Click here to watch the video slide show of this amazing trip.
Dear Prayer Warriors,
Thank you for your faithful prayers this past week! Our team could not have accomplished all that they did without your support and most importantly your prayers. That will be a theme that your son or daughter, wife or husband will come back with…how powerful prayer is. Living in West Michigan, in the United States, we become so complacent and for the most part we feel very “safe” so we don’t commit every action to prayer. Our comings and goings, should still be covered in prayer but we forget and go about our days. This past week our team has never left the base or a village without first committing their actions to God in prayer. Praying that they will be used by Him to point the glory back to their Lord and Savior. Shouldn’t that be our prayer here as well?
So, your job is not yet done. Your prayers are still needed. Right now our team is about 20 minutes from landing in Atlanta and leaving there at 8:40 arriving in GR at 10:28 am. Pray for smooth travels as they fly home. Pray that they are led to share their stories with those they meet. Pray that they are able to come home and put into actions the lessons they have learned this week.
In the next few weeks take time to ask questions and listen to their stories. If you donated money to a team member, call them up or take them out for dessert and listen to their stories. You made it possible for them to be the Hands and Feet of our Savior this week. You are part of this team.
If you are able to come to the Grand Rapids Airport to welcome the team home, the team would love to see you there.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your faithful prayers. To God be the Glory, Now and Forever, to God be the Glory Amen!
In His Grip,
Kristy Van Wyhe
After 2 hours of driving through the mountains of Guatemala, we arrived in a small village of the name Rio Blanco. Right when we got there we were greeted by a small group of children who were a little timid at first, but after we gave them candy and toys the ice was broken and bonds were beginning to form. After the doors to the courtyard where we were having the clinic were opened, our team began unloading the vans and setting up for the medical clinic and the Jesus film. Many of the members of the group played ball with the kids, colored, painted faces, and made balloon animals. It was amazing to see how many of the villagers wanted the balloon animals, the line went halfway through the courtyard. All through the night the balloon animals were everywhere. Some of the people from our team started a soccer game with some of the men and young boys from the village. Through this game it was priceless to see the walls of ethnicity break down and the two groups uniting as one family of God.
While relationships were being formed in the courtyard, the medical clinic was going on. Before the patients came through to be assessed and given medicine, our team took time to pray for wisdom to disperse the correct amount of medication and that the Lord would provide them with the knowledge to use the medications correctly. The joy in the villagers faces as they went through the line and received the medication was a true God-sighting knowing that their needs were being provided for.
Once the sun went down, we began to gather the people to show the Jesus film. While this was happening, many of the people were fixed on the story of Jesus Christ. A few individuals on our team had conversations with the villagers during the film. Nichole specifically had a conversation with a 14-year-old young man, who was sitting by himself, about the film and ended up sharing her testimony with him as well as hearing his story. Being able to break down borders and see that each of the villagers has a story and have gone through difficult things as well has been such a humbling experience. Each one of us has a story and it’s beautiful to see how breaking down walls and sharing stories brings such healing and redemption.
After the film, our team once again went to the front and had time to sing and share the love of Christ with the villagers. It was amazing to see how attentive some of them were and how much they enjoyed hearing us sing. A few of the individuals from our team had an opportunity to share testimonies. The authenticity and boldness of each individual was so amazing to see and the Lord continued to provide the words to speak into the lives of the villagers. God has continued to work in our team as we have laid hands on one another and built each other up as the body of Christ should (which is something we desire to continue as we return home).
When Pablo gave the villagers the opportunity to come to the front and accept Christ into their hearts, at first nobody stepped forward. Our team continued to battle for the hearts of the individuals, praying fervently over each one and desiring to see lives changed. Finally after a few moments one bold individual stepped forward. This individual was an 86-year-old woman who walked arm-in-arm with Courtney from our team. It was incredible to see the faith of this woman as she longed to accept the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Many more villagers began coming forward with individuals from our team once they saw this woman step forward to proclaim her faith in God.
What an awesome God we serve who continues to answer prayers and soften the hearts of not only the Guatemalans, but also the hearts of everyone on our team. It has been a true blessing for all of us to experience such a God-filled experience, seeing lives changed for the kingdom.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and support as we have ministered this week. Continue to pray for us as we return home tomorrow and share our stories with each one of you!
