A New Chapter

2020 will be a memorable year for the Herring family.  Of course we’ve had the pandemic and closing of on campus schooling and everything else that has come with this Covid 19 pandemic year.  But 2020 is also the year that God has moved our family out of Mexico and back to Wilmington, NC. 

When we first moved to Puerto Escondido in 2013 to run GEM and start the Manantial School we knew our commitment was a lot like a blank check to God.  We didn’t know how long we were going to be living in Mexico…or what would really happen with the mission we were founding. We just went with a clear calling and no plans or timetable for returning.  7 years later God made it clear it was our time to return to the US and serve with GEM from Wilmington.

We have been back in Wilmington for 3 weeks.  Our resettling has been easy and filled with blessing after blessing, largely because of our family and church.  We moved into the same house we left behind in 2013 and have restarted our lives here.  As Meg and I have been reflecting, we’ve notices that so much has changed…but many things are also the same. We have the same neighbors, same house, and of course our family and church are the same.  Meg and I have joked several times as we sit at our kitchen table (same table as before the move) how it feels like we’ve just picked up the life we left behind in 2013.  

But there are some significant and obvious changes too. Our family has grown from 2 children to 5, Manantial has grown from 0 students to over 220. And 1 school has grown into 4. There has also been change in our hearts.  God has taught us and shown us so much during our time in Mexico.  There’s too much to share in this blog post, but I can summarize it this way. God has repeatedly proven Himself faithful and convinced us, even in our moments of weak faith, that we can truly trust Him and praise Him no matter what is happening around us.  We believed this before we left for Mexico…it’s the reason we obeyed and started GEM. But we know this truth at a deeper level now.  

So many times between 2011 (when GEM was officially founded) and 2020 it looked like GEM was in serious trouble. We’ve faced financial shortfalls, recruiting/staffing shortfalls, immigration issues, local church challenges, governmental pressure, threats from other schools in Mexico, and on and on.  On top of that, I have struggled through the normal challenges of learning how to start and run a gospel saturated school in another country.  Countless times over the last 9 years I wanted to “throw in the towel” because of my professional shortcomings and failures.  

But I am convinced God has allowed these struggles to be a part of my journey for my good. I have been forced, through the constant challenges, to pray more and call out to Him as my only hope. This is right where He’s always wanted me, and I love Him more because I can see how He truly never left me.  

With all that said…don’t assume I have it all together! I certainly don’t! I have not arrived at some super spiritual place and all is right in life. I’m in process and all that God has done in my heart is going to be used to give me just enough courage to press on and continue to overcome in this next chapter of life and ministry.  

So what’s ahead? It looks like God desires to use GEM to reach more people and grow in our ability to impact those we serve.  We have 3 schools in Mexico, 1 in Uganda, and another opening in Colombia.  We also have several other potential school projects around the corner. God is growing GEM and its exciting!  Our move back to Wilmington is part of a big transition and step for our ministry. We believe opening an office in Wilmington will allow us to develop better partnerships, recruit and train more missionaries, and better serve all of our schools.  We have repeatedly talked about this being the start of a new chapter for GEM.  

We’re excited and can’t wait to see what God will do. We know it will be challenging and at times really hard, but that’s okay.  God has always done his best work in my heart in those times. 

Please pray for GEM as we start this new chapter. Pray for our leaders as we open our office and work to develop new roles. Pray that our ministry would grow in impact and that those who are served in our schools would truly know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.


– Casey Herring, GEM Co-Founder

Don’t Be Afraid

I hope that everyone is doing well during this troubling time in our world. So much has changed so fast. People have lost their jobs, their money; many have lost relationships or at least access to certain relationships. Businesses are struggling to get by or are being forced to close down. It appears the world we live in is far less stable than we thought.

When everything changes and our plans are not turning out as we hoped, many thoughts start to creep into our heads. Worry, anxiety, and fear can be all consuming. I have been constantly battling these thoughts and feelings. I have been constantly having remind myself of what is true.

Just recently I remembered a command from God that has been so comforting. You might be thinking, “How is a command comforting? I’m afraid and someone is telling me what to do?” Well it has been said that this command can be found 365 times in scripture! That’s a lot! We should probably pay attention to this command. So are you ready for it? Here it goes, the command is…..

“Don’t be afraid.”

That’s it! Don’t be afraid! Or in some translations, “Fear not!” Here are a few well known places we find this command in scripture. It appears in both the Old and New Testament:

Deuteronomy 31:8  

He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Isaiah 43:1 

Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.

