Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moved to Compassion

Today I was moved to compassion beyond anything I have ever felt before.  It was a usual quiet night at the restaurant when we were approached near closing time by a Dominican woman.  I was sitting outside with Joanne who works with us at the restaurant when the woman stopped near us and first apologized for interrupting our conversation.  My first thought was that she was a customer but she quickly stated that she only needed to talk to us.  Joanne asked her what was wrong in Spanish and after a fast and lengthy spiel of which I caught only pieces, it was determined that the woman had quite the story to tell.

She had just come out of the pharmacy located beside us where she tried to buy a prescription of medication for her very young daughter.  She told us her name was Santa and then she indicated she did not have enough money for the 340 peso prescription and I immediately thought to myself, "she is going to ask me of course"

I asked her why she needed the prescription and after Santa related what had happened I knew two things about her:  1.  She was genuine
                  2. She had Faith that could move a mountain.

Santa told Joanna in Spanish and broken English what had happened earlier that day.  The day began as normal she stated as she got up with her two young daughters and got them ready for the day.  Her father lived with her as he had suffered a stroke the past year and could not live on his own.  Since the stroke he had also begun to slip into the early stages of Alzheimer's.  Today she left her youngest daughter Rosete home with her father while she went to the colmado with the other daughter to buy a few things for supper that night.  Santa returned after about an hour and her little house was in a terrible state.  Turns out her father had a problem with his bowels and did not remember what to do about it, his Alzheimer's was quite advance now, so he had defecated in his chair, and on the floor and tried to clean it up with his hands.  Things went from bad to worse then as he must have figured he was cooking a meal for the family because he gathered up his feces into a large cooking pot.  Thinking what he had was food he then began to feed the 1 year old baby his feces.  From the story and the amount of tears coming from Santa's eyes I could hear the anguish in her voice as she told us.  Santa stated that she was almost beside herself when she discovered her father, her house, and her baby; everything covered in her father's mess.  At first she wanted to end his life, for what a burden he was to her and her two daughters.  She refrained, thankfully.  Within an hour after consuming her grandfather's mess the baby became violently sick; throwing up uncontrollably and then filling her pampers with an unbelievable black mess.  The baby was in intense pain as Santa called a neighbor to watch her other child while she took a motoconcho to the hospital in Sosua.  The hospital immediately transferred the baby to the big hospital in Puerto Plata where they could better care for the baby.  It was better for her anyway because CMC in Sosua is a private hospital which charges for services.  When Santa left her baby at the hospital to come back to Sosua and try and get money for a prescription she did not know what to do.  She only made about 200 pesos a day repairing shoes in her own little business attached to her house; not enough to pay for the prescriptions as she had already spent all her money on food that morning.  Her baby was hooked up to IV's to re hydrate her but she was still unconscious from the pain she endured in her tiny body.  Probably better that way I thought.
Santa told us that she thought of going to the street and maybe finding a gringo who she could sleep with once to make some quick money for the prescription.  She told us that she was ashamed and cried as she cried out to God for help.
Five minutes later she was sitting in front of  Joanna and me after the pharmacist had told her how much money she needed for the medication.
Santa finished telling her story and then turned to me asking, "Sir, are you a Christian? Do you know God?"
"I know God." I replied to her calmly, "He's here right now Santa."

Now please hear me people when I say this, I am not God, but we are His hands and feet; all of us who believe and are called to serve His people.  People who, when they are at the end of their rope, when they can only cry out to Him.  These are the people whom He brings in front of you.

Santa never asked me for the money, but she did ask me if she could fix my shoes for a small charge, or maybe she could wash our windows or clean my house for a small fee; enough for the prescription for her baby.
I have lived in this poor country now for more than a year and a half and I have seen the beggars and injured people who use their infirmity as a business.  These people don't want to be healed, they make a good living out of begging change from the pockets of the tourists each day.
Santa was no beggar, this I know.  I asked her for the names of her children and her address where she lived.  Then she asked me if I knew anyone who could help her tonight; I had already watched this complete stranger breakdown emotionally in front of two people whom she did not know.  A young mother who related an almost incredulous story of pain and suffering that no-one should have to endure.

I gave her the money. Santa jumped out of her chair and started crying again, this time Joanna went to her and gave her a compassionate hug.  After a moment she gained her composure, and I assured her the money was a gift; that I believed there are no coincidences and that I saw her Faith was powerful.
After we prayed for Santa and the baby together, she left promising to let us know how the baby is doing tomorrow.

I'll let you know.


