Category: Mission Trips

To God Be the Glory–Always

It Is Written’s mission trip to Ethiopia is now in the rearview mirror. Our faithful volunteers are making their way home with lots of photos, memories, a greater appreciation for the simple things of life we take for granted at home, and a renewed passion for the Lord and His mission to save humanity. It was indeed a wonderful and life-changing journey.

Yves Monnier, left, and his translator, Oromo, right, introduce the sermon.

The grand finale of our two-week mission trip took place this past Saturday. That’s when we had an amazing worship service with well over 2,000 people in attendance. Wow! One of my fellow pastors, who had learned quite a bit of the language (Oromo), decided to be my translator for the introduction (we had scripted what I was going to say ahead of time). You should have seen the people smiling and laughing in appreciation. At the end of my sermon I made an altar call. At first very few moved and then the congregation spontaneously started singing. A God-moment, because that’s when people started streaming down. Just amazing. 

Hundreds gathered on the shores of Lake Langano for the baptisms.

As soon as the worship service was completed, the It Is Written team was whisked away to the shores of Lake Langano where hundreds of people had gathered to be baptized. On this day, this picturesque lake surrounded by rolling hills became a giant baptistery. Our pastors joined the local pastors to baptize 440 precious souls. The age of those baptized ranged from children to a one-hundred-year-old lady–a reminder that it’s never too late to make Jesus first in your life. The smiles of all the people coming out of the water said it all. 

When good things are happening, the devil always seems to show up. And he did at one of our nightly preaching sites, the largest preaching site. There was significant political unrest in that city (not caused by our meetings). The military were called in, the internet was shut down in the entire country, and our nightly meetings had to be canceled for safety reasons. Thanks be to God that no one was harmed and our dear pastor was able to get out without problems. However, the very large baptismal service planned for that area had to be postponed. 

The pastors line up with their new It Is Written jackets.

On Saturday evening the It Is Written volunteers and the local leaders and pastors had one last meeting together. This was a time to thank our hosts and, above all, praise our Almighty God. During the meeting we gave all the Ethiopian pastors a jacket with the It Is Written logo. This is not something we usually do, but we did in this case for a very particular reason. When I came to Ethiopia in January to plan and organize the mission trip, I quickly realized how poor the people here are. What drove this point home with me was when I saw one of our dear pastors whose only jacket was a hand-me-down with the logo of a cigarette maker. What?! That’s when I determined that he and the other pastors needed It Is Written jackets. The ear-to-ear grins of these guys wearing their new jackets was priceless.

To God be the glory for another successful mission trip. By the way, we’ve got a great line-up of mission trips in 2020. Join us on one of them and experience God in a most powerful way. 

Click to read the first report of the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the second update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Lives Changed in Ethiopia: Ours

This mission trip to Ethiopia has been a difficult one for those of us dependent on things considered luxuries here: electricity, running water, WiFi, traffic rules, etc. Well, you get the picture. Electricity comes and goes. There’s been mornings that we wake up to no running water. Great! And the WiFi… what can I say? It works smoothly for a while, and then suddenly, with no warning, it’s gone just as I’m about to send an important email. The roads are like the wild, wild west. And guess who wins? The donkeys. I’ve never seen so many donkeys in my life. In spite of all these challenges, albeit small ones when I’m reminded of the hard lives people endure here, this has been a most rewarding trip for everyone. 

Some of the team’s medical professionals gather during a busy day of work.

Two thirds of our team of 30 are health professionals. We have doctors representing diverse specialties (general surgery, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, OB/GYN, anesthesiology, pulmonology, ENT), dentists, a nurse practitioner, a PT, a doctor of public health, nurses, and wonderful support staff. They’ve been working tirelessly and seamlessly to meet the huge health demands of the Negele Arsi region. One thing that’s been so frustrating to our doctors is that so many of the cases that would be very treatable in the United States are not here because of lack of equipment and medication. As an example, one of the patients they saw was a man with a disfiguring growth on his jaw (due to chewing tobacco). After multiple surgeries and the right treatment this man could have a chance at a normal life. Not here. This thing will kill him. And he’s in his 20s. It’s a heartbreak to face these kinds of situations.

A newborn baby girl is admired by her parents and the doctor who saved her life.

