As we draw this series on the Health & Wealth Gospel to a close, we want to conclude with the issue of life itself. Life does not consist in the abundance of the things that we possess. The point is life is not about what we own or even our health. This is not the promise we look to. Join Charles and Daniel as they talk about on this addition of Crosstalk.
It’s good to get away. Whether it’s an extended vacation, a short weekend, or a walk through the park, the change of scenery or break in the routine can be refreshing and rejuvenating. For those who serve in Gospel ministry, this can be extremely important. No matter what position in ministry one may hold, if you take it seriously, there is a burden that goes with the blessing. Being responsible for the souls over which the Lord has made you an overseer is a weighty matter. At Vision4Living we are aware of the blessings and struggles of ministry. Our hearts are grateful for the investment made by the Lord’s shepherds and sensitive to the special challenges they face. It is for this reason that a few years ago we started the annual ministers’ picnic. I must give credit where it is due, and say that it is the brainchild of our son Daniel. It is designed to give ministers and their families an opportunity to have fellowship with other ministers and their families, bear one another’s burdens, relax, and laugh.
That is exactly what we all had the privilege of doing in June. It also gives the Cavanaugh’s an opportunity to find out how we can pray for our brothers and sisters and encourage them in the work of the Lord (the barbecue and baked beans aren’t so bad either). The Lord blessed us with incredible weather, which served as a punctuation mark on a beautiful evening. Ministers and their families came from Evansville and Mt. Vernon, IN and Henderson, KY. It was good for them and us to share some of the blessings and burdens of ministry and to have a time with nothing to do but eat and relax. The ministers’ wives had an opportunity to enjoy fellowship in a way that does not often happen for them. Few people realize the pressures of being the wife of a man who has given his life to ministry, except others who are in the same position. It was a good time for us primarily because we enjoy seeing men and women of God get away, even if it is just for a few hours. We hope the Lord will give us that same privilege next summer. And if you know of a minister in the area who would benefit from such a time (and who enjoys good barbecue), pass his name along to us.
Do you ever worry about tomorrow? Maybe I’m the only one, but sometimes I wonder if I can handle tomorrow and everything it will bring. As I sat on the plane heading to Quito, Ecuador, I began to wonder how this trip would go. Already the day before, I faced roadblocks. I watched as my small church team boarded a flight in Houston to Ecuador without me. The airlines, which shall remain unnamed, had kept me from flying due to a misunderstanding of their policy regarding people with allergies [I’m deathly allergic to peanuts]. Supposedly, if you don’t tell them 72 hours in advance, you cannot fly. However, they were unable to show me where this “fine print” was located on their website. I maintained my patience – for what I thought was a healthy amount of time – while I talked with several airline employees for several hours who were less than enthused about my predicament. This day turned into one of the longest I can remember in my recent history. After waiting three hours for a bus to a hotel, [I had to pay for myself] only to realize upon arrival I was at the wrong hotel, it occurred to me that losing my cool was pointless. Three hours later, sitting at my hotel, I began to wonder what the rest of the trip might hold since it was getting off to such a rocky start. This heavily abridged story I just recounted is important because often in life discouragement comes before we ever get to where we think God is going to use us. Sitting in the airplane alone, I had time to consider all that was ahead of me, and I realized how important it is to take one day at a time.
As mentioned before, I returned to Ecuador earlier than usual this year with a team from my church. The five of us traveled from New Braunfels, Texas to spread the gospel and represent the First Baptist Church of our town. Having spent limited time with each of the others on my team, I was more than a little curious how we would work together. There are always bumps and curves in the road on any trip, and they are no less possible on a trip with so few people. But let me tell you, I saw God use these five people in amazing ways on this trip. Somewhere, in the middle of our trip together, we spent an evening sharing what God was doing in our lives instead of our normal devotion time. Listening to my fellow sisters in Christ share from their hearts, blessed me more than words can express. It made the times we had previously spent working with the kids and walking all over the city much more precious in that moment of sharing. Watching each of the team members work with the kids we visited each day, and the relationships that were built, will forever be an encouragement to my heart. If I had time to tell you about every day with them, I would. But each of the ladies that I had the chance to travel with and spread the gospel of Christ with had an impact on the people we ministered to and were used by our Heavenly Father to leave a lasting imprint.
