Brian Jenkins Blog on Mission Emersion In Guyana South America
Grace and peace be unto you. This is Brian Jenkins, Executive Director of Chosen 300 Ministries. I want to first extend a thanks to our board, our ministry supporters and a special mention to our brothers and sisters at the Zion Baptist Church of Ambler who committed to give a donation right before I left to help cover some of the cost of my mission emersion in Guyana, South America.
I will be keeping a log of my activities and posting them each day at www.chosen300.org on our missions around the world page or as much as I can get an internet connection. By the way since I don’t have my wife here to correct all my spelling mistakes and my grammar please pardon any errors. My account of my journey begins now.
Oct 5 2006 9:40 PM As I exited the plane in Guyana, I had a little tough experience with my clothes as they came out on the baggage claim belt one by one. I think they were checking through the suitcases, but forgot to put the clothes back. (I am just glad they did not get my ho-ho’s snack). It was a little funny to everyone and all I could do is laugh. We all had our shares of luggage laughs; one pastor had his Spam confiscated in Miami. I told him it was lunchtime and they were collecting all they could and were waiting for the crackers.
Anyway as we made it through customs we took our bags out to a truck, and yes it was a real truck. I was glad to give a tip to the person that carried our bags. One pastor, no fault of his own, was waiting for our group leader to find out if we were supposed to.
What amazed me is that the person who carried the bags said “you have to pay me” little different in USA, you tip if you choose to tip. By the way I am good tipper, but now I am extreme; I just gave someone $1000 to take my bags to the truck - Currency here is about 200:1
As I headed toward the bus, I saw a child in dirty clothing approach me with his hand out. I knew what he wanted, so I gave him a couple dollars. I am sure it was a big success for him that night.
Shortly afterward, another child came and sat on the steps without a shirt on, as we were waiting for the others to board the bus. Although the English language is the primary one here, he was speaking something else that I could not understand. I just wasn’t sure what to do; I remembered I had some cookies in my bag so I gave him a pack and he seemed to be satisfied for a moment. He finished his cookies and then he just sat there.
The bus driver had to make him get off the bus. I was saddened that we had to leave him there, but I understood.
We pulled out of the airport about 9:30 PM and I saw packs of children standing on the corner waiving their arms for help or possibly a ride. I am sure I have only seen the beginning of the poverty, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to helping.
Oh the bus ride; we are packed in here like sardines. It is worse than being on a Septa bus. My leg is resting on top of my carryon bag and my foot is next to the driver’s head. I am leaned over sideways with the laptop in my lap and I have to stop typing for now before I get carpel tunnel.
4:29 AM Oct 6, 2006 We arrived at the Hotel Tower in Georgetown last night around 10:15 PM, We unloaded our bags and dropped them off at the hotel room. I admit it took me a little adjusting, and I realize we are so spoiled in the USA. My room smelled like mold, and the beds well there about the size of the cot. But let me share with you the rest of the ride here to put it into perspective. All along the road, I saw children and people walking waiting for someone to pick them up along the way to get them to their destination, this was 9:30 at night mind you. The homeless I saw was nothing compared to the homeless I serve in Philadelphia. Our homeless live like kings compared to the homeless here, I have only had a glimpse from the bus window, but my days to come will be more enlightening. As we pulled up that night there were young men that approached the window of the bus in attempt to beat the others in the first cry for help from their new visitors.
Why I am up and 4:00 AM?; because all of us have gas and all of us are enduring the symptoms from the anti malaria pills. To my wife you think I am bad, my roommate can whip up a good one. Ok I have to keep us all laughing to stop from crying.
6:20 PM Oct 6 2006 Today was a good learning experience. We don’t start working till tomorrow which I am excited about the opportunity to learn about the work of God here in Guyana, but walking through the streets I had a few interesting encounters. One thing I must say the people have a mind to work, and work aggressively. Well before I get to that, lets go through the beginning of my day.
We started out with breakfast, and took the jam-packed van to the American Embassy to register in. I know it sounds patriotic, but it gave me comfort to see our flag flying high in the wind, but the embassy was closed and we have to return on Monday. We then went to the bank to do the money exchange. It still is amazing how 100 US dollars is over 20,000 Guyana dollars. Next it was off to the grocery store to pick up some needed items. Towels and wash cloths were one, pillow case, cleaning products; yes we are staying in a hotel, but it is not the same as US hotel., They clean the room but it is more like a quick wipe down and bed change.
After the spending spree of $10,000 on supplies, we missed our bus and walked backed to the hotel. We encountered our first scam. Ok maybe not our first but an obvious one. We asked someone where the hotel was; and they said it was 4-5 miles away and you are going to need a taxi. We knew we were close so we asked someone who did not have anything to gain by our ignorance of the area. It was actually 4-5 blocks away. Little did they know they were dealing with a Philly boy who works in the scam capital of the world.
After we dropped our things off, we ventured out a little further. I was real amazed at the tenacity and the salesmanship of the people. The vendors did not have much and some had more than others, but they all had a drive that I have not seen in a long time. They did not wait for you to come to them; they came to you. Their service was second to none and they were happy to serve. Some vendors had an actual store; others a slot on the side of the road protected by a tin roof. We seen vendors pushing their carts through the streets with their product to sell and others sitting off on the side walk pushing their goods to make a living. The key here is they were all working.
I stopped by one vendor with he and his daughter making hand crafted rings and woven bracelets that you could put in your order to have your name or whatever you wanted and of course you know what my bracelet said. “CHOSEN 300.” I am looking forward to see how it comes out when I pick it up on Monday.
The homeless we saw were people in a real state of destitute. From what I saw so far there was not a place like Chosen 300 here. I have seen men, women and children walking without shoes on their feet pressed against the hot black top that scorched from the South American sun. When you compare to the homeless here. The homeless in Philadelphia live better than the hardworking population in Guyana.
As we walked further we seen that there were no busses, Guyana has no public transportation system, but the taxi’s had developed a effective system to keep the people moving. Instead of picking up one person like we do in the US; they pick up several people; sometimes up to 20 in their van along the way, making a continuous rout through the city.
Now in addition to the aggressive sales, we did encounter some persistent panhandlers. These guys make panhandlers in Philly look like nuns on the corner asking for money for the church. One scary experience while we were out. There was a man with a machete walking behind us sharpening it with a rusty hand grinder. He looked a little ruff and I had one eye cocked over my shoulder. He came a little closer and I think he could tell that Keith & I was getting a little nervous, and yes preparing to give him a beat down in Jesus name if needed.
He stuck the long blade into the grass and walked with us about six paces and proceeded to ask us for money. It seems we could not shake him loose so Keith gave him some change (change is actually dollars here).
As the night quickly fell around 6:00 the stores started to shut down and every street vender seemed to close within 20 min. The night was lit up with the sound of Caribbean music. I could not understand a word they were saying and probably did not need to; but it was a sound of celebration, that they had conquered another long day of work, and a new day was coming to make a effort to get ahead.
On the way back to the hotel, I encountered the moneychangers (the people here do whatever they can to make a buck). Now we can get money changed at the bank, but after the banks close, if the merchant you are going to does not accept American money; you have to get your money changed by the hotel or the moneychangers. It was out of the blue and 5 of them practically surrounded me with stacks of money in their hand. They were not threatening, but just very aggressive. One of them yelled out “I saw him first” so they scattered and one younger man approached me a little gentler then the others and asked me again did I need any money changed. My answer was No, but I am sure the rate he was going to give me was going to turn a good profit compared to what I could get at the bank.
It started getting dark so I headed back to the hotel to prepare for the evening reception to be introduced to our host pastors. Each pastor was assigned to a church and we may have 2 US pastors assigned to one church, depending on the need.
