Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fútbol and Jesus

When recently discussing the ministry of RO4Y with some other missionaries, I was asked, “So what strategy do you have to reach the men in your community?” (RO4Y events are predominantly attended by children, teens and their mothers.) I responded with a simple, “I’m praying.”

This last Saturday I received my answer. Football. (The real “foot-used-to-pass-a-ball” sport dominant in the majority of the world, especially Latin America.)

A few of the youth and I organized a Saturday morning soccer game between our church and our sister church in Tegus. The “friendly” was going to be followed by lunch provided by the ladies of the church. Unfortunately, our friends from CC Tegus were unable to attend, but we decided to continue the game.

Praying before the match / I'm the white guy in the red shirt!

I’m not impressed by numbers (Jesus worked with primarily 12 men for 3 years),
but this soccer game drew young men from the area that I’ve never even met before. We had around 24 boys/young men from 10 – 19 years-old. I officiated the game, first time for that as well. The game was played cleanly, despite the huge mud pit, and it was such a resounding hit that we are going to continue matches Saturdays at 2 PM. None of these young men have ever been in the chapel at RO4Y.

I’m so excited for the opportunity to witness and evangelize these young men, please pray me to speak boldly and to proclaim the gospel clearly. I’m considering doing a simple devotional through the Romans Road before the games start.

Arroz con pollo for all!

Marillyn with sisters Ingrid and Rosibel

Our youth group will continue to meet on Saturdays, but we will be moving our meeting before the soccer game. I’ve been teaching the teens through the book of Acts, but have discovered that the youth know very little about the basics of their faith and how to live it out. I’m looking into doing more of a basic Christianity, New Believers type of study with them.

Speaker David Parish and the missionaries.

As most of you know because of the recent “Urgent Prayer” requests that I attended a missions conference in Tegus last weekend. (Satan was doing his best to not allow me to get there. Thankfully, he failed.) The Honduran Fellowship of Missionaries and Ministries was organized to help missionaries build contacts, develop relationships and further the Kingdom of God in Honduras by uniting the missionaries. I had a wonderful time, worshipping, studying God’s word and connecting with some like minded Gringos with a heart for Jesus. Please pray that God will bless the Honduran Fellowship and help my family and ministry in Ojojona with the relationships that we are building. (This could be support, resources – such as ministry materials, translators for groups, etc. and potential future staff for RO4Y).

This woman’s name is Ilsy. (She is one of Ena’s older sisters – see last post.) Ilsy came and helped teach the younger children’s class when her mother couldn’t make it. Ilsy was a huge blessing. It was her first time to one of the Ranch’s Sunday services, but with her experience as the local kindergarten teacher – she was natural. I’ve talked with Ilsy about coming to help me teach a Sunday School teacher’s seminar, as well as begin to tutor my daughter Naomi in Spanish before she begins kindergarten next year. Please pray for Ilsy’s walk with God – she has a sense of religion, but no apparent relationship or passion for Jesus – like most adults in this heavily Catholic or hyper-Pentecostal country.

What you look'in at, chicken?

Marillyn and her chickens are doing well. The loss of 80% of her guinea fowl to some canine carnage last week really stunk, but all is well. We are trusting in God’s provision and grateful for what he has blessed us with at the Ranch.

Mare and her flock near newly reinforced predator proof chicken coup

Oscar, our groundskeeper, and I have begun to meet weekly to study the Word. We are studying through the life of Jesus through the four gospels. Oscar is such a dynamic believer who is so passionate about Jesus, living out his faith and sharing the Good News with others. Please pray for our times together, for Oscar’s wife, Marilyn, and daughter, Genesis, and his protection while working at the Ranch.

This is Braisy.
Her mother is single and she has no real relationship with her father. Her grandmother, our wonderful Christian neighbor Doña Rosa, and her aunts take care of her. She is a few years older than my girls, but adores both Naomi and Tabi. With school letting out for the summer this month (I know, I’m still not used to that), she’s been spending more time at our home with the girls. Please pray for her salvation. Many girls here in Ojojona don’t have a father in the picture and are vulnerable to sexual predators from even within the family. We desire Ranch Oasis to be a place of trust and encouragement for little girls like Braisy.

Guitar class has also been evolving. Since my students lead worship at church, we’ve added a few more students. (I guess they liked what they heard on Sunday!) The student’s talents and our relationships are growing. We often kick the ball around after class to pass the afternoon away. Please continue to pray that God will bless these young men and women with the skill and humility to worship Him in Spirit and truth!