On the other hand, our people are having a profound impact on so many people. One of our OB/GYNs stumbled upon a woman in labor. Things were not going well. He quickly assessed her situation and determined that the baby was in distress because something was wrong with the umbilical cord. He ordered the woman to be rushed to the OR for an immediate C-section. A little while later, a healthy and screaming little girl was born. Sure enough, the umbilical cord was in a knot and was tightening with every minute passing. Had they waited any longer the baby would have been stillborn. By God’s grace and mercy, our dear doctor saved the little girl’s life. You can imagine how thankful and joyful the parents were at the turn of events. They came so close to mourning a death instead of celebrating a new life.

Eye surgery patients wait to be seen by Dr. Jacob, who typically works in India.

There are countless stirring stories like this one. Some of the best come from Dr. Jacob Prabhakar’s (Eyes for India) 1,028 cataract surgeries. He returned this week for a quick follow-up visit on all his patients. Imagine hundreds of patients in line to see him. An amazing sight. The best part of the sight is the fact that they have sight. These people were literally jumping with joy because they could see again. Every consult was accompanied by lots of embraces and smiles. The most astounding thing about it is that all 1,028 surgeries were a complete success. Praise be to God.

Meanwhile, the preachers at our six sites are doing a phenomenal job. In our schedule, they were supposed to have Thursday nights off. Do you think that’s what is happening? Absolutely not! People want to hear the Word, and our preachers are like the Energizer bunny. In health and sickness (yes, we’ve had some sickness), they preach their hearts out. I sit in the back and am so blessed to hear their heartfelt messages. I was there when one of our preachers made an altar call. Stumbling from outside the church came forward a man. He heard the sermon outside because at most sites they not only have speakers inside the church but outside as well so that anyone within 300 yards can clearly hear the presentations. This Muslim man heard it all and came forward. Wow.

It’s the rainy season here in Ethiopia and that means it rains every day. Just when you think it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day with no rain, the rain comes. This muddies up the roads and makes movement very difficult. However, people keep coming. I preached one night at a site where people were under a large canopy and the stage was 30 feet away (also under a canopy) separated by open air (don’t ask me why it was done like that). Anyway, when I was preaching, there was a sheet of rain separating the people from me. No problem. They were there, and I preached away. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that when our preachers are done, the meeting is not quite over. The pastor or lead person stands up, and then here we go for another mini-sermon with a passionate appeal for a decision. Even though I don’t understand a word he says, I know exactly what he’s saying, and people are responding. Last night at least 25 people came forward at the little church I was visiting. God is good. 

I’ve been told that this coming weekend about 600 people will be baptized. 600! Amazing. Although I wish we could take credit for these souls, the credit goes all to Jesus and the faithful brothers and sisters who have been working in their community. God blesses where people witness. These baptisms will take place on the shore of picturesque Lake Langano. It’s going to be wonderful. Our cameras are ready.

Saved lives and saved souls. Yes, this has been a great mission trip. And, without a question the lives most changed have been ours, the missionaries.

Click here to read the first report from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the third and final update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

One Step at a Time

On June 9th, I was on my way to Peru from the Atlanta airport. I had butterflies in my stomach, my thoughts were running rampant, and my heart was skipping beats. Not because I was on a plane, not because I was leaving the comfort of my home, but because I had a big responsibility to It Is Written and to the local people in Peru. 

Let me backtrack a little. I have been doing the logistics, behind the scenes, for several mission trips now. Handling things behind my computer is comfortable, but being in the mission field? Well, that is an entirely different story. You see I have never been on a mission trip before, and now I have been given the task to lead a group of 25 people in a foreign country. I did not know what to expect. But I did know Yves Monnier, It Is Written’s evangelism director and my supervisor, expected a lot from me. Rightly so; this was huge! 

When we landed in Peru, we were all exhausted but that quickly vanished due to the overwhelming love shown by the local pastors, our volunteer translators, and the local church school. Wow! We were not expecting that. From that day on, I knew God was going to be right by my side the entire time. No more butterflies, my thoughts were calmed, and my heart went back to beating regularly. God is good.

The group received a warm welcome at the airport from church pastors and the local church school.