My pastor was Michael Shammy. He was only about 4 feet tall, but had lot of spunk. It was amazing that we met very briefly in the lobby because there were about 50 US pastors here and 40 churches from Guyana that are hosting us. That brief moment was a blessing, and the spirit of the pastors are very welcoming and accommodating. Pastor Michael shared with me about his church. He is good Pentecostal brother, so yes I am going to have a blast, but his church is made of young people from the age of 13-25. He is out near the airport where we first came in and saw the children out on the road. My heart leaped for joy. You remember when I mentioned earlier about the children at the airport, my heart had been going out to them for the last 2 days since we first arrived and now I was chosen to go with them.
There was a short introductory ceremony during the reception. It included speeches from both the US and Guyana leadership. An interpretive dancer danced to “You Raise Me Up.” As she danced, the song seamed as an anthem to her. That though her country is in poverty and individuals struggle to survive, their faith in Christ raises them above their circumstance. I am reminded of the scripture that says “And now unto him that is able to keep us from falling and present us falling with exceeding joy.” No matter what you are going through today, God is able to keep you from falling and raise you up.
Next there was a steel pan ban that played Caribbean gospel music. These young people were off the hook. They played songs including Lord I lift your name on high, Shout to the Lord, and many others. At the end, I pulled out a $20 US bill for each of them. Their eyes lighted up like they were on top of the world. They kept playing and mostly everyone had left except about 10 of us, but they refused to stop until we all left. You have to realize to them I just gave each of them $4,000 dollars each.
This is my first experience out of the country, and my eyes are being opened daily. You see the poverty of other countries on television, but it is not like seeing it in person.
Oct 7, 2006 8:30 AM This morning we started the day with a 2-mile walk down Main Street To the Atlantic Ocean and back. To my wife, yes I am exercising. Like any city there is the well off and there is the poor, but their well off is not really that well off at all. Even the barracks of the military police was not that pleasant of a place to stay. I saw a few people along the way bathing in creek, and others doing the same at the ocean. One man who appeared to be a boxer doing is morning exercise, even he worked out in his bare feet, I am not sure if this was by choice or by his way of life, but I see a lot of men, women and children walking the streets without shoes.
We are now off to the take a tour of Georgetown and then visit the Lott Carey Foreign Mission here in Guyana. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you. By the way I am sorry for the delays in getting the updates on the site, but Internet service is up and down here.
October 8, 2006 9:15 AM I could not write much yesterday because I had a bad case of the runs, yes I’m brutally honest as you can tell, but we did have exciting day yesterday. The tour of Georgetown was very interesting; one thing that was mentioned was the ineffectiveness of the insurance companies to indemnify people or churches after property loss. There were several churches along the way that had been burned to the ground, but what often happens is that the insurance companies normally pay about 1/3 of the cost to rebuild. Their justification is that from the time they bought the policy till the time of the loss the dollar has inflated so much. I am riding in the car right now with Pastor Sammy and we just made a stop along the way. There was a man standing on the road waiting for him to come so he could pass him 100 lbs of non-fat dry milk to share with the poor of the community. Ok, I’m playing catch up so I will be in and out of stuff as I go along.
Back to the church on fires situation. Per Pastor Sammy the inflation rate is now about 8%, at times it has been as much as 20%. For illustration point lets use the 8%. With a inflation rate of 8% the buying power of the Guyana dollar would decrease in half every 9 years. So the insurance company would only give you the amount of money your policy was worth at the time of purchase. You can take out more insurance, but even with that the insurance companies are often shady and never really give you what the building is worth. Also the large majority of homes are uninsured as well as Pastor Sammy’s Church. It is amazing, like in the US, the Insurance companies have the best buildings in the country.
You should know that 75% of the population is below the poverty line. This poverty level is $360,000 a year, which is equivalent to $1800 American dollars.
The cabs we talked about earlier, Pastor Sammy suggested that I not get in one of them. By law they are only permitted to have 15 people; they often put as many as 20. They say you are more likely to die in a cab than to die by a violent crime. Sorry to ramble and switch up, but I am trying to get in as much info as I can before it leaks out the bald spot in the top of my head.
OK, now back to yesterday, we drove about a hour or so to the Lott Carey Mission in Guyana out in the bush. The camp sits on over 500 acres of land. The land is very challenged as it is filled with ants and it is hard to produce crops, the ants are so powerful and work so well as a team that they can move a 100 lb bag of rice themselves in one night if it is left out.
Lott Carey also has a medical hospital on the site. Now it is not the hospital that you and I know but it is about a 1000 square foot building. It has old equipment, and a generator to re-charge large batteries for electricity and refrigeration. The hospital is a resource for the people in the rural community to obtain vaccinations, pre-natal & post -natal care. For those who cannot make it to the hospital; the staff goes out to different areas on a circuit to provide medical care to the surrounding communities.
The camp also has the Guyana Missionary Baptist church on it’s site which pretty much a 1 room church. There have been some dividers set up for Sunday school. In addition there is a sleeping room for about 50 children at the camp in bunk beds about 3 feet apart from each other.
I was a little disappointed at one thing at the Lott Carey Mission. Note this is no reflection on Lott Carey, nor my brother David Goatley, but one of the group leaders was a little frustrated that more Indian Churches did not embrace the PEP program. I did not agree with her, but we must have patience realize that Christ, as much as he offered himself to us he waited a long time for us to say yes to him. In the struggles that the country of Guyana has we just have to keep offering ourselves to all the people regardless of previous rejections. Thank God for the two Indian Pastors that have joined on and maybe next year they will be more.
October 8, 2006 3:00 PM I had to stop writing earlier because I had just arrived at the Elim Pentecostal Church in Guyana. All I can tell is the presence of God fell on the church. They sang the songs of Zion and I felt right at home. They started off with a half hour of prayer, one person prayed and another one started as they ended. There was one small child in particular that was praying and I had to turn around and look to see who it was. When she prayed she prayed with faith and I knew her prayer reached heaven.
After the prayers they began to sing songs starting with “How Great Is Our God” and kept going, I actually did not mind the long service, and the anointing was so high I forgot all about the time. Tears rolled down my face, knowing that the Lord had given me the opportunity of a lifetime. He had sent me into a foreign land to share the good news of Jesus. After the songs, there was an offering. Now the normal offering for a Sunday is normally about $150-$200 of American dollars a week. So as you can imagine the pastor does not have a lot to work with. Anyway, I shared this morning on “how to get more”. After the message the presence of God fell on the people and they were falling out under the anointing. Next 3 people gave their life to Jesus and joined the local congregation. Their service has been over for about a hour and I am sitting in the pastors car and they are still singing, I wish I could take the whole choir home with me. They sing with such a joy. Right now they are singing, “Mighty Is Our God, Mighty is our king, … Ruler of Everything.
The Church is made up of 30% Indian, 40% mixed and another 30 % African. This is one of the few churches in Guyana is racially mixed. The country of Guyana faces a lot of racial tension as we do in the United States with African American vs. White. In addition to the conflicts and discrimination against other races including Hispanics, Asians and others.
The conflict in Guyana is with people of color against people of color; particularly descendants of India vs. the descendants of Africa. The racial tension was fostered by the British rule, which lasted until 1966. What happened is that the British enslaved the Africans and brought them to the Caribbean including Guyana. After the enslavement the Africans were allotted land and nominal cost, but the land was land to work on reminding them of their slavery, so they sold their land. According to Pastor Sammy, the selling of their land was a huge mistake that cost most descendants of Africa not to have land. Due to the land abandonment by the African people, the British brought over the Indians and Chinese as indigenous workers to till the land. From an outsider looking in you cannot really see the tension, but there is a substantial economic and social difference between the two cultures.
