March 31st, 2015
In the beginning of this month, I took some time to go on a personal retreat. God spoke directly to me some scriptures about discipleship and counting up the cost. I thought that was cool.
Then the rest of he month happened.
I have wrestled through life and ministry like never before. I have learned much from Peter and Paul and what it means to struggle and suffer and walk the hard road. Like them, I have many weaknesses, challenges, and failures. But also like them, I have a great God. He is faithful. He meets me all along the way. He knows me inside and out. He goes before me in everything.
And He keeps calling me to follow.
This is possible because God blesses, empowers, offers refuge, and is unchanging.
That hope we have as an anchor of the soul–an anchor that can neither break nor drag. It passes in behind the veil,
Celebrating a special day with Gloria.
March 18th, 2015
For 17 months we have been pursuing taking over a ministry in El Salvador called Vinculo de Amor (Love Link) from a retiring couple. We saw this as God’s provision of the first two pieces of the Broken ministry God put on our hearts in 2010.
The long story short is, that with the advice of some dear friends, we have agreed to stop this process.
The longer version is that this past weekend a team of advisors who had agreed to serve as ambassadors for the ministry arrived and really rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to help us solve some problems and find ways forward. This team was very diverse in experience, expertise, and even age range. Some things they all had in common were that they came from C&MA churches, love ministry in El Salvador, believe in our family and team, and are very sharp minds that are not easily swayed by what others think.
Together these 8 friends unanimously decided to advise us to discontinue the process of transitioning into a leadership role at Love Link (Vinculo de Amor). Their decision was based on the serious legal, financial, and transitional issues that are no where close to being solved and are negatively impacting the health of our team and family. Even though we were aware of the issues and the extreme stress on everyone, their advice was a HUGE surprise and took some convincing on our part but, we decided to take this as answer to our prayers for guidance. (It was a huge surprise for them as well as they volunteered to do this in order to advance this ministry, not close it down.) Fortuitously, my family had been memorizing Proverbs 1:5 as a family all last week.
We presented this decision to our boss in Envision (Tim Meier) who was as disappointed as we were but, agreed with their assessment and saw it as wise counsel from God.
Understandably if you have any questions, please feel free to email us directly.
Our passion to reach deportees is still alive and full steam ahead. We will be focusing our efforts on reaching out to those deportees and their families through Hungry church. Richard, Nestor, Daniel and Alton will continue building relationships as they coach the Jaguar football team. Please pray for us through the next 6 weeks of dissolving the relationship with Love link gracefully.
Thank you Linda (NJ) for serving this month with us!
March 11th, 2015
M and A came to Lovelink for a visit this past week and we are so encouraged to see the progress in both of them!
Cuddle Bears update: We lost out in the first play-off game this past Saturday by one point! We believe we played the best game of the season. And at the end of the game, we had a player from another team pull us all aside and tell us how he respects us out of any other team in the league – both in how we play and the improvement we’ve made but also in how we’ve carried ourselves. It was all worth it!
Later this week, we look forward to the arrival of a group from Cody, WY and Boise, ID along with several people who advocate for Love Link in the US. Please pray for the many conversations and planning that will be taking place for Love Link — especially as they meet and discuss pivotal issues and future direction with the Salvadoran Board of Directors for Fundacion Vinculo de Amor.
This has been a season of injuries for our team. Daniel tore a tendon playing football and is looking at probable surgery. Melissa broke her nose playing football in our yard, but will not require surgery! Please pray for their continued healing and also for our kids who can’t seem to beat the colds or allergies or whatever is attacking their bodies. All the missed school is starting to add up and we appreciate your prayers for their spirits as well as their minds!
This past Sunday, Richard was invited to speak at the Chinese Alliance Church here in San Salvador.
March 5th, 2015
James Panza, Pastor of Grace Chapel, Bedminster, NJ
We returned Friday from a week in Paraguay for Field Forum for International Missionaries. It was a great time as we received some great teaching on Leadership and some very good biblical teaching by two Alliance pastors and also had the chance to connect with some amazing Alliance missionary families.
As we look to re-open the in-patient part of the “Baby House” we are in desperate need of help. We most need the help of nurses, administrators, and bookkeepers. If you know of anyone who may be interested in coming for 3-6 months or even a year, please contact us!
Lastly, Nestor is requesting prayers for the Hungry, the church plant for deportees. He is studying hard to be able to lead spiritually. Also, we will have our first play-off game for flag football this weekend which is one more chance to connect with people relationally.
