The Sufficiency of Christ in the Middle of a Global Pandemic

Since the middle of March, we have been doing online schooling with the goal of still providing quality, Gospel-saturated education in the middle of COVID-19.  If you are reading this, you probably know much about our school and the purpose of it. For the past four years, my wife and I have been serving at the Manantial School in different capacities and have seen the incredible impact that the school ministry has had on this community. God has been at work and is still working in our community and the communities of the other schools around the world (3 in Mexico and 1 in Uganda).

When COVID-19 hit in March, we went online. We thought that we would only be doing this for a couple of months. Seven months later and here we are. I have had many feelings of inadequacy and thinking that I am wasting my time posting assignments online. I have had thoughts wondering how God can work with our students without us actually being around them. And then I remembered John 6:63 which says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”  For a while, I had forgotten that the work and impact of this ministry was God’s work.  This scripture has reminded me that my flesh does not count for anything at all. There is nothing that I can do that gives life, but the Spirit alone that gives life. In all of my inadequacies, His grace is sufficient to work in and through me.

Even though I know this truth in my head, it is difficult to believe it constantly. I still try to work my way of seeing lives changed. I still try to make my online classes more effective and think that if I don’t do it well enough, my students won’t be impacted. However, over the past month, I have seen the sufficiency of Christ become a reality in one of my students. In the middle of my feeling of inadequacy, one of my students talked to me and shared how God has been giving him a desire for His word. He told me that he has been waking up early every morning to read the scriptures and spend time writing down what God has been teaching him. He also told me that he has been sharing what God has been teaching him to others and encouraging others with the Gospel. What an incredible reminder that God is in control. He is still working and is sufficient to do all things regardless of my involvement.  The student’s desire for God and His word had nothing to do with me, but had everything to do with the work of the Spirit in his life. In the middle of our inadequacy, God is sufficient to continue His work in and around us.

-Daniel McDonald, GEM Missionary

The Works of God

Last July, our family of seven moved to Mexico to join Global Education Ministries as overseas missionaries at the Manantial School. We became immersed in a culture that was so foreign to us that it left us clawing for some form of familiarity and identity. Our response to this feeling was to get to “work”.

We sought to make things happen that were not yet ready to happen. We would overreach our mandate, attempt a shallow form of evangelism, or try to perfect some part of our jobs. The level of activity was extremely pressured and I felt manic…wanting to see everything happen NOW. Praise God He didn’t let us stay there long.

My wife suddenly got shingles on her face, and this sickness led to some of the hardest weeks of our lives. All of our work and striving came to a screeching halt for two full weeks, while my wife was bedridden. I mostly stayed home and cared for her and the children. It forced me to pray constantly and to begin calling upon God more fully.

I would equate this time in our lives to a car getting four simultaneous flat tires right as it hit the gas to plunge over a huge cliff. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that this trial would save us before we could wreck everything. This situation, along with several other exceedingly difficult trials to follow, began new humbling in our hearts.

In the midst of the suffering and difficulty, God gave me a treasure of a verse to help me through, even as I thought I was doing “God’s work” as a missionary going 90 miles an hour to press “His” agenda. In the gospel of John, right after Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and then walked on water, Jesus explains that He is the bread of life. At this point, Jesus really has the ear of the disciples after what they have witnessed. The disciples, who are completely intrigued by this miracle man, ask Jesus this question, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” And Jesus answered them, “this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

This verse put me right in my place. I had been seeking to “do” the work of God, but I was not resting and believing. On the surface, I would have told you I believed more strongly than before, but I deceived myself and believed a lie. A dominant thought current running through many of us Christians is that the more we DO God’s work, the more loved we are….that somehow we can earn God’s love and favor.

99% of evangelical pastors, leaders, and missionaries would agree that we can’t earn God’s love…but it’s a different thing to think something than to live and rest in it.   Our human drift is towards capitalism, whereby we seek to achieve, succeed or win with relationships or the market for our purposes, comfort, or increase.

Do you strive to make things right? Do you work tirelessly to be the cause of the desired fruitfulness in your life? Do you try hard to escape the suffering you so fear? OR…Do you, at your core, rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do you, at your core, know that your human efforts are spiritually fruitless? Do you, at your core, see suffering as the means by which you are cleansed, disciplined, and crafted into His image?

Do not work for the food, results, status, or material that perishes, but believe in Jesus who God sent to free you and give you all that you will ever need in Him. See what happens when you are transformed to let your work be to believe. Let your new sweat be envisioning what Godly result you want for your friends in His name. Let your new mission be to cry out to Him, in belief for your family’s deliverance.   Let your new craft be to ask and believe God for business effectiveness, gospel witness, and a prosperous rejoicing in His name. Let your new trade be to believe in God’s promises for your church by seeing Jesus lifted up and your members unified, sanctified, and witnessing to the power of the gospel.

