Zacapa 2015: Loving People On a Not-So-Lonely Mountain

 I hear crickets. Dogs call to each other across the ridges. A turkey gobbles off in the distance. The huge leaves of the banana tree my hammock is perched in on the side of this mountain rustle with the never ending breeze. After a scorching week in the sun the coolness of the continuous flow of wind borders on miraculous.

It has been a week of weeks. Our team has been outstanding. They work and play with an energetic tenacity on par with their vivacious faith. Grace drips from these people like the sweat they have shed for seven days.

We have been to school after school playing with kids, performing skits, praying, speaking, loving. We have visited small churches, in the remote places of the Guatemalan Mountains where our people have preached the love of Jesus. We have given away food. We have built a wall. We have built a road. We’ve been busy. It’s been good.

Busy and good are not always words I like to put together—but accomplishing the work, sharing the good news, and serving my friend Greg’s ministry are both. Because busy can be good when it is purpose driven.

As I lay in my hammock staring out across the expanse of darkness at the closest ridge I can see the humble twinkle of distant village homes. The places that house the beautiful people of Guatemala.

I can rest full of faith in the one who sent us. I can sleep soundly satisfied in our pursuit of purpose. I never enjoy leaving my family behind—and under different circumstances would probably bring them—but even in my homesickness I can rest in the peace of God.

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus declares his followers to be as a shining city on a far dark night. That’s our job. To take hope with us. We partner with powerful people of God in needed places. We are Gondor in the midst of Mordor. We are beacons among burdens—and bonfires among chilling darkness.

I have burned in my heart the desire to go to far places and far people because, as A.W. Tozer penned, “if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.”

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Zacapa 2014: THANKFULNESS

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I have had the outstanding privilege of serving young adults for the last eleven years. For the last four of those God has graciously granted me the opportunity to travel to Latin America in service to Jesus and His Church abroad. This week has been far and away the most intense experience of my life. So intense I am finding it difficult to collect the appropriate words.

I feel I have seen and experienced more of the powerful presence of God over the last ten days than I would have dared to imagine. So much has transpired that I’m not sure I will ever be able to absorb, record, or articulate all of it.

However, one resounding feeling rises above the chaotic din of stress, joy, and relief for this experience….

THANKFULNESS.

God is faithful. When you pursue Him. When you put your trust in His hands. When you decrease so that He gets the glory, honor, and credit—He always comes through.

Every. Single. Time.

Zacapa 2014: WHAT A JOY

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For ten days now Jamie and I have had the distinct pleasure of traveling with a group of the most selfless, courageous, and loving people I have ever known. They have endured physical discomfort, an endlessly rearranging schedule, and intense spiritual warfare—the likes of which we rarely ever recognize in the states.

I have watched them daily push through fatigue, sickness, and injury to proclaim the love and joy of Christ. I have cheered them on as they left personal fears behind—being God-prompted into never before contemplated situations. The shy have became powerful proclaimers of truth; the insecure, bold beacons of grace.

Through sweat and dust and heat the life-giving Spirit of Christ has remained at the centre. The presence of God the all-encompassing Source. The Gospel the Great Calling; and the lost the Chief Mission.

This week eighteen students from small town America (Russellville, AR) along with Jamie, myself, and our accompanying locals had the chance to serve alongside Greg Miller Ministries. Doing so we shared the Gospel will 2,780 people, prayed individually with 495 of them—and lead 207 to Christ. As well as helping to facilitate a worship experience where 250 more people were saved!

Rebekah, Dakota, Dimas, Brian, Ashely, Stacey, Morgan, Cara, Jeff, John, Jacob, Aaron, Katelyn, Ian, Tosha, Emily, Madisun, & Lizette….WHAT A JOY it has been to serve alongside you on this trip!

More to come soon….

Thanks for reading,
Nate

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Countdown Zacapa – 6 Days

Less than a week to go until Jamie and I will be Guatemala bound—18 young adults in tow! We are so seriously excited!

It is always such a privilege to travel to another country and help a long term missionary. This year we have the opportunity to partner with Greg Miller Ministries. I had a chance to meet Greg last fall and he is an awesome guy with a huge heart for the nation God has called him to.

This morning I recieved word that Guatemala experienced an earthquake today. A lot of thoughts immediately went through my head, first among those the well-being of Greg, his loved-ones, and a close family friend who’s family lives in the mountains of Guatemala.

The good news is that everyone we are connected to there is ok. The bad news, however is that not everyone is ok.

All of this only serves to point out a very real truth when you’re taking about investing in short-term missions. Things can change on a dime. You have to be ready to be flexible and fluid. Plans can change.

Ultimately, the goal remains the same. We’re headed to Guatemala in just a few days to serve the Church by serving Greg and his team. If the finer details change along the way, that will be ok. We will still go. We will still serve. Thankful for the privilege this opportunity brings.

Countdown Zacapa – 14 Days

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Am I good enough?

This is a question people ask themselves all the time. Maybe not precisely those words, but some form of self-doubt and/or creeping insecurity nags at us from time to time. It’s nearly inevitable.

The short answer is “yes.” The shorter answer is “no.”

No, you are not good enough, at least not on your own. The horrible reality is that so many are out there trying to make it on their own. It’s tragic. And a lot of heart break and bad decisions play out as a result.

But yes, you are also good enough. Wait a sec here…….. DIDN’T YOU JUST CONTRADICT YOURSELF?

It’s true that on our own we are not good enough. But the whole point is that we don’t have to be on our own. We weren’t meant to be on our own. Life isn’t supposed to be a lonely affair full of solo sunsets and one-sided conversations.

GOD made you for himself, and for others. With him you are more than enough, not because you are good enough but because he is above and beyond good enough.

When you are living your life with God in it, whether you’re loading into an airplane and flying to another country, or walking next door to help a neighbor—God goes with you. He goes before you. He helps.

So go help somebody. Say something encouraging. Do something meaningful. Stop worrying about being good enough, and start doing something good.

Countdown Zacapa – 19 Days

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In nineteen days Jamie and I are leading a team of twenty young adults to Guatemala. We’ve been making arrangements, making plans, and preparing our team almost eight months….and here we are. Less than three weeks away.

Taking young people to a far away place is one of the deep joys of my life. I love seeing the impact it makes on them. How it shocks them out of the apathy that so quickly can overwhelm us in our selfish culture. It’s a process of pealing back the nuanced layers of desire and distraction that define most of our American existence. In a word, it is a powerful experience.

After six months of regular meetings, tonight we met for the final time before we leave. I challenged them with the notions of sacrifice and selflessness. Not because any of us are looking or hoping to become martyrs, but because I want all of us to live outside of the context we are so over encumbered with here at home.

We go to do something that is not about us and not for us. We are partnering with a wonderful missionary who has been in Guatemala for over twenty years. I can’t wait to get these guys down there.

Please consider praying for us as we travel.