Posts Tagged ‘greg huffer’

I Have What I Have, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 8, 2010

I recently took a small team of men scouting out Back2Back for future mission trips to Cadereyta, a large impoverished community that we serve.  We have come alongside Pastor Jose Angel in this community, as his vision is to be a light in this neighborhood and reach these people with the light of Jesus Christ.  For the past three years, we have been helping Pastor Jose Angel to build a church and community center in the area.

Pastor Jose Angel

As Pastor Jose Angel shared his vision and story with the men, he recalled days when the church construction was just getting under way.  He said he received many confusing and doubtful looks and comments of ridicule for what he was trying to build.

You see, the church is different from all of the other buildings in the community.  First of all, it is on two plots of land, rather than just one, so it is twice the size of the surrounding buildings.  Secondly, his vision was to build a second story with housing above the church for he and his family to live in the area where they minister.  So, the footers and beams that we made were quite larger and stronger than what most other people were building for their own homes.  Most people thought that the pastor was nuts.

They would say, “What do you think you are doing trying to build something that big?! You’ll never be able to finish it- you’ll run out of money.”  But Pastor Jose Angel didn’t let these taunts stop him.

In fact, many people thought that he had a lot of money to be able to undertake such a large and costly project.  He simply replied to such criticism, “No, I am not rich.  But I have what I have and what I have is God.”

Pastor Jose Angel has a good understanding of what is happening in Cadereyta and the rest of the places that Back2Back works.  The pastor is not responsible for the church building that has been developed for three plus years now.  God is.  God is behind, in and through everything that we do at Back2Back.  He receives all of the praise for everything that has happened here since Todd and Beth Guckenberger moved to Monterrey some thirteen years ago.

As we look to the future and see new construction sites and projects, new ministry areas, new challenges that will rise before us, we realize that we are not rich.  We do not have unlimited resources.  We are not special people.  But we do have God and that is enough.

 

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Children of the Kingdom, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 3, 2010

In this time of year, things move a little slower in Mexico.  The hustle and bustle of over 700 guests in Monterrey for Back2Back summer mission trips is over and the pace of life once again becomes more manageable.

I am the captain for Manantial de Amor, one of the children’s homes that Back2Back serves in Monterrey.  I love visiting these children during these slower times.  I find that without having to manage groups and projects, I am able to give the children more of my time and focus when I am there.

Recently, I’ve found myself just sitting and watching these kids, these precious children.  I get caught up in pondering their ‘miracle-ness,’ if I may create a word.  Each one of these little children is just absolutely adorable, beautiful and precious to our heavenly Father.

I think that God is having me consider what it is about them that he finds so valuable.  Let me explain.

Each day our children do devotions where they study the Bible and pray a bit.  At dinner time, I ask the boys to share what they studied.  One of my boys shared how he had read Matthew 19:14.  This is where Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children from getting to Jesus in hopes that they might be healed if they were to touch him.  Jesus told the disciples, “Leave the children alone and let them come to me for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Then I recently read a blog entry from Jim Betscher, a fellow Back2Back staff member.  He too referred to the same verse in Matthew and it just happens that it was the exact verse that I planned to hone in on for this blog post.

Lord, what are you trying to say to me?  What is it about children that makes the kingdom of heaven theirs?

Now that I am an adult, now that I am ‘mature’ and ‘have it figured it out’, now that I am wise and learned and have many experiences to guide me in this world, what is it that I have lost from my childhood?  How can I regain the precious state of childlikeness that you so value?

Lord, thank you for these precious children, these 400 or so children of God that we serve here in Mexico.  I know that they are but a drop in the bucket of all the orphans in this world and yet but a drop in the drop in the ocean of all the kids on earth, but they are oh so precious.  Thank you for using them to show me what they have that I do not.

When God Shows Up, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

August 2, 2010

As the staff of Back2Back headed into the summer of 2010, Matt Cooper (a staff member) said, “This is going to be the greatest summer of our lives,” expressing the sentiment of many other staff members, myself included.

Just prior to the summer, a period when we enter into eight solid weeks of crazy, hectic schedules, we had had a staff retreat to fuel our spirits in preparation.  We invited a pastor from the States to come down and lead us in a time of spiritual formation and something tremendous happened amongst and within many of us during that time.

For me, a longtime pastor, in some ways I might say that I found the Lord.  I had known Him for 29 years but during this retreat, the Lord met me in a profoundly new way that has transformed who I am and the way that I will forever do ministry.  Many other staff had equally profound experiences.  For me, the Lord delivered me from a deep depression that I had fallen into for a couple years.  Battling this depression, during that time, my marriage and family suffered, my friendships and ministry relationships suffered and life was just hard and no fun. But God completely and totally healed me and set me free from this debilitating sickness and in the process, showed me new ways that I could expect Him to show up in my life.

As summer began, we as a staff decided that we wanted our mission trip guests that would visit us this summer to have the same opportunity to experience some healing prayer as so many of us had, in hopes that they would have the same kinds of life-changing, faith-changing experiences that we had had. So the decision was made that every Wednesday night we would forgo the normal debrief time (a time when groups gather with a staff member to process what they had experienced that day) to have a time of extended worship and healing prayer. I was asked to share my testimony of what had happened to me to begin each of these nights.

And God has shown up and done some tremendous things.

We have seen people confessing and being set free from many areas of their lives where they had previously been in bondage.  Jesus told us that he came to set us free.  God’s intention is that we do not muddle through life trying to figure out ways to get by and cope with the various areas of bondage and captivity that produce so much suffering in our lives.  God intends for His children to be set free and as He has shown up each Wednesday night, we have seen this beautiful miracle of divine love every time.