No time to waste. After our warm welcome, we were transported by the pastors to our hotel, El Portal del Marques, and while everyone was getting their room keys and settling into their rooms, I was being pulled right and left, a question here, a problem there. Whoa! Typically, when I am working on a mission trip back home from the comfort of my computer, once the leader of a mission trip leaves for the country, most of my work is done. That was not the case this time around. Decisions needed to be made, and everything was up to me. No more turning to Yves for direction. This was completely new and foreign to me, but I knew I was ready. “One step at a time,” I thought to myself. Decisions were made and plans organized—finally, bed. 

The first clinic in Cajamarca, Peru.

The next morning, Friday, we got ready, bright and early, and were excited about our first day doing the medical clinic. After months of planning this mission trip, I was about to see my work in action for the first time. So many emotions ran through me at that moment. Upon arriving to our first site, one of the small plazas in the city of Cajamarca, more decisions needed to be made. Again, one at a time, I was able to get through them, but not alone. God was right by my side, and so was my team. I can’t express my gratitude enough to all the wonderful team members I had the pleasure of working with. As a team, we decided where triage was going to be placed. We then assigned the doctors, which included a local dental surgeon, to individual stations. Afterwards we set up the last two stations: one for our pharmacy and the other for eyeglasses. We gave close to 700 pairs of glasses away for free. Praise the Lord!

Although it was winter in Peru, during the day it was extremely hot. That didn’t stop the line from growing. We saw nearly 200 people that day. We were able to help people of all ages, from small issues to severe ones. 

Suranny, right, and Ines, left, saw many patients at the clinic.

Suranny Sarria, our nurse practitioner, shares her testimony. “It was the first day of the clinic, and I was with a patient when I heard one of the pastors scream ‘We need help now, someone just fainted!’ I immediately dropped my clipboard and ran to him. When I arrived, the patient was awake and alert, but she was still very pale and weak. I brought her to my station and checked her vital signs and asked her questions about her food and water intake. She said she had a small breakfast. I asked her about her family, and she told me she had been married for two years, since age 18. I don’t know what prompted me to ask her, ‘Does he treat you well?’ ‘No,’ she answered. I followed with more questions, ‘Is he abusive? Does he hit you?’ All to which the answer was ‘Yes.’ She was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. I asked her if she could go to her parents; unfortunately they both had passed away. At that time, I stepped away and spoke with Ines Requejo, a local nurse and wife of the campaign coordinator. I told her we needed to report this to the authorities. I went back to the young lady and before calling the authorities, I asked her if she wanted to report this. She agreed; Praise the Lord! Ines took the woman to the authorities where she was able to report the abuse and get counseling and therapy. Before she left, we gave her food, water, and multivitamins. I prayed for her and we cried together. I told her that if I didn’t see her here on Earth again, I would see her in Heaven. I also told her how much God loves her and that she deserves so much better.”

Before we knew it, it was five o’clock. The whole team was exhausted, but our hearts were touched by the many individuals who trusted us enough to let us help them. 

Brian, left, and Maria, right, speak and translate at their assigned church.

On Sabbath morning, we had 12 speakers assigned to 12 different churches. Praise the Lord for the hard-working pastors and translators who were also there day and night helping the team. I was assigned to Sabogal Central B with speaker Brian Kretschmar. This was his first time preaching and my first time translating an evangelistic series. A first for both of us. As I was sitting up on the platform waiting for our time, I began to feel butterflies in my stomach and my legs started to feel shaky. As the congregation sang, I began to pray. I heard Brian’s name announced, and we both stood. Immediately, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Just like that, they were gone! No butterflies, no trembling, nothing but calmness. God is good.

Everyday had its challenges, but with lots of prayer we were able to get through them. Dr. Mark Murray experienced a challenge with getting medicine. “Each morning,” he said, “I was taken by the pastor to the wholesale pharmacy to purchase medications that had been depleted from our inventory. One morning, we showed up, and the pharmacy was closed. We learned that the government had shut them down due to some rules infractions. The pastor got on the phone with the owner of the pharmacy and asked if he would help us. Soon enough someone appeared at this metal door and opened it for us. We walked down a dark alley to the back of the pharmacy. Thankfully, he did business with us, and we were able to continue operating the clinic.”

Day after day, our team, although exhausted, was always ready for another hard day’s work. Medical in the morning and preaching at night. At every site we went, a big line awaited us. Some people would arrive as early as 4:00 a.m. The need is great in Peru, and we were so thankful that the Lord brought each of us there to help his children. 

