Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Juggling

DSCF5948The last two days have been a blur. Hosting such a large team has been challenging as we needed to split the group in half and send them to two different locations on Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday half the group went to Casa Jackson (the malnutrition clinic) and held children, organized, cleaned, and repaired. The other half went to Hermano Pedro and took some of the children and adults to Pollo Campero and to the park. They had a great time removing socks and shoes and putting the children’s feet in the fountains.

DSCF5912Today the groups swapped locations. The Casa Jackson team loved on the children and a couple of our guys repaired sinks, toilets, and did white-washing. I feel horrible, but the Hermano Pedro team was short-changed today due to my inability to juggle my ministry team responsibilities with my moving responsibilities. I met with Chris Mooney of Bethel Ministries in Chimaltenango this morning DSCF5950and he helped me establish our bank account. One of Pat Duff’s friends graciously agreed to drive me to the appointment. My meeting was completed quickly, but I forgot that I was on Guatemalan time which runs much slower than American time. By the time my gracious driver returned me to Hermano Pedro, it was too late to check the children out for lunch or for a trip to the park. I tried to make it up to them by treating them to a nicer meal at Mono Loco. I don’t know if I appeased them all, but they all enjoyed the food.

I do want to praise God for Chris Mooney. He introduced me to a key person at his bank, helped me set up our account, and promised to vouch for us financially. As a result, we have been granted immediate access to funds deposited to our Guatemalan account from the US (normally at 30 wait to clear). Chris and Donna Mooney do wonderful work through Bethel Ministries, and I encourage you to check out their ministry by clicking here.

Tomorrow we will head to Amor del Nino where we will love on more children and throw a New Year’s Eve party. Tonight…sleep! You know you are tired if you nod off in a Tuk Tuk!

Good night from Antigua, Guatemala!

Here are a few pics of the last few days:



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Worthwhile Work

DSCF5865Today our team spent the day at Los Gozosos, a special needs group home in Chimaltenango. As always, we experienced a sharp contrast from our time at Hermano Pedro. In Los Gozosos the children are loved deeply by those who care for them. Each child is known and pushed to achieve their full potential. Joy is evident in both the kids and the nannies, and Christ is the center of it all.

We helped with some of the many jobs that needed to be done around the home. Our group worked together to mow, edge, lay gravel, groom flower beds, install lights and outlets, fix doors, wash window, and more. While the work was exhausting, it was so worthwhile. The work done in this home is important to the kingdom, yet they are underfunded and overwhelmed. Any assistance provided is greatly appreciated.

We also had the opportunity to spend time just loving the children. Laughter was abundant along with hugs and kisses.

I would encourage you to find out more about Los Gozosos by visiting their Web site at

Here are a few photos from our day:




Sunday, December 26, 2010

Catching up

DSCF5489It’s been quite a while since I last posted here. To be honest, life has been full over the last 6 weeks since we returned from Guatemala. Packing…selling…Thanksgiving…packing…selling…preparation for our December team…packing…selling…Christmas… You get the idea.

But now I am airborne with our largest ministry team to date and heading back to Guatemala. So when I found out Delta was offering free in-flight internet for the holidays I realized my next three hours of captivity could be partially filled by addressing my severely neglected blog.

So, let me begin by saying that I am, indeed, alive. As I write this, our family is 30 days away from our move to Guatemala. Preparations are in full swing and we are excited to finally have our new ministry in our sights. When I return on January 2nd, we will have 11 days of packing and selling left before leaving to visit family in NC and PA. There is still so much that remains to be done that our to-do list seems rather daunting. But our excitement and adrenaline is keeping us going through the fatigue.

In the midst of all the work, our family was able to enjoy one of our best Christmases ever. We were able to spend Christmas Day serving the Lord and others in a ministry that was very near and dear to our family. In addition, on Saturday, December 18 our family went down to Kids Against Hunger to help pack food for malnourished children. I can’t recommend this organization enough. For a quarter a day you can provide a meal a day for a child. Combined that with a trip down to Cincinnati to work with them for two hours, you can provide and pack enough food to feed a child for a year. And families are welcome to work together, with children as young as age three helping.

Kids Against Hunger is providing the food for our Wheels of Hope program (our rural village ministry). I would encourage your family and church to get involved by supporting them with both your money and time. You can find out more at

This whole Christmas season was made more significant in that we spent last Christmas and New Year in the hospital with Joshua. As a result, we have treasured every minute of our freedom and health this year. Plus, we really enjoyed God’s gift of a white Christmas!

