Our Mission Statement

Saturday, April 24

round 2

I got off of my soapbox a couple of days ago. Thanks for all of the compliments on the article but I am not planning on getting in the pulpit any time soon. I believe some of the best sermons are preached by simply getting out there and living your faith. We are living testimonies of who we are and whose we are. What we say, how we say it, where we go, what we do, how we react, you name it, a sermon is being broadcast in living color. Sermons of this nature are not bound by gender, age, skin color, education level, or ethnicity. Preach away, your audience awaits you.

OK, round 2 begins. Round 1 was collecting the 1st payment for the trip (deposit), applications, and making deposits at the various hotels and lodging facilities we will be using this summer. To date we officially have 167 people on our team. I am still awaiting applications from just a few people that are from Costa Rica... and a couple of stragglers who shall remain unnamed. We have 9 people from Costa Rica that will be traveling to Honduras this summer to work with us as interpreters. I am excited to meet this group and work with them because I am quite sure we will be working with them again in 2011 on the Torch trip to Costa Rica. As of right now I think we have 20 interpreters on the trip, the largest number we have ever had on a trip.

Now begins the task of sending out and collecting the next round of paper work. First, I will be sending out the Torch rules sheet this weekend. The rules sheet must be signed and notarized and sent back to me. This is a very important document and everyone has to sign one. It is very important that a team this large be aware of the rules and procedures that will be used for the trip. Everyone, including adults and team leaders, will be held to the same rules as other team members. Second, I am sending out the Spanish release form. This form is for anyone under the age of 18 who will be going on the trip. Those under the age of 18 are considered a minor and we must have written permission for you to travel out of the country with our group. This form, written in Spanish, must also be notarized. An English translation form will be sent along with the Spanish form so that parents will know what the document says. the English translation sheet is NOT to be filled out or notarized. Third, I need a photocopy of your passport. A color copy is best but black and white is OK. Once we arrive in Honduras passports are collected and stored away in a safe place for the duration of the trip. We carry the photocopies with us as we travel about the country. This is to insure that passports will not be misplaced or lost during the trip. If you do not have a passport yet, or are waiting for your passport to come in, please remember to send a photocopy to me as soon as soon are you receive it.

Our container is scheduled to be packed and leave Nashville next week. All supplies must be in Nashville no later than Thursday. The container is going to be full of supplies. We have collected a lot of stuff from tools; chainsaws; clothes; shoes; medicines; toys; stuffed animals; cooking utensils; playground equipment; and more. Although we have not received everything yet, I am estimating that over 500 boxes of supplies will go on the container. This will not include supplies coming out of the Keys in Florida, where Ken Haab's team will be packing their collections up and bringing it down in their baggage. Last minute supplies will also be brought down by various people when they fly down to Honduras.

After the container leaves Nashville a lot of the stress of the trip will be gone for a while (of course it will not be completely gone until I know it has arrived in Tegucigalpa and unloaded into the warehouse). Tasks at hand are dividing the main team into the Alpha and Omega teams. Fund raising continues and plans are still being shaped as to what our specific projects are going to be for the trip this year. As always, the amount of money we have in the work fund will determine how many houses we build and how many food distributions we will be able to do. I hope everyone of the team will dedicate efforts to bring money for the work fund. To show the power of a large team, if everyone brought just $20 with them to add to the work fund we would be able to build 2 additional houses or 1 extra food distribution to feed 300 families!

Please do not hesitate to email me if you need any additional information or have any questions. If you are not in a group or do not receive an email with the rules sheet and Spanish release form, get with me right away so that I can send it to you. 69 days and counting! Getting excited? Getting nervous? Getting ready? I can't wait!!! More news to come soon. Stay tuned....


Thursday, April 15

Seriously, folks

I am not exactly sure how many people actually read this blog. The site counter seems to indicate that several people at least stop by to take a look every now and then. But I am about to get up on my soapbox to preach a little while. If you continue reading, you might want to put on a pair of steel-toed boots. I am just in one of those moods this morning and feel a need to "preach." Hey, it happens sometimes.

I want to start off by asking a question. In Matthew 28:18-20 it reads, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Mark 16:15-16 sates, "And He said unto them, 'go ye into all of the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned." My question is very simple. "When are we going to take these 2 passages of scripture seriously?" No, really, that is my question. Can someone please give me an answer?

