Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

A Little Boy and a Multi-Colored Pen, by Hope Maglich

December 1, 2010

A couple weeks ago I was praying before I went out for the day with a team from the States. In my prayer time I poured out the the Lord my desire to connect that day. It is easy for me to get into the “management mode.”  I can direct a group of mission trip guests all day without really connecting with a single child that we are ministering to. It is easy for me to slip into a heart attitude of managing instead of a heart attitude of ministering. That morning I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to submit my day to Him and to live the day conscious of the people he had placed around me.

In the afternoon, we took the group to a children’s home called Del Norte. As the Americans began playing soccer and jump rope with the kids, I noticed a little boy sitting off to the side of the soccer field, head down. I walked over and tried to initiate conversation with him, but he wanted none of me. So I sat down, rubbed his back and watched the soccer match next to him. A few moments later a stray ball beamed the child right in the head. He started wailing! Trying to avoid any more stray balls, I scooped Ricardo up and walked with him around the corner of the children’s home.

If there is one thing I have learned from nannying and having younger siblings it is what my dad calls “the art of distraction”. I knew Ricardo was not seriously hurt, just having a bad day and needed to be distracted from it all. What could I do? I had my backpack with me so for the time being I tried to interest Ricardo in the backpack… What could be inside? Was there something special? Would he like to see? In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Dear Jesus, please let there be something cool in here. I didn’t put anything cool in there this morning… but you do miracles, right?” We opened up the backpack and by the grace of God found one of those multi-colored pens, the kind that has the little tabs at the top that you can push down to change the color. Ricardo was fascinated!

Ricardo with his pen

Soon Ricardo had colored up nearly ten pages in a notebook I had! I began to see how creative this little boy was. Ricardo is about four years old. He has some developmental problems that affect his speech and his attention; however his creativity is out of this world. I wish I could show you the pictures that he drew! There were houses, pools, and, my favorite, a shark. Soon Ricardo found a jump rope one of the others had discarded. In moments we were rock stars singing into the handle as a microphone. Bored with the pages he had colored, and the “microphone” Ricardo, and another boy who had joined us, began making different styles of paper planes… super creative and super fun!

In no time, I realized that we had been there playing together for well over an hour. Ricardo was happy, as were the other children who had gathered around us. I was thankful that we had enough staff working that day that I could sit down and love on this little boy who was having a bad day. How many bad days go by for Ricardo, in which there is no one to sit down with and pull pens out of backpacks, color pictures of sharks, or sing into jump ropes? I was privileged to be Christ’s hands and feet to this little four-year old that day, to show him that he mattered and that he was worth investing in. I was also thankful for the Holy Spirit’s prompting that morning to keep my eyes open for how He wanted to use me.  Never had I thought it would be through a little boy and a multi-colored pen.

With Ricardo

 

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A Lover of God Who Sometimes Ministers to the Poor, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 28, 2010

The title of this blog post is the title that I want over my life.  Recently, a few of us Back2Back staff women had an evening of prayer and worship. I was feeling disconnected from the Lord, burdened by the work I had to do, and overwhelmed by problems in the areas where I minister.  In the midst of one of the worship songs, I had the sudden feeling that the Lord was trying to speak to me.   I was overwhelmed with a sense of the Holy Spirit and in my heart I heard His kind voice say, “Your relationship with Me is more important than your ministry.”  Those words echoed off the walls of my heart.

He wants me, more than He wants my work for Him. He desires relationship with me more than He desires that I serve in the Rio, teach at Back2Back’s missionary kids school (SMCA), or organize prayer meetings. In the grand scheme, these things don’t matter. It is me (and you) that He finds most important.  He wants us to be lovers of Him first and foremost. He desires that we be defined by our relationship with Him first, then by whatever else it is we do.  That is the priority order. Him first.

I want to love God more! I want to be so consumed with His love for me that I am compelled to share it with others through my actions and words! Not to share His love from duty, but from the overflow of a vibrant relationship with Him.

Oh, Lord woo our hearts! Change our perspectives and our priorities. Show your Bride that you love her first. That You desire for her to be defined by Your love for her.