As we move into a new year, I greatly appreciate your prayers on behalf of our team as we serve for the next eight days. This week promises to be challenging as my daughter, Brittney, and I will be sharing leadership of our team of 20. In the midst of the week, I will also be meeting with lawyers, real estate agents, banking officials, and ministry representatives. Please pray that these meetings go smoothly and quickly and that I am able to complete the tasks that are crucial for our move. Also pray that God moves in mighty ways in and through our team.

Please pray for our family as well as we complete the final preparations for our move. We need God’s guidance and strength in the coming month.

I promise it will not be another 6 weeks until another update. In fact, I will likely post several this week.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pushing and Pulling

DSCF3408Tonight I feel the pull of Guatemala’s children in a more profound way than ever before. I should be in bed now, but sleep seems far away because my mind keeps visiting the kids that I love so much.

We watched some video this evening that was taken several years ago at Hermano Pedro, and I was struck by how much the kids have grown and changed. And I was brought to tears realizing that they have stared at the same ceilings and walls for all the days, weeks, months, and years since.

DSCF0272aI desperately want to be there, investing my life in them and others who are far worse off. And we are close. We have rented our home, purchased our plane tickets (for January 25th), and have begun the final stage of downsizing. Yet, for some reason, our move seems far away tonight.

We are pushing hard these days. I am in the process of preparing the US side of our ministry to be handed off to our new office manager. We are selling items on Craig’s List and giving away still more. The few items of sentimental value that are to be placed in storage are being packed, and final checklists are being made. Yet there is still so much to be done before we go. So, Guatemala seems far away right now.

DSCF0601As we have prepared for this move, most of our friends and family have been supportive and encouraging. But some have not. Some are even becoming hostile toward us as the move gets closer. They don’t understand what would drive us to uproot our kids and move to a foreign country. They see it as personal betrayal or abandonment as we leave them behind. They don’t understand the pull. And until they look into the eyes of these children that we love and see them as more than statistics, they never will.

But regardless of the understanding of others, we feel the pull and hear the call of God and we are going. To not do so would be to forsake who we were created to be and the One who created us. We can no more resist this call than we can stop breathing. So, we keep pushing through to-do lists while Guatemala pulls.

And as the pushing and pulling continues and Guatemala seems so far away, I am praying for our kids. And tonight I pray that my Jesus, who is close to us all, will hold them tightly in His arms.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Introducing Our New Home!

I am looking back on the last eight days as I travel home from Guatemala, and I can honestly say that I have been blown away by the faithfulness of God! We have worked hard to prepare for our move, and the Lord has done far more than we even thought to ask of Him.

DSCF5502We had the privilege of traveling with our pastor and his wife, Ron and Melanie Ecklebarger. They were a terrific source of encouragement and wisdom to us as we sought God’s direction in so many areas of our transition. In addition, they were two extra sets of arms to love on the kids!

DSCF5331We are pleased to announce that we now have a home in Guatemala! We traveled down with plans to look at 10 to 12 homes, but several of them had already been rented while others were determined to be in locations that were not suitable for our ministry and family. Of the handful of homes we did see, only one met our needs, but it has met those needs wonderfully!

Our new home in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Guatemala (Yes, that really is the name of the town!) is both huge and beautiful.DSCF5336 With between 6,000 and 7,000 square feet, eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, two living room, and a large and beautiful courtyard, it greatly exceeds our highest expectations. We will be able to house our entire family plus 10 children with special needs on the first floor alone while hosting ministry teams of up to 20 people on DSCF5338the second floor. And, with the revenue created from hosted teams, our monthly rent will only be $550.00 US per month. (That figure is based upon hosting only four teams a year with an average size of 10 people.) After carefully praying and seeking God’s direction, we felt very strongly that we were to sign a two year lease on this facility. So, Hogar de la Esperanza has a home!

DSCF5343The community in which we will be located is one of the safer communities in Guatemala. There are very few Americans located in the town, and tourists seldom go there. As a result, we will be immersed in Guatemalan culture and language (Spanish and Kaqchikel), which was our goal all along. There are lots of young families in the area with relatives in some Mayan rural villages, and we pray that our relationship with them will open up ministry opportunities in those places.