Rev. Hector Ramirez, Senior Pastor, Riverside Community Church, Nutley, NJ
February 26th, 2015
A catch I had in our most recent win against the Guerreros
We’re nearing the end of our second season of flag football here at Wired and it looks very likely that we will advance to the playoffs this season! Some of us here at Wired have teamed up with some others working in different ministries here in El Salvador to form a successful Cuddle Bear team. It provides us with very direct means of interacting with, gaining the respect of, and befriending many of the deportees here in El Salvador. As our relationships with these guys strengthen, we plan to restart our Hungry church and will start inviting these guys to hand out and worship with us at this church plant.
We also have the opportunity to have direct influence on these guys since we’ve been asked to coach the full-contact team from San Salvador. Right now, Ricardo, Nestor, and I are running conditioning drills to prepare these guys for what we hope will be a very successful season for them. Since we run practices, we also get to pray with/for these guys, give Bible based messages, and ultimately share the Gospel at/after these practices. God has certainly blessed us with being part of a ministry here that is based on our passion of American Football. Pray that God will prepare the hearts of those we have met and will meet to receive the message of Christ.
February 25th, 2015
3 weeks is no where near enough time to spend with these awesome people!!!
Today is my last day as an intern for Envision here in El Salvador. As I reflect on my time here, I have so many questions and thoughts running through my mind. I came here for a few reasons; 1) My group experience last summer here was unbelievably impactful to me. 2) I know God is calling me to some sort of missionary/service life, so this was about experiencing that everyday lifestyle during the “office season” or when groups aren’t here. I had coordinated with Kevin different things that I would do while I was here, but as always in El Salvador, plans changed.
I saw God during this last month in ways I never imagined- whether it was at the beach during the staff retreat hearing Jeff Valentine’s devotions, in a conversation with Jen about the 10 year journey to get to where her family is today, or listening to Ness build relationships with people on the street- with his finger on the pulse of the Broken/Hungry ministry. Even the past few days, as I wrap up assignments in the office, and an overwhelming sense of doubt/anxiety crept in- did I do what God wanted me to do here? Was I supposed to do something else? Where do I go from here? When do I come back? For how long? And like God always does, when you cry out for help, He answered when I sought His answer. In the form of two scriptures, which were the verses of the day on the Bible app for yesterday and today: Psalm 27:13-14 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
For now, I return to the states with not only friendships and contacts in the mission field here, but also with the satisfaction that I came into this adventure with an open mind and open heart, and this very special team of people here let me into their lives and treated me like family. I would appreciate prayers for safe travels, not only for myself on Friday, but for the Mullinax family and Hannah this weekend! Also for all of the Cuddle Bears who will be at the game on Saturday to be at maximum health, and for continued relationship building with the Jaguars and other teams.
February 18th, 2015
We continue to be given amazing opportunities to meet and develop relationships with people. Richard, with the help of Nestor, Daniel, and Alton, will be taking on the role as Head Coach for the full-contact football team, los Jaguares (the Jags). Ricardo told the men at his first practice that he loves winning but, as important as winning is, he wants them to be real men.
Our biggest current prayer need continues to be the need for a doctor willing to take responsibility so that we can re-open the in-patient program. We have been closed for three weeks now and cannot re-open without this in place.
Please also lift up our family’s health. We continue to be struggling with different viruses. Felice especially has been hit hard with first a stomach virus, then an allergic reaction to a bee sting, and now another virus keeping her out of school for three days so far!
And finally, our family, along with Hannah, plan to travel this weekend to Paraguay to attend Field Forum of Alliance missionaries. We appreciate your prayers for this trip and also for the staff as they work hard to catch up on many things while we are gone.
The kids woke up Sunday morning to see that their Christmas bunny, “Kalista”, had died. They are sad and grieving their loss.
February 14th, 2015
Thank you for your prayers for our staff retreat. God answered powerfully through the ministry of Jeff and MerriLee Valentine as well as through the fellowship and time of relaxation. Our observation is that there was a noticeable increase in the energy level of our team from the last event Sunday night and has remained high all through the week. We were especially challenged by Jeff’s teachings on the book of Job and the lessons God had for us. Please pray for us as we are especially keen to LISTEN as God speaks. We want to hear from clearly about so many things.
Please pray especially for the following needs:
We are currently only operating the out-patient clinic part of Love Link right now because we have no doctor who will be in the legal position analogous to “Medical Director” in the eyes of the government. We are praying for that need to be filled quickly! Many, many babies are needing the in-patient service provided at the Love Link baby house!
The Salvadoran government similar to “Department of Public Health” in the US has said that we should have a nurse on duty 24 hours a day. This means adding 3 more nurses to the one that we have operated with for years. Obviously this is a HUGE expense and the finances for the baby house are already tight.