The Real God Market (6) Business as Missions: A Case for God

Hello again all!
I know it has only been a few days since the last post but I am feeling inspired to write.  In my last post I eluded to the Vision that has brought Laura and I to the Mission Field here in the Dominican Republic.  More than 5 years ago now the steps of our developing ministry were started in our home church in Lethbridge, River of Life.
I knew then as I know today that what we were going to attempt to build in the D.R. was not conceptually normal as far as Missions are concerned, but fundamentally the idea of a Mission House that supports itself while creating opportunity for empowering Missionaries to be more successful at their calling falls right in line with God's Word.

First of all I want to state emphatically that what we believe God is doing within this Ministry in no way reflects poorly on the ways other Missions operate throughout the world.  We are called to serve exactly where we are gifted.
1 Peter 4:9-11
 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 
For years prior to our stepping out into the Mission Field, our lives have been blessed with successful business operations both in Lethbridge and prior to that in Calgary.  These years of developing skills to manage food service businesses and the ability to train individuals to become skilled managers dealing with people day in and day out will soon be put to use in the service of God's people.
The Rio Vista Mission House is currently under construction and when it is finished (First Stage so far) it will provide comfortable accommodations, meals, and security for Mission Teams who are working in many Fields of Ministry in the D.R.  Our concept is not unique as there are many NGO operations who have these types of facilities around the world; YWAM is one of the biggest Christian Mission organizations that provide Mission Accommodations for their many teams that work in Mission Fields.  Their Mission Houses help fund the many programs they provide for empowerment of all kinds of indigenous people all over the world.
In reality it does however take a lot of funding to put these facilities in place before the operations can be self supportive.  That is the irony, we need to raise funds through donations in order to be able to provide an adequate facility to generate more provision for God's people.  The end does justify the means simply because once the facility is operational it will sustain itself.
Already we have established relationships with many Mission Groups who rely on international teams to bring the necessary resources, funding, and training skills that are required in these Mission Fields.
I believe that the reason God requires His people to "use whatever gift he has received" is exactly for this reason.  The Mission Field today is extremely diverse and requires "specialized" Missionaries that can effectively implement specific operations that produce fruit in communities all over the world.

It is clear today that the evolving Mission Field that God has sent us into is filled with compassionate people who are wholly committed to giving all that they can so that many will become empowered through the work they do.  We are a small part of the "specialization" in the Mission Field.

Rio Vista, which means "River View" will provide a definitive facility from which the Compassion of God can reach those who need it most.  Each team that stays at Rio Vista will enjoy daily meals and private accommodations necessary for refueling Missionaries who give tirelessly of themselves.
Rio Vista in turn will turn revenue generated from the people who stay at the house into empowerment programs designed to lift people up with better education, better health, clean water, better food and better homes.

The self-sustainable Mission model is one of the most viable solution to continuing the difficult task of ministering to God's people.  Everything is more expensive now because inflation and demand has driven costs up to almost unreachable totals.  There is a new term floating around the established Church Community more and more today than ever before; "Donation Fatigue"  I have heard this story from every Missionary who works in this Mission Field.  I am sure it a universal term among most Missionaries of the world.  This term has been around for a while but today the impact of declining economies and many families burdened with mounting debt has resulted in a retraction globally on giving.  This means Mission Groups must find new ways to provide for themselves; in order to be successful in the Mission Field.  For without success in funding they go home, unable to fund their projects or even pay the rent in many cases.
Some would argue that this is God's will ultimately for He created everything we see, including money, and He can certainly provide if needed.
However, I also believe God does not want us to live our lives creating mountainous burdens of debt for ourselves; ultimately being crushed and broken by the same debt which provides our lifestyle.
No, I say it is far better to provide a means of compassion in Missions through a self-sustaining model that ultimately provides everything the Missionaries require within their Mission Field.

I also believe that there are many in the Community of God that are beginning to ask the same question.
This is far reaching people, and it is affecting everything around us daily.  It is not just International Missions that suffer, the local church is also under increasing pressure to survive in this declining Global market.

This I believe is God's will today in this evolving global economy we live in.  It makes sense to use the wisdom God blessed each of us with and make decisions for Missions and the Church that create empowerment programs that are self-sustaining.  More and more people are called into Missions everyday; more and more they will have to become ever creative in order to provide for the poor.

The foundation of Rio Vista Mission House has been built on this principle; a self-sustaining Mission to provide empowerment programs for the poor.

We are almost ready to begin operations at Rio Vista; ironically, we do not have enough funding to finish the security perimeter and landscaping.
We are excited to announce that we have booking requests from four teams now!  We are encouraged by the support we have received for Rio Vista up to this point and we are again asking for your support to help us become a fully operational-self sustaining Mission!

Please check out our website to see all of the groups who we work with and maybe bring your own team to experience what God is doing here in the Dominican republic!

Corporate and personal donations can be made through our partner in Missions, Bridges of Hope.