When you find yourself looking to yourself for effectiveness, change this focus into examining yourself solely to see how you and your thoughts are hindering belief in what was accomplished at the cross and then agree to simply rest in that finished work. Do you believe it is finished? Rest and pray. He is faithful. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

704631_10207139802147916_4018787005924459280_oRob and his wife, Mauri, were married in 2004 and have been blessed with 5 children (2 biological and 3 adopted). Rob has a Master of Education degree in Counseling and Development from Winthrop University. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who also has many years experience teaching children of all ages. Rob is currently serving as the 7th grade Bible teacher and School Counselor at The Manantial School in Mexico. 

An Intimate God

Today I was laying on a huge rock, surrounded by the ocean, reading Perelandra, the second of the Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis. Ransom, the main character is visiting a new planet and he is describing the planet with such wonder and imagery. I put the book down and started thinking about Space. I was caught in awe of the planets and galaxies. I was so overwhelmed by how wonderful all that exists is. My mind could not think about it all without a creator. It feels to me, impossible. It just doesn’t make sense at all. Where did it all come from? There is no way the answer is science. There is too much creativity, there is too much heart to it all, there is so clearly purpose. All of it is too beautiful to point to nothing. I was looking at our galaxy in my mind and was taken into deeper astonishment. The earth was selected to have life on it. Life that can be sustained because of the way it rotates around the sun and carries resources that meet the needs for life. I looked out to the ocean and imagined the entire world under those waters. I then looked down the side of the rock and watched how the water rushed gracefully but with great force into all of the cracks of the little rocks below. I thought to myself, “that is truly beautiful.” I then thought to myself, “Wow. God made these rocks and this water to do that because He knew that I would find it beautiful.” What a comforting thought. What an intimate God. I then went through all of the things that I specifically find beautiful amidst nature. What an intimate God, that He would create all of these things so that souls could connect with them and adore them.
I glanced at my book. Not only did God create beautiful oceans, planets, animals, and stars. But minds that can take a tree and turn it into paper, bind it together, all to become an object that can be read and understood and connected to by the human mind, even deeper, the soul. And the words have been formed by a mind with the capacity to take concepts to new levels, all so others can be taken to new depths.


I then looked over at my sister reading on a rock nearby. A soul that I love and find shockingly beautiful. To think of the deep connection I have towards nature and then to look over at this very soul that has my heart, and the tons of others that I have intimate care for, I couldn’t help but cry. Cry out thanks to God and over the realization that God has placed everything exactly where it is for deep, deep purpose. So that He can be a reality. So that we can see how He is alive and living all around us desiring for our souls to be aligned. Crying out that we will see what all of this is pointing to.

I then look down at a crab who doesn’t worry about what he is going to eat. He doesn’t get anxious and stressed about when the sun is going to.. probably scorch him. He probably should get a little stressed, maybe go in the shade so his life can be a little longer.. but that isn’t the point. The crab is who he is. He uses his abilities for their purposes. He does exactly what he was made to do. I look at his complexities, the claws he has been given and the ability to move and jump.  And then my eyes shift towards my own hands. They are incredible. The way skin encloses so perfectly all of our organs and bones, how it can be broken and cut but it will not tear too easily. I have the ability to run, jump, climb, and handstand without a scratch. How incredible. Oh, what would my life be like if I was like this crab doing exactly as I was made to do! How often have these hands in front of me been the tools to waste time. My hands are limbs connected to a heart that has worried days away. That is where this crab and I are different. I have a soul, a soul that actually very much so longs to be free like this crab but has many difficulties to battle before that freedom can be all I know.

These difficulties are sin. The very nature we are born into with but thankfully not the nature we have been created to have.

God, in His grace, in His bleeding, jealous love for us, lets us sit on rocks pondering the universe, realizing His thread of glory through it all. And as we realize it, we step away from our old nature and into the new, new life.

Find a place and bask in God’s great glory. It is displayed everywhere you look. Whether it is the tree you climb, the feet you walk on, the threads in your sweater, your mother, your sister, your dog. Everything has a purpose, everything points to the One. The One who longs to romance you, who created the seas with you in mind. The One who deeply knows you and therefore deeply loves you.

And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Isaiah 6:3

12235146_10208302809591924_7778609059362999763_nAnnie Hindin teaches Kindergarten at our school in Mexico, and this is her second year serving with GEM. She has the God-given gift of extending love and understanding to every person she encounters, which makes her quite the teacher! If you’d like to read more of Annie’s pieces, you can do so on her personal blog.