Matthew 10:31

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 14:27

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Mark 5:36

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

John 6:20

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

These are just a few of the places where this command shows up. Often times this command is accompanied by God reminding his people who He is. When we realize who God is, we have no need to be afraid.

When I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t need to be afraid.

When I don’t know where I will be living in the next few months, I don’t need to be afraid.

When I don’t know what my job will be, I don’t need to be afraid.

When an infectious virus is spreading all over the world, I don’t need to be afraid.

When I don’t know what will happen to the ministry I’m a part of, I don’t need to be afraid.

When I see my friends struggling in their marriage, I don’t need to be afraid.

When I don’t know who or what to trust, I don’t need to be afraid, and I need to remember that I can trust the one true living God.

He sustains me, he guides me, he provides for me, he cares for me, and above all else, he loves me.

And guess what 1 John 4:18 says,

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear”

God loves us, and we do not have to be afraid. He is God. We might not know what the future holds, but we know the one that holds the future.

Don’t be afraid my friends. Walk in love.


Brett Balsley, GEM Missionary

Discontentment

Sometimes we fall in to a trap of being discontent. “She has a nicer house than me.” 

“His ideas are always better than mine.” 

“They’re more gifted than me.” 

We can quickly begin to feel sorry for ourselves or like we can’t possibly be useful in furthering the kingdom of God. This is a lie from Satan that he uses to keep us from being successful in spreading the love of Christ. Maybe you feel like you can’t possibly be of any use to God, maybe you feel like you don’t have the right kind of spiritual gifts to properly show Christ’s love. 

“I’m not brave enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not worthy, I don’t have the time, I can’t…” 

For whatever reason we have an excuse as to why we can’t do the things we know God wants us to do. We have to be willing to do what God calls us to and to be joyful in it, even when it is something hard. 

Psalms 4:6-8 tells us: 

There are many who say, 

“Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” 

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. 

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. 

For me, this verse reminds us that even when things are hard and we are searching for the good in every day life we need to remember the Lord. He puts joy in our hearts more than any possession or success ever could. Our fulfillment should be coming from the Lord and not from our own success, or other people. Even when we have very little to offer we should still offer what little we do have up to the Lord so that He can take what we give and multiply it to bless others. In our every day lives we have the opportunities to share Christ in huge ways if we would just be willing to take them; if we would follow God’s callings in our lives He could transform the world through us.

Sometimes it can seem hard, or scary but knowing that we serve the same God who was able to take five loaves and two fish and feed over 5,000 how can we truly say He won’t provide for us? How can we be worried about safety and provision knowing our God is the same God who brought the Jews out of Egypt and through the desert raining down manna and water? Sometimes when we follow God’s lead, things don’t go according to the plan we made in our heads, but they always go according to God’s plan.


-Heather Wrench, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Heather as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!

Our Growing Disenchantment

I have had the incredible opportunity and privilege to travel to a few different parts of the world. There is something amazing about seeing and experiencing different cultures around the world. The biggest thing that sticks out to me is the way in which people lived in their communities. For example, in many parts of the world, people don’t have stoves to cook on. So the way they cook every day is building a fire and cooking food for their family. There are many more examples, but you get the picture. All of us have a “normal” way of buying groceries, transportation, and living.

The way I grew up living is completely different than the way people in Africa, Europe, and Mexico grew up. As I grew up, there were many things that I grew accustomed to: having air conditioning, dishwasher, washer and dryer, and easy transportation of a couple of vehicles. In many ways, my experiences inform what I believe is or what should be normal in my life. What happens when I don’t have what I grew up expecting to have? How does my attitude change? What does my heart believe about the goodness of God?

Puerto Escondido, Mexico is hot. When we first moved here, we had to adjust to not having a car, air conditioning, and trying to buy things when we didn’t even know the language.  Early on, I remember complaining about the heat, the difficulty of getting around, and becoming disenchanted with the beauty of where we had moved to. When your plans go different than expected, challenges arise. When you encounter something that you are not used to, it is easy to wonder why these circumstances are happening and complain.

My point is this: God, in all of his incredible goodness and love, has given us everything we ever need in Him ( 2 Peter 1:3). In His grace, he sent His son Jesus to die for me so that I could escape the slavery of my sin and walk in the freedom of the cross. This is the greatest gift and anything else that we receive is an extension of that gift.  A car, air conditioning, a home, a family, and a job is all an extension of God’s incredible goodness to us. Let us look out and be reminded of the incredible blessings given to us and know that every moment is given by God as a gift.