Monday, August 20, 2012

The Real God Market (5) Vision

Good morning all! Blessings from the sunny D.R.

So here's the thing, last night I was awakened from deep sleep at least three times.  I got up each time and walked about the dark apartment looking around; all seemed normal.  It was quiet outside, the dog lay snoring in her usual spot beside our bed, the night watchman was the only one awake outside in his chair near the gate.  I thought maybe it was because Laura was not with me as she was still in Canada with our daughter and brand-new grand-baby.  Then I thought maybe it was the arugula I had eaten for dinner.  No, I thought the third time; it was definitely God.  I woke the first time with a memory of a 411 listing, and it was for God, but as I saw the listing I saw also myself looking in a mirror.  So I got up and wrote it down, has to be something right?
The second time was a phrase that kept rolling through my mind, "Compassion is the outward reflection of Jesus."  Nothing more, so I got up and wrote it down.
The third time I was awakened after seeing again the vision that I was given on April 8 2007.  The day I knew God was telling me to go to the Mission Field.  I didn't have to write this one down.  This one has been emblazoned on my mind for more than 5 years now.  Long before I knew I was ready to go anywhere or do anything.
The connections with all three awakenings might not seem apparent, and to me it didn't click until this morning when I finally got up in the breaking daylight (about 5:30) with thoughts of several local people I have come to know over the last 18 months.  Each of them are entirely unaware of the other yet each has been placed in my path; there are no coincidences.
I met Johnny first, over a year ago, while Laura and I worked in one of the remote villages with some other Missionaries helping in a feeding program their Ministry ran.  At first Johnny (who was about 11 then) appeared in the lunch room with a few of his siblings.  He was one of 9 children borne to the same mother in the village however it was a certainty all the children did not have the same father.  Their mother was often away from the children as her only form of income was working the streets as a prostitute.  When she returned to the home in the village she would beat many of the children or neglect them entirely, so angry was she with her situation.  Many Missionaries helped care for the children as best they could but without any social net or ability to involve authorities (they are Haitian and therefore have no rights in the D.R.) the children suffered greatly.  Last week I was in the village and Johnny gave me a hug when he saw me.  I asked him where his mother was. "Gone" was all he said.  He never asked me for a thing, but I could see the hope in his eyes as he received the 75 pesos I had in my pocket.  "Gracias" he said. "Dios te bendiga." He smiled at me as I drove away from the village.

I met Fabio in March of this year in downtown Sosua soon after we opened up 3 Amigos Mexican Restaurant in the heart of Sosua.  Fabio is about 60 or so and was born with a club foot.  Actually he only had half of his left leg as what appeared to be part of a foot protruded from where his knee ended.  He walked with a large stick as a prop, wrapping his "foot" around the pole and hopping along.  I saw him daily but never spoke to him until one day he spoke to me, "Dios te bendiga baron!"  The first words he spoke to me, unknowing of my situation or ability to understand, "God Bless you son" came out of his mouth.  My response was automatic, I stopped, turned, extended my hand to him, "Igualmente Senor" which means, "Likewise sir".  He proceeded to rattle off in slurred Spanish which I understood about half about how without the ability to work he knows Dios will provide for him the same way Dios provides for the birds.  I cannot do much for him so we do what we can, it cost about 50 pesos for the rice and beans with a little chicken I give him daily as I see him.

The last guy is even more strange, again in the center of Sosua at the restaurant I was visited one day by the dirtiest, almost naked man wearing only tattered jeans, no shoes or shirt.  He was not old, looking to me about 25 or so, and he was not Dominican or Haitian.  He was talking to himself the whole time he walked and as he entered the shop he stopped and looked around, standing in the middle of the shop very near the counter.  He mumbled something in bad Spanish several times but I could not understand him.  Then he tried another language which sounded like German; again I did not understand him.  Finally he spoke in perfect English, calmly and politely, "Can I please have a cup of water?"  At first I was stunned, but I quickly gave him a cup of water which he drank in one gulp, turned and left.  Mumbling the entire way as he left. I don't know if I will ever see him again but I suspect yes.

This is what I got today: The string that connects us all is obviously the Spirit of God, inside each of us, even when we are entirely unaware.  The image of myself in the mirror states clearly that the "411 of God" is in me, as I have already submitted to His Word and truths.  The phrase, "Compassion is an outward reflection of Jesus" is definitive as who God has given me to help, in this Mission Field.  I fully understand that I did not have to travel 6000 miles to find these unfortunate souls, I can only suspect that it has always been God's heart to extend compassion on His people and that compassion must come through His church; His body at large.
 The vision of the Ministry from 2007 was fourfold at the time; first I saw a road leading to a large house protected by a gate, on the wall beside the gate were the words "North Coast Missionary Services" The second was the house itself; a two story structure with a large balcony with stairs leading to the second floor, a beautiful landscape washed in sunshine.  The third was a view of the airport here in Puerto Plata, I was in a large white van picking up a team which had just arrived.  The fourth was a Google page depicting a search of North Coast Missionary Services.  All of these are coming to existence, some already have.

