A warrior awakened: my thoughts following Promise Keepers 2013

I was part of a group from my church who went to Promise Keepers in Daytona in October. The theme this year was “Awakening the Warrior.” It made me think about where I’ve been, and where I am now.

     At 10 I came to the Cross because I wanted to be John, a Son of Thunder, learning and loving at the feet of Jesus for all time.

     I drifted though; fell asleep as I began to navigate that narrow path and got lost along the way. Like Peter I found myself in danger because I had taken my eyes off Jesus. Oh how easy it would be, it seemed, to just slip beneath the waves forever. Or, returning to the trail analogy, to just set up a small cabin in the woods where I was.

     I thought Jesus will love me more if I work hard at being nice, doing good deeds, and trying not to do wrong. That’s what I thought. That’s what I’d often been told. What I’ve found, though, is that Christ’s work in me and through me is something more, something different and more exciting. Still, I often found myself resisting.

     He is not to be denied, however, for He is Lord. He called to me, through storms of lust and malice, and calls to me still — wake up, Jay, wake up; that thunder is not in the clouds, it is all around you. It is the sound of spiritual conflict — warfare of the highest and most pressing order. Take up My Sword, not a blade, but my Word. Put on My Armor, My Helm, Breastplate, Boots … and having gird yourself for battle, stand.

     God has called us to war against the rulers of darkness, etc. Not to fight members of the decorating committee, or members of another denomination or to attack someone for being a different faith. By all means, counter lies with God’s Truth, but do so with love, and heap ashes on them thereby.

     God has begun a good work in you, or maybe he is trying to but you are resisting his call. The message I took from PK is that it is well past time to put Jesus at the center of all aspects of my life for my sake, my family’s sake, but most importantly, for His Kingdom’s sake. He woke me up.

     At 41 I return to the Cross every day, every hour, and sometimes every second, to meet with the Author and Finisher of my faith, so that I would not, will not, forget, that no work of my own will ever extend or accomplish further the work He has begun in me and will continue to the end. I need Him every hour to remind me it isn’t about me. It isn’t about my wife or kids, no matter how much I love them – I even washed their feet when I got back from PK. Even then, though, I reminded them of what I learned at the end of October. It’s all about Jesus.

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Ecuador: On the ground

Day five of being in Ecuador is drawing to a close as I type this. Or day six, if you count Saturday, when we arrived here sometime between 7 and 8 p.m.

We spent Sunday in Quito at Inca Link‘s Casablanca. Well, we were there when we weren’t at church or visiting some of the tourist sites in Quito — the President’s Palace, the Basilica, the Virgen del Panecillo, and more.

Casablanca

The church service was incredible. I couldn’t understand most of the songs they played, but the lyrics were projected on a screen and I hoped I was pronouncing the words right as I sang. Then we went into a few other items and the kids broke away for Sunday School while the grownups settled in for the message. The kids from First Alliance were invited to join the local kids. My son and a few others joined in. Rich Brown, the regional director here, interpreted the sermon for those of us seated near him.

La Luz

We attended church in Quito at “La Luz.”

After that we had lunch. Believe it or not, we had McDonald’s and it was the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever set foot in. It’s also the only McDonald’s I’ve ever been to that had a private, armed, security guard. The guard was fairly effective, I guess, though it was obvious he had a thing for the barista at the McCafe counter.

Then we turned tourist for several hours. Words cannot begin to describe the majesty and splendor of the works we saw. I’ve never seen, in person, something so incredible as the Basilica here. The statue of the Virgen del Panicello was also amazing. Both, however, were like dust when compared to the beauty of God’s creation encircling the city. Ecuador is a truly gorgeous country.

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Monday we traveled to Huaticocha where we spent three days based out of the Ninawachi Missions School, a project that is still under construction. We helped with building and maintenance at the site each morning and then performed some ministry work later.

We arrived in Ninawachi, just outside Huaticocha, and began to paint kids’ faces. The kids decided to paint ours, instead.

Tuesday we hopped on the bus and started the trip to Nueva Esperaza. As we bumped along a stone road, the bus turned a curve and then stopped. Gustavo, from Inca Link, told us to grab our stuff. We would have a five minute walk to a tourist area where we could leave some gear. We would return there later for lunch. We grounded gear at the site after about 10 minutes.