Recently the problems often surround the elections. In America we have Democratic and Republican. In Guyana the 2 major political parties are the PPP (Peoples Progressive Party), which represents Indian Guyneese; and the PNC (Peoples National Congress Reform), which represents the African Guyneese. What often occurs is that the PPP encourages the Indian People to vote for their race and the PNC encourages the people to vote for the African candidate. As you can imagine this cause a bit of an uproar in the country. As the elections get closer the racial tensions increase. There is a new party called the AFC (Alliance For Change) but they only control about 8% of the vote that often pulls the vote from the AFC. The India people have the political control right now.
The Indian ruled government is viewed by the Indian people as the less of two evils, often how our elections in the United States, they are no longer voting of who will do the better job, but who their allegiance is with, who is in their race, who is in their political party.
With all this said I am impressed at the multi-cultural work of Pastor Michael Sammy in bringing God’s people together. Seeing Indians & Africans worshiping together, free from the racial tension of the country celebrating their commonality in Christ. Lott Carey putting us together was the perfect match.
After worship, we traveled to the Pastors home. He is not wealthy and caries the burden of his congregation, but he is also not among the poorest of Guyana. He would be considered as Guyana’s middle class, but remember the poverty level is $1800 US dollars a year. His family together drives the ministry forward, with his wife on his side, his son age 20 on the keyboard (David & Jonathan have to learn to play) and his daughter age 16 lightens up the sanctuary with her angelic voice as one of the lead singers in the worship team.
His son is a computer wiz and his daughter just completed school and is soon to be working at the bank.
As we sat on the porch on the second floor, dinner was brought to us with chicken & rice. I admit I was really scared to try it at first due to my stomach’s inability to handle the Guyana diet, but I suffered and went for it. It was actually very good. I took it slow because I did not know how my stomach would respond, but I made out ok. Next an ice cream truck came along. It was not like Mr. Softy that roles down the street of Philadelphia. It was a little motorized cart that had a freezer on the back and an attendant that would scoop ice cream. It was really good.
We shared pictures on the computer about our ministries. Later we took a drive to the Atlantic Ocean Front where they had vendors set up. Hundreds of people walked along just enjoying the cool breeze off the ocean. I saw that Pastor Sammy was holding back trying to give me a break, so I took the initiative of asking people to give their lives to Jesus. In the short half hour we were there 3 young ladies gave their lives to Jesus.
Our night ended with a little embarrassment for me. I took a fall into one of the canal sewers. We have curbs to guide our water to the sewer at home. Guyana has these canals down every road that are about 2 feet deep. Coming down the hill I forgot is was there and fell right into the canal. Ok, I know Pastor Sammy & his family read my blog each day so go ahead I am not looking get in your laugh. I did not hurt myself, but I admit it was a bit embarrassing, but it will keep me humble.
To review my day, I started out at 6:00 am with my morning walk to get my body and stomach in condition so I would not have to run to the toilet from the pulpit. During the walk I saw a homeless man that was in the wheel chair the day before, and he was still in the same spot. I want to talk about this for a moment because it was a meaningful site to see. There was another man there standing along the road and I asked him, “does he ever move from that spot” His answer was no. It as if he sits there day after day, waiting for a passer by to help him or waiting to die.
I again saw people taking their morning bath in the ocean and others were just enjoying the cool ocean water on the humid Sunday morning. One other thing that bothered me is the lack of care of the people of Guyana to keep the oceanfront clean. I saw trash that is consistently thrown along both sides of the narrow road that stretches along the oceanfront. This is also the stretch of Oceanfront that leads from one of the major hotels in Guyana. I can see that the government has its faults, and the economic troubles of the country is overwhelming, but Guyana has to take pride in itself, put aside its differences and rise up to be the nation that it can be.
As you continue to read this blog, pray for the people of Guyana.
Also pray for me, this week I will be teaching at the bible college and also doing a crusade. Later in the week we will be baptizing the new believers that have come to give their lives to Jesus
Oct 10, 2006 3:10 AM Yesterday was a very long day so I tucked in early and never had the chance to write to you concerning the events of the day. The day started at 7:30 AM, by the way I did miss my walk this morning, my big toe was hurting a little from my fall into the gutter, but I am fine now about 95%, but I will live. By the way please take a moment to pray for all the pastors here in Guyana from the US. There have been 2 or 3 attacks on US missionaries here by the locals. One man (not from our group) wasn’t too bright but pulled his laptop out in the open outside while he was waiting for the rain to pass to do some work. He was beaten and they stole his laptop, bag and other valuables. I did not get full details on the others, but just pray for our continued safety. It seams like they have beefed up the military police in the area so it should deter some of the problems, but God’s spirit can stop the devil in his tracks. We have invaded this country to bring a impact and the devil is not happy about it.
Anyway we started at 7:30 AM with breakfast. I have finally learned from my fellow colleges on how to eat breakfast here. Don’t touch the eggs, anything that had to be added together to make a dish. So my breakfast was sliced pineapple, fruit loops & frosted flakes from the mini boxes with no milk, just eat it like the kids. The tradition here is that milk is warm. It comes in a box, forgot the name of it but it is gross. The first day I tried it, I was pushing really hard not to waste it because I know the people struggle here for food. Next I had my USA Made fruit bars (something I packed for emergencies; THIS IS A EMERGENCY).
After breakfast, the US pastors broke up into our process groups, which are about 4 groups of 15. We had an opportunity to share our first experience with our host pastors and churches. All I have to say is THANK YOU JESUS. Compared to my colleges I was at the Crystal Cathedral of Guyana.
Before I continue, I want to share that Pastor Sammy did an outstanding job being my host on Sun, and did everything he possibly could to accommodate me. I admit I was expecting the absolute worse possible condition, but the Lord had favor with me. Pastor Sammy started out when he picked me up, apologizing that he did not have air conditioning and he would work to get it fixed for me this week. It really did not matter to me, I was just happy to have a ride to church (you will understand why in a moment), His church was one of the nicest of the host churches we visited. Don’t get me wrong they had needs just like the others, but the Lord has given them favor in this land. Pastor Sammy was also very sensitive to my diet needs. A lot of the members wanted to give me food, but he stepped right in and told them that we had rules that we were not permitted to eat certain foods. I really applaud him for that. He even offered me his only car to drive while I was here so I would not be without a vehicle. I did turn it down one because he had his whole family and church to care for, but also I would have crashed it the first day driving on the wrong side of the road, and the people drive like maniacs here. Oh, I did not mention before; they don’t have traffic lights; well they are there, they just have not worked in years throughout the country. You drive under the law of God’s grace everyday, and there is no such thing as a pedestrian having the right away. A cow has more rights than a human here when it comes to pedestrians crossing the street.
Ok let’s get to the other guys. One pastor was scheduled to be picked up by his host and he did arrive to the hotel to get him. One problem, he did not have a car, so they had to catch one of the death trap taxi buses where you pray all the way. Oh there was one other problem, the host pastor did not have enough money for the cab. So the US Pastor took care of that, and that was no big deal we are here to help. Well the first stop was the pastor’s house before getting to the church where he has many children. I forgot the number but I do remember it was a lot. From the house, they then traveled to the church in a big huge dump truck with cement dust everywhere. So much for the nice suit he had. The arrived at the church and they had to walk through a lot of sand to get to the church door. I mentioned before that in some parts the land here is naturally made of sand instead of dirt. So his suit is filled with dust, his shoes & socks were filled with sand and all of us were filled with sweat no mater what part of the country we were in. He said the church service was a blessing, and although the church was not the same experience I had the gospel was getting preached, and the people had a commitment to serve the Lord.