Having such a great time with a small team and transitioning from that to a team of 20 plus, takes both mental and emotional shifts. Somehow God always knows exactly the right thing even if in the moment it seems like things are out of control. Our second team, the Global Encounters team, was set to arrive the same day my smaller church team left. However, in Gods perfect timing, they were rerouted to panama, and then sent back to Fort Lauderdale where they left from originally. In my head, I was thinking, “seriously God”? Our team did arrive, albeit, late and tired. Never the less, sleep and food were discovered, and we started ministry off just a little later than planned.
We spent the first week in Quito and then our second in Esmeralda’s. The kids in each of the locations are always different. They have different needs, hurts, and reactions. However, one thing in each of these children’s faces remains the same: a desire to be loved.
We had many new faces on this team and quite a few veterans did not return as team members this year. This always leaves questions in my mind about how will the team mesh and get along? Honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of how the team showed love to the children no matter where we went. I saw team members giving more of themselves when I knew they were tired and others coming alongside their teammates to encourage them. During our second week, the afternoon program was not easy. We went back to a place we had been before. A small fishing village called Roco Fuerte. Almost all of these children have experienced some or multiple forms of abuse. The crowd of kids grew each day and the challenges with them. One particular day, I had chased many children and felt as though the challenges were right about at the level where I was going to throw in the towel. I noticed the pastor talking to some of the kids who were misbehaving, to use a nice modest term. He was smiling and although he had been experiencing the same things our team was going through all year round somehow he was smiling. I remembered that happiness is about circumstances, but joy is about something else. Happiness is conditional but joy… joy is found in the reason why we are serving and that never goes away.
Our team worked in the dirt for days with these kids. They yelled over the loud voices of these children who only seemed to have one level of volume; telling stories, teaching them crafts, and playing games with them. Looking back, I always wonder was it worth it? Did we do all that we could have done? Did we leave an imprint of Christ’s love with these kids? I know my attitude and responses were not always in line with what His would be. But you see, Christ never called perfect people, and he certainly knows our weaknesses better than we do. Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” Jesus has just finished speaking about all the things we worry about and He admonished His listeners to not be so concerned with their practice and possessions as the relationship they have with their Heavenly Father. I get so caught up in the practice and in my possessions – things I think I can control. But you see, when I do that, I forget all about the relationships of life, first of all the one with my Heavenly Father from which all others should be experienced.
The key phrase here to me is “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. Do you ever worry about tomorrow or today? Do you consume yourself with the practice of life and less of the relationship with the one who gives it? I do! I forget tomorrow sometimes I get caught up in today and I miss the seeking of my Heavenly Father’s kingdom. His kingdom isn’t caught up in the confines we put on ourselves and others. Life is about relationships and loving others the way He has loved us.
Sitting on the airplane flying back from Ecuador, I recalled the kids at camp and seeing their faces light up when they got off the bus! Many of you helped sponsor kids at camp this year and for that I am so grateful. We had kids come from all over Ecuador who normally couldn’t afford it. We had kids come to know Christ and others who heard the gospel for the first time. We cried with them when they hurt, laughed with them during the fun moments and watched them struggle to compete with each other through various activities. My prayer for this team and my message to you is this: Each day has its tough moments and every trip I’ve been on has had new challenges. I wouldn’t trade them for anything because God is sovereign, and through all that happens, He has brought about his perfect will. I’m so grateful for this team and I’ll never forget their efforts. I thank God for them and for how He used them to leave imprints of His love on so many children’s lives.
Sufficient unto each day is the evil thereof, meaning each day has enough problems that you shouldn’t worry about what is coming next. The God who put you in this day is sufficient to bring you to the next. Your job, our job, is to seek Him and His righteousness and leave the practical working out in his hands.
Thank you for your prayers for our team!