What causes pain?

Pain and suffering are worldwide problems.  What seems to be at the root of most of this suffering?  Human choices!  We want independence.  We want to make our own choices without someone telling us what to do.  But, what’s at the core of that idea…selfishness.  We often don’t stop and consider what our choices mean in the lives of those around us.  Maybe we care a little, but is it enough to stop us from choosing our own way at someone else’s expense?  No!  What we are left with is a trail of destruction and pain in the midst of our choices.  Even the natural disasters we see around us today were born of human decision.  It’s been this way since the beginning of time.  It started in the Garden of Eden.  It wasn’t suppose to be this way.  What we find at the end of our decisions is that we are ultimately powerless to fix the pain we cause.  Some wounds are just too deep to heal.  There are no words to make amends.  Where’s the hope?  If we can’t do it, who can?  Only God can redeem those wounds.  Only God can heal and restore. Today was full of contrasts.  We began by driving up into the mountains.  We visited a man named Gabriel who is married and has seven children with one on the way.  The minute I met him I knew I was going to like him.  His smile was contagious.  When we asked Gabriel and his wife about their children, he immediately named them and told us their ages.  It was apparent he had pride in his family.  Gabriel works hard.  He works in the coffee fields during season.  He makes $7 a day, but typically only finds work two days a week.  In the off season, he finds work in other agricultural jobs.  Even if he doesn’t find work, he stays productive.  His wife was such a sweet woman.  She is learning to weave the traditional clothing.  But, she only makes a few dollars a week.  We asked about food.  They said there a days they only have a tomato and a few tortillas.  But, they are thankful to even have that.  They didn’t complain.  That’s just the circumstance of their lives and they praised God for even providing that.  Could you thank God if your children were hungry many days and didn’t have enough?  I don’t know if I could.

Ten minutes to destruction

The home they lived in belonged to Gabriel’s brother.  This past September during the rains, four of his children were sleeping in bed.  They woke up and went outside to play.  Ten minutes later, their entire house washed away in a mudslide!  In a blink of an eye, he almost lost half of his children.  Were they angry at God?  Did they shake their fist at Him and say “Why?”  No!  They were so grateful to be alive and be together, they simply trusted God would provide an opportunity.

What’s your testimony?

I asked Gabriel about his testimony.  How did he come to know God?  He said he grew up in the evangelical church.  He listened as a young man and knew it was true.  But, when he married his wife, she was not a believer.  Because it was important to her husband, she decided to go as well.  That changed her life forever.  She heard the Word of God and became a believer as well.  Never underestimate your influence in other people’s lives.  We’re not responsible for their decision.  We just have to be faithful to share the truth.  Looking around the room at his children, their choice to follow Jesus had a lasting impact on their kids.

How far do you travel to church?

Why do you go to the church you attend?  Is it because it’s the closest one to your house?  How far would you drive to worship God?  Gabriel, his pregnant wife and seven children walk one hour each way to attend church on Sunday.  And, these roads are not flat.  These are mountain roads.  Not only that, but he and his wife walk to church on Saturday to clean and prepare the church for Sunday?  Be honest, would you walk two hours each week to go to church?  I know for some, driving twenty minutes seems too far!

Education matters

We finished up by asking them who could read.  The mom and two children said they could read.  Two of the children have finished sixth grade, but have stopped going.  Why?  There literally is not a secondary school within two hours for them to attend.  The expectation in this area is that no one advances past sixth grade.  But, at least they can learn to read during that time.  I asked if they had a Bible.  They said yes.  The mom reads the Bible to her children.  I encouraged them to practice reading the Bible to each other.  The truth from God came down into the written word in the Bible.  The mom reads with her mouth, the children hear with their ears, acknowledge with their minds and it goes deep into their hearts where God does His work.  Education is important to learn and grow.  I’m praying about what ways we might be able to help this family learn.

House of light

Ultimately, our visit to them was one of encouragement.  These people love the Lord.  They see that all good things come from Him.  They could easily look at the circumstances of their lives and be bitter.  They could question God’s goodness and live a life of discontent.  They have chosen differently.  Why?  Because God has redeemed their hearts, and they have chosen to live for Him.  People make choices…God redeems.  I told them their house is full of light.  It was obvious they had the joy of the Lord in their hearts.  Matt talked about the fruits of the Spirit in our devotion.  Here we are two hours later seeing a living example of this truth. I was so encouraged by Gabriel.  On the way out, he approached Ben to ask if he could help his family get a bathroom.  Right now, all of his children (including his teenage daughter) must go to the bathroom and shower out in the open.  Ben said he would pray about it and see what he can do.  I know what can be done.  People reading this blog post can solve this dad’s heartfelt need.  It costs $720 for an outhouse, with a toilet and enclosed area with a door to have privacy.  They have the space.  We just need to find the money.  They need a house of their own.  But, for now, a bathroom would be good.  Can you help?  Remember, we all have choices.