When I read these 2 passages, I am drawn to the fact that JESUS is issuing a command. Not a suggestion, or a recommendation, but a command. To me. To you. To anyone that has put on the name of Christ. Christians. Believers. Followers. Disciples. He said GO! Where? Unto all of the world. Why? To teach and to preach the gospel. To baptize believers into Christ. To bring the lost into a saved relationship with Jesus. Am I crazy, but isn't that supposed to be a big deal? Isn't that supposed to be important? If the answer is yes, why is there no sense of urgency? Because I am telling you, I don't see or feel any sense of urgency today. At least not in the circle of people that I am running into these days.

Now, please do not take all of this the wrong way. I am not casting judgement on anyone or trying to read people's intent. But I am on my soapbox and I just feel like I need to say some things that are on my mind. For the past several weeks (months, actually), I have been spending quite a bit of time planning our mission trip to Honduras. That should not be a surprise to anyone that knows me. This involves several things from recruiting volunteers to raising money to pay for work projects we are going to do while we are in Honduras. So I deal with lots and lots of people from lots of different places. And, after doing this for 19 years, I have actually come to expect to hear certain questions and comments on the subject of short term foreign mission work. But for some reason these questions and comments have really gotten to me recently. It has really worked its way into me and I just feel the need to address it.

Raising money for a mission trip is a tough job. Everyone out there that is reading this and has ever been on a trip knows this. The trip is expensive and very few of us have the money to just reach in our wallets and pay for the trip. I am a big boy and I can take "no" for an answer from people who don't help. I understand that not everyone has the ability to help send people on mission trips. I also know that I am willing and capable of doing additional work to pay from my trip too. I will do whatever it takes to come up with the money to go on a trip to Honduras, or wherever the team is going. But recently someone made the comment, 'I just can't believe ya'll are trying to raise money to go on a trip to Honduras this year with the economy the way it is." (the ya'll probably gave away the fact that this comment was made down here in the deep south)

Normally a comment like this just runs off my back like water on a duck. But not this time. I am standing on my soapbox and I am preaching and I am repeating my question, "When are we going to take the great commission seriously?" When? When! For goodness sakes, people are LOST in sin out there. LOST IN SIN. Lost as in they are not going to go to heaven if they die today. Lost as in spending an eternity of punishment and torment. If we do not reach them NOW, they are doomed. What is it exactly. Is it the fact that we do not care? Is it because we do not know them? Is it because they are different than us, different colored skin or a different language or culture? Exactly what is it that makes people ask these questions? Because I hear it all of the time.

"Why do you have to spend all of that money and go all the way to Honduras? There are people in our own back yard lost." I hear this one a lot too. May I go back to my original question again? "When are we going to take the great commission seriously?" For goodness sakes, if there are people lost in our own back yard, put on your shoes, walk across your lawn, and go talk to them! They are lost! They are dying! Does no one care? People are so concerned about the amount of money we are spending to go to Honduras to help put homeless people in houses, and feed the starving, and put clothes on the backs of the naked, is that what is keeping these people from going out and helping their neighbors that live in their own back yards? Let's get serious. People in our own back yards certainly should be reached. But why are we not reaching them? Is it because we are not going? Is it because we are not boldly speaking the truth to those we come in contact with every single day? Is it because we really just don't care?

I live in Henderson, Tennessee. This is a mecca for the church. The deep south. Home of Freed-Hardeman University. A place where people come to learn how to live and how to make a living. A place to study the bible. Where preachers and youth ministers are trained. Where missionaries prepare to go out into the field. Where people meet their husband or their wife. Where living in a Christian atmosphere is so common it is taken for granted. There are lots of people right here in Henderson that are lost. Right here in our own back yard. And they are in YOUR back yard too. They work at the grocery store where you bought milk yesterday. They work at the hardware store. They are the Wal-Mart greeters. Your next door neighbor. The girl that sits right across from you in English class. There they are.... what are you going to do? Reach out? Or keep right on walking.