In addition to locating our new home, we also made many wonderful contacts that will assist us with our ministry. We met with the head of a wonderful orphanage for children with special needs who is considering partnering with us. This partnership would enable us to work under their orphanage license instead of applying for our own. This will save years of work and thousands of dollars of expenses and enable us to begin taking in children relatively soon after getting settled. We cannot release the name of our potential partners until it is official, but we believe that the match is God-ordained.

We have also found two wonderful doctors who can treat our children, one in Chimaltenango and one in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Both of these men are Christians and both provide quality care. This is a major blessing as finding quality medical care was a huge concern.

We were able to spend extended time with Pastor Mike from Iglesia del Camino (our church in Guatemala), and he was able to refer us to a wonderful Spanish instructor who will be assisting us with our language studies. Due to her method of teaching and pricing, we will be able to save over $1000.00 of our expected expenses. In addition, Pastor Mike put us in contact with two excellent schools for children with special needs. We expect these schools to be a blessing to us as we seek to be a blessing to them.

On Tuesday evening, I was contacted by a lady who has arranged, through a friend who is well-placed within the Guatemalan government, to get a letter of introduction for me that will allow me to enter the state run orphanages. This is an incredible blessing as access to these facilities is greatly limited. In fact, the locations of many of these institutions are not publicized in order to keep people away, so this excellent contact will also be providing me with a directory of these orphanages. We praise God for this open door!

Last night we were able to spend some extended time with our incredible friend, Dick Rutgers. If you have followed this blog for very long you already know about his wonderful work with the people of Guatemala who have special needs. We will be working closely with Dick after our move, and he was able to give us valuable insight and assistance for our transition and early days of ministry.

DSCF5489Finally, we were able to spend time with our kids at Hermano Pedro. We took two groups out to eat at Pollo Campero and took every spare moment to love on the rest. As always, it is difficult to say goodbye to them, but it was made easier this time since we know that we will be DSCF5509back for good very soon! (Two-and-a-half months and counting down!)

Thank you for your prayers and support for our ministry! I can assure you that they are yielding results and God is bringing everything together! He is truly good!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



If I had to come up with one word to describe my life right now it would be a difficult task. There are a lot of descriptive words that could be employed. Excited, inspired, blessed, and busy are just a few that would work. But none of them would assume the top position.

The one word that would probably describe my life right now is “overwhelmed.” I feel absolutely overwhelmed with the vision of our expanding ministry.

Needing a change of location this afternoon, I grabbed my laptop and left my basement office to experience life above-ground at a local Tim Hortons. For the last two hours I have been sitting here working on a brochure to describe our new ministries in Guatemala. And as I have typed, the magnitude of the task ahead has hit me hard. A group home for children with special needs, a ministry to rural villages, and a pastor training program…any one of these alone seems like an overwhelming task, even with healthy funding. But in three months our family will be leaving the United States, moving to Guatemala, and tackling all three with a shortage of funds. So, I am feeling overwhelmed, ill-equipped, and way under-qualified.

As I think about it, though, those feelings have been present with me through most of my life with Jesus. I remember feeling that way through every major step I have taken in my adult life. I recall accepting my first ministry position in North Carolina right after graduation from college. My young bride and I packed up our PA apartment and headed south. And I felt overwhelmed.

In 1990, we packed-up again, this time with a 3 month old daughter, and headed for a strange and distant land…Ohio. There we started a youth group as I was, once again, overwhelmed and under-qualified.

In 1995 we moved to Greenville, OH to start anew with another youth group. This time we had three daughters in-tow and were taking a $5000 a year pay-cut. Our first youth group meeting had five teens and I, once again, felt overwhelmed.

In 1999 we moved to Troy to start a church. Wanda and I sat in a circle with three other couples and dreamed about the future. And I wondered how on earth we would ever see that dream become reality. Overwhelmed again.

In 2006 we left that church to begin a communications ministry with The Shepherd’s Crook, and I felt overwhelmed. In 2008 I was laid off from that position and called by God to start Hope for Home Ministries. Can you guess how I was feeling? I think you get the idea.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I once again feel overwhelmed as we take our biggest step of faith ever. In fact, I would be surprise and a little worried if I didn’t. If I were a little more aware I would probably feel that way more often and much more strongly.

I think God calls His people to do God-sized tasks. Any idiot can do a human-sized task because we are all human-sized. But God asks us to do the impossible and to trust in Him to provide the necessary miracles. He did that repeatedly in scripture. He did it with Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Noah, Gideon, Mary, and Peter. And I believe every single one of them wrestled with being overwhelmed. That is probably why God had to repeatedly remind them of his promises and faithfulness.