Complete contrast

Our next visit was the complete opposite of our first.  From the moment we arrived, there was a physical darkness, and spiritual hardness and struggle.  The household included the grandmother and estranged grandfather.  They had two older daughters who each had children.  I say estranged, because at some point in the past, the grandfather made a choice that devastated his wife.  All these years later, in her own words, “she is unable to forgive him”.  The problem is, she has grown distant from God because of it.  She said she knows that since she won’t forgive her husband, that God will probably not forgive her.  I have no idea what this man did to hurt his family, but his choice has left scars too deep to heal.  His wife’s pride is leaving wounds too deep for the family to move on.

The story gets worse

One of their daughters was married.  They had a son.  Her husband died from COVID during the pandemic.  This left her asking “why?”  Why would God allow this?  Isn’t He good?  Doesn’t He love me?  Unfortunately, because her mom is in such a hardened position, asking many of the same questions, there was no place for her questions to be answered.  Her sister had a husband and son.  Her husband abandoned the family at some point in the past.  This devastated her heart.  Just like her sister, the only person she could turn to for answers was her mom.  This household is in a spiritual struggle that is waging war for their souls.  They cannot see a way out of their pain and heartache.

What’s the hope?

Ben explained the hope for this family starts with forgiveness.  He spoke to them about how God does love them.  That even though answers to their questions may not be seen in this life, that God can and does work all things together for those who love Him.  As Ben talked, the woman who lost her husband to COVID began to soften.  Also, the grandmother began to soften as well, even asking us to pray for her.  She got down on her knees on the dirt floor of their house and allowed us to pray over her.  Hard ground begins to soften with rain.  It allows the soil to be tilled and be prepared for the seed to be planted.  It’s God who plants it.  It’s God who waters it.  It’s God who makes it grow.  How about you?  Is your heart hardened toward God?  Are you blaming Him for some circumstance in your life?  God is not afraid of your questions.  He welcomes them.  But, to have ultimate freedom in this life, you must choose to give your heart, life, will and soul to His strong hands.  He can redeem any circumstance.  He can heal any wounds.  How can He do this?  Because He has scars on His hands that are from the sacrifice He made for you and me.  He died on the cross of His own free will.  He chose to die.  When He rose again from the grave, He defeated death and now has the authority to redeem you and anything you can experience in this world.  But, will you choose to do it?  I’m praying you do.


At both of these homes we installed ONIL stoves.  People burn open fires in their homes.  All of our lungs were being filled with smoke and ash as we stood there.  Imagine breathing that every day of your life.  In a very short time, we got rid of their old stoves and gave them one that will last for years.  Each stove costs $220.  Such a small price to change people’s quality of life.  I truly appreciate all of the guys getting dirty and working hard. Tomorrow is wheelchair distribution day.  Fifty people will receive the gift of mobility.  I can’t wait get to Chichicastenango.

Dave’s Poems

Nothing here is shiny and new Everywhere you look Things are being repurposed But in the dents, dings, and dust Resolve, survival,and stoic There resides nothing short of heroic Walk this life Through eyes of a missionary For a few days And you’ll see that you have to eat You have to smile Lead, follow Translate, And plan ahead One thing that a Christian Is never tempted to do is Is repurpose the cross Into a worldly message Personal gain Or some side agenda Everything And everybody Is a work in progress
In the flea market of souls Jesus Doesn’t see New, well worn, Faded, or torn He’s not looking For hidden treasures Items on their last look leg Or things all used up A Golden chalice Or dented tin cup Won’t ever catch His eye Jesus doesn’t Barter Or horse trade And He’s not looking for the best deal He’s simply looking For you and I

2 thoughts on “People make choices, but God redeems

  1. Pam Kirchem says:

    Wow. So inspiring. I love the second to last picture of the little girl looking up at the mission worker. We’ll never know this side of Heaven how many lives are impacting for the kingdom.

    1. admin says:

      Pam, thank you for your insight. So true about not knowing our impact. I look forward to being in Heaven and seeing so many of the faces we have interacted with. It will certainly be a celebration!

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