Monday morning, June 20 -5:15 AM – “The Calm After the Storm”
As I sit on the porch overlooking the misty valley below and the mountains cast on the predawn light show that is about to take place, I can’t help but feel that familiar feeling that comes after a storm has past. The birds are singing their joyful melody. The air is calm and cool and moving just enough to keep the low hanging clouds slowly moving through the trees in the hills below. After a storm like we had again last night, there is a different kind of “calm” than what you experience before the storm. Before a storm, you are filled with anticipation and wonder of what is about to take place. Though the world may seem calm around you, your heart is restless not knowing what the immediate future will hold. Often before a storm there are distant signs of the power that is about to be unleashed in the flashes of lighting and rumbles of thunder in the distant.
After the storm passes, though it may have been filled with fury and awesome power, there is a different kind of “calm”. A “calm” filled with reflection and peace that the storm will no longer have an effect on those who are taking it in. In Matthew 14 after Jesus reached out His hand and rescued Peter from sinking. A part that is often missed are the moments that took place before Jesus and Peter got back into the boat. In verse 31 after Peter cried out “Lord, save me” as he began to sink because he took his eyes off of Jesus, it says: “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Then in verse 32 Jesus and Peter are already in the boat. What took place between these two verses is profound for you and I. The only possible way that Peter made it back safely in the boat is if the God Man who is able to walk on water carried Peter and lifted him back into the boat. Yes, Jesus carried Him.
What an awesome thing that happens when we are in Christ’s presence. Even when we take our eyes off of Him and our strength fails us, He is there to rescue us and carry us in his arms to safety. In verse 32 after Jesus carried Peter back to the boat it says, “The wind died down”. Peter and those in the boat immediately experienced the “Calm after the Storm”. The peace and relief that settled in the hearts of those in the boat, like the clouds settling into the valley below the base in this very moment which are no longer filled with fury and harm but with beauty and calm.
Today the team here in Guatemala will experience the “Calm after the storm”. Yes last night as the final Bibles were handed out to the dozens of People who had just experienced the “tipping point of eternity” the rain began to pour down. Our prayers for the rain to wait until the power of God transforming lives for eternity had taken place were once again realized and we could not help but witness again that it was our prayers and the power of God that kept the lighting and thunder at bay until the victory was won in this mountain village. Yes we won!!! We claimed victory last night through Christ. He never let us sink, we felt Him with us this whole week carrying us over the many miles of rough roads we traveled. We felt him giving us strength to do the impossible. We witnessed Him using our gifts and abilities, though not any more significant than a crayon or a soccer ball in our own strength, we watched Him move mountains in people’s hearts this week through the love of this team.
In this “calm after the storm” my heart is full. As I even now feel the tears of joy welling in my heart and in my eyes in this very moment I am reminded of what happened after Peter was back in the boat and the “Calmer of the storm” motioned to the wind and the waves to cease. In verse 33 it says, “Then those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘truly you are the son of God’.”
2000 years ago the greatest storm that ever hit this earth took place on a hill called Calvary. The Bible describes the storm with vivid images of the sky turning black, with a violent earth quake so powerful that the veil was torn from top to bottom. This storm carried with it more power than a thousand Hurricanes. But when the “Calm after the storm” settled in on Easter morning, the battle was over and victory for all eternity was won. What a privilege we have to experience this “calm after the storm” that Jesus offers to each person who is willing to cry out to the “Rescue from Heaven” to “Save me”. What a privilege we have to no longer fear the power of the storm that still rages all around. What a privilege we have to be lavished by our maker with the title of “Child of God”. What a privilege we have today to worship our God saying, “Truly you are the Son of God!”
Today we know that the war is not over for seeking and saving the lost and dying in this world. But our battle here in Guatemala is nearing its’ end. The miles of challenging roads have been traveled, the crayons and soccer balls have been lovingly shared, the new homes have been built, the Bibles have been delivered, the prayers for lost souls have been cried out. Now in this “calm after the storm” we have but one thing left for us to do. Today we will worship our God like never before for what he has done this week here in Guatemala. But as we worship we will still be faced with one more battle. A battle that will affect our own futures. A battle that we will wage in our own hearts. The battle is over whether we will return home tomorrow and just go back to our lives as we were before we left or whether we will carry with us a new resolve to keep our eyes fixed on Christ and continue to seek and save the lost ones in our own “Guatemala” back home. Today as we worship God in the “Calm after the Storm” we will be challenged to do what we have been calling countless precious Guatemalans to do this past week, to give our lives fully to Him.
