost a month.
  • Pray for God to give us opportunities to share the gospel and His love through our words as it is seen in our actions. The core purpose of our trip is to serve those in need but we are expectant for the Lord to give us opportunities and want to be sensitive and wise with them.
  • Pray for the organizations that are currently on the ground serving as the need is great and workers are few.
  • Pray for health, safety, receptiveness, provision, and hope in the refugees currently in Greece and other hotspot countries like Turkey and Lebanon. They have been through a lot and are still seeing suffering. Hope in their situation is hard to maintain, especially for a non-Christian.
  • Pray for refugees who are still traveling to Greece and Italy. It is a dangerous and expensive voyage to be smuggled into Greece. Just recently, boats when down and 880 drowned around European seas.
  • Pray for the Greece government (as well as Turkey, Lebanon, Etc.) as the nation has gone bankrupt and has to process this difficult situation. Pray they have continued wisdom and compassion even at their own expense nationally.
  • Pray for other countries, including the US, to renegotiate their quota for refugees and to quicken the process. Those stuck in camps are waiting to be relocated but the process can take years. Pray for political shifts in the minds of governments.
  • Lastly, remember that the reason these refugee camps are overflowing is because of trauma in foreign countries. The refugees and asylum seekers who fled need prayer, but those who stayed need it just as much if not more. Lift up Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq, and Sudan among others. Pray against the oppressions, dictatorships, killing groups, corruption, and wars.

In Christ,
Sarah Houp

Empowering Presence of the “Three Guys”

HONDURAS

Medical-Evangelical Mission

26 February – 5 March, 2016

A throttling experience…por lo menos! That is “to say the least”, for me personally it was a lot like the throttle on an engine!  I felt and I saw a “control” and an “energizing presence” of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When I took an occasional break from seeing patients, and as I walked along the school rooms without books or window panes, and where screens had rusted away, I looked for some shade and a breeze…someplace to cool off.  It was during these breaks, especially, that I saw and felt the presence of the three men observing everything going on at the site. They were dressed in suits and ties and handsomely shined shoes and they quietly moved around the schoolyard compound…nothing missed their observation.

Ezekiel was taken by the hair and shown… these “Three Guys” had a hand on all of us. It. “throttled” us, controlled us, energized us to be in their hands.

Eleven hundred patients visited the five days of clinics for Spiritual care, dental care, medical care, vision care, hundreds of prescriptions for vitamins, for antibiotics, or anti-parasites usually. And there were the innumerable prayers from our prayer teams here in the U.S. for the patients and mission team there.

I watched two very angry/unhappy people reacting to their very real and potentially life threatening medical conditions as they nearly “stomped out” with a “thanks and goodbye!”.  And, I watched them both make a 180 degree turn towards health and comfort after they were literally covered by dozens of hands of Christians who were praying out loud for them. Whatever each patient felt before the prayers was 100% replaced by a positive, cooperative new attitude and I know the “Three Guys” were there too!

I hope you get to GO-International and see lives and your own changed and enriched through Christ; and sense the THROTTLE on your own life opening your heart and soul to God and His love. I did and I do.

 

Very sincerely,

 

Phillip H. Yunker M. D.