VBS Mission Trip 2019 #2

We are still here and still serving. I am writing this while the kids are hearing the Gospel message from our youth team. It is great knowing that this whole week Jesus can be changing lives, but specifically tonight they are getting to know who He is and what He did for them, for us! I know it is a message that many of us reading this blog have heard. On some level it can be the same old story, a piece we repeat from memory because we know we should. On the ground here we are also facing the depleted energy levels from our busy week. We could easily say, “I am tired…maybe I’ll share that message tomorrow.” It is always an option to wait, take the easy way, and pray that God will make the message heard from someone else. God is powerful enough to make the rocks cry out if we don’t, but that should spur us on to be the ones to share the message that I know He wants us to do.
In a sneak peak of the message I will be sharing on Sunday, I want to remind of us of time when Jesus was sad, worn out and tired. Jesus has been performing miracles, and at this point in Matthew 14 has just heard that John the baptist, His friend, has been beheaded. From an earthly perspective, it is time to get away. He deserves it. He needs a break. He wants to cash in on His bereavement/sick days. And yet lo and behold there are people coming to where they are. They are hungry and the tired disciples are giving Jesus the reasons why they should just move on. It is at this point in the life of Jesus that we see Him feed the 5000+.
What have you done when you thought you had nothing left? What do you think God has been trying to get you to do but your excuse has been that you were too tired, too worn out, too sad, too….? We will be looking at this passage from Matthew 14 and some of these questions on Sunday at CABC, but for now I hope we are all able to restle with them. Our team here, thought tired, is still making connections and building relationships with people. We have more to do, and so do you. Ready to jump in?
-Pastor Josh


VBS Mission Trip 2019 #1

What to say? It is always the question I have when I come to the task of putting our experience into words. For those who may not know, our Youth Group has ventured out on our 4th VBS Mission Trip to Erie, PA. We kicked off our service yesterday by worshiping with two different congregations and kicking off a VBS program for the kids of Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Erie. Some of our group were very excited to see kids they got to know during past trips. Others were not totally sure what they signed themselves up for, but jumped in anyways. With close to 30 kids we were able to see familiar faces and get to know new ones.
The theme for our week is “ROAR.” In short, no matter what life brings us, God is good! These teens are stepping up, serving God’s kids, and making an impact in their lives for the kingdom. It is quite a privilege to watch our youth share their talents and faith with these kids along with seeing the kids get excited about God being good in their lives. This picture above gives you a small glimpse into the joy I get this week to watch God work in and through this generation!
There will be more pictures to come, more stories from the front, and more impact made as the week goes on. For now I just want to leave you with the verse I have challenged the teens with.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” – Philippians 2:5
Our impact on others for Jesus is so much greater when we have His mindset leading us. What do you need to do today to build your Jesus mindset?
-Pastor Josh


DR 2019 – Day 4-7

I said I would write more about our time at the school and it has been a couple of days. I apologize for the distance between writings. Ministry has been busy and good. God has been at work this week and for that we continue to give Him the praise.

For those who are wondering about our dilemma with the bags, there is no new news. I wish we could report that we have them all, but sadly that has not happened, yet. Despite not having the majority of the donations we came with, God has supplied all that we needed for the week and has allowed us to pack many more bags of food than we expected to be able to do. Even in the uncertainty of this trial we can say God is good. We are, and will continue, to be trusting God in the situation. Your continued prayers are welcomed as well.

As for our time at the school, that has been a huge blessing to them and to us. We have had many experiences that would be hard to put into words. The children had 3 days experiencing and interacting with the armor of God. They had the chance to learn what it means to ¡vistete!, “suit up!” Being ready for the battle before us has been a good reminder to our team this week as well.

It’s great to see the kids and teachers learn, sing, interact, and connect with us despite the language barriers. They are people like us who are wanting to grow in education and in faith. What we did this week was good, but what happens all year at our school has such a lasting impact that cannot be quantified. On Tuesday, we had the chance to talk with some of our Alumni and share with them the ministry of distributing food in the Batey surrounding the school. It was humbling and amazing to see our former students reach out in the name of Jesus to the people around them.

There is much more that could be said about our ministry in the school; being able to serve in two new Batey’s that we have never been to, and many individual conversations and encounters. We will be sharing more from our time here in the coming weeks. Even so, I want to encourage you to ask questions with one of our team members. Get to hear their heart and experience some of the stories from them first hand. I truly believe every one of on the team has been impacted and changed as a result of our serving and being served.

God has been at work this week, but He is not done. He is not done in the US, the DR, or anywhere around the globe. He is not done in the lives of the people of Bateys 35, Las Cejas, 108, or Guazabel. He is not done in the lives of our neighbors, coworkers, relatives, friends, or even our enemies.  Sometimes it might be difficult to see, but our God is always at work and we just need to be open to what He is doing. Even more astounding to me is that God wants to us in His grand plan.