Pray for us once again today as Christ does His work in us. Pray that hearts will be broken on the team. Pray that as we reflect on the power of our God which carried us safely through the storm this week that we recommit to give him the deed to our hearts and give him all that we are. Pray that we will offer ourselves to be crayons and soccer balls back home in Michigan. Pray that we will travel the greatest journey that we can take this week to make our hearts “Christ’s Home” and surrender our all to Him.
Today after visiting Antigua we will return back to the base to pack and for one last worship time. Then we will head to airport around 8:00 PM to catch our midnight flight back home. Pray that this is a powerful day once again. Pray that the wind and waves will not distract us from the eternal storm that still rages. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your willingness to take this journey with us and cover us with your prayers. We have been touched and changed this week. My prayer is that you have been able to be touched and changed as well. Let us all pray that as each of us live in the “calm after the storm” that came on Easter morning, that we will answer Jesus call to “Come” out of our comfort zones and share that amazing “Calm” with the world around us.
In His Grip,
Kevin Van Wyhe
Sunday Night 11;45 PM -We just rolled into the base safe and sound. Was another great night. The moment all the Bibles were handed out to those who accepted Christ the skies opened up and rained and rained and is still raining now. We look forward to sharing our stories with you tomorrow. Good Night!
Happy Father’s Day! We are thankful for our earthly father’s and for our heavenly Father.
OK – starting with the nitty gritty. Today we drove 3 hours to a village that Paradise Bound has not visited before. We were thankful to experience for the first time an actual paved, two lane highway making the three hour trip slightly less bouncy. We made up for it though. The last hour of the drive was up a dry rocky river bed through sugar cane fields. Hang on! God has blessed Paradise Bound with four wheel drive passenger vans that take a real pounding every time they head out. Praying for safety as we travel is very necessary.
The village in the area of Escuentla is closer to the coast and the weather conditions were different than the village where we built houses. It was very hot and extremely humid, it could be described as a sauna. The humidity could have tempted the team to not want to run and play, but we persevered, and sweated it out together.
The med clinic went very well. We served 50 families. It is such a joy to know that simple things like ibuprofen and hydro cortisone cream can provide comfort for those who cannot obtain even these simple medicines. We are happy for the villagers who should feel less itchy, less pain, less digestive issues and feel better than they have for awhile. We got to meet a woman who was 88 years old walking up and down the mountainside with her cane. Reaching 88 years living in these difficult conditions is amazing. God protected her life so that she could hear the call the Christ tonight. We were impressed with the great care that the missionaries showed to the villagers by setting up the medicine in such a way that it is easy to understand. The missionaries also explained each pill with great patience to each villager. Nicole Appebach was first in line handling the prescription drugs. Nicole felt nudged by the Holy Spirit to serve in the clinic and she did a great job being very accurate in filling each specific need.
Ashlyn Mayerlin made a great friend in Tim VanDyke. They played together the entire time. After building a relationship with her, Tim was able to lay hands on Ashyln and her grandma while the call to Christ was being given. They both smiled at Tim and together the three of them walked up when the pastor asked who wanted to accept Jesus Christ. Tim was happy to leave his personal hat with them as a gift. It was great to see that joy all around.
We moved on to showing the Jesus film to the villagers. We anticipated that they would be mesmerized by video, something they don’t experience often. We were very surprised by how the villagers seemed to not being paying attention to the movie. They continued to talk, the boys played soccer, the smaller kids were playing with their balls. The team members spread out and watched the movie with them while praying. We were thankful that when Hermono Jesus (the Guatemalan pastor) began to preach, they listened very carefully. The villagers were focused on the preaching and the Holy Spirit was powering up Hermono Jesus. After a rousing explanation and sermon Hermono called those who wanted Christo to come forward. Several women and children went forward, then more and then we were happy to see one of the men come forward, he was followed by several teenage boys who went to the front and they all prayed the prayer of acceptance together.