To break here, that is one common theme that we all see here. We complain about everything we don’t have in the US, and we don’t praise God because things are not going our way all the time, but after seeing what I have seen so far, I would love to just give some of the complaining people in our congregations a holy ghost wake up slap. You can say that is not nice to say, but this is a blog, not a politically correct documentary. So I am saying like I feel it.
Back to the pastors experience, he went back to the house of the pastor after church and here comes the dinner, I can’t remember if he ate it, but I do remember he did not want to. Low and behold they had a visitor on the wall, not a roach, not a water bug, but a big huge Tarantula. The Guyana Pastor’s daughter enters the room and says, “Daddy there is a Tarantula on the wall.” Her father responded “Is it bothering you” Any way Booker (the US Pastor made it back alive). I was really impressed with his positive attitude in the whole thing. He said although it was a challenge he came to do missions and all the US pastors from our group have embraced the same theme, that whatever we have to do to get our message to the people and impact the church’s and pastors here with both our expertise and resources, we are committed to doing it.
Another pastor mentioned that there was no bathroom at the church. You may think this is not a big deal, but in the condition our stomachs are in right now, he had a big issue. He was hurting. Another Pastor KZ mentioned that his host church, did not have any musical instruments, they had one guy that played the pew. He really played the pew; he said he was working that pew as if it was drum, playing the high notes, base and the beat. KZ said he is going to look for a keyboard and possibly a set of bongos to gift to the church.
Other pastors witnessed the wealthy of Guyana, and I did not have the opportunity to see this until yesterday. There are some very well off people in Guyana and the houses are amazing, but I don’t want to misdirect you. Yes there are wealthy people here, but as I stated before more than 75% of the people make less than $1800 American dollars a YEAR. My heart cries out for the people of Guyana.
One more pastor adventure and this one is funny, not sad but real funny. Two pastor’s who had a evening service had to walk up a long hill to get to the church in the dark. They forgot their flash lights; They heard a noise coming toward them and they figured out what it was. It was a cow charging them. One of them said they moved out of that cows way, and I quote - “sooner than at once and quicker than right now” as they walked around the cows path they encountered something else. Cow manure. Need I say more. Again they made it there safe, a little discomfort, but again the job was done the gospel was preached and lives were changed.
We later went to the Calvary Baptist Church for the Convocation; it is where all of the pastors come together, along with a few of the host pastors. We start with a worship service and then we break up into our groups for discussions. I can’t share others comments in the meeting because we have a confidentiality agreement, but we dealt with our disorientations, what was as I would say the traumatic change from our daily life. I can give you mine. I mentioned in the beginning of day one the room with mold, and I admit it was a hard adjustment, my discomfort was eased by high speed internet. I can have the worse condition in the world, but please don’t take away the broad band. Secondly, I am used to being hands on at Chosen 300 the ministry the Lord has assigned me to in the states, but I had to learn to let go and trust my staff to handle it. I want to say thank you to my wife and all the crew who are working hard in Phila while I am away to keep things running. I always say I have the best board, staff and team in the world, and when I get back just pretend I am still away and I will work hard to leave it in your hands. Oh and when I hear the nightmares of other pastors, I know I have the best staff in the world.
The sermon in the morning convocation had a few points about the problems pastors have with staff and deacons and trustees. I said to the pastor next to me. “I don’t have those problems.” My team works like a fine greased machine.
One other thing is this is the first time I have been away from my wife for 15 years of our marriage, and my boys since they have been born. I admit this is a good break and everyone needs it no matter how much they love their families, but I do miss them and my Sealy (mattress). I also know that I am their protector and provider the re-source which God uses to govern my family, it is a little disoriented to be this far away and not able to step in right away.
Ok enough of me. At 4:00 my host pastor picked me up and we went to go to grab a bite to eat. You won’t believe it and neither did I. I had tears falling from my eyes and my heart jumped for joy. There it was, a Church’s Chicken. I felt like singing the Halleluiah Chorus. And get this, they had wireless high speed internet. I was in heaven. We sat down to eat and I opened up my laptop (Yes, Shandai –my wife, I did check with Pastor Sammy and he said it was safe). One of the things that Pastor Sammy’s churched lacked was the technology to move the church forward. They still keep their financial records; handwriting them in a notebook. To give people statements of their gifts it is very time consuming to add everything up by hand.
One of my goals this week is to help provide them with tools and resources they need so their church can be a little more advanced then they are in church management as well as easier ways to promote the ministry of Jesus to the people of Guyana.
During our conversation I was able to show him some of the technological skills and resources we have at Chosen 300 and how these can impact his church. Now just a note I am just not flashing things that they cannot afford. Chosen 300 puts its money where it’s mouth is. As you know 10% of everything we bring in, we sow out to help other ministries as our Levitical tithe, so we are investing $1100.00 US dollars ($220,000 Guyana dollars) from this fund into technology development at his church. Thank God for the opportunity to help someone else. If you reading this, it is important to support our mission work as you are not only helping us but you are helping people around the world.
Next we headed over to the Biblical Institute of Guyana where Pastor Sammy is the Principal. The school is for mostly young adults but some older people aspiring to be ministers. Pastor Sammy asked me to teach a class on sermon development and I had an absolute wonderful time. Not cows charging me, no dump truck dust (go ahead and laugh), but I thank God for his favor. Not that I would have minded roughing it, but when your assignment is not to, I am not going to complain.
I arrived back at the hotel about 8:00 and fellowshipped with some of the other pastors and just had a blast. There are some good pastors here with great hearts, and I am really enjoying the fellowship. One thing that is amazing, is you can walk up to a table with a bunch of pastors who are already sitting there eating, no space at the table and everyone will break down to make space if it means picking up another table so everyone could fit. Last night we started out with me joining two others with a table of 4. By the time I was done eating the table was a table of 12. That’s how the kingdom should be, open to receive one another in fellowship at anytime. Yes, we think differently, have different opinions, but we have kindred spirit and a commonality in being part of the body of Christ.
It is 5:29 AM and I am off to start my day with a 4-mile walk. I am going to make it my duty to take some snacks I have to the man in the wheal chair. I feel a little crippled here with out the power of Chosen 300, where I could whip up about 300 meals and set up shop in the middle of the city. Who knows, by the end of the week I may just find a way to do it.
Oct 11, 2006 11:15 AM I did not have the chance to write yesterday because it was tremendously a full day. My day started at 3:00 AM, which is when I last wrote to you. I stopped writing about 5:30 and prepared for my morning walk with some of the fellow pastors here. We pushed our selves to the limit yesterday. Bob Murray one of the older guys said I pushed him, but little did he know he was pushing me.
During the walk we came across the homeless man in the wheel chair that I mentioned before. He was not in his chair this time but he was squatting in the grass, but he did not leave his space as if he had made this his home. Bugs surrounded his bare feet, his hair had not been combed for a long time and his teeth were in rapid decay. I had pre-packed a bag of goods I had in my room including crackers, an apple juice and some fruit bars all USA made. He was very grateful. I also noticed he was a little mentally disabled and had to reminded where he was. Bob Murry, myself and the other minister that was with me had a word of prayer with him and shared with him the Gospel of Jesus.
He referenced his desire to be reincarnated with another body once he passed away. Remember about 58% of the people here are Christian and the remainder are mostly Hindu or Muslim. We tried our best to communicate him the Gospel Of Jesus and we at least planted a seed. We pray that God would send someone else to water and then bring forth the increase.
We walked a total of 6 miles yesterday. After a much-needed shower we headed to breakfast and then to our process groups. Today we talked about Pastoral Excellence and also servant leadership.
The first question for our group was “What is the goal of servant leadership and what are some of the barriers to reaching that goal, how do you prevent abuse.” We took about a hour chopping this question down. First we needed to define what is servant leadership.