We came here in the name of Jesus to serve alongside our brothers and sisters. We will be coming home to serve alongside many of you. I have loved seeing God work this week, but I am even more excited for what God has in store for us all to come!

-Pastor Josh

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with wisdom through the psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”-Colossians 3:15-17


DR 2019 – Day 3 & 4

I will start off by saying we have appreciated your prayers, and have certainly felt God’s hand guiding this week. For those who do not know, we have struggled to retrieve 21 bags of donations that we came to the country with. They were taken by customs at the airport when we arrived on Saturday and we do not know when or if we will get them back. It has been heartbreaking to struggle with the idea that we may not see those bags and the items in them again. We are not disappointed for us, but for the good those items could be doing for the people we interact with. Your prayers are definitely appreciated as we continue to put this entire situation in God’s hands.

However, this struggle has not hindered God continuing to work. On Monday we were able to present our message on the Armor of God to the Joe Hartman school. They loved seeing Damian in a roman soldier costume and were able to hear what it means to prepare ourselves to be in God’s army. We interacted over crayons, the playground and even a 5 of 5 students vs. Americanos basketball game. It was fun to play and interact with the students even though we didn’t speak the same language. Kids are kids, no matter where they are from.

Woody and myself share the gospel at a men’s and women’s group. As the week unfolds some things get lost in translation. What got lost that evening was the translator. It was a surprise to realize on the way to the church that we had forgot to bring one of our translators. Thankfully, Elza did a great job of taking our words and sharing them and it was great to be able to hear them sing and spend time with each other and God that night. Our opportunities to share God’s message with different groups of people throughout the week have been a huge blessing to me and I pray we have been able to be the hands of God’s blessing to His people as well.

We did spend some time at the Batey 35 school yesterday and had the opportunity to distribute a lot of food as well. I will share a bit more about that in the coming days. For now I want to challenge us with a piece of Pastor Woody’s message to us last night. Matthew 22:37-38 says, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Jesus teaches in Luke 10 that everyone is our neighbor. Friend, stranger, family, foreigner, enemy; they are all our neighbors. So, who is your neighbor this week? How are you being called to love your neighbor this week? We are all on mission, not just our team here in the DR this week. God is still up to something this week and I am just glad we can play a part!

-Pastor Josh

(If you would like a song to listen to today, try Brandon Heath’s “Give me your Eyes” or “Do something.”)


DR 2019 – Day 2

What a day of Worship it was! This is my second trip to the DR and I am still amazed at what God can do, even when you don’t know the language. We attended two separate worship services today and I could truly feel the presence of God among the people we were with. There were very few words in the service that were spoken in English and most of them came from me.

At first thought, it would seem that we just sat there until the service was dismissed and were not able to connect to God. But despite the language barrier it was evident that the people around us were joyfully praising the same God we came here to serve.

So it was awesome to know that at the same time praises were being sung in Creole, praises were also being raised in many of our churches in English, and many other languages around the world. It reminds me that we are not alone. It reminds me that God came for all. He broke societal, economic, language, and any other barrier or category we tend to think can’t be broken. We are all a part of a global body of believers seek God’s guidance in what we do everyday.

So, as we step into our week tomorrow with both feet, we covet your prayers for our team, our ministry, the people we will come in contact with and also our families back home. As were reminded of the verse I shared yesterday from Proverbs 3:5-6, we are putting our Trust in Him today and for the rest of the week. I also trust that God has a plan for you this week as well. But for now, let us just pray for one another for the coming week.

-Pastor Josh

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”


DR 2019 – Day 1

Day 1 is coming to a close in the DR. We are here, alive and well, and for that I give thanks to God. As you read that you may think, “oh what happened?!” To ease minds, all in all the trip was uneventful. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful God’s creation is. It is hard to deny God’s amazing design when you get to see the waters, clouds and terrain from such a high vantage point. When I see how little the people are zoomed out, it reminds me how thankful I am that God works through little people like us in his grand design.
The interesting part of our trip came when we entered the DR and went through customs. Long story short our bags of things we donated have been taken into a further process of scrutiny by the authorities. We hope to have the bags early this week, and would appreciate your prayers as we rearrange some of our plans and prayers that we are able to distribute the things that many of you helped to collect and donate.
I don’t write this to cause fear or anger. For me it is a reminder of God’s sovereignty in all of our circumstances. We don’t completely know what God has in store for us the week, or even what He has planed for this bump in our plans. But I do know God is in control.
As God’s timing would have it, I shared this verse with the middle schoolers at Spring Grove just 2 days ago. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” We don’t know what tomorrow brings here in the DR, but we are putting our trust in the Lord for what we do this week.
I would encourage and challenge you as we step out in faith this week, that you too can step out in faith wherever you are. God has great things in store this week for all of us. The question is, will you be a part?
In Christ,
Pastor Josh