August 26, 2016
After finishing our first term in Central America with a sprint, my family and I have made it back safe and sound to American soil after being gone 12 of the past 13 months. For the month of July and into August, I have had the privilege of working with an amazing group of people in leading our summer mission team in many aspects of ministry through 3 different countries.
Overall, the focus of our summer mission team is nothing new, but rather to practice the example given to us by the earliest Christian missionaries in the book of Acts. Whatever we did was ultimately for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that people may be freed from the bondage of sin in order to enjoy life eternal with their Creator and Lord. We faced many challenges, but sought comfort in knowing that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we go and work (Acts 1:8). My prayer through the course of the month, as well as the charge I shared often with our team, was that we want to be discerning as to where God is working and then seek to be used by Him.
We began by having youth conferences to reach out to those in the rural areas, which are plagued by violence and political instability as well as socioeconomic challenges. These areas are truly hotspots for at-risk youth; youth who, if not shown the love of Christ, will only add to the dangerous cycle that surrounds them. Many young children especially boys get mixed up with the wrong influences, father children out of wedlock, and are then killed or arrested, leaving their children to face the same dismal reality of a fatherless home.
These youth conferences were used as focused times of teaching and discovery from the Bible of what it means to “Know God”. Different team members led each session over a two-day period. Between larger sessions, we had games and small group discussions. Some were distracted and uninterested, but still others hung on to every word spoken and asked thought provoking questions about their own lives and how God relates to them.
Our village and school outreach involved connecting with the people through drama presentations, Bible verse memorization exercises, teaching songs, personal life testimony, English lessons, and Gospel presentations from the Bible. One young man was particularly impacted by a skit portraying the bondage of sin as a chair in which someone gets stuck after being told not to touch. After the presentation the boy approached some team members and asked the question, “What sin was it that caused the person to become stuck in the chair?” These team members were then able to proceed to share the Gospel with the boy, who then believed and gave his life to Jesus Christ. This is just one example of how God is working in this area through the faithful service of our short-term mission teams from the U.S.
We were also able to further engage in humanitarian efforts to assist the people physically, including home construction, provision of basic needs such as groceries, and investment into the economic development that has already been initiated in an impoverished region suffering from lack of opportunity.
A big “thank you” again to each of our financial and prayer partners. We know that we have not because we ask not. And it is evident to us that many people have been interceding before the throne of God on our behalf, asking for safety and opportunity for God to be glorified through my family and our ministry. Please know also that we will be praying for each of you, and that we do take seriously the prayer needs that are made aware to us.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
The Dillards (Derick, Jill, & Israel)
Please continue to pray:
- God would work in the hearts of those in whom the seed of the Gospel has been planted, that He would cause it to take root and grow.
- Courage and protection for all the indigenous believers of Central America.
- For strong marriages and families
- Wisdom and discretion for my family and myself as we seek to follow the Lord, wherever that may be, in a rapidly changing and difficult world.