One pastor read that the definition of servant was “One who works for or is in subjection to another. So to serve is to work or be in subjection to another.”
We continued to discuss and we determined that the answer to the question was “Servant leadership is the commitment to Christ in leading and submitting to meeting the needs of others, and being clear that your purpose and calling is to Christ”
Another words as a Pastor, my responsibility is not only to lead but also to be a partaker in serving the people submitting to the needs of others. In that submission we can avoid abuse if we keep our focus that we are doing unto Christ and not the people. It is for the people, it benefits the people but we do it unto Christ. I know that this is easier said than done. People will disappoint you, will abuse and because we are human we hurt, but if we maintain our focus that it is unto Christ we will not be weary in well doing.
Following this discussion we talked about pastoral excellence. How to exceed ourselves in everyway for the cause of Christ. Continue to grow and always do your best.
October 11, 2006 9:15 AM OK, I am really far behind in my blog, right now we are still talking about Tuesday, so I am just going to jump off by saying that Tues nights service at Elim Pentecostal was off the chain. I wish I could take the whole church home with me and send my congregation over here for year. The people don’t have all the riches in the world, they don’t have the greatest of governments or infrastructure, but they loved to worship God, and enjoy doing it. I will put their worship team against any worship team in the US and they would blow them away.
I was talking with a group of the US pastors this morning, and we were sharing about at home some people in our churches complain when there is no air in the church, and they say well pastor I think we need to end early, it is too hot in here. In Guyana most churches don’t even have air; Just a possible breeze that may come through the door or the slits that were pre-made in the wall, and yes I had the best seat in the house by the door.
One thing I am finding that I am getting attached, but I am also missing my family and my church. This has been one of the most meaningful missions in my life. I know the church believes that I have done a lot for them, but the reality is that they have done a lot for me. This experience has truly enhanced my view on ministry, worship and sacrificial praise. We think of the sacrificial praise is praising God when you don’t feel like it. Here sacrificial praise is to have a will to praise God regardless of the difficulty life brings you.
After the powerful worship and we got everyone off the floor (from falling out under the anointing --- God is really pouring out his spirit over here); Pastor Sammy pulled me aside to speak to 4 young people. I won’t put their names in here to protect their privacy. Anyway he pulls me over and without warning he says, these guys have been having pre-marital sex can you talk to them about this. I admit I was blown away, but I think I did a good job handling it. In all of our churches we are faced with this problem, but rarely do we address the issue to explain one on one to our young people and old that what they are doing is not pleasing to God, this was a great learning peace, just address it and stop saying they will eventually get it. They won’t get it unless we tell them.
The pastor and his family drove me back to the hotel and I had them come in to eat with me. We had a outstanding conversation, but they confirmed that the food at the hotel stinks. I had to send his daughters plate back and his wife did not want to tell me that she did not like it, but I could tell she did not. She finally told me last night it was not that good.
By the way to pastor’s wife and daughter. “DON’T TOUCH THE DOOR ! - That is an inside joke. Can’t put it on the blog, sorry.
October 11, 2006 4:00 PM Now lets go to Wed Oct 10, I am catching up. I started in the morning with my 6:00 walk with my newfound brother and friend Pastor Keith Savage. He is good brother to talk to and I know our friendship will go beyond this trip. Yesterday morning I was really struggling. I received some news 2 days ago about a friend back home, at first I was angry and got past that pretty fast. But in the morning the hurt came in, I was hurting for 2 reasons, one because of his situation, and 2 because he did not trust me enough to understand. I really can’t tell you what happened in class because my mind was with his situation. But back to Guyana.
The worship last night was outstanding. 18 people gave their lives to Jesus, which brings us to 25 for the Crusade at this one church. But out of the 57 pastors that invaded Guyana hundreds have come to know Jesus. I am excited about what God is doing and this Sat I am baptizing all of those that have come to Jesus. I am glad they are not as heavy as people in the US, they eat less.
This morning I walked 4 miles again with Keith. I have walked more here than I have done in the last year at home. On the way men were setting up a tent and chairs and we asked them what were they planning for. They said they were about to remember Holocaust. They explained that their Holocaust is the capturing of Africans for the enslavement of the African people. This is an event they hold once per year.
The session was real good today. First we discussed the transition of being Just A Church, to being a Missional Church. Pastor Sammy and some others were at the session. Now don’t take this the wrong way, Pastor Sammy is a great guy and I have grown to respect him. He stated his not understanding of why we stay in hotels when we come and also why we do not indulge in the native food. He did not mean harm, but it gives myself a wake up call that we need to be more open and I have been trying to hide the things I have all week because the people here don’t have as much. I did explain to him that although the hotel we are in may seem great to him, it too is a challenge from what we are used to having. We are not boasting on what we have, but understand this is a sacrifice and a big challenge from what we are used to. In addtion this is not only a mission emersion, but a pastoral training that we have to attend meetings each day. This would be difficult if we were spread arround. For the food, our bodies are used to digesting food from the United States, but coming here our bodies have trouble adjusting to the new food diet. Pastor Sammy received it in the spirit of love, which was the spirit it was given in.
I admit, I was a little embarrassed because I just said he was the greatest pastor in the whole program, and I believe he still is, but the pastors although they did not say they were a little challenged by it, they were. I explained to them that to all of us, both the host pastors and the US pastors it is a challenge to us and a opportunity to learn from each other. I have learned so much here and I would not trade this experience for anything.
The second session was a learning experience for a mistake that most people from the USA make including myself. Here is a learning experience were we need to be corrected. One of the host pastors mentioned that people from the US often call themselves Americans. He rightfully felt slighted, as they are just apart of America as we are; as Canadians are as people of Central America & South America. Even in our songs we sing “God Bless America, Land That I Love….” We are not referring to the two continents that hold the name America North & South, we are only referring to ourselves.
We also discussed missions and how we as churches can do better in this Area. We discussed the difference between evangelism and missions. Most of the time they go hand in hand; but there are times you will do mission work providing humanitarian relief to the marginalized and never have the opportunity to offer Jesus, besides letting your light shine. There are also times where you can have an evangelistic work to those that have plenty, but need the gospel in their lives.
I have to go now, but I will log later tonight.
October 15, 2006 5:15 AM Please accept my apologies for not writing to you sooner. The days have been long and I have not had much of a chance to sit down. All I can say is the anointing of God has been moving. So far this week at Elim Pentecostal in Tamiri, Guyana 56 people have given their lives to Jesus. The people have grown spiritual and we have also have been able to impact the technological and organizational development of the church.
Before I get into some of the spiritual things that have happened to both me and the people, I have to get Marina (the pastor’s daughter) back for calling me Elvis, ok Keith really started it on the way back from Thursday nights service. Someone in the car was talking to me, but I was so tired I dosed off in the middle of the conversation. They called me Elvis because I left the building. If you are from Ardmore you may remember day camp when I imitated Elvis at age 6. “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog. OK now to spread it on the world wide web, I have nick named Marina “Giggles” because she laughs at everything, even my boring jokes.
I do want to say that since I know Marina is reading this, she is a very bright mature young lady with a lot of potential. You can accomplish anything you want to do in life. You have become a God Daughter to me, and this is special, because there is something special about you. Reach and aim as high as you can.
To Mike Jr. I am real proud of both you and your sister how you respect your parents. I am also impressed with your commitments to serve the Lord, keep it up but since you are grown I can’t take you as son, but a younger brother. To your mom & dad thank you for all your hospitality and kindness to me this week. Sis. Sammy, be sure to keep your husband in check like I know you can, and when he slips up and says something embarrassing, and you happen to have a ice cream cone, just stick the ice cream in his ear.
