VOB News March/April 2022 “A Time for Everything”

Rita, Grizz, Wayne & Carol at the Georgia State capital in Atlanta

A time for everything… If you get a chance, read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 to familiarize yourself with the whole passage. It will be easy to see where to apply “a time”, to many things going on in our world today, the hard and the good times. For us, in this season, it has been the uncomfortable realization of the “time to die”.  Many of you would have your own experiences with death, and the sorrow that relates to it.  Early, in our first fews years of ministry here in San Diego, we lost our ministry partner, and mentor Mark McCoy.  Then, a year later, we lost another dear co-leader, Sherman, in our church who was also a great supporter and encourager in our marriage and ministry – including a father figure to Wayne. I remember Carol’s dad telling us that we were much too young to be having friends pass away. Fast forward 20+ years and there have been many other co-laborers, friends and family who have passed on. Naturally, this includes our current season, where losing Carol’s father would have been more than enough to handle.  Sadly, however, we just returned from a celebration of life this weekend, of another fallen ministry partner. Our dear friend Larry Grizz Brown, an elder in the Native American community, passed suddenly and unexpectedly. We had just spent time with Grizz and his new bride, our friend Rita Bear Gray, in Georgia, and again in Pennsylvania. Another dear brother in our worship community, Dan Simonek, passed recently as well, and we will gather to remember him at the end of the month. They all are in heaven, which is amazing and truly wonderful for them!!   It’s just a little hard to stay on that reflection for those of us left behind. 

I know this letter may seem like a downer, but we wanted to be honest about where we are at in this season of our lives.  Perhaps you are there right now as well, or have been there at one point in your life. We live in a very difficult time – standing for our families, our nation, the world. We know to keep our eyes on Jesus. We know His promises. We know that so many things we endure, would be hopeless without Him. The Bible also says in 1st Thessalonians (4:13) to ‘not mourn as those whom have no hope.’  Our hope is in the Lord!!!  But we do need one another, to be reminded of that. And yes, we all endure these hardships and sorrowful times, so that hopefully we grasp a deeper empathy and compassion for others in their day to day struggles. Ultimately that has always been my (Wayne) goal – to use the areas in my life that are the weakest—or yet to be healed—to motivate my compassion for others. Work for our salvation? NO. But work OUT our grief, trust and salvation? YES! These life setbacks, discouragements, and shortcomings make us stronger. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. (2nd Corinthians 12:9). His grace is sufficient. I trust these promises to give me hope. I hope you do too! Yes there is a time to mourn. But there comes a time to dance as well! (Ecclesiastes 3:4)  Always remember that, dear friends. 

Wayne, Lorenzo, Genesis & Carol

On the ministry front…

We are in the process of returning to our regular routine and schedule in Mexico. Sorting out the usual customs issues. However we have made some strategic trips across the border. We attended the wedding of a young woman we have known since she was a small girl!  Our ministry partner Vicente’s daughter got married.  Through a VOB sponsor, this young woman has received saxophone lessons for years, a skill we hope will help her take a small step higher in economic advancement in her life and culture. Her instructor, a sax player in the Tijuana symphony, played her bridal march at the wedding, and joyously celebrated with us.  

Nurse Angelica – The oil lamp in Angie’s hand is an international symbol for nurses widely known to symbolize Florence Nightingale and her transforming work in the nursing profession. Her lamp became synonymous with goodwill, reliability, and compassion, which are all attributes that are highly desirable in the field of nursing today. [Google]

Also, we were able to deliver a large amount of medical supplies to a missionary nurse about 2 hours south of the border. This missionary nurse works with disabled kids and their families in Maneadero, a very poor area south of Ensenada Mexico. Our hope was to share the many things we collected while caring for Carol’s dad.  This dedicated nurse has alread  y written us, and spoken of how deeply appreciated, in particular, a donated pair of special soft booties were to a 12 year old boy who is bed ridden with pressure sores on his legs and ankles. These booties are a resource they would have not had available to them otherwise. It is a real blessing for us to be able to provide relief for another, through resources from a difficult experience of our own. Lastly, though we did not get to attend her graduation which happened while we were away, another young woman (whom we have also watched grow up) who VOB has sponsored with your help, graduated from nursing school!  We are so excited for Angie’s future! Your partnership investment is one of the highlights of what we get to do. Making a difference for one who can make a difference for many.