Some people have found salvation through Jesus Christ.  Others have identified with my depression and have sought freedom from it as well.  Others have just wanted, like I experienced, a newness in their faith.  And God has shown up.  Let me tell you a little of what I mean when I say that “God showed up”.

I remember one night praying with Tim, a summer staff member.  We had prayed for a few people when we had a bit of a lull.  As worship continues during the prayer time, we each just proceeded to join in the worship.  As we were singing, I felt what I can only describe as a change in the atmosphere around the palapa (the thatched roof structure in which we were worshiping).  It literally took my breath away and I became fully aware that I was feeling the Holy Spirit as he descended upon us.

Within a split second, before I could say anything, Tim turned to me and said, “Ahhh, do you feel that?!”  He was feeling the exact same thing that I was feeling at the exact same moment, in the exact same place.  Why?  Because I believe that God showed up.  And when God shows up, people’s lives are changed.  Each Wednesday night this summer God showed up and each Wednesday night, people’s lives were changed as they met Him and were set free.

Now at the end of summer, I echo the words of Matt Cooper and say that because God showed up, because people’s lives were changed by being set free, and yes, this has been the best summer of our lives.

It Can Be Bitter Cold in God’s Shelter, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 13, 2010

I just posted on my Facebook page (yeah, I do FB!) that it is “cold- not so much outside as inside.”  I just returned from visiting family and friends in Cincinnati where the temperature was in the teens with wind chills at who knows what, but at least in Cincinnati there was good heat inside.  A few minutes by the fireplace with a warm blanket wrapped around my legs and I was snug as a bug in a rug!  Not so here.  We have cinder block buildings and space heaters here and there.  And for someone like me, who always argues with his wife about wanting things cooler inside, I am always a bit surprised that it gets too cold inside our home even for me.

In seasons like this, my thoughts more often than not are about the people in Meme’s Rio or in the Cadereyta (two of the impoverished shanytowns that Back2Back works with).  My mind drifts to the 70% of the population of Mexico that live in poverty.  It considers that the majority of the world lives more like someone at Cadereyta than say someone living in the suburbs of Chicago or Cincinnati (where I grew up).   What do they do on nights like tonight when the temperature is supposed to get down around freezing?  How many blankets can they throw on to keep themselves warm throughout the night?  Do they ever feel snug as a bug in a rug?  Somehow, I doubt it.

The past two winters, I’ve been able to work at Cadereyta with a group of men from Columbus.  Each time we’ve gone, not only has it been cold but it has also been rainy, leaving the dirt roads nothing more than a sloppy mess.  Several times, just walking through the six-inch deep slop, my shoe has almost been pulled from my feet.  As we get on the bus and head to the Back2Back campus and relative warmth, the hour-long bus ride home is often more quiet as we think of the people I am leaving behind in the elements: the little kid with a runny nose and hacking cough or the grandmother who is nothing but skin and bones.  How will they fare over the night as the temperature drops even more?

I think in America we tend to think that because we have warm homes and comfy beds that we are experiencing the shelter of God.  So, if that is true, then what does that say about the people at Meme’s Rio?  Do they experience the shelter of God any less because they have a tin roof over their heads?  Or let’s turn it around.  If the person at Meme’s Rio that is fortunate enough to have a space heater (that runs off pirated electricity) is experiencing God’s shelter, does that mean that we experience it more because we have a thermostat we can set to a comfortable temperature?

I am coming to believe more and more that God’s shelter has little or nothing at all to do with this kind of thing.  I’m not so sure He cares how comfortable I am – He just promises to give me comfort through the Comforter.  I don’t think that God is pulling for me to have lots of money, but He is desperate that I would be rich in faith.

God does bless people materially.  We see that in the Scriptures, but not as much as some people may think or want.  What we see more is the promise that we will struggle and have trouble in this world.  God’s shelter comes to us regardless of where we live, or how we live (economically, comfortably, etc).  God’s shelter is ours because we believe in Him and follow Him and trust HIM- not what He may have given us.

Are we prepared to accept that God’s shelter may not keep us warm?  It may not help me purchase those extra Christmas presents for the kiddos.  It doesn’t mean that I can finally sell that heap of metal I’ve been driving and nursing along for three years and get a new car like the guy across the street.

But it does mean that as I stand on the side of the road because that bucket of bolts has finally died, I have the assurance of knowing that Someone is standing next to me.  It does mean that there may be fewer presents under the tree, but a deeper understanding of Christmas than ever before.  It does mean that there is peace in my heart as my bones shiver when the sun goes down, because the truth of the matter is that sometimes, it can be bitter cold in God’s Shelter.

Redemption, by Cathy Huffer

July 13, 2009

There’s a field on the other side of the street in Rio I.   For the most part, it’s been vacant.  The only sign of life has been the layer of weeds sprouting up.  After the rainy season the ground covering becomes so thick that sexual predators have been known to hide there to prey on children.  The recent hot weather has caused the weeds to become dry and brittle, making them much easier to pull.

A short-term mission team from Cincinnati came up with the idea of converting the land into a soccer field complete with goals.  The group and the local children worked hard side-by-side to clear the field.  After finishing the project, the day ended with a rousing soccer match.  The celebration of their efforts was the culmination of a day of difficult work.  As I watched, I was reminded of the verse at the end of Joshua’s story found in Genesis 50:20.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  While some people had used this field for evil, God will now use it for good.  Praise God for the many ways He chooses to work to display His redemptive power.

The mission team pulling weeds as they prepare the land to be converted to a soccer field

The mission team pulling weeds as they prepare the land to be converted to a soccer field

Excited for his first game on the new soccer field

Excited for his first game on the new soccer field

Two neighborhood boys admiring the new soccer net

Two neighborhood boys admiring the new soccer net