To the church at Guyana, these things I write unto you; “Continue in the things which you have learned of me” this week, and let the power of God flow through you like a hose. Although I will not be with you any longer in body after today, I will always be in your hearts.
Now lets get back to the last couple of days. I would like to talk about our process groups first. In discussing our experiences, one thing that the US pastors have noticed is that the young people in service don’t have to pee. They can go for 4 hours straight and never have to go to the bathroom, I will never understand why the young people at our local churches pee so much. It is almost every 20 min they will get up and go to the bathroom.
It shows the dedication of the young people in Guyana for the cause of Christ. I think we have too many distractions in the US. In Guyana, they do not have one Movie Theater, not a bowling ally, roller rink or anything.
The activity that is attractive is come to church. Don’t get me wrong, they have their issues as well, but when they are in church they really want to be there and are committed to worshiping the Lord.
The other thing we noticed is that the younger children sit in the front of the church, and as they get older they move a little back, but not too far. Beside the worship team, the older believers sit towards to back. In our churches in the US we reserve the front pews for the deacons, trustees, and impotent, I mean important people. Prophetic word to our churches, kick the deacons off the front pew, clear the dignitaries out of the front and bring our young people to the front and make them the priority of our churches. If they feel they are valuable and important to the work of Christ then they will start acting like it. It won’t happen over night, but I have seen the results of these strategies and I like what I see.
I will get to this weeks worship experiences in a moment, but on Friday we had the chance to serve the people at a Nursing Home In Guyana. The conditions were fair in their eyes, but far below reasonable standards in the US. There were about 15 residents there as far as we saw. It was a good thing we came that day. There was a church that was supposed to bring them lunch, but did not show up. Some of the members of the team went out to get some of the food for them, while the ones who left behind held a worship service. I gave the afternoon message on the “The Love Of God” I feel that God scheduled us there for a purpose because if we had not come the people would not have eaten.
Lets talk about our worship experiences at Elim. On Wed. 16 People came to Jesus, Thurs 18, and Friday another 16, in addition to those that came on Sun & Tues brought the total to 56. Beyond souls being saved, the music was off the chain, the anointing that I experienced and the people experienced in these services was nothing I have ever seen in 18 years of ministry.
Every service was anointed and the presence of God fell; people were continuously going out under the anointing. On Friday night something else happened. After I preached, I did my evening alter call for prayer and again people went out under they anointing and the spirit of God rested on all who were there. After this, I called for those that wanted to give their lives to Jesus and 16 more came to the Lord as I stated before, but then the presence of God was increasing in the sanctuary where we were and even the new believers fell out under the anointing.
Just then the room was saturated with the presence of God, the church was already filled with people and more people were sitting on the lawn outside the front door and the side doors were open as well with people sitting there to hear the worship. I asked everyone to come from outside and squeeze in the sanctuary. I asked everyone to stand and lift their hands unto the Lord. As I lifted my hands and pushed them forward over the congregation; I told them to receive the anointing of the holy spirit; and the anointing fell on all of them and most of the people in the congregation fell out in the spirit. This started about 9:30 and continued till 11:30. The choir was singing on the stage and they fell out under the anointing. Mics hit the floor one after the other and the keyboard discontinued bringing forth sound because the Musician was out too. During these 2 hours we did not have any music, no one was speaking and I continued to wave my hand over the congregation, and as I waived my hands the spirit of God’s hand followed and the people were being touched by the presence of the most high. Many were laughing in the spirit and the joy of the Lord was on them.
There was one young man that came up to the alter with his hat cocked to the side, he thought he was cool. I took his hat and put it on my head cocked to the side like he had it. Touched him with the tip of my finger and he was on the floor; Cool guy under the anointing.
All during this 2 hours, so many things happened and the evidence of God’s presence was made manifest. People were laughing in a holy laughter, while the joy of the Lord surrounded them.
I was humbled by the fact that God used me; he let me know, he was just waiting for me to yield to him so he could work though me. He then made me comfortable so I could effectively minister to the young people there. I know the people of Guyana have received something from me being here, but I am bringing back a new and fresh anointing on my life to minister in a greater way to the poor and to people around the world.
Saturday we had baptism. Pastor Sammy was a little late picking me up and I wasn’t sure if our communication was off, so I caught a cab to make sure I got there in time. We started service and Pastor Morris read the scripture and I had Pastor KZ from Cincinnati preach (I needed a break). I had one more alter call with the group and again the anointing fell on them. I am getting use to his presence being on me. I am not worthy of his anointing so I am honored that he would use me for his purpose. Now his presence has always been there, but it has been just more amazing than I have ever seen this week and I am looking forward to see what God has for me when I return to the states.
We only baptized 4 of the 56 on Sat, since most of the people work on Sat. The rest we will baptize either today, or the pastor will work on them after I leave. It was just was good to be in the moving stream of water and baptize people the old fashion way. After the baptism, then came the fun. The creek we were in was about 8 feet deep in some places, about 4 ft where we were baptizing. The young people began to do back flips and dives into the creak. Ok I am a big kid at heart and I took the cannon ball rout. Pastor Sammy sent one of his young people in first to do it to make sure the water was deep enough where I was jumping. I guess he figured if someone was going to get hurt it wasn’t going to be me.
Next we went to my favorite eating-place in the country, Churches Chicken, and then headed to the sea wall, by the Atlantic to eat and to talk. I talked to Pastor Sammy about some goals for the church in the area’s of Administration. They later dropped me back off. I had about 5 pieces of chicken left so I grabbed one of the fellow pastors and a bag of drinks that I had in the room; We headed outside to pass them out to a few of the homeless who laid on the cement benches across from the hotel.
October 16, 2006 4:45 AM Yesterday was the last day I had with my host church before we relocate to Mainstay in the bush. Right now we are in Georgetown and serving the surrounding towns. We actually have to leave in an hour so I will make this quick. I knew this was going to be hard day. KZ said something to me yesterday, can’t remember if I already wrote it but he said “your church really loves you.” It was real strange, but in one week I had grown to love a people and they have grown to love me.
Sunday morning was very emotional. The young people of Elim were not having it; the fact that I was leaving was hard for all of us.
I began my day at 2:00 AM by writing my morning message. After later getting dressed I went to the lobby and talked to a few of the pastors from the US. As I arrived at church, I was greeted with so much love, almost as if it was a party for a sailor who was going off to sea, being unsure of his return. They were all dressed in their best honoring me for being there.
We started prayer off at 10:30 and we ended about 10:50. Now they normally end prayer at 11:00, but today there was a special call we needed to make. I stood in the pulpit and called Chosen 300 Ministries Sunday Worship, they were just ending worship and people had just come to know Jesus. My wife hooked the sound system up so the congregation in Philadelphia could hear the congregation in Guyana.
I began by greeting our congregation letting them know it was their Pastor calling all the way from Tamiri Guyana, South America. I then engaged the people that came to Christ in Philadelphia in the sinner’s prayer. The Guyana congregation rejoiced at the souls coming to the Lord in the US. After this Marina gave a greeting on behalf of the people of Guyana. I then got back on the line and had both congregations stand. I told Byron to hold his hands over the congregation in Philadelphia as I held mine over the congregation in Guyana and we prayed for the people. Then we joined together in a United Praise; Guyana & Philadelphia worshiping the Lord together and God was praised on 2 continents at the same time.
After ending the call the young people began to sing songs unto the Lord and the worship of the Lord was so high. I cried unto the Lord with a shout from my soul and the Lord heard my praise. It was a high time of worship. Then 2 of the young people did a interpretive dance. I was already emotional and then they brought me gifts. First a pendent of the Map of Guyana, and my wife a pair of earrings (Ok I looked). I was trying to hang in there and then Marina came up to present one of these gifts. All I heard was Pastor Brian and I was no more. I actually had to turn my back because I was so filled up. The people of Guyana have found a deep place in my heart and the congregation of the Elim Pentecostal Church have signed their name across my heart.
