He Dwells With Us

Recently, I have been rereading the book of John. As I study it, I continue being drawn back to John 1. Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. This is a well-known verse, but I have found myself here over and over again over the last week or two stuck in this beautiful truth.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” That is astounding to me. God became flesh in the person of Christ, but He does not stop there. He also dwelt among us. This word “dwelt” is translated from the Greek word skenoo which means to pitch one’s tent or tabernacle. If you look back at the Old Testament, we see the tabernacle where the presence of God used to dwell in the midst of His people. When Jesus came, He dwelt among His people, making God known (John 1:18). But then, after Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within His people. 

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?…”

1 Corinthians 3:16

At one time, God could only dwell with His people in the tabernacle because of the law. Sin separates us from God, and no one could perfectly fulfill this law. Therefore, God gave His people specific instructions for the tabernacle and the camp so that He could dwell amongst them in His holiness (Exodus 26-29 and Numbers 2:3:39). “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), and He did so perfectly. In this, God is able to dwell with us through His Spirit, not because of anything we could do on our own, but because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. 

“…For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:16

As I continue to meditate on this, I am amazed at how God has so perfectly woven His good and perfect plan throughout the fabric of time. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-37). God knew His plan for redemption, and as Jesus came, He made it possible for us to have access to God through Himself. He is not a distant God. He is close to His people. As you go about your day, I hope you remember that even now, in Christ, God dwells with us. 

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”


-Rachel Hill, GEM’s Director of Mission Advancement

Jesus, Our Example

With all that is happening in the world, all the sin, sickness and chaos ripping through the globe, I’ve actually felt more tempted to shut my brain off and pretend that it all doesn’t exist instead of being called to action… I feel much more comfortable just putting myself on auto-pilot and sticking to my little bubble where I am shielded from all the evil out there.

Maybe I’m not the only one who has been tempted like this. All I want to do is seek my personal comfort and ignore the reality of our broken world. It just so happens that this is exactly what the devil wants. He wants us to coast and shut off, to stop clinging to Christ, stop pursuing him, and to stop feeling urgency for the advancement of the Kingdom. He wants us to become complacent, selfish, and lulled to sleep by the pleasures of this world instead of being set on fire for the things of Jesus.

After talking to a good friend here in Puerto about Jesus’ return, I was woken up to the reality that Jesus’ presence is as real as ever and He is indeed coming back. There is a very real spiritual war going on and the evil one is constantly trying to hinder anyone from coming to Christ. After remembering this I began to ask myself, if I know what happens to those who do not choose Christ, why am I not urgently seeking to share the saving hope of Jesus with them, especially as our world continues to spiral downwards?

We must remind ourselves of the realities of Scripture. Jesus is alive, He wants our whole hearts, and he WILL return to rescue his faithful servants. I think of my own life and how I have been drifting asleep for quite some time. God has just suddenly opened my eyes (in His overwhelming grace) to allow me to realize that my purpose on this Earth is to know Him, to love Him, and to bring others to Him. I don’t want to find myself seeking my own comforts and worldly pleasures, not making disciples and on the path to destruction. Christ has saved us for our eternal good and has entrusted us with a life-changing mission.

I think of Jesus in Philippians 2, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8). Jesus gave everything for me. He loves me with an unfathomable love. How could I put him second? How can I trade this forgiveness, redemption, and eternal hope for a self-serving, wasted life filled with selfish pleasure? How could I turn a blind eye to the brokenness of this world in order to seek my own comfort?

Of course we are human and fall easily into sin, but Jesus is the one who protects and frees us. The Lord alone is our hope. Jesus calls us to fight the good fight of faith and to help bring this eternal salvation to others. He also lovingly warns us in Matthew 16, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

All of this has been extremely convicting for me, but oh is it ever good! I am so grateful the Lord chose to reveal these things to be in order to make me more like Him and to be re-motivated to fulfill His will on Earth.

I encourage you as I look in the mirror, my brothers and sisters, do not allow comfort or complacency to cloud your priorities. Do not let the evil one get a foothold. Cling to the Lord and He will keep you safe. You are loved and made by our amazing Father for a grand purpose. Jesus wants you to arrive at the end to receive your crown of glory, and he wants to use you to bring your friends & enemies there too. We must not fall asleep. Keep the faith, keep fighting, look to our great example and friend, Jesus!


– Natalia Saint Clair, GEM Missionary

A Faithful God

In the midst of quarantine and a Global Pandemic, I feel like I’ve been in a season of apathy, and slothfulness. Life seemed to hit pause, and I felt like my hunger for God was put on pause too. It was so easy to give into laziness with the hours of free time I have. However that all came to an abrupt stop once it came time to teach again. I felt like I was thrown into the chaos of busyness once again.

The season of busyness brought with it so many challenges; online teaching, getting adjusted back to life in Mexico after a long absence, and even having all of my teaching supplies fly off my moto and get stuck under a car and dragged across the highway (Who does that even happen to?) Despite the craziness, God has remained faithful and has reminded me of his glory and his power over our circumstances day in and day out.

This year more than ever I think that God has proved himself to be a provider for me; filling in my needs as they come, and quite unexpectedly I might add. I can’t help but be reminded of God providing for the 5,000, with just five loaves of bread and two fish. Even when it seems like there was no other way, Jesus still provided, and abundantly so. 