Who am I? I am my Beloved’s. What do I do? I love God…and occasionally minister to the poor.

Connections, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 16, 2009

Many of you know our car was broken into on a recent trip back home for a furlough this summer.  As we were retrieving a police report,  I found myself caught in a sea of people at the Shelby County Jail.  We were checked, had to walk through three metal detectors, and even had a temporary photo ID made. It was a very new experience to me.

It got me wondering about the families that come here regularly to visit loved ones.  It got me thinking of the way of life of those who for whatever reason find themselves in a life of crime.  Then God brought my thinking to him, or her, or they – whoever it was that stole our things.  I wondered what their life was like.  What was it like for their family?  I realized whether I liked it or not, I was connected to this person.  God had me “walking in their shoes” for a bit that morning.  I found my anger melting away.  I found myself with mercy and concern.

God connects us for all kinds of reasons.  God has created us to relate to one another and He allows things to happen that connect us.  Some connections are simple and strong, like the connection that is made between a baby and its mother or father.  Or connections that little kids make over a ball or game.  Maybe it’s a quick connection, like the ones that happen daily during normal interactions.  The kid that sells you your Starbucks coffee, or the guy who helps you know when a cantaloupe is ripe at the grocery store.  And even sometimes he connects us to those who we would never pick to connect.  I have found God bring to mind this person more than a few times to pray for them.  He has me thinking about the other connections He has for me and wondering if He wants more from me through these connections.

What about you?  Are you seeking what God would have for you through your connections in your life?

Connecting with students during a pool party celebration that Back2Back hosted for the children we serve

Connecting with children we serve during a pool party celebration that Back2Back hosted

Pleading for Prayer, by Cathy Huffer

September 14, 2009

Meet baby Melissa.

Baby Melissa

She is two months old and yet her due date has not yet passed.  She was born prematurely at six months.  Janet, her mom, was experiencing a normal pregnancy until at a routine doctor’s visit she learned she was losing fluid.  The doctor advised her to admit herself into the hospital so they could monitor her.  She chose to stay home because of the cost.  Four days later, Janet woke up with blood on her sheets and a puddle on the floor.  Scared and worried, she and her mom went to the emergency room.  She was taken away to a room and her mom was told to wait.  After nearly three hours, the hospital staff returned with a bag of Janet’s clothes and told her mother to speak to someone about how they were to pay for Janet’s hospital stay.

That morning word got out and Meme, a Back2Back partner, came to me and asked if I wanted to go with her to the hospital to visit Janet and pray for her.  When we arrived, she had been waiting three and a half hours with still no word.  Soon after we arrived, they called Janet’s mom inside a tiny office.  It was apparent that the news wasn’t good, as she began to cry.  They had told her that Janet had given birth to a baby girl who couldn’t breathe on her own and she should prepare for the worst.  Then she was escorted out to wait for futher news.

When Meme and I surrounded her, she told us the news about baby Melissa.  We hugged and cried.

Then Meme turned to me and said, “Cathy would you lead us in prayer?”

In that little hallway, we huddled together and prayed for the health of the baby, for the strength of her lungs, for Janet and her mom and other family.  We prayed for who knows how long.  When we finished we convinced Janet’s mom that she had to eat something.  We stayed with her part of the afternoon before finally returning home.  Later when her mom got to see Janet, they shared experiences.

Janet recalled her initial reaction to the news. “When they told me about my baby, I thought God please let Meme and Cathy be praying for my little girl.”

What Janet didn’t know then was that at the exact same time that she was pleading to God for us to pray, we were gathered in the hallway of the hospital interceding on behalf of her little girl.  When I visited Janet later she shared this with me and I was able to tell her how she can have a personal relationship with God.  She too can have a direct line to the Almighty Physician.  She was intrigued and I prayerfully anticipate more conversations about what Jesus offers us all.  It is obvious to me that God is using this little girl already and I’m convinced that He has great things in store for her life.  Would you continue to pray for Melissa’s health?  The doctor’s gave Janet oxygen for Melissa however she has yet to need it, praise God.  Also pray for the faith of Janet and the rest of her family.