When I went up to preach, I began by sharing the gifts that my wife shipped from Philadelphia. And then I proceeded with my sermon from John the 13 Chapter; 31st to the 34th Verses. As I read the scripture and even now as I am typing this, tears are filling my eyes and my heart is swelling up from trying to hold them back. As I got to the 33rd vs. and read “Little Children yet a little while I am with you Ye shall see me and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye can not come, so now I say unto you.”; my heart continue to swell. My topic this morning was “I have to go now”.
I soon adjusted and focused on my need to minister to them as I saw tears fall from the cheeks of the young people. I don’t know how it happened but we have a love bond that will last a lifetime. I began to contrast and compare the need for Christ to be glorified for the purpose of his spirit to be released on the earth, I explained to them if I stayed in Guyana, that my purpose that is for my life could not be fulfilled. Although it hurts sometime we need to let go for the purpose of the kingdom. As I explained the 33rd vs. I told them as Christ told his disciples, “you cannot come with me”. (I had to throw a joke in there that the only one could come is Marina, since she is convinced she can fit in my suitcase.) But the need is that they stay in Guyana is because people need Jesus in Guyana. I can’t stay, but they can take the things which I have taught and share them with Guyana, South America and around the world. Being ambassadors for Jesus Christ in their land.
I have to stop for a moment to tell you that we are going over a bridge right now, but the bridge is popping as we go across. If I don’t finish this it means we fell in.
Ok back to the service. I continued with vs. 34, with a new commandment that you love one another even as I have loved you. I explained that the expectancy of Christ is that with the same love, forgiveness, compassion that Christ has towards us is the compassion that we should have towards each other.
As I ended the sermon, the presence of the Lord fell on me and I welcomed them one last time to come to the alter, and the presence of the Lord was released on the people and they fell over under the anointing in packs. I know it this sounds like this was a repeated event, but each day I believe the Lord was giving them a little bit more and something different.
After service all the people of the congregation embraced me one after the other. We later went outside and 4 of the young men lifted me up high holding my legs to get a picture in front of the church. I know I do all my work through the spirit of God, but it was as if I became a hero to them. Pastor Sammy told me that the congregation was suffering before I came, and the word of the Lord through me has restored them and increased their number by at least 50%.
The young ladies came and surrounded me from the youngest to the oldest as if I had become their big brother.
Next one of the older women of the church came to me, took a gold ring off her finger and put it on mine. To you it may not sound like much, but to a people who don’t have a lot of anything, this meant the world to me. I thought it would be hard for me to receive, but it wasn’t. I knew she had a need to give something to me and this time it was my job to just bless her by receiving what she wanted to give. I also was willing to receive it as well because it allowed me to take a part of them with me.
A little while later the pastor asked me about what my procedure was on baptism and communion if 2 people are living together unmarried. So I responded with another question, what is your procedure on baptism if someone is smoking cigarettes? The answer is we baptize them, we serve them communion as long as they have accepted Jesus as their savior. The reality is that we all struggle with something, especially when we come to Christ, but we baptize and serve communion based on the righteousness that was given to us, not the righteousness of our ways. Because if that was the case none of us could be ever baptized or take the Lord’s Supper. He never saw things in that perspective before. I did mention that although we don’t want to restrict these services you still need to counsel them and to see how you can help to get them to a point of holy living; realizing that each day we are all trying to get to a level of holiness, yet there is always improvement for all of us no matter where we are.
The praise team continued to sing inside the church. We then traveled to a Chinese restaurant, and it wasn’t too bad. Along with Pastor Sammy and his family, there were 3 sisters from the church that came along with us. 2 of the 3 had given me these hand made bracelets that they had done themselves. One says. FGS, I BELIVE IN YOU. FGS means for Father God Says. The other says Jesus Loves you. I have been wearing them each night to the crusade since I had them, even though they may not match my clothing, the match the warmness I feel when I think of the church. Even though I left that area in Guyana I still have them on because they make me feel like I am still there. I am not sure when I will be able to take them off. So if I am preaching one day and I have multi colored bracelets on it is because I am still struggling with having to leave Guyana.
During dinner, we had a time to share. Each night I always asked the pastor, was their anything that I could have done better, or was their something I said that may have crossed the line culturally or socially. They said the only think that they don’t like is that I have to leave. So I jokingly asked them, did they listen to the message this morning.
I also learned about the tragedy of the educational system of Guyana. One of the sisters was just 15 years old and was already out of school. Apparently you are required to go to school till 13, and after that it becomes somewhat of a privilege and not a right. I continued to ask the other sisters what were the goals and aspirations. What were they doing? And it is almost a sign of hopelessness came to their eyes. They were all bright girls with potential, but even the 20 year old and the 23 year old did not have a dream for themselves. The 14 year old (almost 15) does like to design clothes and to sew.
I realized then, I have done a lot to help them this week, but it will take more than a week to redirect their energies to a place of hope and confidence in themselves. I think of the homeless people I serve in Philadelphia and how far they have come, so many have worked their way out of their situation because they were offered hope and there was hope available. With a government that is ineffective and not equip to provide the services it needs for it’s people, including education for everyone, and opportunity to progress and a healthy economic environment, hope is there but it is slim.
I think I am about done for now, but there is a song that the Children sang this week that keeps ringing in my ears. Rise up and praise him, ye joyful lands, rise up and praise him, worship the holy one, with all your heart, with all your soul with all your might. Rise up and praise him.
Oct 16, 2006 8:00 AM I mentioned earlier about the death trap bridge we went across, but let me jump back. Although we have not left Guyana, my heart is still weeping, knowing that my last day with the congregation at Elim has past. As I set on the step this morning going over the memories of this week in the blog, my tears continued to fall. I weep because they are now close to my heart, but I also see their struggle.
We were discussing in our process group the other day that Guyana is never brought up in the news and to be honest I did not know it actually existed. I though Ghana (Africa) and Guyana (South America) was the same place. Just a thought how we only see what the media wants us to see.
When it was time to leave the hotel this morning we were all given a bag of food which contained our breakfast, something to drink and some snacks. I was really too upset to eat, so I saw some homeless people across the street. This was my chance; I took the food across the street to serve one of them. Soon after that, the pastors on the bus began passing their bags out the window for me to continue to help the others. I mentioned before I did not know how I was going to do it, but I knew the Lord would make a way for me to help.
October 16, 2006 9:00 AM We just got off the boats to take us to our next destination. So you know, we were first in Georgetown Guyana and served the city of Georgetown and surrounding villages. Our next stop is Mainstay, Guyana. We took the bus to the river and then on to wooden speed boats for a 45 min high-speed boat ride down the Esequibo River. It was just like riding in a big wooden jet ski. To my wife Shandai she could not have done this trip, and Byron would probably been a big chicken too.
We now are in a cab to Mainstay. This week should be a little easier. We have some work to do, but we are serving the churches here in teams instead of each person or two people having a church. I pulled out my laptop and begin listing to the songs of the Elim Choir. Tears begin to flow, one the songs were so anointed yesterday, and yes because I miss them a lot already and I have not even left the country.
October 16, 2006 11:00 AM We just arrived at Mainstay, Although I am part of the Group, Pastor Sammy knew the manager who pulled my name out and put me in a private room. I did not mind having a roommate, but I needed some rest, and Harry is a nice guy till he goes to sleep, then he grunts, talks and snores. Some of the guys asked me how did I get a private room. I told them favor aint fair.