So, I will go back to work on my brochure that describes a God-sized ministry. And, as I do, I will remind myself that it doesn’t depend on human-sized Daryl.

Downhere – Here I Am

Friday, October 8, 2010

Moving…and Getting Our Feet Wet

wet_feet Over the last 11 months we have been waiting for our house to sell. This has been a difficult wait as our hearts are in Guatemala while we have felt trapped here by a lousy housing market. However, throughout this wait we have been regularly reminded by the Lord that we are not really trapped, we are just waiting on His timing. Our assumption has been that when the timing is right God will sell our house and “open the door” for our move.

Recently, as Wanda and I were taking a long walk together, she looked at me and asked, “Why can’t we move before we sell our home?” Now, please understand, this is not a new question. We have been asked that many times in the last year by other well meaning people, and our answer was always that we could not afford to pay the mortgage and our living expenses in Guatemala. End of discussion.

But when Wanda asked me the question that evening something clicked in both our hearts, and we began to pray for the Lord’s guidance. We have learned that the only thing that matters is God’s voice, so we desperately wanted to hear it and not confuse it with our own desires. We now are convinced that we have heard Him speak and will be moving to Guatemala in January.

As we have shared this decision with family and friends, some of them have greeted us with skeptical stares and words of caution. We understand that they are concerned for our family and want to make sure we are making the right decision, and we appreciate their words of counsel and have taken them seriously. We are taking a huge financial risk as a family, but at the end of the day, God’s voice is all that matters.

One of the phrases that we hear repeatedly in the American church is “open doors.” It is usually used in the context of a believer who is seeking God’s will for a decision and they pray, “Lord, if it is your will, open the doors for me to do it.” And they wait to see if doors open. I believe that is standard practice in western churches, but I have come to see it as completely unbiblical.

When we pray for “open doors” we are praying that God will make the decision safe and easy. Yet, throughout scripture I see God calling his people to repeatedly do dangerous and difficult things just because He told them to do it. One of my favorite instances of this is found in Joshua 3 as Israel is entering the Promised Land. God tells Joshua to instruct the priests to pick up the Ark of the Covenant and walk into the Jordan river. His promise was that when their feet touched the water the river would be cut off up stream and they would cross on dry land. And that is exactly what happened.

They did not sit waiting for God to “open doors.” If they had, they would still be there waiting. They instead followed God’s voice and trusted Him to make a way as they walked.

While this is my favorite example of this principal, it is not the only one. Gideon facing a huge army with 300 men, some horns, torches, and clay jars. Israel marching around Jericho. David facing a giant with a sling shot. The disciples heading out with only the clothes on their backs. And many, many more. Not one of them waited for open doors, they simply followed God’s voice.

Currently we see lots of closed doors as we look ahead. An unsold house and a budget shortage are just a couple of them. But we can hear God’s voice and are heading toward it. To use the Israelites as a comparison, we see the Promised Land but there is a river at flood stage between us and it. But we are walking, and soon our feet will get wet.

(Moving note: Our plan is for Wanda and I to travel to Guatemala on November 4-11 to sign a lease on a home and make preparations for our move. We will then leave Ohio on January 12th and spend a week in NC with my family followed by a week in PA with Wanda’s family. Finally, we will fly out of Washington DC to Guatemala on January 26th. We would appreciate your prayers through this transition.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jo Jo Made It Home

100_4253 I just spoke with my friend, Dick Rutgers in Guatemala and found out that out little buddy, Jo Jo passed away yesterday. This little guy was born with three strikes against him, hydrocephalous, cerebral palsy, and dwarfism, but he was still perfect to those who knew him. His brilliant smile could light up a room, and I loved the sound of his voice as he spoke the cheerful word “Hola!”

DSCF3164 He became sick last week with a respiratory illness and never recovered. When Dick saw him on Monday he was struggling to breath and could not be made comfortable. Those who loved him began to pray that God would take him home, and that prayer was answered.

He is now in a place where there in no more CP, dwarfism, or hydrocephalous, but as Dick said, “I hope God doesn’t change him too much because he was perfect the way he was!”


