VOB News July 2020 “Looking back then and now”

A partnering missions organization recently asked, to highlight in their newsletter, who we are and what we do particularly in Mexico. We thought we would share it with you:

I (Wayne) spent 8 years serving in an administrative pastoral role in a local San Diego church. Also one of my roles, was to lead the youth group. Several times we took the youth to Tijuana Mexico to do some simple building refurbishing chores and maybe create some fun time for the children there. A few years later while working for another ministry in Kansas City Missouri we were leading a missions trip in the Philippines. As I worked with the very poor there I was stunned by their amazing outlook on life.

I bought myself one of those scrap rugs in the Philippines. I step out of bed everyday onto it to remember my “deal” with the Lord!

We were worshiping the Lord in the poorest area I had ever been yet the folks behaved as though they were the richest ever. It reminded me of my few times in Tijuana in the earlier years. I realized that we had lived 20 minutes from a third world while living in our little San Diego apartment working in the church office. We had been contemplating returning to San Diego. That day, while worshiping in the Philippines with the richest of the richest in spirit, among the poor, I made a deal with the Lord (while standing on a little rug by the door, handmade of scraps to wipe the dust off your feet). If He helped Carol and I navigate back to San Diego, I would serve the poor in the nearby third world of Tijuana, Mexico.

He did and I did!  13 years later, we have taken incredible full truck loads of food across the border 2-3 times regularly a week. We have made connections and relationships with brothers and sisters, and churches, that are invaluable to us, as they know their communities, and know where the greatest needs are. And better yet, they desire the Lord be glorified and lifted among all people. Tijuana is an important place to be. There are amazing people who work harder than most I have known. Limited by resources, and overlooked by their government, the people of TJ make the most out of what they have.  We are so privileged and honored to be a part of making what they have, more substantial. Our greatest desire, is to work with the locals, and help them help their communities, keeping ourselves in the background of service as often as possible. We deliver food to a great number of people and facilities, children and elderly homes, infirmaries, rehabs, and many colonia’s, both rural and urban, where the folks provide best they can for their families on limited budgets. These days, in this recent world pandemic, Tijuana is affected no less, if not more. No stimulus checks. No government aid. And yet many people have been forced out of work, due to the health scare closing many businesses. We had learned years ago that many of our Mexican partners do not have savings or long term financial plans. They live day to day, week to week, on minimal pay. They do not store a lot of food, as they buy what they need to feed their families on a day to day basis. Often I am asked, “isn’t the donated food near date and shouldn’t it be cooked and consumed soon?” It is always easy to reply, ‘no worries, these folks will put this on their family dinner table tonight,’ because it is today’s provision. 

Throughout this pandemic, food donations have ebbed and flowed. We are grateful for every call we receive, and any amount of provision versus, it going to waste. Prayers are greatly appreciated in seeing that those connections continue to be made. Many businesses are stressed with the hardships of the changes in normalcy, this pandemic has brought on. But, we believe there is a great abundant blessing to all who make the effort, to not over ook the needy. Thank you for praying that the needs of the poor, will remain visible, and continue to be met!

DID YOU KNOW?

When I was a child (Carol), my mom and dad took my sister and I on vacation every summer.  On two occasions, we went to see “Unto These Hills” in Cherokee, NC.  The play dramatizes the Cherokee nation, and the lead up and removal of the people on the Trail of Tears.  I remember, as both a small child, and a young teen, being deeply moved by this story, and wanting the Cherokee people to fight back, and not leave. I was so sad that they were forced away from their homeland.  I look back on this, as the spark to the fire that GOD has put inside of me, to see the First Nations people of North America, come to know that Lord.  I really cannot explain it.  I just know this fire is deep in my heart, and I am thankful to be able to serve thru worship & prayer, people of all nations.

Covid19 update:  our ministry trip to the Cheyenne River reservation, in South Dakota, like so many things, has been put on hold for the time being.  Some of the reservations in SD, have been put on lockdown, or in a phase of lockdown that does not allow visitors on the reservation.  Pine Ridge, and Cheyenne River are among these.  The hardships the Native people face, when dealing with the virus, is heavy.  There are few to no hospitals on the reservations, and even the one hospital available on a reservation, will only have 6 or 7 intensive care beds.  When everything is shut down, goods have trouble getting in & out to an already isolated population.  Please pray with us, that the Lord will turn what the enemy means for evil, into good.