Tina Arnall, one of our nurses, told her testimony. “We brought many supplies to treat the people who came to our clinic. However, we had so many people that came to be seen, that we were very limited in the amount of medicines we could give each person. I think we saw around 1,800 while we were in Cajamarca. It dawned on me that we couldn’t rely on the medicines and treatments we had brought with us; we must rely totally on Christ for the real healing. It was so beautiful to see the doctors praying with the patients.

Tina, right, cleans a man’s diabetic ulcers.

One man I prayed with came with four diabetic ulcers on his ankles. He had evidently been managing them for 25 years. I was impressed they weren’t deeper than they were and had no odor. With there being such a short time for treatment, I prayed a heartfelt prayer for guidance. I felt a peace over me as I cleaned the wounds and lightly removed damaged tissue. I felt a deep thrill as I thought of Christ washing His disciple’s feet and the opportunity I was given to do this for Christ in ‘one of the least of these my brethren.’ I put charcoal in some ointment, applied a dressing, and did some teaching with him and his family. He came back a few days later, and new tissue growth could be seen. I praised God, and we prayed some more together. In the clinic, I found myself teaching lifestyle medicine because it could really make a difference when our little bit of medicine ran out. One man had a very high blood glucose level. Our medicines had disappeared that day, so Dr. Murray had gone to buy more. I had nothing physical to give the man, so I taught him the principles of reversing diabetes as I had learned from Wes Youngberg’s Diabetes Undone seminar. I had him out walking. It was so sad to send people away in the evening. Made me think of the many that thronged Christ for healing. Certainly I’m learning how true it is that the medical missionary work is the right hand of the gospel!”

Pastor Jeremy gives El Camino a Cristo (Steps to Christ) books to inmates at the prison.

We had one more day of clinic, but this one was going to take place inside of a penitentiary. Being inside a foreign prison was a first for almost all of us. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were all ready to help each individual. The process to enter was long but for good reason: They wanted to make sure the same people that went in, came out. We were all thankful for that. One hundred and fifty prisoners later, both men and women, we were done. Each one of them showed gratefulness for our presence. They each received a El Camino a Cristo (Steps to Christ) book, and they all accepted it with a smile. 

Our last Sabbath in Cajamarca came too soon. It was a bittersweet day–our last Sabbath with our churches, our new families. I will never forget these members who welcomed us with their whole hearts. I’m sure I can speak for the whole group when I say they will all hold a special place in our hearts. We had several baptisms that Sabbath afternoon from all 12 of our locations. Praise the Lord! 

Jeremy Arnall, pastor of the Greeneville Church, explains what happened with the baptisms that morning. “As we approached the end of our evangelistic campaign at the Cajamarca Central church, the pastor and I, along with my translator, went visiting with some of the interests. Several appeals were made throughout the week with a few coming forward each night so that on Sabbath morning before the first service, we were anticipating seven baptisms. As we finished first service, we had two baptisms and then had Sabbath school. As I finished preaching the message at second service, I began an appeal for individuals to come forward for baptism. A few came forward, and then I announced I needed to go get dressed for the baptism. We had planned five to be baptized at second service. I quickly got ready as the pastor stepped in for me and continued the appeal from the front. Finally, due to the length of his appeal, I came around outside and looked into the window to see what was happening in the sanctuary. I was so inspired to see several more who had come forward. We ended up baptizing 12 at second service, and then, as I was getting dried off and ready to go, I was told one more had come forward for baptism. Most of the congregation was now gone, but I quickly put the pastors waders back on. The few remaining members gathered about as we baptized the fifteenth precious soul that morning. I was inspired by the enthusiasm and energy that the Peruvian people bring to evangelism and their work at building the kingdom of God.”

What an experience! What a blessing! I will never forget my first mission trip, the team, the pastors, the translators, the hotel staff, the sweet smiles on the kids, and the members from Sabogal Central B church. With God’s help, our mission trip was successful, one step at a time. 

A Message of Hope for Ethiopia

It Is Written’s mission trip to Ethiopia is happening right now in the Negele Arsi area. We have 28 volunteers present with three more expected this weekend. The volunteers are split into two teams. One team works at the general hospital in Negele Arsi and the other conducts Bible presentations every evening at six different sites with hundreds of people in attendance. 