Janet with baby Melissa

Janet with baby Melissa

Well Worth the Investment, by Matt Cooper

August 17, 2009

An Afternoon with Edgar

I know what people are thinking.  Starbucks? What a waste of money.  Ok, not everyone.  Those who love cold coffee drinks would argue that it’s worth it.  The truth is a trip to Starbucks is not something that I make a habit of.  An opportunity to connect with one of our Hope Program students, however, is something that’s worth the investment.

A couple of weeks ago Edgar moved into our home.  He is seventeen and just two weeks into his college career.  He’s new to our program and is filled with questions.  The thing about most seventeen-year-old boys though is that it can be like pulling teeth to get them to verbalize their questions, and much more so their thoughts.

We’ve just come out of a very busy season here in Monterrey, and Edgar unfortunately moved in during the last couple weeks of that season.  The great news is that today Edgar and I had the chance to hang out together one-on-one.  I needed to drop off a student at school so that they could turn-in a summer project.  As I was about to run out the door, I shouted to Edgar, “Come on, I’m taking you out!”  He quickly grabbed his shoes and we were off.

After we dropped the other student at school, my only intention was to find some place for Edgar and I to sit and chat.  It had crossed my mind to find a café to grab a coke, or an ice cream shop, but we just happened across a quaint little Starbucks.  It was Edgar’s first visit and of course his first Venti Caramel Frappucino.  More importantly it was ninety minutes to connect on a personal level.  It was a chance to have a great conversation.  We talked about school and personal growth; we talked about my expectations for Edgar and about his aspirations; we talked about his adjustment to someplace new; and in the end we talked about God’s provision, God’s plan, and Edgar’s understanding of who God is.  I could not have been more pleased with the time.

The money spent at Starbucks was well worth the investment.  The fruit from that hour and a half invested in Edgar may not be fully realized this side of eternity, but I have a feeling that our conversation was a start to a great relationship.  I have a feeling it was a conversation and investment that is going to bring many great returns.

Edgar, the newest addition to the Hope Program's James House

Edgar, the newest addition to the Hope Program's James House

Running the Race Together, by Matt Cooper

July 20, 2009

At the beginning of this year I decided that I wanted to take my running to a new level.  I’m still what most would call novice, but I decided that I wanted to run some local 10K races, that I wanted to run a half marathon, and that ultimately I wanted to run a full marathon before the end of 2009.  Perhaps even greater than my desire to run these races was my desire for others to run with me.  I’ve realized, that for people like me it’s really ultimately about bringing others alongside what I’m doing.  I don’t really like to do things alone.  Relationships and encouraging others are my heart, and they are the key motivator for why I do what I do.  So when it comes to “doing life” there are few things more energizing than being a part of a team.  When we learn to do life together the spiritual lessons and implications are endless – and let’s face it, most things in life are just more fun when you’re doing them with others.

So this Spring, I began to try to encourage the boys in my home, other students in our program, and others on our campus to join me in running a half marathon at the end of April.  In the beginning there was some scattered desire to run with me, but when April came many lost interest, or gave in to the fear of what seemed like a lofty goal of running 13.1 miles.  In the end I was only joined by fellow house parent Tim Couch, and by one of our college students from the Hope Program, Antonio.  It was an amazing experience for the three of us to face what seemed to be a “giant” and to conquer it.  I loved the chance the reach one of my personal goals, but at the same time I still felt unsatisfied that more from our Back2Back community had not joined us.

This summer I had the chance to be a part of a fantastic 10K that was put on here in Monterrey.  Not only did I run the race, but eleven others ran with me in what was the first official Team Back2Back!  This time Tim and I were joined by Mauricio from our staff team, two summer interns and seven young men from our Hope Program.

What we great victory we experienced together.   For me, my immense joy wasn’t so much from completing the race, but it was more so from running the race as part of a team.  There was an excitement that built as we took pictures, warmed up, and gathered at the starting line together.  There was an anticipation as we looked for one another along they way, and took the time to give a shout of encouragement.  There was a mental boost that came from being able to run portions of the race alongside someone that you consider to be like family.  In the end there was a great satisfaction in seeing each one cross the finish line, congratulate each other, and together celebrate “our victory”.