 

You can see the published highlight, on VOB, from our missions partner Circle of Concern here:

VOB News July 2019 “9 Reservations Journey Report”

WOW! I’m sitting here pondering what to tell you about our 9 reservation prayer journey, and I’m at a loss as to where to start!  So I’ll start with the details:

• 9 different reservations-all in South Dakota.

• 8 different hotels.

• 6 team members from VOB.

• Over 25 team members, including folks from China, Japan, and Taiwan.

• Numerous Native American nations represented.

• 2000 miles driven in total, in Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Every day, we were somewhere different. On two of the days, we were on 2 different reservations in a single day.  Needless to say, we did lots of driving!  Prior to the trip, we had heard about all the flooding in South Dakota, and we sure saw evidence of it all over the state (really sad, actually-the people of Nebraska are still dealing with the flooding, and the folks in this part of our country need our prayers).  We heard about a tornado that landed and rotated clockwise, which is extremely rare in the northern hemisphere, just before our journey began. This tornado occurred near our last 2 stops. Towards the end of the journey, a tornado landed at our first stop in Pine Ridge, and hovered over the same area for a full 30 minutes!  Signs and wonders from Heaven? You decide!

At each reservation, our leaders gifted our local hosts, to begin the evening. Then hours of prayer and worship were poured out. I’ve never seen a team work together the way this team did. Even though we were from all over the country, and didn’t know each other before we started, GOD brought everyone together in such a way that we really worked like family. Each person did their part to push forward worship and prayer on each reservation. The hosts at each place, were super blessed,  refreshed, and encouraged.

The governor of South Dakota, who is a strong Christian, sent along a letter to be read at each stop on the journey, with her thanks and blessings on our efforts to bring healing prayer, salvation and unity to the “Seven Council Fires” Reservations (Seven Council Fires, is the english translation of what the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people call themselves). On our second to last stop, 2 state house representatives from South Dakota, joined our gathering, receiving protocol gifts from team members, as well as prayer and many encouraging words to continue fighting the good fight in the state house of legislation. Unbeknownst to ANY of us beforehand, the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, and her husband showed up at our last gathering on Flandreau reservation!! She stood with our leaders, thanking all of us for taking a stand for healing between the races and people of South Dakota, healing and progress for the Native American people of the state, salvation, and encouragement for the tribal leaders and people.

Wayne and I were able to personally thank Kristi and her husband, and give a gift from our work in Mexico. Governor Noem asked us to pray for a meeting that was taking place the next day. She had invited the leaders on all 9 reservations to meet with her at the capitol, to discuss state-tribal issues.  Often, she told us, they choose not to come when invited. Later in the week, we found out that 7 of the 9 reservations were represented at this meeting!!! This is a HUGE step forward in progress with tribal leaders.  We know this was a result of the hours of worship and prayer poured out before the Lord every day. 

Each day, each reservation, every gathering, was different from the last. We never really knew what to expect!  The temperature got hotter each day, and loading equipment in and out daily, required a lot of work, and dedication. Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Yankton, Sisseton, Flandreau…..churches, community centers, tribal halls, casino conference rooms, outdoor parks….we met all over the place!!  Our 6 VOB team members, all crammed into a Dodge Caravan mini-van, with all of our suitcases, bags, musical instruments, water, food, etc, were quite a sight!  We looked like a clown car, piling out of the vehicle every day at the hotels, and this was quite entertaining for any onlookers!! Everyone kept a great sense of humor, which was an answer to prayer.  Truly, this was all a real labor of love.

My overall takeaway? That’s a hard one! I guess I have to say that I am completely, utterly, profoundly stunned, at the grace of GOD, and the way He orchestrated every part of this journey. Over and over and over again, I found myself shaking my head with overwhelming thanksgiving, that I got to be a part of this. Seeing people giving their life to the Lord; seeing people who feel otherwise forgotten, so happy and blessed, and laughing with joy;  seeing brothers and sisters in the Lord working together in such oneness….I truly stand amazed at the goodness of the Lord.  Wayne and I pray that you will feel GOD’s pleasure and joy at the part you played on this journey, praying, supporting, encouraging along the way.  We cannot thank HIM enough, and we cannot thank you enough! GOD bless you dear friends.

PS: please continue to lift us up in prayer. We have had quite a bumpy ‘re-entry’ back into day to day life, including various forms of warfare going on around our household as well as many of those on the team. We also would ask you to water the seeds planted in South Dakota, in prayer, that new life would come in Jesus’ Name. Lastly, we ask you to pray for the relationships that were created on this journey, because we believe there is so much more to come….Love and thanks-Carol and Wayne