Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A couple weekends ago I had the privilege of sharing a pivotal moment in my life with our fellow believers at Pathway Community Church. It was Missions Weekend at church and I was asked to share how God has changed my life through short-term missions. I want to share the story with you too...
I want to tell you about a place that is very special to me. It’s called the Hole. Just as the name implies it’s a hole in the middle of Santiago, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. The Hole is a slum that is full of drugs, violence and poverty. In the middle of the Hole is a church that our friends from G.O. Ministries partner with. On my first trip to the Dominican Republic our team was sent to the Hole to conduct a VBS at the church and to feed the kids lunch. We were dropped off at street side and began to make our way down the steep decline to the bottom of the Hole. With every step the smell of sewage became more powerful. But, halfway down some thing amazing happened. Our group was overrun by kids. They came from everywhere. They wanted to climb on us, hold our hands and play games. By the time we got to the church I was carrying two kids and had one more trying to climb on me. These kids who had so little were so excited and happy to see us. Once inside the TINY church (with 60 kids!) we did a simple VBS with songs and fed them lunch. After we finished and the children were all gone, I feel to my knees and began to cry. At that moment God changed my heart. In an instant he changed me from a cynical man that could care less about the plight of the poor or injustice. I was filled with a sense of urgency to live a life of purpose and service. That experience was seven years ago and I have been back every summer since. Four years ago when my family and I moved to Ft. Wayne I presented Pastor Ron and the Missions leadership with the opportunity to take a team to the Dominican. They thought it was a great idea and challenged me to lead the team. I was like whoa…I just want to go, not lead! But God was telling me I was ready. Lydia was able to go with me on Pathway's first trip two years ago and when we got back we both felt God was calling us to do something more than just a one week trip. We committed to praying about God’s plan for our family. God answered our prayers with a clear vision of how we could serve and we have committed to joining our friends at G.O. Ministries full-time. In January I’ll step away from my career at the YMCA, a job I love, it had been my dream job.
The point of my story is this...I had to walk down in a hole with God. I had to smell, touch, and see with my own eyes what’s out there. I had to look at a kid covered in filth who I didn’t want to pick up at first and hold him. In that hole, God changed my heart and my life was changed forever. I believe that God is challenging each and everyone of us to walk into a hole. I encourage you to step outside your box and into the hole where he is calling you.
Posted by The Gard Family at 6:08 PM
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Why join G.O. Ministries? That is another really good question! We have decided to partner with G.O. Ministries because we believe that it where God is calling us:) The longer explanation is that we agree with G.O. Ministries approach to global missions. The core of G.O.'s mission is to partner with Nationals through short-term missions. Basically what that means is that G.O. helps pastors or Christian workers who are serving in their own country by securing resources to allow them to do ministry full-time. G.O. also offers ongoing trainings and practical support for their National partners. The other side of the equation is the Americans who serve on short-term missions trips. G.O. Ministries provides an opportunity for individuals to step outside of their own little world and into the larger world God has created. Perspectives are shifted, hearts are broken and lives are changed on these trips. Derek and I are both living examples of how God can use short-term missions to change who you are and what you are about. We are so excited about the duality of G.O. Ministries...how lives are changed in the United States and across the world through short-term missions.
For more information on G.O. Ministries please click the tab at the top of our blog:)
Posted by The Gard Family at 10:40 PM
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Why go? Why are we going to leave the stability of our current situation to pursue one full of uncertainty? In one word, ADVENTURE. We love adventure! Just kidding:) We want to live a life of adventurous FAITH. So I guess the answer to "why go" is really two words, Adventurous Faith. We love and serve a God who has called us out of our comfort zone and into a life where we have to live fully dependent on him. Six years ago Derek traveled to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip. That ADVENTURE changed him. He came back with the intense desire to live a life of purpose. The seed was also planted in his heart to pursue missions. Four years (and four missions trips)later, in 2008, Derek led a short term missions team from our church in Ft. Wayne. I had the privilege of going along on my first ever missions trip. In 2009 we returned from our second trip together with the feeling that God was calling us to move our family in to the mission field. We committed to praying for one year before making any decisions. During that time of prayer God gave Derek a vision of how our specific talents and abilities could fit in to what G.O. Ministries is doing. When we contacted the leadership of G.O. Ministries it didn't take long to see how God has shaped us to fit into the their ministry family.
So, now our family is "going" to live a life of ADVENTUROUS FAITH.
Posted by The Gard Family at 6:23 PM