Jonathan Joel Gamaro

November 7, 1996 – September 1, 2010

We will see you soon, Jo Jo! Next time, you will run to us!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Powerful Video

I don’t often post media on this blog, but my sister-in-law, Jaylene, told me about this video which does an excellent job of portraying the heart of the Gospel and the mission of the church. It is called A Thousand Questions and is just over ten minutes long. You would be hard pressed to find a better use for the next ten minutes. Please watch and pray.

(Note: Make sure to mute or pause the music player at the bottom of this page before playing.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


pouting I have an embarrassing confession. I have been doing a lot of pouting recently. That is hard for me to admit, because I have always hated to see people whine, complain, and pout. My general response to such people has been a firm, “Grow up and get over it!”

But this past Friday I looked in the mirror and didn’t like the expression on my face. I looked like a four-year-old who had been sent to bed without dessert. And the sad part is that the expressing perfectly expressed the attitude of my heart.

Our house still hasn’t sold and there is not exactly a line of people waiting to see it. The news reports tell me that the likelihood of selling our home decreases each passing week. Then last week we were hit by a financial crisis that cost us nearly $3000.00 of personal money that we had set aside for our move, and that crisis was in the midst of an ongoing shortage of funds we have as a family. These circumstances, combined with a difficult personal issue, have left us drained and discouraged. And on Friday I found myself pouting and complaining to God big time.

“God, what are you doing? You know that we are selling everything we have to follow You, and everything we make from those sales will be given to You! We have downsized our lives and are laying aside comfort to live among the poor and care for your children. Yet, for some reason, You will not bring us a buyer for our house and seem determined to drain every penny from us! Meanwhile I see self-indulged and greedy people, many of whom profess to be Christ-followers, who use their money selfishly without regard for a dying world, yet You seem to prosper them with more and more! Why, God?!?” (Of course, this little diatribe was peppered generously with phrases such as “I trust you, Lord, but…”)

So that background should help you to better envision the pouty face I saw in the mirror that day.

On Friday evening as we were going to bed, Wanda and I talked and prayed together. We shook off our pouting and laid ourselves on God’s altar once again. We told Him that we did not worship and follow Him because of what He does, but because of who He is. Therefore, whether He sold our house and provided for our financial needs or not, we would keep following Him. And then, as Wanda went to sleep, I opened my Bible for my evening devotions. In God’s great plan, part of my reading was Psalm 37 which begins like this:

“1 A psalm of David. Don't worry about the wicked. Don't envy those who do wrong. 2 For like grass, they soon fade away. Like springtime flowers, they soon wither. 3 Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires. 5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. 6 He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. 7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. 8 Stop your anger! Turn from your rage! Do not envy others -- it only leads to harm. 9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.”

The entire chapter was filled with encouragement, but verse 34 spoke volumes to my heart:

“34 Don't be impatient for the LORD to act! Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you, giving you the land…”

And so, we continue to wait…hopefully with less pouting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Different Kind of Faith

falling Over the years our family has seen our faith grow tremendously. As we took step after step of faith we did so tentatively at first, but with increasing confidence as we grew. We have seen thousands of instances of God’s miraculous provision, guidance, and healing. And now, more than ever, we find ourselves dependent on Him as we take the largest step we have ever taken.

Face it, it is no small endeavor to sell almost everything we have and move to another country. At present, we are still short of the monthly support we would need to pay our bills, yet we are ready to move as soon as our home sells. Further, our faith is required even now as we have a monthly shortfall in our budget of a significant amount. We have not received our entire paycheck for the last two months and have experienced some significant financial setbacks. And yet we trust, because God has always provided for everything we have needed…sometimes at the last possible moment.

So, last month when I felt that God was leading me to pray that we would received a workable offer on our home by a specific date (July 30th) our family did so, fully expecting God to answer that prayer. We prayed and fasted with passion, conviction and confidence believing that God would respond with a buyer. But he did not. And not only did we not receive an offer, not one person looked at our home over the two weeks we prayed that prayer. Ouch!

As the date came and went, I began doubting myself. After all, I had made this request known in a very public way. But after everything was done, God did not respond. Had I mistaken my own desire as the leading of God? And, in so doing, had I dishonored God and spread doubt in other believers? Those were good questions that needed to be asked. So, I did. And, as I sought the Lord for these answers, He showed me something about my faith.