Now, if you know someone that is going to Honduras this summer, they will be leaving their home congregation for less than 2 weeks. If a few people leave to go work somewhere else, I am pretty sure that a lot of people will be staying back at home during that time. Maybe during that time, instead of wondering why the Torch team was raising money during these economic times to reach out to the people of Honduras and not reaching out to the people in their own back yard, those who stayed behind could get out and do that local work. What do you think? Novel idea, isn't it? What is keeping the rest of the congregation back from doing mission work at home while we are sharing the gospel to people from another nation?

Because I am telling you the truth, if is bad here in the US economically, just imagine how bad it is in Honduras. Trust me, it is bad. 55% unemployment rate bad. We need to preach the good news to Honduras just as much as we need to do it here. The last time I checked, our souls are worth exactly the same as theirs. "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26. We are all precious in His sight, and Jesus dies for ALL. We need to go out into ALL of the world... during economically good times and bad. We need to go out unto all of the world, including your next door neighbor and the one who lives in a wooden shack on the side of a mountain.

We need desperately, to get out of our comfortable, air-conditioned church buildings and off of the padded pews. We need to get out of our suites and ties and out of our leather shoes. We need to get out of this mentality of "going to church" and become the church. We need to stop dressing up and looking the part and roll up our sleeves and become the part. We need to stop talking and start doing. Because until we take this seriously, and feel a sense of urgency, what good are we? How can we sit safely in our little world and ignore the rest of the world? Don't be fooled, a tree will be known by its' fruit.

So, as I get off of my soapbox I am wondering to myself, am I going to get a shout out of amens or am I going to get steel-toed shoes tossed at me like President Bush? One thing is for sure, we will continue planning the trip. We will continue recruiting for the trip. We will continue raising money for the trip. And we will continue doing the will of Jesus by answering the call of Matthew 28 and Mark 16. And Galatians 6:10, "So then, whenever we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith."

RUE2B... bold! "Preach the word! Be ready in season, out of season; Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with great patience and instruction." II Timothy 4:2

Terry Reeves

Thursday, April 1

the great escape, part 2

A few days ago I posted some of the fantastic things we saw on the scouting trip to Costa Rica. And while we were indeed captured by the beauty of the land and the amazing sights, that was just a side benefit as to why we were there in the first place. The scout team's primary goal was to meet with a local missionary and discuss the plans to bring a mission team to Costa Rica May, 2011. After several weeks of emails and phone calls, Minor Perez, my shady Costa Rican (another of his many nicknames!) made nearly all of the arrangements needed before we arrived.

Speaking of nicknames, I received a few emails asking why Ben Wright had so many nicknames on the trip. All I can say is that he actually had more than that! And also, what happened in Costa Rica stayed in Costa Rica! Well, that is not really true, but I will not go into detail on the blog... but I will give out Ben's email for those who want to find out the real deal with Ben and his nicknames! It is up to Ben as to whether or not he will give out the details. We certainly shared a lot of laughs along the way.
OK, back to the scouting report. As a side note, I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica since I was in 6th grade. My history teacher assigned all of us a country to do a report / presentation on and I was given Costa Rica (and Brazil). After researching the country and finding photos for my nifty display board, I was sold on the fact that I needed to go there. Then, I met one of my best friends in the whole world, Tim Hines, in Miami. He grew up in Costa Rica. That was, for all practical purposes, the seal of the deal for me. Since then I waited for the opportunity to arrive. This spring finally gave way the the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with inexpensive airline tickets, a pre-paid hotel room, and vacation time.
Fast forward to 2009. I moved to Henderson, Tennessee, to work for Freed-Hardeman University as a dorm supervisor. Lo and behold, 2 of the students in my dorm were from Costa Rica. 167 plus 91 equals 258 and there you go... the scouting trip began. (Forget the numbers, stick with the point) Now, don't mis-read what I am saying, this trip was not to fulfill my desire to go to Costa Rica because I wanted to visit there. It is way beyond that now. After spending 19 years working in Honduras, and visiting Guatemala and El Salvador, I have come to the realization that the gospel needs to be spread into Latin America and that Central America is starving to receive the good news about Jesus. Torch is positioned to do just that.