This amazing mission trip is the brainchild of Dr. Gohalem Felema, a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist. Even though Dr. Felema practices in Jacksonville, Florida, she originally hails from Ethiopia and thus has a big burden for her people. A few years ago she approached It Is Written about doing a mission trip, but things didn’t quite line up. She didn’t give up until finally here we are in 2019. 

Ethiopia is a colorful country with breathtaking scenery. However, the most striking aspect of Ethiopia is the people. They are warm and kind but also very poor. I mean very poor. They survive through subsistence farming and commonly get around in carts pulled by donkeys or horses. The roads are a cacophony of pedestrians, trucks, three-wheeled vehicles called bajaj, buses, horse/donkey-drawn carts, and animals of all sizes that wander on the road with not a care in the world. Our driver has to slalom around all of that to get to our destination. Quite an adventure.

The needs of this country are great, especially health-wise and spiritually. Thus, our trip is facilitating something people desperately need. Under the careful care of Dr. Felema, doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, health educators, and support staff are busy working at the hospital. Two of our doctors have already done several interesting surgeries. Meanwhile, eight of our other volunteers open God’s word every night and preach the everlasting gospel. People walk to the meetings and are blessed to be given a message of hope. Many of these people are planning to be baptized.

It’s the rainy season right now in Ethiopia. Rain is something this drought-prone country desperately needs. As you can imagine, however, rain can negatively impact the attendance at our nightly meetings. So, we’ve been praying as a group for rain except during our meeting times. And that’s exactly what’s been happening: Rain except during our evening meetings. As a matter of fact, at one of our outdoor meetings the rain did not start until the preacher had said “amen.”

I should also mention that as part of our mission project in Ethiopia, Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, the Eyes for India ophthalmologist, spent a week here with his team earlier this month. He did 1,028 cataract surgeries in a span of five days. One of those surgeries was particularly moving. Dr. Jacob operated on a nine-year-old girl who was born with congenital cataracts and had never seen her parents. Dr. Jacob described with emotion the moment she saw her parents for the first time. Powerful.

Please keep the It Is Written team in your prayers. The final day of the mission trip is July 20. We have another week to go. May God use us in a powerful way to draw people to Him.

Click to read the second update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the third and final report from the Ethiopia mission trip.

He Still Shows Up

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to step back in time? Perhaps you jet back 2,000 years and find yourself in a Jewish village hamlet of Jesus’ day? When He showed up in town, the quietness was broken. The desperate poor rose from their squalor. They pressed into His presence for the healing they could secure in no other way. Would you fear to feel the press of that desperate crowd, each anxious he might miss the hoped-for healing?

A time machine is not required to be launched into a similar time and place. In January, I found myself in the unfolding light of dawn in the Indian region of Uttar Pradesh. As shadowy figures took form around me, I knew I was seeing what Jesus saw and feeling what He must have felt. I wished He was here to touch the lives that flowed passed.

Grandfather, father, and son make their way to the camp to receive eye surgeries.

Three men move quickly through the morning mist. One weather-beaten, one middle-aged, and the last a lad of only 10. Opaque eyes tell of his darkness since young. In the cataract belt of India, it is too frequent that young children are born with or develop cataracts at an early age. The lad sweeps his head to and fro. Perhaps he’s listening to the murmuring world about him. Because the middle-aged man had cataract surgery in one eye already, he steers this train of three skillfully towards the clinic door where It Is Written is sponsoring an eye camp. Today all three men will be operated on. Grandfather will see for the first time in 10 years. Father will gain sight in his second eye. And our doctor hopes the young lad is not too late to recover some sight. No one knows if his brain will know how to see once the obstruction to light is removed. If only he had come sooner.

Two women eat before heading home from the eye camp.

Next to the Hindu temple a short distance away, I see another soul. I notice she’s bent low over a leaf-plate stitched together by thin twigs. The fingers of this frail woman scoop lentil mush into her hungry mouth. There are 200 others eating just as she is. They have all had eye surgery yesterday. When the sun rises higher, they will head home, excited about recovered sight. When the small heap of nourishment is gone, she folds this disposable plate, rises to throw it away, and washes her hands. Suddenly her slight frame stops when she unfolds to her waist. I inhale sharply. Osteoporosis has robbed her of height. Her entire world view is the earth beneath her feet. She is forever locked into this boomerang-shaped stance. If only the healer was here to cure more than just her sight.