Natalie Schuitema – Natalie had fun playing with several of the village kids during the medical clinic. She had not had the chance to build a relationship earlier with an older lady, but during the preaching Natalie felt called to go and lay hands on her. Natalie prayed for the Senorita as the call to Christ was being given. Natalie provided the concrete touch of Jesus’ love. After just a few moments the woman bravely went forward, dropped to her knees and wept as the hole in her soul was filled.
The men of the village were a bit stand offish. They kept on playing soccer and were hesitant to participate, but slowly as it got dark and others stayed to listen two men came to join the group. Rod Huisingh encouraged them with prayer and touch and felt one of the men trembling as Hermono Jesus was emphatically telling him that Jesus wanted him to belong to Jesus, that God wanted even this macho man to be a child of God.
Mason Witte wanted to connect with a particular villager, he prayed for that specific connection. As Mason arrived in the village he didn’t feel particularly called to any one. Mason kept his eyes open for whom God wanted him to serve. Suddenly, Gustavo ran by and Mason was able to ask a nearby villager if that was her son. Dina was proud to say that yes, that was her child. Mason was impressed with the loving and care that Dina showed to her son. Mason felt called to pray over her, show her love and give her gifts. Mason gave her the gift of touch while we were standing in the circle. She was distracted by her child, but Mason continued to lift her in prayer and she answered the call of salvation. Now Dina can share the love of Christ with Gustavo and a Christian home can be established.
Afterward it was amazing how the ice was completely broken and hugs and smiles were given all around. That isn’t a part of the villagers culture normally and you could say it isn’t part of our CRC culture normally either, but both groups came together because we shared this intense spiritual experience of being ransomed by Christ.
Prayer was offered before, during, afterward, individually and in groups, silently and out loud. Hermono Jesus specifically asked several of our young men to pray over him before he preached. It is a blessing to be bathed in prayer. We felt the power of God and the power of prayer.
Sunday Morning –June 19 -5:00 AM – “The Power of Crayons, Soccer balls, prayer and the end of the road”
Side by side, hand and hand, stranger and stranger the power of a simple crayon and prayer began the journey into the eternal. As the waxy residue laced with pigment of brilliant colors was rubbed between the lines on the paper, the two hands of complete stranger from opposite ends of the world began to create not only a beautiful picture on paper but a beautiful masterpiece colored by love on the tapestry of hearts.
In just moments after arriving at this village, God put it on the hearts of one of the team members to take out the crayons in their bag and finding a slab of concrete next to the school building where we ended up. As they began using the crayon to color the pictures of the coloring book in front of them, the invitation to join them was quickly accepted by several of the children who had been waiting our arrival. The pages quickly were filled with color and words were quickly exchanged. This was the beginning moment of answering Christ call to “Come” to this remote village.
You would not think of a crayon typically as an instrument of power. The weak, small and harmless nature of a crayon which we trust in the hands of even the smallest child could be considered one of the most harmless objects that we own. Yet when directed by God in the hands of one of his children, this crayon has great power. Last night these simple crayons broke the ice and began to connect people filled with God’s love with people needing to be filled.
First the crayons, then the tennis balls, Frisbees, volley balls, jump ropes, nail polish, balloon animals, face paints, bubbles, and then of course the candy. First the children engaged and relationships were formed. But soon the many mothers who were waiting to get into the medical clinic that had been set up, saw the love that was being poured out on their children and gave their trust to the team members to be loved on as well.
It is amazing hoe simple things like crayons when used with love can break down walls and build friendships. The children and mothers are usually the easiest to see these walls fall down. The men in Guatemala are another story. They are usually hard to connect with and are much less trusting and far less open to ultimately respond to the invitation to accept Christ. They are no different from many young men in the states. The need to appear on the outside strong and invincible hardens their willingness to open their hearts to God. But once again God used something seemingly insignificant through prayer and love to do a mighty work with the young men in this remote village deep in the foothills beyond the coastal plains of Guatemala.