From there we crossed a hanging bridge and began the rather steep ascent to the village of Nueva Esperanza. It took at least 30 minutes to get to the top. The kids pretty much bolted up the hill. The rest of us paced ourselves. I know I heard angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus when the school finally came in sight.

The kids here ranged from nearly newborn (I think they lived in the village and came with their parents to the see the Americans) to about 12 years old. One of us gave the Gospel presentation in a really neat format while another of us translated. Then we asked the kids about their relationship with Christ. One boy said he needed Jesus in his life and the tag-team prayed with him for a bit. We then gave out some gifts and led the kids in some songs. Soccer came next.

We took a beating. These kids can play some soccer!

We got spanked.

Then we headed back downhill. Remember that bridge I mentioned? It runs over a perfectly wonderful river. We ate lunch and headed for the water. I stopped short when my feet hit it, though. It was really chilly. Some of the Inca Link interns, however, didn’t mind it that much and were bathing in the river. A few of the braver kids began to swim and some of the adults washed off as well. I eventually decided that since I talked the kids into swimming, I should, too. And I did. I was one of the last ones out. Noah and I swam across the current a few times near the rapids and Missionary Jungle Jim talked Noah into jumping from some rocks a few times.

Then we headed back up the hill. Gustavo reminded us it was only a five minute walk. Something was beginning to sound fishy about him and the words “five minute walk.”

Back to Ninawachi (which, by the way, means “House of Fire”) for supper and some fellowship and prayer.

Wednesday dawned and we had breakfast, did some more work and had lunch. We wouldn’t be doing any ministry until late afternoon. This afforded us the chance to visit a property near the missions school that had a cavern, small swimming area in a river, and some near archaeological and fossil finds. I was in the second group to visit the cave. It was really neat. It had been a few years since I’d been in a cave, but I handled myself quite well. When we came out though, we found out the first group had bathed but we would have to forego that pleasure to get to the kids we were to minister to.

These kids live in Huaticocha and are pretty familiar with the folks at Ninawachi. We shared a Bible story with them, did some crafts, and — of course — played soccer. Then we made the short trip to Ninawachi to clean up for dinner. Dinner that night was at the home of Pastor Ivan and his wife Nancy. They lead the local Alliance Church. Following dinner we sang and shared testimonies. Then we brought in some cake and sang happy birthday for the daughter of my friend Manny, who turned 16 today (Thursday). After a lot of fun we headed to our beds so we could be rested for Thursday.

We weren’t sure what the status of the bridge was, but we started the day packing and handling our chores. Halfway through breakfast a truck arrived with lumber. We offered food and then finished our meals and got to work. Then we did some more packing and cleaning before a truckload of block arrived. We unloaded that and then I headed to the stream to bathe. It was primitive but wonderful. I got dressed in some clean clothes and got ready to go. Our hosts fed us an early lunch and I helped do dishes. Just as we finished the dishes the order came to mount up and move out.

The trip back was long, but not nearly as laborious as the trip out. Our hearts were heavy at leaving our new friends behind, but at least we had less stuff to cart across the nearly-completed bridge to the other bus. It was at this point that our bus driver in the Huaticocha area asked us to pray with him as he asked Jesus into his heart. It was an awesome moment. I was one of those who was with him when this happened. He was inspired to do this by seeing the love and care we exhibited to everyone we met, including him, during our time there.

We’re back in Quito now. Nearly everyone has taken a shower. The lone exception would be me. I’m not even sure where to get a towel at the moment or which shower to use. Also, my clean clothes are in Noah’s pack and I don’t know where he put it. I should have thought of that earlier, before everyone else went to sleep. Oh well, I’m feeling every bit of the 54* F that we currently have here and figuring it is time to get to sleep.

24

My son is out walking the dog, so it is pretty quiet in here right now. Tomorrow at this time, though, will be a different story. We’re packed. Our passports are ready. I’m counting on God for great things when we go to Ecuador.

And yet.

When the time comes to go somewhere, I’m on everyone’s back about getting out the door “on time.”