A woman shuffles down the street. Osteoporosis prevents her from standing upright.

I turn to the sound of shuffling. I see a blind lady’s anxious feet sweep the unfamiliar road as she haltingly gropes her way to the clinic. I wonder how far she has come. Some I’ve spoken to have traveled a day and a half by train. The milling crowd parts to let this stumbling woman through. Hope is within reach. The sticker above her right eye indicates one blinding cataract will be removed. Tomorrow faltering feet will move with solid determination homeward.

A woman with cataracts receives assistances as she navigates through a crowd in Barabanki, India.

The crowd continues to flow past. How is it possible there are so many? Poverty has treated each cruelly. The want of proper food has left their eyes to suffer. The want of money has delayed them in seeking and securing a cure. But now they are finally here, each with hope for a better tomorrow. I have been told they arrive in waves of 400 plus each day. By the end of the 10 days scheduled for this camp, at least 4,000 will come seeking help and over 2,000 will receive their sight again. I wish Jesus was here.

A smile nudges my feeling of helplessness. Jesus is here. In the form of His friends, He has shown up in town today. Through the eye camps sponsored by It Is Written and the faithful work of Dr. Jacob Prabhakar and his team, the desperate poor can gain the healing they could secure in no other way. I’m not afraid to feel the press of this desperate crowd, each one anxious he might miss the hoped-for healing, because I know there is help beyond that clinic door. Through the hands of sacrificial donors, the surgeon, dedicated nurses, and numerous volunteers, Jesus is certainly here. There is hope for tomorrow.

Click here to learn more about Eyes for India.

God’s Marvelous Acts

God's Marvelous Acts title picture

Here are six short stories from our mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.

Eavesdropping Custodian

Pastor Justin Lyons’ nightly presentations were heard by a person he was not even aware was present: the custodian of the church where the series of meetings were held. Outside in the shadows, the custodian sat, listened, and learned. His heart was so moved that on the night when Pastor Lyons invited people who wanted to be baptized to come forward, he stepped into the church and came forward. I guess some eavesdropping is actually very good.

Found Purse

One of our volunteers took a taxi to run some errands. Unbeknownst to her, her wallet fell out of her purse while riding the taxi back to the hotel. This is a story that had the potential to have a very costly and stressful ending. However, God preserved the wallet from being found by the wrong person. The next person to ride that very same taxi was none other than another member of our evangelism team. God is good.

John preaching to a crowd at night

Balcony Audience

Pastor John Bradshaw’s meetings were held outdoors in a park surrounded by apartment buildings. Hundreds of people from the community attended every night. The best thing, though, was seeing people with their windows open or standing on their balconies listening to Pastor Bradshaw preach. Can’t beat a location like that. 

 

Christ’s Method

A wonderful Christian writer wrote: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” Two of our volunteers did just that. First, they went to grocery store and bought bags full of groceries, and then began to deliver food to poorest of the poor in a squatter community. The response of the people was: “No one has ever done that for us,” followed by some joyful spontaneous singing and dancing.

Powerful Prayer

Our video projectors have American plugs. In order to use them in South Africa, we had to purchase an adapter. When Donna, one of our volunteer preachers, plugged in her video projector, the adapter started to spew sparks. She immediately pulled it out from the outlet and wiggled it to make sure that it was properly connected. Then she plugged it again but it did the same. Without the adapter, no sermon slides. Disaster. So, Donna invited everyone present to pray with her. According to a witness, it was one of the most powerful prayers he ever heard. As soon as she said “Amen,” she plugged the adapter in the outlet again and NO problem. The presentation went forward without any more glitches. However, once the presentation was done, the adapter quit working again. Don’t tell me God doesn’t take care of little things too.

Get Help! 

Our medical team has seen hundreds of patients. Though limited in what they are allowed to do, they are still doing an amazing job. Case and point is the young man who came to our makeshift clinic in a poor section of Pretoria. After listening to the young man, the doctor did a quick exam and discovered that his cervical, axillary, and inguinal lymph nodes were swollen, firm, and non-movable. A strong sign that this dear man had cancer. The doctor passionately recommended that he get help at the hospital immediately. Before letting him leave, the doctor prayed with the man, connecting him to the Great Physician.

Doctor prays with patient

Dr. Martin Kelly prays with a patient after an examination. Health clinics were held in addition to multiple preaching campaigns as part of It Is Written’s mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.