I pray that you all are called in a way that fulfills His will for your lives.  Take a minute in your busy life and look outside, maybe you will see who God wants you to speak to today.

 This is where I find myself today, we are building a foundation for continued Ministry to His people in the Dominican Republic.  We are building a foundation for many Mission Groups to come and minister to many of these people, empowering them for success.
You can still support this Mission with your donation to help complete our project.
Please donate at the link
Please visit our website to see the work we are doing.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Real God Market (4) The Indomitable Spirit

Greetings all again from the sunny D.R!

Indomitable Spirit:  a spirit that cannot be subdued or overcome...Urban Dictionary

Two days ago I took my wife to the airport and put her on a plane bound for home.  She returned home to be with our oldest daughter who is set to give birth to our first grandchild!  Truly a momentous occasion for any family for the gift of a child is a blessing we are expected to enjoy; to celebrate as best we can with all the circumstances of our busy lives getting put on hold when birth occurs.  At least for most of us.

While the gift of the birth of a child is a gift to the parents who conceived the child it is interesting to note that within that conception reigns a furious debate over just what it is that causes life to start.  You see today scientific advancements have allowed man to look deep into the inner happenings of cellular development of all kinds of animals including humans but something mysterious still eludes the scientists.

WHAT starts the life of an animal or human and for that matter WHY?

Scientists have recently viewed cellular development of embryos with the aid of strong microscopes, and in "real Time" as it happens and they still have no answer as to What causes life to occur.
They speculate that the combination of the thousands upon thousands of cells forming in different ways and are triggered into development by many other factors, far too many factors for the average person to get their head around.  But even as the scientists watch all this happen right in front of their eyes, they do not know why the heart begins to beat in our bodies.  They cannot scientifically figure out what starts the life of an embryo.  We know this because science cannot create life in the lab for surely they are trying.

Of course believers know the answer but we need not consume our lives with trying to understand the HOW.
Mainstream science has classically demonstrated the conundrum of trying to prove that all life is a product of one accident after another, and that we are the result of course of millions of years of evolution as one prior species develops into the next.  Through scientific investigation man has determined that the odds of life today, in any form, whether it be a simple plant to the complex human, these odds are so astronomically impossible that there has to be something behind it all.  Something has to be manipulating the experiment in order for life to have occurred.  Science has shown that Mathematics cannot be incorrect, therefore their solution of the creation of life to be an accident is mathematically impossible.  However the scientists of today are not yet ready to abandon their theories yet, for to abandon them would mean they would have to admit that God definitively exists. Or at least something like God.

Do any of you see the irony here?

Life is a gift, the life of a child conceived by parents is a blessing.  But each parent provides only the physical evidence required to start life, the two cells that come together and join in a miracle that even science has no answer for.  Once those first two cells join and begin to double and double again, the point where life enters is an equally bigger mystery.  Somewhere between conception and the first heartbeat a greater thing is applied; something bigger than science can explain.  Bigger because Spirit is infinite, without form, and without time.  It has to be Spirit because man has already examined and determined all the chemicals, all the amino acids that make up DNA, all the chromosomes of DNA that determine hair color, height, eye color, skin color and shoe size for that matter.  The trigger is still missing from science.  There are no wires connected to each embryo to some invisible minute battery inside every mother that somehow "jump-starts" the heart.
 Life happens because God touches each embryo with His Indomitable Spirit, His Spirit that He places inside each one of us; His Spirit that touches everything alive in our world around us; His Spirit that then stays only with humanity after life begins.  We know this because humans are the only sentient species on the earth, the only species that can reason and produce results from reason.  His Spirit stays within because this is the only way God can talk to us, through His Spirit within us.

C'mon you scientists, when are you going to admit that there is no solution other than God?  The Philosophy of Logic dictates that there can only be one solution to life, because even logic dictates that all life starts in some way, but it all starts!

Rest assured that science will likely continue to ignore the obvious truth and press on looking for the needle in the hay stack.  As for me and my family, we will enjoy the blessing that God has given us in the gift of our grand-daughter.  Liliko Geyer/McMullen will be born soon, (Due on August 16, 2012) and will already be filled with the Indomitable Spirit of God within her.  May the Indomitable Spirit continue to inspire her, encourage her and empower her to be all that God has willed for her; for this is the truth of WHY we have life, since the Indomitable Spirit of God has most certainly touched all of us first, for you are alive with the same Indomitable Spirit as well.

Abuelo Michael