The Stretch of God

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“God  used this place (HOPE Dominican Republic) to bring me to new levels of healing. He is doing a deep work in my life.” Casey Murray

 

I remember it as if it were yesterday. A team of almost fifty young adults were on their FB_IMG_1492441478990way to our property to serve with us for one month. We had recently moved onto the property and had no facilities. The team would have to sleep in tents, bathe in the river and share one toilet! To say the least, we were doubtful of their excitement about this situation. Yet, to our surprise, they were one of the best teams we hosted. They served with all of their hearts and embraced our family into their squad in a personal way.

Some of the members of that squad have returned from time to time to help. Casey Murray is one of them. He came back as a team leader for a group of high school students who were here on a month long mission’s trip last summer. He recently returned to help us with a current team of college students who have been here for two months and to work at our children centers.

Casey’s story helps to resonate our vision as a ministry. Helping Others Pursue Eternity is truly our heart and our dream. 

 

Casey and I sat at our massive cement table a few days ago and talked about his story. My heart was touched. His story brought me HOPE and reminded me of why we do what we do. People’s lives are worth every bit of effort it takes to continue.

Casey began his journey with Christ as a college student. Though he loved the Lord and served Him, he could not overcome his struggle with depression and anxiety after graduation. He was accepted into Physical Therapy School, yet grew discontented as he could not hear God’s voice.

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His desire to hear God led him to a conference that many young people attend in the states. At that conference, he began to experience God as he desired. There, God met him with a huge challenge; “Leave school and serve me in missions.” He doubted the word was for him, but God began to confirm His call through a series of events. He decided to obey and took a huge leap of faith by withdrawing from school and attending a squad of fifty on an eleven month mission journey around the world.

That trip opened his eyes to God’s heart for people all over the world. He began to realize that his obedience to God opened doors of blessings into his life. He took another step in obedience when he asked us if he could come to serve with us on HOPE Mountain.

“I saw Pastor Ruben’s and Vicki’s genuine and big hearts for the people and for the ministry here. I also saw the need for help within the ministry,” He said when we asked him why he wanted to serve here, “I wanted to partner with people who are doing great things for God and the ability to see the fruit of it.”

Casey experienced all of what our ministry has to offer. He taught classes at our centers FB_IMG_1492441450906and loved on the children. He led short term mission teams. He participated on prayer walks in our communities. He built relationships within our communities. He helped to maintain our grounds. He also participated in our church services.

He can now truly see missions as a long term career choice. He can see and appreciate the pastor’s heart that God has given him as he served here. He also believes that God is opening doors for him in worldwide missions.

He feels that serving in our ministry has enhanced his ability to accept the stretching of  God in his life and it has enabled him to purposely pursue others to disciple! 

God stretched our faith when we accepted that large team a few years ago. Casey’s life and the lives of so many would’ve missed out on what God had for them here had we declined. Perhaps God is speaking to you right now. Move with his guidance. He is doing great things, lets all join in on His activity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the Street to the Mountain

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“I lived on the street when I was a boy.”

Ricardo has been a blessing to our ministry. He diligently serves us on HOPE Mountain as he cleans fields, cares for our animals, washes our vehicles or maintains our facilities. When he isn’t engaged in the drudgery of sweat labor, he assists our short term teams in translating, running back and forth to the “colmado” (corner store), or simply in being a friend.

This guy is all over the place! He leaves early some mornings to catch the “guaga’ (small bus) for a long drive to our children center in Cien Fuegos. He loves on the children who reside near the landfill and values each of them as if they were his own. 14591686_1789103204637467_5853386935117570695_n

The children at our Puerto Plata center experience his delight as well. He takes the long drive in the opposite direction to minister to them as well.

He has become consistent company to our Los Cerritos Vida en Cristo church. He faithfully attends each Sunday and assists our local pastor there to the best of his ability.

His loyal heart has a lot to do with his connection to the people. He understands hardship. He knows pain. 

His mom and dad died when he was three years old in Haiti. Poverty and misfortune led him to the streets at the age of five. He begged and even stole for food every day. His life was full of misery.

He wanted to attend school, but he had no paperwork and never imagined he would have the opportunity to do so. As he begged on the street one day, a man asked him if he could really help him by getting him into school. This “angel” was able to locate Ricardo’s uncle, obtain the necessary paperwork and get him into school.

He was present each day at his learning establishment, yet continued to live on the street. His life was a street life. He didn’t have a roof over his head when it rained. He never knew what it was like to sit on the sofa in the evening to watch a movie with his family. He knew nothing of a family meal at the dining room table. He was a child and he was alone. Day in and day out, he had to figure out life in solitude.

There were no guardians to train him. No parents to love him. It was Ricardo all by himself. Yet, he continued to endure each day. 

He suffered severe malnutrition as a teen and ended up in the public hospital with frequent nosebleeds. A Christian lady saw his condition and prayed for him. She told him that Jesus Christ would heal him and he thought she was insane.

To his surprise, he was healed. The heartsick state of the hospital staff towards him led them to keep him there. He was allowed to sleep on the hospital floor every day when school was over.

Still with no guides, he attended college. He studied Mathematics and Chemistry. He even graduated!

Life changed some when he graduated from college as he landed a job as a Public school teacher. He could now at least afford to pay for a roof over his head and for daily sustenance.

He was still alone and lost. He wondered about the name of the One who healed him when he should’ve died as a teen. He wanted to know more about Jesus. His searching for truth landed him on the base of a Christian missionary organization where he studied and learned God’s word daily. He was convinced that he found the truth and gave his life to Christ.

He came to work with us on HOPE Mountain as his outreach assignment for his mission’s class. It was difficult to not notice his diligence. He was always willing to do whatever was asked and he never complained. His commitment is to the Christ who healed him and he unashamedly serves His God in any way he is needed!

When his outreach was over and the rest of his team prepared to leave, he pulled us to the side, “I need to stay here. I have to obey God and work with you. I know that He wants me to serve you here.” 

Our hearts were overjoyed and we remain fascinated by the people that God sends our way!

He started his life on the street, now he is a bridge for those who need to cross over to a new life in Christ. 

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