Sunday afternoons is still an ongoing experiment-slash-step-of-faith. I didn’t have any adult volunteers for teaching the two children’s classes, so I combined the two classes and taught the Transfiguration with help for the crafts from Marillyn, Wayne and Brooke. I gave the adults and teens the weekly worksheet of Inductive Bible Study questions and had them complete it without me. I’m trusting in the authority of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and some leading questions to jump start these adults into a personal discussion of the life of Jesus. Please continue to pray for me as I prepare lessons for a people that have not been taught how to think on their own (for example, most can’t answer questions with Why?) and are used to receiving all the answer in school or the church. Also pray for more workers for the harvest of children and youth in Ojojona and the surrounding areas. Osman Jose (a.k.a. "Jota") in the orange shirt invited his three friends to the service on Sunday. It was there first visit - praise the Lord for little evangelist!

Other Prayer Requests:

Only three weeks away from Baby Beard #3. Continue to pray for Mare, the kid and the birth; approximately set for December 15.

Looks like Gozo’s time at the Ranch is short. A Christian man, Don Perfecto, approached us with paper work and said he’d been missing his horse for months. Don Perfecto (Mr. Perfect) lives a good hour-and-a-half walk from us. Don P. and his grandson tried to laso Gozo home, but Gozo didn’t want anything to do with them. We’re going to work with Gozo until he's a little more gentle, then say our goodbyes. Please pray for God’s timing with horses for the Ranch.

Still working on our immigration status.
The paperwork accidently sent to Costa Rica should arrive in Honduras this week, if not today. Pray that the immigration office would be understanding and even willing to help. Once the baby’s born we’ll be able to apply for permanent residency. Perhaps God has used these delays to skip the one-year visa application and get us residency directly. Pray for favor with the government.

Padre Francis, of the local private private hospital, pulled another no show concerning the medical brigade in February. I’ve made contacts with Ojojona’s health department and am looking for a new direction for the brigade. Pray for wisdom and open/closed doors.

No plates yet for the bus. Please continue to pray its importation.

No firm commitments on the satellite internet installation. (I’m in a coffee shop with wireless internet in Tegus sending this post. These bi-weekly posts are a minimum 4 hour commitment – 3 hours on the public bus to Tegus and an hour on-line. It would be such a blessing to get internet in the home. ) $1,200 to cover the purchase of the equipment and installation or $375 to cover installation and we rent to own the equipment. Anyone interested? Click here for support details.

Please continue to pray for the Ranch’s relationships with other ministries in Honduras and the USA. We are excited to partner with several churches’ short-term missions teams in the first few months of 2011 and we are planning on receiving some reps. from major funding ministries to see if RO4Y is something they want to support financially, materially (construction and ministry supplies) and with short-term mission groups. Pray for God’s will to be done in these relationships and for lives to be changed through the short-term trips in January, February and April.

We also want to thank the Lord for you, our support team. Your prayers, donations and time spent at the Ranch are a huge blessing to us and are increasing the Kingdom of God in Honduras. Thank you Lord and thank you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This is Ena (A-nah). She is nineteen years old and the youngest of nine siblings. She lives with her mother and seven of her adult brothers and sisters. Dad’s gone, left the home seven years ago for a younger woman. Most days she cares for her nieces. She is at a crossroads in her life. Jesus stands one avenue while Satan and all of his deceptions of the World on the other. Ena is interested in God, she attends youth group, has a natural talent for guitar and volunteers with the kids on Sundays. However, the pull of the world is strong. Please pray for Ena and all the teens attending RO4Y.

Six weeks ago, I placed a goal before my guitar students –they were going to learn a worship song and then play it in front of the whole church body on Sunday afternoon. THEY DID IT!!!
It was beautiful (maybe to some a beautiful mess), but they did it! I want to thank each of you who has donated instruments to RO4Y and the future worship leaders of Honduras! Please continue to pray for our guitar classes. We meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, study a Psalm and then rock out for Jesus.

Oscar, our local groundskeeper, has been a huge blessing for The Ranch. He hunted down some guinea hens (tick eating and snake killing fowl) for us, traveled to his hometown of Comayagua (three hours from Ojojona) to pick them up and brought them back on the bus for us. Pray for God to strengthen his marriage (his wife is ironically named Marilyn) and bless his four month old daughter, Genesis. Also pray for his unsaved mother-in-law who is very ill. Oscar is very passionate for the Lord and I can see him being used mightily for the Kingdom.

This weekend we held our first clothes sale at The Ranch. It was a great success, much more than I thought it would be. Not only did we offer good quality clothing at a super discounted price (most at 80% off the valued price in Honduras – a normal kids shirt is about $2 and we sold it for 25 cents) to the people who attend our Bible studies, but it also brought some new faces to the property.
We were introduced to some neighbors and also some parents that simply send their children on Sundays. Pray that we would be able to hold more sales in the future and that we can be a blessing to the people of Ojojona. Please contact me if you’re interested in sending us used clothes.