Spring break, 2010, was selected as the "go date" since I was out of school on break and the others were able to use some vacation time. Steve flew on American Airlines, using a travel voucher from last year's trip that had to be used before April 2010, out of Nashville. Ben, Jill, and Brian flew on Mexicana Airlines out of Washington, DC. Margaret, Minor, and I flew Spirit Airlines out of Atlanta. We landed first, around 11:30 am. Steve followed at 12:30 pm. The rest landed at 3:30 pm. San Jose's airport is very large, modern, with a quick and efficient customs agency. We were off the plane, through customs, and had our luggage within 30 minutes of landing! A quick stop at the rental car agencies allowed us to work the agents and get a good deal renting a 15 passenger, 5 speed, diesel van. We were off to the races by 5:30 pm (after a stop at Minor's grandmother's house to drop off some goodies he brought her and to pick up a cell phone).

By 6:00 were driving through Cartago, a large city at the base of Cerro de la Muerte. It was already getting dark and was drizzling rain. Perfect weather to drive over the mountain of death! We were all exhausted from our flights and Ben, Margaret, and Steve were battling congestion problems. As we took on the very large mountain (well over 11,000 ft) the 3 had major problems because their ears would not adjust to the changing altitudes. Steve had the worst of it and we eventually had to stop for a dinner break, both because we were hungry and to allow the 3 travelers a chance to try to get their ear drums adjusted. The trip was a slow go due to fog, rain, and very, very slow trucks trying to creep their way up the narrow 2 lane road. After some delicious fried chicken we finished the journey and found our way to Buenos Aires around 9:30 pm.

We met Daniel, the local preacher in Buenos Aires, at a Bus / truck stop. he guided us the final couple of miles to our hotel. The small, simple hotel was a welcome sight to 7 very weary visitors. It took very little time to unload the van and check into our rooms. Minor, Steve, Brian, and I took time to visit with Daniel to go over plans for Saturday before hitting the hay. We visited for about 45 minutes in the outdoor dinning area of the hotel discussing different ideas of what we wanted to see on Saturday. And, just like Honduras, the vast majority of the plans we made were out the window before we ever left the driveway on Saturday! Oh yeah, this place will be perfect for what we do!!!

The hotel was small, only 25 rooms total. Very basic, and certainly not fancy, it seems to be a perfect place to house a mission team. It is quiet, clean, and does have hot water showers and AC. The beds were comfortable, especially for those who are exhausted, and is located in an area of town that allows a very easy drive into town and to the church building. It is secure and very reasonably priced. Rooms averaged $25 per night for 2 people. there is a small dining area and the meals were very good and reasonable priced. We ate breakfast for about $4. It included beans and rice, scrambled eggs, sausage, and fried plantains and a salsa made of tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

Our first stop Saturday morning was the market area to buy toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, and other items forgotten for the trip. It was hot and the sun was out. By 10:00 seeking shade was one of our top priorities. Once that was done we drove out of town to one of the Indian reservations (there are 6 total) in the area, home to about 45,000 native Indians. Our comfortable 15 passenger van became an awesome 4x4 off road mule as we left the paved roads behind and took on dirt, gravel, and rock bedded roads. I am sure Economy Rental Car had no idea what their van was going to be up to during the week!

We drove through miles of pineapple fields before reaching the rain forest area where we dropped down into the Cabecares Indian reservation. It was a gorgeous site as we saw unspoiled natural beauty all around us. Lots of cattle along the way caught our eyes, especially the ones who thought they were mountain goats! Cattle was spotted on the sides of very step hillsides and all I could think of was how good the grass must have been up there to get the cows to scale the hillside to get there! We crossed dry river beds and one river on a make shift bridge (the main bridge had been washed away in a flood last year and the new one was not in place yet). Houses and small pulperias were spread out and we did not see a lot of people along the main road.

There are members of the church living on the reservation and we drove deep into the reservation to go visit one of the families. We got as close as we could and then hiked it back to the house. A primitive wooden house with a dirt floor was tucked into dense foliage and trees. The family was large (about 8-9 lived there) and very friendly and glad to see us. We had a short devotional with them and then stayed to visit for a while and take photos. It was such a beautiful place! Their yard was full of banana trees; orange trees; mango trees; lemon trees and coconut trees. they were growing papaya, beans, and gourds. The used the gourds for cups and water pitchers. The used bamboo as pipes to transport water from place to place. It was amazing!