Prayers for South Africa

I’m at the Atlanta airport awaiting my 15.5 hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. I’m headed there along with Pastor John Bradshaw and 30+ volunteers to take part in a big outreach endeavor in the province of Gauteng. Gauteng is home to two very large cities, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and over 12 million people.

We are going to be conducting 25 series of Bible presentations in and around Pretoria. Pastor John will be at the largest venue, an outdoor venue, at a place called Fountain Valley, where thousands are expected to attend. Our meetings start on Sunday night, October 7, and conclude on Saturday, October 20.

In addition to our nightly meetings, we have a small team of health professionals who will be working alongside local health professionals to provide basic screenings. The needs are great and the health message is a great way to introduce people to Jesus.

Please keep Pastor John and the team in your prayers. Where God is at work, we fully expect the devil to show up and try to disrupt. However, we know Who wins.

74 Volunteers, 57 Campaigns: Over 3,000 Decisions

Filipino children playing

Just a few weeks ago, Pastor John Bradshaw, It Is Written staff, and 74 volunteers converged in the Philippines to conduct 57 two-week Bible presentation series as part of a big Philippines for Christ evangelism project. As a result, 3,147 people have been baptized and more are preparing to make that commitment. 

The It Is Written evangelism team was composed of pastors, retirees, students, teachers, health professionals, business people, and entrepreneurs with one thing in common: a passion to share Jesus with others. The meetings conducted were held in churches of all sizes, basketball courts, rooftops, rented halls, outdoor spaces, warehouses, streets, and alleys. The evangelists went to the streets, where the people live. And many people responded, especially smiling young people. Not only did the people attend, but they also responded positively to the nightly presentations. Countless made decisions to make Jesus the Lord of their lives.

Man preaching in alleyway

Dale preached his nightly meeting in an alley.

Benilda, unsatisfied with the church of her parents, went on a quest to find the right place for her to worship and walk with Jesus. Over the years her search was fruitless. One day, recently, when riding public transportation she overheard a conversation between two people. They were talking about an exciting series of Bible meetings being held nearby. Her curiosity got the best of her, and so she interrupted the two ladies and asked if it would be okay for her to attend the meetings. That night, Benilda was present as Dale, one of the volunteers, preached his heart out. When he made the appeal for people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, Benilda responded. She attended all the following meetings and declared that she had found what she was looking for all these years. 

Pearl, another of our preachers, noticed that one of the people attending her meetings was a man who always wore a mask. Many people in Manila wear masks outdoors because of the pollution, but he kept his on when he came indoors. Pearl was curious, so after a meeting, she caught up with the man. He told her his name was Danilo and that he was very thankful for the messages she was sharing. Pearl asked him why he wore the mask indoors. With sadness in his eyes, he explained that he hides his face because of ugly boils. Pearl immediately asked if she could pray for him. He said yes. And so she prayed for God to heal Danilo of his boils. A few nights later Pearl noticed that Danilo was missing. Actually, he wasn’t. She hadn’t recognized him because he had removed his mask. His face had no boils, just a big bright smile. Danilo, like many others, is preparing himself for baptism.

Tina, a volunteer preacher from Tennessee, was on her way to her nightly meeting when she was invited to a funeral service being held near her preaching site. When she arrived, she was told that the family wanted her to say a few words. With fear and trepidation, she stood before the crowd—but that’s when the Holy Spirit took over. With much compassion in her heart, Tina talked about the love of Jesus and how He had conquered death at the cross. It was an impromptu message, but it touched the hearts of many unbelievers.

God works in so many amazing ways to reach people. He empowers humble vessels to do it because, as Paul put it, “When I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:11. Our It Is Written team has left the Philippines but the Philippines is still very much in our hearts. We went to be a blessing to others but in reality, we are the ones most blessed. Volunteers made some encouraging comments as they parted ways:

I have hope and renewed energy to work for souls back home and to encourage all, both young and old, to follow Jesus all the way. -Dean

All I can say is, “Praise the Lord!”  I have to say that this was the most overpowering move of the Holy Spirit that I have ever experienced in my life. –Ed

This is one of the most blessed trips I have ever taken. –Rosemary

It Is Written is gearing up for its next evangelism mission trip to South Africa, October 4-21, 2018. We’d love for you to be a part of that very special experience. Please contact us at missions@iiw.org to reserve your spot.