Please continue to pray for the dissolution of Proyecto Metamorfosis as we need God’s wisdom and guidance to handle all those matters with love, respect and wisdom.
Please pray for human resources! Four of the people from Proyecto Metamorfosis are currently working in temporary positions with us as they decide about staying on and need God’s wisdom. We also need specific help in areas such as bookkeeping, care for babies, and health care workers.
Clear direction as we decide how to refocus our efforts in the Broken ministry.
For health as the entire family has been sick at one time or another over the past week including 3 home sick today.
Through your prayers!
Road trip! The staff retreat this past weekend was a great time of bonding as well as spiritual and physical refreshment.
Great teaching! We were especially blessed by the Jeff Valentine’s teachings on the book of Job as God taught us so many lessons about the many stressful and painful experiences of 2014 that had left our team threadbare.
February 5th, 2015
Precious prayer team-
Thank you so much for lifting us up during these difficult days as we adjust such a drastic change in the ministry with the shut-down of Proyecto Metamorfosis. We appreciate your continued prayers for the complex process of unwinding that ministry in a way that is legally appropriate and beneficial to as many people as possible. We are especially grateful for the refreshment brought a group from New York who ministered to our entire team.
Please also intercede for our entire team all weekend long. Thanks to your giving to the GCF and a generous donation from the US specifically for this purpose, our team gets go on a staff retreat this weekend. Missoula Alliance Church has graciously sent down their lead pastoral couple, Jeff and MerriLee Valentine, who arrive tonight to bring bible teaching all weekend. Jeff’s book, “Focus in the Fog: Beams of Light from the Book of Job” is a great resource for many of our staff who are soul-sore, lagging energy, or even burned-out from all the turmoil over the past four months.
Please pray that we would 1. Hear from God about future direction. 2. Be refreshed physically, spiritually, and mentally, and 3. not be distracted by sickness or other craziness going on around us (many have been sick lately and even today Richard is home from work).
Through your prayers,
Journeying together. We are so thankful for two families that visited us last week. They ministered to our entire team and made a great connection with the nineras of baby house (Love Link). We feel very blessed by them on many levels and they have inspired us to do a “biggest loser” weight-loss and fitness competition starting February 21st. Please also pray for God’s clear direction on a great ministry opportunity they presented us.
Cuddle up! While our flag-football team Cuddle Bears lost 44-33 last Saturday to the two-time defending league champion Warriors, we felt the game served its intended purpose of helping us build a relational bridge to people in need of Jesus. Also, Alton had a great time scoring on three plays and running back an interception almost all the way for a touchdown. The same day Richard ran a practice for the Jaguars, a full-contact team that has asked him to consider being their head-coach. Please pray for God’s clear direction this weekend on this opportunity as well.
January 26th, 2015
Our team have given their all and sacrificed so much to the Metamorfosis Project. Although, we are sad and grieving the current loss of the Project, we are also confident that God is guiding us to the best.
Our prayers regarding Project Metamorfosis were answered last week but, not in the way any of us had hoped for. When Richard and two Salvadoran board members of Vinculo de Amor arrived at a meeting to ask for more resources to help Proyecto Metamorfosis succeed, they found several people already seated at the table waiting for them. It was immediately evident that they had already made decisions and had set up the meeting as a charade. After allowing those with complaints to say many malicious things they announced that they wanted to to remove Foundation Vinculo de Amor as the implementers of our own program and instead transition the program quickly to be under the management of a cooperative of workers from the project. This means that the factory is shut down while we wait for a written agreement to be made to transition the leadership of the factory over to cooperative. In a very few days, the program will officially no longer be a part of our ministry in El Salvador.
While it was sad to see this matter handled in such a sneaky, conspiratorial way, we are grateful that God answered our prayers for some amazing, unanticipated solution to the big problems that have plagued us as we have sought for months to bail out a sinking ship. Our entire team is grieving the loss of a program we sacrificed so much for but, we are also relieved that so many resources (human, economic, and creative) are now freed up to focus on our ministries to families with malnourished babies, and deportees.
We are currently negotiating the terms of the handover of the leadership of the factory to the cooperative. Please pray for wisdom and grace. We have every intention of loving them and blessing them so that they can succeed while also stewarding well the resources that God has entrusted to us personally and the foundation.
The cuddle bears had their first win this weekend! As we were leaving, some members of a full-contact team were so impressed with our offense, they asked Richard if he would consider coaching their team! Please pray with us for wisdom in this!
This week we are blessed with the visit of two families! Travis and his wife Cyndy, Journey Fitness, have shared generously of their time, talents, and finances with us and our ministry. They are whipping us into shape!