After our visit we traveled back into town and drove around Buenos Aires. It in not a large town (about 45,000) but it is easy to get around. It is a rural town and agriculture is the main source of income for the area. There are a few neighborhoods that appear to be where the wealthier people live, but by in large most houses are very simple block houses. They are well kept and nicely painted and decorated, and certainly give the impression of a middle class. There is, however, one very poor section of town. Wooden houses, very similar to the ones we would find in Honduras, are located off a dirt road leading into the neighborhood. Some houses had dirt floors while others had concrete. The city had electricity to the village but they did not have sewage lines or running water. Water spickets were within easy walking distance. We could see a lot of ministry opportunity here. We visited a family who were members of the church in this neighborhood and Ben and Jill brought toys, stuffed animals, and balloons to pass out.

Later Saturday afternoon we met at the house that serves as the church building. The current congregation is about 25 adults, with several children. The congregation is less than a year old and has already outgrown the house. But the house has a large back yard and Daniel and his son-in-law built a open air building for the church to meet. It has handmade church benches, wooden lap siding, and a tin roof. Daniel ran electricity to the building so there is lights and outlets to plug in fans. It has a gravel floor and is very nice. Children use the house for bible classes.

We had a mid-afternoon Bible study on Saturday. Daniel asked me to teach the class. They are studying the book of James and I taught a lesson on the last 5 or 6 verses of chapter 1. Minor interpreted for me as I used the dry erase board to draw pictures of Daniel to use as my illustrations! After the Bible study we went over to the Chaves' home for refreshments. We had a wonderful time visiting and eating fresh fruits and ice cream. It is obvious that they have dealt with gringos before. Daniel is a veteran preacher of nearly 20 years. He is a graduate of the Bible training school in Panama. He is a great man. Not only does he preach, he does daily bible studies and goes door knocking on a regular basis. he is a great song leader too!

Daniel is married to Maribelle, a wonderful Christian woman. Margaret and Jill really hit it off with her and the 3 of them became instant friends. Daniel and Maribelle have 3 daughters. Their oldest in married to a preacher who works in San Jose. Their middle daughter, Daniella, just got married 2 weeks ago to Vidal, who is planning on moving to Panama within the year to begin training to become a preacher. Their youngest daughter is Jennifer, who is 18, and is as typical a teenager and you can find. I took great delight picking on her throughout the weekend. I told her that I only pick on people that I like.... but I am not sure if she bought it or not.

Sunday morning Brian Steffy taught the adult Bible class. He did a presentation about how big God is and used a lot of Christian evidences, including astrology. Ben Wright preached the sermon. He discussed the crucifixion of Jesus from the viewpoint of Barabbas, the thief that was released to the crowd. Minor interpreted both the Bible class and the sermon. We had a good attendance, well over 30, with several members absent. We met several of the members, all wonderful people who were so friendly. After worship services we went back to the motel to finish packing up and had lunch with Daniel and his family. We spent the better part of an hour discussing plans for the mission team that is now scheduled to arrive in May, 2011.

We truly did not want to leave. Our 3 day scouting trip went by so quickly. But during that short period of time we became friends with an outstanding evangelist and his family. We watched as God opened our eyes to amazing opportunities in the area. We found a hotel to meet the needs of the mission team; places to buy food and supplies; found a hospital to do visitation; and learned of an orphanage nearby that we can work. We found neighborhoods that would be ideal for food distributions. We found a neighborhood where we could build and repair houses. and we found a congregation of faithful Christians eager to receive a campaign group to help them reach those in Buenos Aries and beyond.

As we close the book on the scouting trip, at least for now, we now focus on the work at hand for the Honduras trip. April is here and we are now less than 3 months from the trip. There is much to do and time keeps on rolling right along. April is the deadline for collecting supplies; sending supplies to Nashville to be loaded on the container; shipping the container to Honduras; and paperwork includes photocopies of passports; notarized rules sheets; and Spanish release forms for those under the age of 18. It is going to e a busy month and it will go by fast.

That's it for now, check the blog on a regular basis, we will be posting new information weekly. Continue to keep our trip in your prayers, there are many people spending a lot of hours right now behind the scenes working to make the preparations go as smoothly as possible for the trip. And if you have not bought your airline ticket yet, I suggest you do not wait much longer. Seats are becoming scarce, especially out of Nashville on American Airlines. And don't forget to send flight information to me when you book! Take care. RUE2B?