Hope for a New Beginning

Girls wearing Escrito Esta shirts

It was Sunday afternoon when I was looking through the news and learned that a volcano had erupted in Guatemala. I immediately contacted one of my close friends from Guatemala to ask about the seriousness of the catastrophe, and he told me: “Carolina, it’s not a big deal, Volcán de Fuego is always erupting.” I was very concerned because in the next two weeks my local church would visit Guatemala on a mission trip that had been planned for over a year.

Next, I contacted the mission trip coordinator, Danny, to see if anything had changed. He said there were no changes, except that we needed to be there more than ever to help as much as we could. The following Monday I requested for prayer during worship at It Is Written. That’s when the general manager, Jesse Johnson, approached me to offer the ministry’s support during this mission trip. What a blessing!

Smoke still rises as workers clear rubble.

The truth is, this wasn’t just another small eruption. The devastation went much further than we ever imagined. This became visible when we reached the community of San Miguel los Lotes to film a program with It Is Written Speaker/Director John Bradshaw and Escrito Está Speaker/Director Robert Costa. The town was completely buried. It was heartbreaking to see survivors returning to their streets, only to find volcanic material covering their houses and relatives. One lady came to us crying: “You’re standing on what used to be my home. My mother didn’t escape. She’s buried under your feet.”

I asked another man who he had lost during this eruption. He said, “I only want to mention my mother and my wife. If I count my uncles, cousins, and other relatives, the number will be more than forty people. But I don’t want to even think about it, the pain is overwhelming.”

As we walked through the once-populated town, smoke still ascended from the ground. The smell of sulfur and death were all around us. I couldn’t stop wondering why people didn’t leave their homes and escape before the eruption. Some said that their loved ones didn’t receive warning in time. Others said that people didn’t take the warnings seriously because the crater was facing a different direction and lava had never descended their direction. People had become so used to living next to the danger of an active volcano, that they didn’t take the warning seriously. They believed, as they had done in the past, that locking themselves inside their homes would be enough to keep them from harm. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Today, the total number of deaths is still under debate. The national government counts are close to 300, but locals argue that the death toll is in the thousands. Unfortunately, finding all the bodies is almost impossible, so we will never really know.  

Mission trip volunteers distribute potable water barrels to volcano victims.

According to the communications coordinator for CONRED, the disaster relief agency in Guatemala, warning people to evacuate on time is challenging. Communication law in Guatemala does not allow for the government to send free text messages to alert people whenever they are in danger. Because of its location, Guatemala is prone to multiple natural disasters and millions of people are vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions. The best way to prevent loss of life like this is to keep people from living in dangerous areas and to train them to be aware of imminent danger.

Today, the road to recovery for this nation and the thousands affected by Volcán de Fuego is long and difficult. Hundreds of people are currently amassed in temporary shelters and will soon be moved to transitional homes. The government will have to implement plans to establish people in a new location. Nobody really knows what will happen next. People have little hope for the future and no trust in their government. Right now is when they most need to hear about the second coming of Jesus and the mansions He has prepared for us – a real future and hope. As vulnerable as they are, the people of Guatemala have open hearts and are seeking God for answers to life’s deepest questions.

During our visit to Guatemala, we tried to share Christ’s love and glimpses of hope in the midst of unbearable pain. Thanks to It Is Written’s support, we were able to see 4,000 patients in our health clinics. We gave medication and over 750 pairs of glasses. We distributed 100, 55-gallon barrels to hold potable water. Twelve full-size family tents were delivered to people who lost their homes and were living in the streets. We handed out 600 t-shirts with the Escrito Está logo and the message “God Is Love” reminding the people who had just lost everything that they were loved by a merciful God. Finally, we gave out year-long scholarships to 68 local children displaced by the volcano so they could continue their education at the local church school.

I’m so grateful that I was able to be a part of this trip. I’m grateful to It Is Written for their support and to our donors for so quickly responding to the need in Guatemala. This is the love of Jesus in action. Thank you for your support! As Escrito Está approaches its 25th anniversary, we plan to return to Guatemala in 2019 to share more of Jesus’ love and hope of a new beginning.

Pastor Robert Costa, right, and Carolina Bonilla, center, pose with children affected by the Fuego volcanic eruption.