While the first crayon was being shared with the children, a soccer ball was also being delivered to the soccer field directly next to the school. First a couple of the young Guatemala men joined the team members armed with a soccerball and soon there was a team of talented bare foot soccer playing Guatemalans on the field rubbing shoulders with the shoulders of our team. Through the heat, humidity and sweat these men both young and old [And Lydia] quickly found themselves helpless to the power of God and began to form a bond in love that back home would take far longer and might possibly never occur.
Just the night before in our small groups the team spent time discovering the spiritual gifts that we have been given by God to grow his Kingdom. Each one of us who have our names written in the book of life have been given gifts by our maker. Unfortunately the lies of the enemy often convince us that our gifts are nothing special and tries to fill us with fear so we don’t even try to use them. There is great power when we give god our gifts no matter how big or small and let Him use them. Think of the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus while He was speaking to the crowd of 5,000 men gathered by the sea. The small gift of 5 loaves and 2 fishes in the midst of a sea of 20,000 people seems microscopic and insignificant. But when placed in the hands of our maker and savior, this tiny gift was transformed into a feast that fed every person their till their stomachs where full. So full that when everyone had finished eating, there were 12 baskets of left overs.
It was no surprise to see Christ use the gifts of this team to fill hearts last night till they were full. As the evening progressed and it was time to share the Jesus film and the message of the ransom that Christ paid for us, children, Mothers, fathers and even these tough soccer playing young men joined in the audience.
The message last night of God’s word was powerful. The testimonies and singing from the team were spot on and revealed the reason that we could come with so much love for these strangers at the end of the road. The evidence of our love and dependence on our master was conveyed through the beautiful words shared in music and in the spoken words of hearts that have been healed from brokenness and hurt.
By the end of the night as the invitation to the “Tipping point” came, the response was overwhelming. Our prayer that night was that though it would be worth everything if even only one person would come to know Christ we prayed that not one soul would be left behind. The movement of the Holy spirit did not disappoint our prayers. As the pastor, Hermono Jesus, began having people repeat the sinner’s prayer, there was not one person left standing inside the gates of the school where we were meeting. With many tears of Joy and hugs from new found brothers and sisters in Christ, we witnessed a massive movement of God that consumed every soul present.
I have no idea how many people came to know Christ last night. Maybe 70 or 80. The numbers don’t really matter. For the individuals there, the fact that they were able to walk home not in darkness last night to their homes but in the light of salvation through Jesus is all that matters. What stood out last night was not just the children and mothers who came forward but what stood out to me were the men who typically are too tough to admit they are weak and in need of a savior. Because they witnessed other men willing to admit they are in need of Jesus, they were willing to do the same.
Back to the crayons, soccer balls, prayer and the end of the Road.
In Matthew 28 we read the words of Jesus giving us the command to “Go and make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them with the Holy Spirit”. This team was willing to answer this call again last night. We literally went to the end of the road where these lost people waited. We used what God had given us. The gifts of His spirit are enough through prayer to do the impossible. When Jesus calls us to “Come.” To get out of the boat and venture into the storm. He does not call us to do it alone, ever. As insignificant as you may feel. As plain and ordinary as you may believe you are, with Christ as your master you are extraordinary. Often times when it comes to using our gifts for the kingdom we don’t feel we are equipped enough to be useful, so often in fear we hold back and stay in the boat. Christ does not call the Equipped but he equips the called. Like Peter, you and I can walk on water if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ. Why not give it a try. I know that the members of this team walked on water last night in the midst of a storm. I know that you too can also walk on water as you hear Christ’s call to “Come”. What Gifts has God equipped you with? Remember that even crayons and soccer balls can be used to change eternity.
Today we will again venture to another village filled with people in need of a savior. Again we will travel to the end of the road and take out the Crayons and soccer balls and through prayer trust that we will see a harvest of souls. This is our last planned event here in Guatemala. Pray for us as we submit ourselves and become Christ’s hands and feet to the people we meet.
Pray for safety in travels. Pray for health for the team. Pray for good weather. [it has not rained at any point where we have been in battle this week-only at night while we have slept]. Pray for the gifts of the team to be used and hearts to be open to Christ. Pray for our worship and group times.
Thanks you for your prayers.
In His Grip,
Kevin Van Wyhe