“To pay attention is to attend to something, to be present. We attend because the world isn’t cold and empty but filled with the presence of God. Every moment, every encounter, is meaningful and numinous. All ground is holy ground.”  – Mike Cosper


-Daniel McDonald, GEM Missionary 
If you’d like to support Daniel and his wife, Kristen as they serve with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact them directly to talk further about what it means to be on their support-team and find out how you can be praying for them!

Give Me Jesus

Sitting down to write this blog post, I feel like I have very little to offer. It has been a week where I have just felt like I have so little to give those around me, and if I am being honest, I feel like I have even less to offer God.

Last week was a really busy week. It was a week spent preparing for International Cultures Night, which went really well. However, it was a lot of work beforehand to get ready for that night. With how much work there was to do, I found myself cutting corners with my time with God each day.

Now, I know that might not seem like a big deal. How noticeable could it be? After all, it was only a week, right? Wrong. In moments where I neglected to run to God with my worries and stress, I was proclaiming to myself and others that I have got everything in the palm of my hands and that I did not need Jesus as much as I needed to complete my work. In reality, I was trying to control and maintain things that I was never given the authority to control, instead of relying on the God who has dominion over all.

It is ironic that during a week where I needed more of God, I chose to busy myself with working in order to check things off my list. Looking at last week, I feel so much like Martha in Luke 10, worrying about things that are not mine to worry about. Jesus said to Martha,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).

Martha was running around, “distracted with much serving” as Luke puts it. However, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching, and Jesus says that Mary chose the good thing. Oh, how I need to just sit at the feet of Jesus, listening and learning from Him instead of distracting myself with good things. I wonder how often I miss out on knowing more of Jesus because I will not just stop and listen.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Right now, I choose to know Jesus more instead of distracting myself with what needs to be done because tomorrow will worry about itself. Today, I choose to sit and rest in my Lord because He is worthy of all of my time and affection. I encourage you to find time today to simply be still and know that He is God.


-Rachel Hill, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Rachel as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!

1 Peter 4:19

“Fight fire with fire.” “Always look out for #1.” Our culture is replete with sayings that demonstrate our belief that we are to give back the harm that has been done to us. As humans, we don’t enjoy suffering. We resent being treated unfairly. We cannot endure slander. When we are wronged the impulse to respond in kind doesn’t even have to rush to be there, its already there. We surge with anger and indignation and yearn for the chance to be able to pay it back.

1 Peter 4:19 says, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” This is what God, through the apostle Peter, prescribes His people to do when they are treated wrongly. God does not counsel those that have been born again into living hope to slander those who slander, to curse those who curse, and to be angry with those who are vexing. “..continue to do GOOD,” God says.

Commit yourself to the Creator. To commit oneself is to PLEDGE yourself to the course or policy of another. God’s people are to commit themselves to Him. He is our creator. He made us. He knows us. He cares for us like none other. He loves us with an affection and tenderness greater than any other power in the universe. It does not escape His notice when His children are mistreated. He is not indifferent to the suffering of His family. He is faithful. He is Just. He will ultimately do what is right in every sense and He CAN be trusted. When we are wronged, slandered, annoyed, made fun of, opposed, maligned, mistreated, overlooked or cursed because of our allegiance to the Savior we are not to respond in like manner. Rather, we are to imitate Him who, , “….endured such opposition from sinful men so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3. We are to follow the footsteps of Jesus who “when insults were hurled at him He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” 1 Peter 2:23.

Continue to do good. “Keep up doing the good that you were doing that brought the mistreatment upon you in the first place,” God says. “Don’t stop. You’re mine. Nothing can be done against you that I have not ordained. Nothing will come against you that I won’t ultimately save you from. I am the One whose opinion matters. Live to do MY will. Live to please ME, not men,” He patiently and tenderly tells us.

Thank you, God the Father for not giving us creatures back what we had done to you. Thank you that you did not choose to “fight fire with fire” with us. If you had done so Lord, who among us could survive? Thank you, God the Son that you went to the cross for those who hated you. Who killed and tortured you. Thank you God ,the Spirit that you come and dwell with those who hated your presence. Thank you that you patiently, persistently and tenderly change those who, with stubbornness untold, hold on to the old ways of the flesh. Help us to be more like the Savior and less like ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


-Jason Faircloth, Director of Mission Advancement