VOB News Feb 2022 “Stand strong and build”

 I must confess:  I love the Old Testament.  I love the history, and the chain of events and how the Lord worked thru the nation of Israel to bring light to the nations of the earth, and, eventually, the Messiah, Himself.  I especially love the history of the Temple of GOD in Jerusalem.  King Solomon, David’s son, built the temple.  When Solomon’s son took over as king, the nation experienced a civil war and split into 2 kingdoms, Israel and Judah.  Israel worshiped wrongly and in different ways, but Judah continued to worship the Lord in the temple in Jerusalem.  Through the decades, Judah had a series of kings leading the nation.  Every time Judah had a righteous king, the nation would follow GOD, worship at the temple, and be blessed. Every time Judah had an unrighteousness king, the temple would fall into disrepair, and the nation would go its own way.  Eventually, this led to the Babylonian invasion, the destruction of the temple, and the deportation of the nation of Judah to Babylon, today’s Iraq (Israel had long since been deported to Assyria).  After some time had passed, the kingdom of Persia, (today’s Iran), conquered Babylon, and the Persian king Darius, allowed the Jewish people to return to their land, and rebuild their temple.  

What does this have to do with me, today?  I’ve been reading the minor prophets in the Bible, and have been ‘stuck’ on the book of Haggai.  When the Hebrew remnant went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, and reestablish their land, they found the land full of hardships and peril.  Difficulty and struggle were around every corner.  As time went on, the people gave up on building the temple, and began focusing on their own lives and homes.  GOD sent Haggai (and Zechariah), to speak to the people, encouraging and exhorting them to continue building the temple. His glory, in the form of the Messiah, would one day enter that temple.  It was critical for them to continue to build His place, so that the fulfillment of His Kingdom could come. If you know the story, you know that the people did, in fact, rebuild the temple. They carried on with worshiping the Lord there, albeit with many ups and downs, until Jesus arrived on the scene.  

I’ve been thinking about this, lately.  How true is it that we, as GOD’s people, have gotten discouraged, exhausted, and just plain worn out, and decided to focus more on building our own ‘houses’ and ‘kingdoms’?  How focused has the church become on building our own little projects, that, in the end, have little to do with building the Kingdom of GOD? These are questions I am asking myself these days, and I would like to humbly challenge you to ask yourself (and the Lord!), the same question.  Are you focused on building GOD’s kingdom; on glorifying Jesus in your daily life; on making sure others know and experience His love and presence in different ways?  Just as the Hebrew nation’s sole purpose in the earth, was to glorify and carry the presence of GOD, so it is now our sole purpose to do the same.  As believers, we are ‘grafted’ into the holy nation, and it becomes our goal and responsibility, to honor the Lord in every facet of our life. This is not an easy task, in a world full of sin, corruption and anger, not to mention the things we see on the news every day.  Nevertheless, that is our calling. That is what we were created for.  I encourage you today, to rededicate yourself to that calling, and to bring this to the Lord in prayer.  Ask Him how you can best honor and glorify Him in your life.  It’s an important thing for us all to do.  Remember, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit!  He lives in you now, if you know Jesus.  Be strong and courageous, and ‘rebuild’. Even though our nation, and many others, are in upheaval, our GOD is not.  He lives in you. Stand strong and build!  

Update:  We (along with our three amigos) made the long drive across the country, mid-February. We are back from taking a partial leave of absence, to serve my parents, during my dad’s illness and passing.  As painful as this time has been, it has also been deeply precious, and we are so thankful that we were able to do this.  At this moment, we are processing our ‘reentry’ back into ‘normal’ life here in San Diego.  Please pray for us, as we move back into our work, and please continue to pray for my mom, as she adjusts to this new normal. 

Wayne & Carol, Winston, Salem & Moravia.