Our lone horse, Gozo, is getting frisky. The weather is getting cooler (50’s in the wee morn’in) and Gozo runs around like a crazed horse with our dogs. (I’m not sure if he thinks he’s a dog, or the Danes think they are horses). Over the last several weeks he has welcomed human touch and even approached me from behind looking for attention. Continue to pray for Gozo and our desire to work with him and other horses at the Ranch.

Sunday afternoon study with the adults and teens through the life of Jesus has continued to improve. The Lord has helped me refine the studies (shorter and simpler) and the people are s-l-o-w-l-y coming out of their shell (or should I say, “out of the woods” in Honduras, land of the pine trees). However, recruiting help for the two Sunday school classes has been challenging. Every week I ask volunteers from the adult/teen class to teach the same lesson the following weekend with either the four to seven-year-old class or the eight to eleven-year-old. They lack experience, confidence and training. The curriculum I’m using helps guide through homework, coloring pages and a word search, but the games/crafts and creativity are lacking. Please pray for these adults to be passionate about the Word of God in their own lives, as well as teaching it to the kids on Sunday. Pray that God would give me wisdom in how to train these adults and that God would raise up more short and long term staff for the Ranch.

The Ranch desires to be a spiritual oasis for the tired and lost. One of the signs of a good oasis is water. After our visit with the team of engineers last month, we realized we needed to improve our source of water, physically speaking.

Before and After

When we began to pray and investigate how to improve our well, we met Jose de la Paz – uncle of our helper Oscar. Jose has experience restoring wells (his father actually dug the wells on our property).

Inside wall: unprotected/surface water leach-able & cemented water proof coating
This protective coat runs 3 meters from the wells top.

Protecting run off water from leaching in / Jose slopping mud out of well

Jose is also a believer who has been out of a steady job for months. It has been a blessing to provide for Jose and his sons, Ariel and Jonathan, who have worked along side him this week. Praise the Lord for his provision; continue to pray for God to direct us as we improve the Ranch property and buildings.

L to R: Veronica, Crisna, Sulema, Yulisa, Alba

Do you remember fifth grade? Hormonal changes, girls, junior high looming on the horizon. Wednesday afternoons I’ve been going through a New Believers study with the eight to eleven-year-old students at RO4Y. We most recently discussed what faith is according to the scriptures.

L to R: Cesar, Nexer, Geovani, Leandro

We have a wonderful time of games, laughter, Bible study and prayer using a prayer journal. Please pray for these kids – I know their home life is rough and I want them to learn who God is, how much He loves them and how much they need Him.

Other Prayer Requests:

Marillyn and I are about five weeks out from being parents to a third child. Pray for a wonderful birth and strength for Mare this last month!

I reschuled my meeting with Padre Francis, director of the local private hospital, to November 16th. Pray that we can finalize some details as we discuss a medical brigade for February 2011.

The Honduran Immigration office requested three more documents to complete our one-year visa application. Pray that all will be finished this month!

Please continue to pray for the importation of the Ranch’s bus.

A missionary friend put us into contact with a satellite internet provider that will work for the Ranch. We can cover the new monthly expense (praise the Lord for some new monthly financial supporters) but are praying for one of two options: $1200 to cover installation AND the purchase of the equipment OR $375 to cover installation and we “rent-to-own” the equipment which then adds another $35 to the monthly - cost for the service. (The equipment costs roughly the same to purchase it up front or over the two year contract. Purchasing all of the equipment up front would lower the monthly fee.) Please pray that God will provide. This will save us hours of travel (and frustration) to get on-line and allow Marillyn to have contact with the outside world (She’s deaf, can’t use the phone and communicating in Spanish is difficult, making it hard for her to make friends here).

Pray for Wayne, my father-in-law, as he will be teaching Inductive Bible Study Seminars in Nicaragua over the next two weeks. They, including my mother-in-law Brooke, are currently renewing their tourist visas and visiting old friends in Costa Rica. Brooke arrives back at the Ranch this Thursday – November 11th.

We have recently met several State-side ministries that are very interested in partnering with Rancho Oasis for Youth to help with construction projects and supplies for the ministry, including short-term missionaries. Please pray that God will work out the details and we can began a great relationship with several of these brothers and sisters in Christ.

I, Jon, will be heading to a Honduran missionary conference just north of Tegucigalpa this weekend. We recently made contact with a Honduran ministry that focuses on bringing missionaries together to pull resources and be a general blessing to one another. Pray that God orchestrates some divine appointment!

This is the girls expression when they discovered our PO Box was empty.

Write and add us to your upcoming annual Christmas letter. We’d love to hear from you! (Don’t send money or large gifts – they will “disappear”).

Jonathan Beard
Apartado Postal #30350
Toncontin, Honduras
Centro America