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

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

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

Unexpected Blessings

Now being in my 4th year as a GEM teacher, one of the sweetest connections I have made since moving to Mexico is with the students. Even though my first year was very challenging, God softened my heart over the summer after my 1st year. Since my 2nd year here, I have felt called to reach out to a few of the middle school girls and to also be genuine with the students I am teaching and tutoring.

God has blessed me so much by being able to connect with them and get to know them, and even their families more and more each year. Having students over to my house for dinner and playing games or being silly with them during class or getting hugs has been so sweet.

However, I have felt called to be more intentional in my interactions with them because I want to be a light for the gospel in their lives. So when I was given the opportunity to lead a small group of girls through a Bible study I was so excited! I would have never imagined four years ago that I would be in such a pivotal role in these girls’ lives. 

I was also asked unexpectedly to teach 5th grade for a whole semester due to another teacher’s health. My time teaching the 5th grade had its difficulties, but I can see how God was using me in little ways in those kids lives. I was very nervous and felt very unprepared for both of those roles, but I knew God had a plan far greater than I could imagine and I knew He would give me strength in my weakness.

I have been so thankful for the different conversations I have had with several students! I can see how God is working in their hearts and I’m looking forward to what else God will do in their lives. I am even amazed at how God is using these students to show me how loved I am by Him. I write this as a reminder for myself and others – that God can use ANYONE to make a difference for the gospel. And He will often call you to step up in unexpected ways to lead others, and through Him, we are completely qualified for these important roles. I am thankful for this semester of unexpected opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone for Jesus!


– Tracy Frohlich, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Tracy 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!

Home

My summer was busy. Actually, busy is a bit of an understatement. In my six weeks away from Puerto, I spent time in four US states and all four time zones. Most of the time, I felt overwhelmed. Beyond anything I could manage or accomplish on my own. Through it all, God remained steadfast and faithful. He even graciously gave me quiet moments of solitude and rest in coffee shops, restaurants, and rooms where I was able to step away and experience peace amidst my chaotic schedule. Despite the busyness of my travels, once I arrived, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. Right, where God wanted me. I felt at home.

Now I consider myself to be a bit of a wanderer, so home is an interesting construct. I have lived quite a few places and visited even more throughout my life. As a result, I have many homes and none simultaneously. I feel at home and like a foreigner all at the same time, no matter where I am physically located. This may have been how many people in the Bible felt…

These people all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Three of the four places I visited I consider home – surrounded by people I love; my friends and family. I was excited to be there and to see everyone. It was not the place that made it home, but the people. I was filled with mixed emotions each time I left one place for the next; often leaving before I was ready to go.

Surprisingly, I felt this same peace and excitement to be home when I landed in Puerto. The journey back was longer and more trying than anticipated but knowing I was back, I was filled with unexpected contentment. I am right where God wants me; in the center of His will. I am home. My home is not on this earth, but with God. If I remain in obedience to Him, I will get a semblance of home regardless of where I find myself. I long for the day I find myself truly home, face-to-face with the Lord. Until then, I will continue to seek His will in obedience.

The result of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness
will be quiet confidence forever.
Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place,
in safe and secure dwellings. (Isaiah 32:17-18)


-Angela Fontanelli, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Angela 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!

FIESTA

F I E S T A .

If you were to ask me to describe Mexico in one word, it would be “fiesta”. Mexicans love to have an excuse to throw a party, and everyone is always invited.

I remember the first time we moved into our house in Puerto, our neighbors had a “fiesta” for their dad, who turned 93 at the time. This party had a full band, tons of food (good authentic Mexican food), drinks, and dancing. This party must have started around 7 and lasted until about midnight. Parties like this happened over and over as our neighbors celebrated their families lives.

On the other end of the spectrum, our other neighbor celebrated the birthday of their two-year-old daughter. This party started around 6 pm and lasted well past midnight. Again, there was music, food, and plenty of dancing to celebrate the birthday of their two-year-old (who most definitely didn’t stay up for the whole thing).

I mention both of these things because I think it is amazing. I believe that this shows the heart of God. As Christians, we should be the most celebratory people in the world celebrating all that God has done. We should take the time to slow down and celebrate those around us.

In his book called “A Meal with Jesus”, Tim Chester said, “Jesus spent his time eating and drinking—a lot of his time. He was a party animal. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.”

Jesus spent much of his ministry around a meal. He spent so much of his time eating and drinking that he was called a glutton and a drunk.  He used the meal as to build relationships with others (sinners and tax collectors). How much more should we, the body of Christ, get to know others around a meal at a party?

May we learn from our Mexican brothers and sisters and learn to throw good parties celebrating all that God is doing in those around us. Let us use this as an example for us while looking to Jesus who is our greatest example.


-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!

My Journey to Mexico

God has led me to the country of Mexico after college, but why? Why am I going? How did He “lead me” there?


Over the past year (at least), the Lord has been ordering my steps so that I would be going to Mexico in August. It is crazy to think about how intentional God is, but I am so thankful He works in ways that I could never comprehend.
 
My story starts about a year ago when I was in South Africa with a college ministry. At that time, I believed I would have been going on staff with that ministry when I graduated in May of 2018. However, the Lord made it abundantly clear through that trip and a few months afterward that He was not calling me to go on staff with this college ministry. I went through a season where I mourned the loss of this dream. I had no idea what I would be doing after school.
 
While I was studying Elementary Education, I really did not want to teach. When the door closed to the college ministry, I could not even begin to imagine what I would do after graduation. However, in God’s kindness and love, He began to grow my love of teaching. I found a joy while I was teaching that was not experienced outside of it. I knew that God was leading me to be a teacher. I was overjoyed. My family was excited. I finally knew what I was going to do! I knew I would be teaching in the Greensboro, NC area after I graduated.
 
In addition to this, I was seriously dating a guy and had just joined a Church in the area where I was beginning to experience an incredible community. I was thrilled to finally be finishing my college career and beginning to start planting roots somewhere.
 
Oh how often I try to plan what I think my life should look like and how it should go.

Proverbs 16:9

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

The guy that I was dating and I broke up at the beginning of my spring semester of senior year. My family started to fall apart, literally, and I was beginning student teaching. Needless to say, that semester was going to be a constant fight for joy and hope in the Lord. However, the Lord was so incredibly kind in what He was doing in my life.
 
Little did I know, He was setting the stage for me to get connected to Global Education Ministries (GEM).

Global Education Ministries 

They are a ministry that is based out of Wilmington, NC that believes that education is an incredible tool to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ into communities that do not have access to Him. They plant schools with teachers and staff who are passionate about making much of Jesus through their work. Their first, and largest, school is located in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. It houses almost 200 students that are in Pre-K through 9th grade.
 
So how do I fit into this?
God so graciously has called me to be a 2nd-grade teacher at Centro Educativo el Manantial for the next two years.
I get to partner with a community of people that want to make Jesus known through their work, and I have the chance to take part in it. I get to be a very small part of what God is doing throughout the world in a country that is not my own. It is a privilege to know God because of Jesus’ work on the cross, as He took the punishment I deserved so that I could be made right before a perfect and holy God. It is humbling and exciting to be joining this team.
 
If I would have had it my way, I would be doing something far different than this, but luckily, God had established my steps, not me. I will strive to faithfully walk in the way that He has called me to walk, as I seek to know more of God and make Him known.
 
God is so kind to His people.

-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!