What constitutes “on time?” I was raised, and later had this confirmed by the United States Marine Corps, to believe that on time was five (at least) minutes early and arriving on time was being late. In order to achieve this, I build in buffers for expected travel time, usually 20-30% more time is allowed for a trip than what I know it can be done in at speed limit (also known as Google Map’s estimated travel time). Needless to say, I get some places ridiculously early.

What does that have to do with tomorrow? We’re meeting at the church at 8:30. Taking the back way it takes about 12 minutes to get there. This early on a Saturday morning? I can get there in seven. You just know I’m going to want to be early (for no good reason, I might add — we’re stowing our luggage in the church bus tonight).  *Side  note — Chick-fil-a isn’t far from the church; maybe I’ll do breakfast there before we go.* We’re leaving the church at 9 to go to Miami International Airport. It’s a three hour trip (per Google maps). The last I saw, TSA recommends international travelers arrive two hours prior to their flight. This only leaves an hour for lunch and getting luggage checked in and stuff like that.

This is God’s trip. Not Jay’s. I need to pray about the time anxiety today. God has proven again and again in my life, especially as we prepared for this journey, that he can be trusted. It will work out.

At the beginning of this adventure neither my son nor I had a passport. Not only that, his birth certificate was missing and I had to order a new one so we could get his passport. The same day I realized this and looked up the cost ($50), someone sent us $50. A few days later it arrived and off we went to the Clerk of Court’s office, having received enough in the two days prior to pay for the passports. Well, more, as it turned out, because I over-budgeted for them, not understanding I didn’t need the card, just the book. But that was okay, too. A few weeks later I had raised — from my own pocket, through fund raisers and with donations from family and friends — about half the cost. That little extra from the passports came in handy. This past summer my ex-wife and I had reached an agreement about custody and child support that erased my back support debt, but I found out that her state didn’t close the case. This needed to happen if I was going to get my passport. I could pay the fee they demanded with the leftover from the passports. A few more donations came in after that and several folks told me they would send certain amounts. Great, that got us closer, but still left a pretty hefty sum to figure out.

That gets us to November 4th. A friend asked how close we were. I named a figure and he said that was how much he planned on giving us. Awesome.

Fast-forward to the seventh. None of the promised donations I was expecting had arrived, which meant there was a big gap again. One of my wife’s friends had told her she was going to donate to our trip and I saw her at church that evening. I had not discussed an amount with her and figured on maybe $40 or $50. I was way off. She paid the difference.

So, you see, I have all the reason in the world to trust God about this trip. I even knew it was going to work out this way. I said so to my wife, repeatedly, trying to ease her stress about it.

Which brings me back to time anxiety. I didn’t write all that just to share how awesome God is (though that was one of the reasons I wrote), but also to remind me I can trust him in all things.

Please pray for our team. There are 23 of us going. We’ll be working with Inca Link, visiting orphans in Quito and teaching children in the Amazon, as well as helping to build a school for preachers and missionaries in the jungle. Please pray for the children and families we will be in contact with. The orphans are orphans, in most cases, because their parents are in jail and won’t be back before the kids are grown, and they have no other family.

First Alliance will be focused on orphans this year for our Advent Conspiracy. With that in mind, I still have those bracelets available for $10 each. The proceeds of any I sell after today are going towards our project for Advent Conspiracy.

Twenty-four hours and we’ll be getting ready to go. I think I’ll be calmer now, too. Thank you to each of you who has donated, prayed, and shared this with your friends. Our God is an awesome God who has given me awesome friends, indeed. Thank you, Jehovah Jireh.

Did I say 23 were going? Make that 24. God will be there. Count on it.

10 Days til Ecuador

Wow. Time is flying. This Saturday my church is hosting the Run4aReason and then Freedom Fest. A week later and I’ll be off to Ecuador.

My son, Noah, and I will be helping Inca Link by building a school in the Amazon and working with orphans in Quito. We’re still looking for help — prayers and finances.

Christmas is coming up before you know it and we are selling bracelets that would make great presents for many people on your list, especially teachers and others who teach, inspire and imagine a better world for tomorrow. If you’re not interested in a bracelet, but still want to help, you can still donate via PayPal using the information below.

Thank you!

Mission SitRep

Twenty-four days from now I will be boarding a plane to Ecuador with my youngest son and a group of people from our church to assist IncaLink and the Christian and Missionary Alliance in reaching the Quechua people of the Amazon.