1st row: Ruben, Leo, Cesar, Antonio 2nd row: Oscar, Omar, Tim, Homero, Mauricio, Matt, Shawn, Abby

1st row: Ruben, Leo, Cesar, Antonio 2nd row: Oscar, Omar, Tim, Homero, Mauricio, Matt, Shawn, Abby

The Gift of Hope, by Angela Ramos

June 6, 2009

This week, Chris Ramos, Back2Back Director of Missions, is heading off to Jos, Nigeria with his wife, Angie and their three sons.  For three months, they will be staying at the Back2Back Nigeria base and serving in the local community.  As they prepare to leave, Angie reflects on her first visit to Nigeria, nearly three years ago when she and her husband Chris served alongside Back2Back missionaries, Jason and Emilee Munafo.  Continue reading to discover how Angie experienced hope in a fresh way.

It was October of 2006 and we were mid-way through our stay in Jos, Nigeria.  I sat on the floor of the place where we were staying and I looked at the four of us Americans sitting there.  I was overwhelmed and scared and feeling sick to my stomach.  The need there is so great and so many were depending on us to help them.  I thought to myself, how? How is this all going to fall into place?  How is God going to make this all happen through Chris and me and Jason and Emilee?

I remember feeling so small and powerless and what was before us was so big.  I knew there would be so much work that needed to be done when we got back to the US and in my sense of panic, I felt like there wasn’t much time.  My mind was spinning with so many different thoughts.  I knew right then that God was going to stretch our faith and we were going to grow and learn to depend on the Lord more than we had thought.  With so many people there looking to us for help, part of me wanted to just turn around and go back and say forget it, it’s too much.

Later that week we were at the village telling everyone good-bye and reminding them that we would be back soon.  Word that we were there spread so quickly, that by the time we were getting back into our car to go to the airport, we were informed that Ikira, the “agricultural guy” of the village of 1,000 people, contracted typhoid.  Ikira had showed us the village a few days before.  He walked us around the place.  We had spent several hours with him and many of the villagers that day.  Now, he was very sick and needed money for medicine.  He thought if he could just let us know that he was sick, that we would be able to help.  Not really knowing what we could do at this point, we asked one of the villagers to help us.  Minutes later the three of us were getting into the car and the villager was directing us to the medical facility where Ikira was staying.

We walked into the dirty hut-like building not knowing what to expect.  From the outside, it looked like an old condemned building.  It was dark and very small.  My bathroom medicine cabinet probably had more supplies in it than this place.  There was a women sitting on a cot holding her very sick baby.  Ikira was lying on another cot, hooked up to an IV.  When Ikira saw us he sat up and smiled.  He had hope.  We had felt so helpless, but despite that when Ikira looked at us he had hope.

Looking back at that moment, it all seems so clear to me now.  It’s as if I am experiencing that moment all over again.  HOPE.  That’s what we bring through Christ.  How could I turn back and say “forget it”? God has a plan and that plan involves us.  As we reach out our hand to help others, it’s really God’s hand reaching out.  It was really God’s feet that walked into that medical building to check on Ikira, not mine.  He reaches when we reach out and He steps when we step.  God loves the Nigerians we’re serving (John 3:16) and has a plan of hope that involves Chris and me (and our boys).  It involves everyone who will step up and give to this ministry.  It’s in these moments that we have such an amazing opportunity to tell them how much our Creator in heaven adores them and wants to have a relationship with them.

Ever since that trip Chris and I have been amazed at “how” God is putting all of the pieces together.  As I sat on that floor in Nigeria and wondered how, I sure didn’t know, but God did.  I am so glad He has a plan.  Chris and I are humbled that He has chosen us to be a part of it.  Now we are on the brink of a new experience as we get ready to leave for Nigeria.  This time it’s with my whole family.  It’s a different dynamic.  But we are still offering the same thing:  HOPE through Christ.

Children in the Village

Children in the Village

Handing out soccer balls to children in the village with the Munafos

Handing out soccer balls to children in the village with the Munafos

Chris spending time with a child from the village

Chris spending time with a child from the village