Recently in one of our staff devotions, a teacher shared a song called “Promises” by The Mavericks. The line that really got my attention was this:

You’re the God of covenant and of faithful promises Time and time again You have proven You’ll do just what You said though the storms may come and the winds may blow I’ll remain steadfast.”

Although my trials may seem trivial, and nothing compared to the stories depicted throughout the Bible, one thing remains true- God is faithful. The Lord was faithful to provide for the 5,000, He was faithful to provide Abraham with a son, and He was faithful to provide the world with a Son who took the wrath we deserved for our sin. And how sweet it is to be reminded that even when I have seasons of slothfulness, seasons of doubt, or seasons of apathy, God remains faithful. No matter what state the world is in, God is sovereign. He always provides a way. There is nothing that surprises Him or makes Him stop to rethink his steps.  

So be encouraged by this- God is faithful. May we pray to see God’s faithfulness, but may we also ask for things like we know we serve a faithful God who always keeps His promises. My pastor back home always encourages our church to pray more, and he asks us “If our prayers were answered this week, who would come to know the Lord and what countries would be impacted by our requests?” This question always convicts me. Even though in my head I know God is faithful and powerful, my prayers don’t always reflect that. So let us be encouraged to seek more of the Lord and ask more of Him according to His will. He is faithful, He is good, He is a provider, and we have so much hope in these truths. 

​John 6: 35-40

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”


– Kayla Sumile, GEM Missionary

Dogs and Ducks

As our family has been back in North Carolina now for about a month, dozens of things continue to arise each day that make me think “wow, this is so different than life in Mexico.” One of those small “wow” moments being my daily runs.

In Puerto, I would never venture out for a run without my sidekick in hand- a nice big ‘ol rock. Street dogs in Mexico are everywhere and can’t be trusted. So, as all the locals do, you grab a rock and use it when necessary. Even with my sidekick in grip, I would still be on the lookout, watching my back, just to make sure one wasn’t looming around the corner.

As I laced up my running shoes in Wilmington and hit the road, I was certain that dogs were behind me. For the first few runs, I constantly turned down my music, confident that I heard loud barking and they were out to get me (a little paranoid, I know!)

In the middle of one run, I jumped because I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Lo and behold, it wasn’t a gnarly street dog, but instead a group of cute little ducklings huddled together trying to cross the street. I think because this sight was so different than what I was used to over the last 7 years, I slowed down and lingered longer, watching them.

My very first thought was, where was their Mama? Six little ducklings huddled together, looking a little scared, with no mama or daddy duck in sight. But as I glanced around, across the street, there they stood, with eyes completely locked on their babies. I sensed that if I were to run at their little ones, they would do whatever it took to defend them. They stood tall and confident, almost proud, with eyes never leaving their childrens’ sight.

As I watched them for a few more seconds before jogging on by, I couldn’t help but think how this scene reminded me of our caring and ever-present Father.

So often, we are faced with new or different life seasons or situations that make us a little (or a lot) uncomfortable. Life can be really challenging, in a variety of ways, for many different reasons. Sometimes, God does give us more than we can handle and we feel at the end of ourselves. Yet, He is always near. He is always present. His eyes are forever locked on His children. He will do whatever it takes to defend his precious ones. He will not let the enemy harm them.

As I finished up my run, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming gratitude. The current daily struggles and challenges that I’m facing are still there, but I was reminded once again through some sweet little ducklings, that our faithful Father sees us, watches us, and will forever protect His own.


-Megan Herring, GEM Co-founder

Our Stronghold & Song

This summer has been full of waiting and learning through such a sweet time of preparation. In this time, there have been many highs and lows that come along with the change and adjustment of walking in new territory. It is comforting to know that in every step of the process, God has been there to cling to. 

I have been studying Genesis recently and reading about God’s love and care for His people from the very beginning. He is always faithful to make a way where there seems to be none all while affirming that His promises are true. I can’t help but think of Jacob making his way back to Canaan after working for Laban for 20 years of hard labor. Jacob’s desire was to make it home to his family and continue to live in the covenant that God had made with Abraham a couple of generations before. Jacob had faith in God and trusted that even if he encountered Esau and his wrath that God would keep His word. It was remarkable to me that while Jacob was sure that Esau was going to react in anger, he prayed to God and reminded Him of the covenant made years before with Abraham and the blessing that he had received. After Esau and Jacob were reunited with a loving embrace, Jacob built an altar to God as an act of worship and remembrance of what God had done. God was Jacob’s stronghold in the difficulties and his song in the victories.

We see time and time again in scripture that the life of a follower of Christ is not always easy. How much would we lose if we determined for ourselves that we are only going where God calls us if everything falls together the way we imagine? He is a Good Father but He is also meant to be our Help in times of need.

We learn about God when He is our dependence and our only hope just as we learn about Him through answered prayers and miracles. 

As James and I met with some church friends to talk about Global Education Ministries, they prayed over us before we left. These people had served in missions for many years and are excited for us as we go, but they also have a knowledge of the ways that missions work is not easy. The husband prayed that in the moments of difficulty, God would be our stronghold and in the moments of great joy, God would be our song. These words resonated with me and reminded me so gently of the Truth of why we are going.

One of my favorite things about God is that His character cannot be pinned down into one attribute or one good and perfect thing. He is an all-encompassing God who meets us in our highs and our lows. He is our stronghold and our song.


– Hannah Shank, GEM Missionary

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!