You see, over the years I have developed my faith in God’s ability and willingness to answer prayer. We have learned to step off the cliff repeatedly in response to God’s voice, knowing that He will catch us. And that is a great kind of faith to have. But it does not represent the whole of faith. There is another equally important side of faith that is shown through our willingness to trust God when He does not answer our prayers or catch us when we leap.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had that kind of faith. As they stood before king Nebuchadnezzar they spoke these words:

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)

They did not walk in obedience to God because they knew He would spare them. They did so because they knew His way was best and He was trustworthy, regardless of the outcome.

Likewise, the apostle Paul speaks about faith in Hebrews 11, and as he does so he talks about God’s miraculous provision and protection for people such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, and more. Each of them trusted God and saw His hand move in mighty ways. But Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to write this:

“Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them.” (Hebrews 11:35b-38a)

These people believed, trusted, and followed God yet faced severe persecution and, sometimes, death. Does that mean their faith was less that those who did not suffer similar fates? Of course not. Faith is more than trusting God to provide and spare, it is also trusting God when He chooses not to.

This flies in the face of the American church that seems to thrive on promoting the concept that God wants us healthy, wealthy, and entertained. But it is central to scripture. As Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” This faith has been absent in much of the teachings of the western church, and it is the most undeveloped aspect of faith in my own life.

As I write this entry, our home still has not sold and we are still short of vital funds that are needed for our ministry. But I know this simple truth: I will not follow God because of what He has done and what He will do for me. He owes me nothing; I owe Him everything. I will follow Him because He is good…and that does not change, regardless of the events of my life or death.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Blessing of the Bottleneck

bot·tle·neck (bŏtˈl-nĕkˌ) – n - a narrowing that reduces the flow through a channel

Note: The photos in this posting are just a few of the photos that we have scanned to our computer and then thrown away this week. They are as follows:

  1. My dad (circa 1960) – He passed away in 1996, and I still miss him greatly. There are days when I would simply love to hear his voice and smell his distinctive “dad smell” again.
  2. Jeff McDaniel (from 1984) – He was my best friend in high school. He died four years ago of Lou Gerig’s Disease (ALS). We were “the two amigos” and our English teacher, Mrs. Hoots, used to joke that we were attached at the elbows.
  3. Scott Stanze – He was a leader at Crosspoint Church when I was pastor there. He quickly became one of my best friends. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 2006. He was a huge Buckeye fan that I will miss until I see him again.
  4. My old Highland/Fairview youth group. This was a photo taken in 1994 during a Kentucky Missions Trip. Every one of those kids (now adults) hold a piece of my heart.

As you all know, we have been in a waiting period for the last year. It was 12 months ago that we felt God’s call to move to Guatemala and over eight months ago that we put our home on the market. Since then we have been waiting.

Dad 1 But while we have been waiting, we have also been busy. Plans have been made, paperwork completed, passports issued, and our lives have been downsized. The downsizing has been done in stages as we have gone through our possessions numerous times, thrown away much, and sold even more. Each time we go through this process, we realize that we still have too much and need to reduce those possessions even more. But finally we are nearing the end of this process. Our house, closets, and storage rooms are nearly empty.

The reasons for this mass sell-off is three-fold. First, God has shown us that we have too much junk. Quite frankly, we have realized that we have wasted our time, money, and energy purchasing and maintaining things that we did not need and seldom use while billions in our world live without. That has broken us and moved us to downsize and remain downsized in the future.

scan0004 Second, we need money for the start-up of our new group home in Guatemala, and one source for those funds is the selling of our possessions. As we sell our home, vehicles, toys, and clothes every penny is being designated toward start-up costs of this new ministry.

And finally, as we move to Guatemala we must go through a bottleneck. That bottleneck is a six hour flight to Guatemala City on which we can each take two suitcases. Those two suitcases must contain all of our clothing and possessions with which we will live for the foreseeable future. To ship additional items is expensive, so we will make do with what we can carry (plus about six cases of ministry equipment and supplies and seasonal items that have been carried over for us by ministry teams.)

Scott Stanze 3 Two years ago I would have said there was no way we could reduce our lives and household down to two suitcases each. But God has been gracious in leading us on a journey that has shown us what is really important and how little we really need. That enabled me to throw away large amounts of sentimental possessions on Tuesday. We filled-up the back of my pick-up truck with old photos, newspaper clippings, cards and letters, and more. I selected a small percentage of photos and clippings for scanning, but the rest went to the dump. Possessions that used to be considered priceless memories are now being sold on E-bay. Even as I type this my daughter, Brittney, is in the next room sorting through and disposing of many of her own sentimental items. And all this is happening because of the bottleneck that lies ahead.