I talked to Shandai just a moment ago and told her I miss her and the boys, but I also miss my new found family at the Elim Church and the tears keep on flowing. What did they do to me?
I called The Sammy’s to thank them and for calling in a favor for me. Everyone say a special prayer for Terry at Mainstay for being nice to me and taking good care of me. Right now, I am taking a nap because I am exhausted.
Oct 16, 2006 11:10 PM At 4:00 we left for one of the churches. In order to get there we had an hour bus ride, then we got into a speedboat and traveled to a one-room church. The church is used for both a school for small children during the day and a church at night and on Sundays. Vincent spoke tonight. Thank God I had a break. They were asking for volunteers and I know a lot of us have zeal for the Lord, but I worked hard last week so I am happy to give someone else a chance. I received a few calls from the young people of Elim today. First it was the 3 sisters (you know the ones that made me the bracelets) there are actually 8 of them, but when they passed the phone to the third one I told them to let the whole house know I miss them and love them too, but it did my heart good to hear from them. I was having a rough day thinking of all the people of the church.
Service was over about 8:00 PM and we exited the church into the pitch black. We added some extra deet spray to our clothes and body. I was smart on the way back and sat in the back of the boat. On the way there I was getting hit with bugs like a windshield of a car driving down the expressway. As we drifted away from the dock we looked up in the sky and the stars were beyond counting. What the country lacks in resources God has blessed them with beauty.
After arriving back at the dock, we went on the bus ride from hell. It was long, dark and boiling hot. As we entered the gate there were cries of thank you Jesus from the other pastors on board. I had missed a call and I dialed back and it was the Sammys. Pastor Sammy wanted to make sure that I was ok and that Terry had taken care of me. I think they just miss me, and I miss them too. I am looking forward to seeing them one last time before I leave on Thursday. For those who read this blog on a daily basis, Internet service is not very reliable here, and it is even worse in the bush. I will update as much as I can.
Oct. 20, 2006 11:00 AM I am currently on my return flight from Guyana that was a little delayed. I am sitting next to Stacey on the plane. Stacy is a stewardess on the airline, but she is traveling on vacation this week. She caught me by surprise when one of her co-workers past by (This is before I knew she worked for the airline) She reached over me and hit her in the buttocks. The other girl turned around, and I knew I was about to get smacked. So I pointed my finger to Stacy and I am so glad she knew her.
Anyway it has been a few days since I have written you so let me so let me jump back to give you a update. Tues was a little relaxed. We had our regular process group in the morning, and then our evening service was held at the resort. Sorry but no volunteering from me. I was burned out from the previous week. I had listened to the CD several times to try to see if missing the Elim Church was just a phase, but it wasn’t, somehow I got real attached.
Wednesday was torture; we had what was called a day of silence. 12 hours of no talking. Now anyone that knows me, realizes that this is almost impossible, I made it through, but it was a rejoicing moment when I could open my mouth again. Some of the other pastors got a little more out of it than I did. For me, doing the mission work kept me distracted, but as soon as I had idol time, I began to think about my family and how much I miss them, and my Sealy mattress. I knew Thursday was coming and I would be headed back to Georgetown.
On Thursday we left out at 6:00 AM to go on a 1hr bus ride to the dock, a 1 hour boat ride to the dock near Georgetown and then another 40 min ride back to Georgetown. Thurs was a rest day and we just had a debriefing and a service at night. I was glad I had the day free again. I really had a need to see the Sammy’s one more time before I left.
I stopped to pick up some additional Chosen 300 bracelets I had ordered and stopped at one additional store with Pastor Booker. There was homeless man that approached me. He did not want anything, but just to thank me for giving him breakfast earlier in the week. This really did my heart good. Just the fact that he remembered me.
The Sammy’s picked me up around 12:30 and took me out to another good old American fast food place for lunch; “Poppies” I did not know they had one of these. We then went to the park and I had some more time to talk to Pastor Sammy about church administration. He was showing me some of his records as if he had to validate what he was doing, which is good he had them, but he did not have to feel obligated to do that. I really just felt lead of the Lord to bless his church. They have a lot of potential and just need some administrative training and tools to give them a boost to move forward.
While talking to Pastor Sammy, Marina and her mom were off to the side playing a one on one game of Cricket. The Sport of Choice around here. The staff at the hotel were freaking out over the game on TV Wed night, and I had no clue what they were cheering about. Anyway, Marina & her moms toys of choice was a stick that they found in the park and a aluminum can. It is kind of like when we used to play stickball in the park with a broom handle and a tennis ball cut in half.
Afterwards we drove to Pastor Sammy’s house. I know this was supposed to me my day off, but I wanted to equip them with much as I could before I left. I trained Mike Jr & Marina, his daughter on Quicken and Easy Worship, 2 computer programs we use at Chosen 300. Like young people in United States, they are more literate in computers than their parents. Quicken for tracking finances of the Church and Easy Worship for presentation screens for worship. The $1100 we gave them will help go towards purchasing a new computer for the church and next year as soon as we clear it in the budget, I want to help them with getting a projector. They cannot afford hymnals or music books, so this will help for the congregation to better participate in worship, similar to what we do at Chosen 300.
I was really impressed how fast the pastor’s children picked up the program and were able to run with it. These two are some really bright young people. I still struggle with their limited educational opportunities and I am not sure what I can do to help. I am praying for a miracle for them in this area, and not only for them but for the children of the nation of Guyana.
After this we had to head out due to a debriefing meeting we had at the Hotel Tower. The question for the debriefing is how to we feel about going home. My answer was good and bad. I am really happy to be able to get to my wife and kids and even now as we are about to land in Miami, having one more flight to go, I look forward to seeing the smile on the faces of Shandai, David & Jonathan. I know this was a big challenge especially for my boys because they have never been without me this long. By the way it is their B-Day today, so it is a good day to come home. The other side I am going to miss Pastor Sammy, his family and the young people at Elim who have found a special place in my heart.
Anyway after the debriefing we went to the final convocation. I was beat tired and I know it almost sounds bad, but I did not want to be in church, plus the service was nothing compared to Elim. People were not falling out in the spirit they were falling asleep including me.
After service, I went back to the Sammy’s house. We watched TV, told some jokes and just had a good time sharing with one another. I never spent this much time with a pastor and their family after a revival or crusade; but they were really special and I will always remember them. To each of them I say not good bye, but see you later.
Marina had a bracelet made for me that says God Dad. I think she had to beat out the other young people from the church who had made me bracelets earlier.
Part of departure is determining have we let our emotions get in the way of our decisions, and is what we are feeling permanent or temporary. Anyone that knows me once I start something I can’t stop. I pray that God will give us the strength and resources to continue to be a support in some way to Pastor Sammy, the Elim Pentecostal Church and the people of Guyana.
One thing that I was discussing with one of the other pastors is that Guyana was not as bad as I expected, but it is the worse poverty I have ever seen. Over the next 2 years I have to go to Jamaica, and Zimbabwe. As I go through these experiences I am happy to share them with you. I intend to get back to Guyana in between these trips.
This is a learning experience for me, and I am taking each mission step by step, I learned a lot on this trip and I think I got more out of it than I have the people I served.
A special thank you to Pastor & Mrs. Michael Sammy for inviting me into their church, their lives and their family. Thank you to Mike Jr & Marina for working with their parents to take good care of me, especially for the 2 Sprites each night to cool me down from the burning hot South American Climate, and for serving at the church each night during the crusade.
A thank you to Dr. David E. Goatley of Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention; the Lilly Endowment Inc.; Zion Baptist Church Of Ambler and all the staff & supporters of Chosen 300 Ministries Inc. A most gracious thank you to my wife Shandai who tolerated the process of the emersion prior to, durring & even after.