Engaging the Battle
By Derick Dillard
It is my pleasure to write concerning the work that the Lord is doing in the Latin American world at this present time, including the sanctifying work that He is doing within me personally as well as my family. We have been stretched in ways that we could not have imagined in recent days, of which I will not go into the details on at this time, but we have confidence and trust in the Lord’s faithfulness in that which He has called us.
On the heels of serving with a large, short-term missionary team in December, Jill, Israel, and I are getting back to what daily life is for us in Central America, which by the way, is certainly never completely predictable. “Flexibility” is a necessary term to keep in mind when considering the nature of life on the foreign mission field, and our life has been no exception.
It is our aim not to separate the very apparent physical need of humanitarian aid from the spiritual need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. These two needs are neither mutually exclusive nor conditional. And, I would submit that one is not providing the fullest scope of humanitarian aid if they neglect to share that which will give people life beyond this present world. The cruelest thing I can imagine would be for anyone who has specific life-saving knowledge to then neglect to share that information with the one who would die without it.
For the past month, we have come alongside the S.O.S. (Seekers of Souls) leadership of the existing church where we are serving, as well as begun the groundwork for an additional bible-centered fellowship in another village that has been plagued with violence.
Jill’s parents surprised us recently with an impromptu visit for a few days. It was great to have them with us and get to show them the work the Lord is doing here. Israel just turned 10 months and now enjoys eating fruits and veggies. Some of his favorites are bananas and avocados. He weighs a whopping 23 pounds and is cruising everywhere! We’ve had to baby proof our house, adding cabinet locks and outlet covers that “Grandma C” (my mom) sent down. Israel definitely enjoyed all the attention when Grandma and Grandpa Duggar came to visit.
We are staying in one of the “Hospitality House” that S.O.S. ministries owns and have had multiple opportunities to host people. When we first moved in, we had a house full of team members for a couple weeks, including some of Jill’s family. We’ve had several families over as well as groups of youth after our weekly soccer games at the newly constructed sports complex.
The wildlife here is quite different than back home in Arkansas. We weren’t used to seeing scorpions, tarantulas and cougars back home but we’ve seen them all and the first two multiple times! Jill opened her makeup bag to find a tarantula on top of her toothbrush. One afternoon, while we were getting ready to leave our house, Jill heard the neighbors’ chickens making noise and looked over to see a gray cougar making its way from their place. We later heard it is common for people to lose their chickens to the “gatos montañas”. One friend even said that a wild cat had killed all 33 of her chickens! Two of our friends have attested to seeing giant snakes in their yards and one of them described the snake in her backyard as about 25 feet long in the act of killing a chicken. She said it took 6 guys with machetes to kill that snake. Please keep praying for physical safety as well as spiritual protection!
At least once a week, I’ve been preaching in a nearby village or in the church closer to our house. We have started going into town before the midweek service and building relationships with the guys in the square who regularly come to play basketball. We then invite people to come to the service following our time in town. One little boy, Kevin, a few weeks ago was hanging around us while we were in town and when we asked him if he wanted to come to the service that evening he said yes, but that he would have to ask his mom. We ended up getting to bring Kevin, his mom, two sisters and a few of his little friends that evening! They are now on our regular route before services every week. We have also started visiting a new village on Sundays to pick up new visitors. Please pray these folks will continue coming and that they would have a personal relationship with Jesus.
A couple times a week we make home visits where we visit people in the community who may or may not be Christians. During our home visits, we usually take along one of the local Christians. Sometimes we visit someone who is ill, or someone who has just lost a family member, or a family who wants to know more about the church, or simply those who we may want to get to know better. We’ve also been able to bless some of these people with food and personal hygiene items. Recently, we visited and were able to help a family who had just had a 4-pound baby girl. The mother is ill and the teenage sons are going through some rough times. At another home we visited, 15-year-old Jason came to the door where we talked for a while, then invited him to come to the church where we could give him some items he needed. His mom is bedridden and he usually keeps to himself, but since we first met him, he has come around more and we are hoping to continue getting to know him as well as the other young men in the area.
We are glad to have had our friend Levi here with us on the field since the beginning of January. It’s been good to have another guy here when we go out and about and he has been helping lead the youth every week as well as going with us on home visits and for evangelism in the local area. Levi is Mike Schadt’s (founder of S.O.S.) son and lived here for a period of time when he was a kid. Please be in prayer for the Schadt family as Levi lost his Grandpa and Aunt last week.
Our hope and prayer is that the existing church would be encouraged, strengthened, and exhorted to persevere in good works in Christ. I plead with you to join my family in this prayer as well as in praying that the light of the Gospel would pierce the darkest areas of Central America, places griped by poverty and hunger, places lacking educational opportunity, places where life is held in the lowest regard and places where the present spiritual forces of evil have been at work for far too long.
-For the people we have met in home visits and new visitors that have started coming to the church to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
-For the families and individuals we are serving alongside.
-For protection and safety
-For wisdom in economic humanitarian aid
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