KY Miss Trip Some of you are likely shaking your heads and thinking badly of us now. How could we give up so many sentimental  possessions? And, to be honest, I will admit that I would have likely felt the same two years ago. But the blessing of the bottleneck has been to reveal to us what is really important, and it is not the boxes of knick-knacks that have cluttered our storage for years. It is the people and lives they represent. And those knick-knacks don’t come close to capturing either the memories or the people behind them.

Further, we have a choice to make. We can cling to those things that are mere shadows of those relationships, or we can let them go to save real lives and love more people. I believe that, in light of God’s Word, there is little doubt what our Jesus would choose.

And so, we are facing another yard sale in which many formerly cherished items will leave our home. But we can let go and move on knowing that the memories they represent are forever, and there are still more memories to build. That is the blessing of the bottleneck.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leftovers (A public confession)

pennies-in-the-hand Recently God has pointed out un-confessed sin from my past. While it is never pleasant when my loving Father takes me to “the spiritual woodshed,” this experience has been especially painful. Why? Because it has exposed a spiritual blindness and hypocrisy on my part that has left me deeply broken and ashamed.

This sin goes back to the almost seven years that I spent as pastor of Crosspoint Church here in Troy, OH. Our body of believers was made up primarily of low and low-middle income families, and offerings were almost always low. As a result, we regularly struggled to pay our bills. My strong insistence was that we always pay the bills outside the church before paying the internal bills, so I regularly received only a portion of my salary. Yet we always managed to squeak by as a congregation.

As the pastor, I served as the Chairman of the Elder Board and was the spiritual and visionary leader of the church. More than any other person I influenced our budget and its priorities. And, as the only salaried employee of the congregation, I was the one who was best positioned to encourage the church to steps of faith regarding our spending. Yet during my seven years as pastor we never once tithed to missions. (I feel dirty and ashamed having written those words and want to quickly delete this blog and start over with another topic.) I am not saying that we never supported missions, because we did. But the percentage of our budget devoted to reaching the world beyond our community was always very puny and never exceeded 3%.

The discussions regarded missions usually consisted of talk about “fiscal responsibility.” After all, if we are struggling to pay our rent and other bills it would be foolish to increase our budget for missions. Right? So, missions always received our leftovers, and there were very few leftovers to give.

I literally wince when I look back and think of how we managed to buy sound and video equipment, more chairs, poinsettias at Christmas, and other “essential supplies and equipment for ministry” while neglecting the most important use of our money. If only I had the opportunity to do it again, I would certainly do things much differently.

What makes this especially shameful is that I was living a double life. Wanda and I have been married for 22 years this month and we have always been faithful in our personal giving. Even through the very lean years, such as the one we are now encountering, we have not only tithed to our church, but have given as the Lord directed to support missionaries and meet needs in our community and around the world. And through those 22 years we have seen the miraculous hand of God provide for every need. Every bill has been paid and been paid on time. Sometimes the provision has come at the very last minute, but it has always come from the hand of our loving Father.

Malnourished I share those details with you, not to make public our giving, but to show you the incredible disconnect between my life as a husband and father and my life as a pastor. Any rational person would recognize the faithfulness of God in my personal life and giving and translated that to my role as a church leader. But I did not. And that was my sin. As a result, for seven years we managed to keep a roof over our church and a decent sound and video system but neglected the great needs of the church around the world and turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor, hungry, and dying. I accept full responsibility for that sin. It is mine alone as the pastor of that church.

Now my role is to challenge the church to look beyond themselves, see a dying world, and do something about it. I have a passionate message that burns in my heart that comes straight from the Word of God and calls the American church to sacrificial living and giving. But recently Jesus has turned that message around and delivered it back to me. And, as a result, it has broken me and changed me.

If I could spend those years at Crosspoint again, they would look much different. The first item we addressed in our budget would be missions as we sought the Lord for His heart for the world. Instead of getting the leftovers, we would give Him first dibs on our money. Then, from what remained, we would devise the rest of our budget. I am confident that, instead of struggling to pay our bills, God would have multiplied what remained and we would have spent it much better than we did.

But I can’t change the past. So I find myself grateful for the grace and mercy of God which is new every morning. I thank Him for this ongoing “woodshed” experience and the changes it is bringing about in me. And I thank Him that the future is still unwritten and I have a chance to give Him my first and best, both today and the days ahead.