Noah and I feel called to do this. I’ve wanted to do missions since I was his age, if not younger. We are reaching out to ask for your help.

1. Prayer. Please pray for us, our team, the missionaries on the ground already, and the people were are going to. Pray for our hearts to be prepared. Pray that we will move as God leads. Pray for repentance, revival, renewal, and rebirth.

2. Finances. It would be nice if we could travel for free, but we cannot. This trip, once all costs are considered, will cost more than $2000 out of pocket for Noah and I, something we simply don’t have. We are relying on God to move his people to support us in this mission. We fully trust in the LORD for meeting our needs. To make things easier, you can give via PayPal. My account is jlamborn3@gmail.com.

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We have partnered with Mudlove, a group that makes waterproof clay bracelets. The bracelets have your choice of “Teach,” “Inspire,” or “Imagine” on them and come with several different color bands (blue, yellow, black, brown, red, pink, orange, purple, or green). Your purchase will not only help us take our trip, but Mudlove uses their proceeds to benefit clean water projects in Africa. If you donate $10 or more to our cause please feel free to let us know which bracelet you would like and where to send it.

Whether or not you can support us financially, please comment below to let us know you are praying for us.

 

Mission To Ecuador

When I was about 12 or 13 I dreamed of being a missionary somewhere. Sadly I didn’t have the support that allowed the dream to grow and bear fruit. Instead I ended up pursuing a crazy, mixed-up pattern of mistakes that threatened to overwhelm and probably even kill me.

As Winston Churchill and some country singer said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” I’m coming out the other side now, if I’m not out entirely. My relationship with God is much like it was when I was young, but with some more mature elements.

Several weeks ago one of the pastors at my church told me about a parent-child missions trip being planned to Ecuador in November. My youngest, Noah, has a heart for God and has said he wants to be a teacher-pastor-missionary when he grows up. Well, he’s seen teachers and pastors at work. Now it is time to see missionaries at work, and join them in their work.

Noah will be 13 when we go on this trip and he’s pretty excited about it. It’s impossible for a 13-year-old boy in this day and age to be single-mindedly fixed on something, especially if they are as ADHD as he is. The truth is, however, that he does have a surprising amount of focus on this, which is exciting.

When our team, roughly 20 strong, gets to Ecuador we will be working with IncaLink, a mission started by CMA missionaries Rich and Lisa Brown. We don’t know yet what kind of work we will be doing, but some possibilities are working with orphans, working with the elderly, working with homeless populations, or helping to build churches.

Gustavo Cadena, president of IncaLink Ecuador, has even suggested we might work with indigenous peoples in the jungles, too.

If you visit the IncaLink website you will see how much need exists there. How can you help?

There are two ways you can help us. Noah and I ask that you consider both, but we’ll one or the other, gladly. First, please pray for us. Specifically, pray that we follow God’s lead in this endeavor and that He prepares our hearts for this work. Next, please pray for God’s provision. It’s not cheap to do something like this. I’ll have more about this in a bit. Pray for the people we will come in contact with, that God will work in a mighty way in their lives. Also, pray for our team, that we come together and work together and grow from this experience. Also, please pray that this trip brings Noah and I closer to each other and closer to God.

As you may have guessed, this trip requires money. God put this trip on our hearts from the start and we need to rely on Him and His people to provide for it. Please, as you pray, ask God whether you can support us. I have a PayPal account that you can send to. My email address is jlamborn3@gmail.com and you can contact me that way. Another way to send support is to mail a check to my church. If you do that, please make it out to First Alliance Church and make a note in the memo that it is for the Ecuador trip. Then contact me to let me know you did this and the treasurer can note that it is for my trip costs. Why would you do this and not put that it is for me in the memo? Tax purposes. It’s complicated, but if the check is for a ministry and not a person, you can make it tax deductible. The address is 20444 Midway Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33952.

When we arrive in Ecuador I will be filming and photographing our adventures in ministry with the hopes of posting daily updates to keep our family, friends, church, and supporters informed of our activities.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this. Your support means a lot to Noah and I. We are really looking forward to pursuing this dream of serving God together. Even if you are not able to support us financially, please pray and leave a comment below to let us know you’re praying for us.