Monday, June 28, 2010


DSCF4776 I am writing this blog during the final leg of our journey from Guatemala. We are currently in mid-flight from Houston to Dayton, and there is a beautiful sunset outside my window to enjoy. I am almost home.

Home. It’s such a powerful word. It is so easy to take for granted and not consider how precious it is…until we live without it for a while. But when we go without it for a few days, we begin to realize how wonderful it really is. Home.

DSCF4760 This morning our team said goodbye to the kids at Hermano Pedro. That is always a difficult time. I kissed each child, told them “Te amo!” (I love you!) and choked back the tears as I left the wards. I believe each member of our team struggled with the emotions of leaving those children, teens, and adults behind. But we did, and we did so because home was waiting for us all.

DSCF4745 When we arrive at the airport late tonight, each of us will be greeted by family members who will embrace us, tell us they missed us, and take us home. We will be anxious to share about our trip and hear about their lives while we were away. We will enter our houses, lock the doors behind us, and find ourselves in a place of love, warmth, and security. We will be…home.

DSCF4778 I no longer take that concept for granted, because I am so frequently dealing with and working on behalf of those who have no idea what it is like to have a home. They only know of institutions. They experience a stainless steel crib, mass produced food that’s been pureed in a blender, a constantly changing parade of nurses or nannies, and long, lonely nights during which their cries are unanswered. For most of these precious people, trying to imagine a home would be like you and I trying to imagine a fourth dimension. It is nothing they have experienced before, so how could they put pictures and words to it.

DSCF4748 This week our team has worked hard to show these children small glimpses of home. We have held them, sang to them, hugged and kissed them, and loved them. But these tiny tastes are still so inadequate because they will still spend tonight in the same cold institutions instead of in the security of a family. And that bothers me deeply. And I hope it bothers you. But I don’t want it to plague either you or I to useless guilt or pointless tears. I want it to drive us both to action. Otherwise it is simply empty emotions.

DSCF4755 One of my challenges to the team this week was to consider the question, “What will I do about it?” In other words, now that they have seen the incredible needs of the children, having held them in their arms and looked them in the eyes, what will they do? If we go away having shed a few tears and loved a few kids, what’s the point? If we truly love the least of these, it will drive us to action. Emotion without action is not love.

I pray the day will soon arrive when my home will be in Guatemala. At that point, my goodbyes to these children will not be for near as long. At that point, we will become a real home for children who have never before envisioned what a home is. Meals patiently fed instead of dumped down throats. Real beds in real bedrooms with privacy and dignity. Family devotions, story telling, laughter, and hugs. And a whole lot more.

DSCF4718 What will you do? Will you adopt a waiting child? Will you give sacrificially to an orphan ministry? Will you give to help a family bring home a waiting child? Will you go on a short term trip to hold and love them? Will you join us and help to open a second home in Guatemala? What will you do to help the word “home” become a reality for a child who has never know it before?

Daryl Fulp (on behalf of HfH June 2010 Guatemala Team)


Saturday, June 26, 2010


(Note: After feeling fine for over 24 hours, Katherine once again came down sick last night and had to remain behind at the motel this morning. Then Rachel began to feel sick mid-morning and needed to be escorted back to the motel. Both are better now, but they missed our day with the kids.)

DSCF4717 We spent our final full day in Guatemala at Hermano Pedro, and the day started off…interesting. When we arrived this morning we were met by the head Nazi…I mean nurse…who seemed to hate life in general and us specifically. Her scowl and snapping tone put our team off and ended with the two of us exchanging words. Of course, neither of us could understand the other, so I am unsure what words she exchanged. In spite of our best efforts to be friendly and helpful, nothing we did was good enough.

DSCF4735 However, the day improved when I was able to arrange to check some of the little kids out for a trip to the park. We took along a couple of young people who were experiencing their first time in Guatemala and Hermano Pedro. One of them, Anna, was a unbeliever from Guatemala. I was able to share Jesus’ heart for a hurting world with her, so please pray that God takes those seeds and produces a harvest in her life.

We had a great time taking of shoes and socks and splashing their feet in the water. After that we bought ice cream for the kids and made a mess of them.

DSCF4768 Shortly after we returned to HP a clown team arrived to entertain the kids. I pulled out water guns and gave them to the kids who could handle them, and we quickly filled the courtyard with laughter and water! I put on a rain poncho and the kids (and clowns) had a great time squirting me. After a little while the head nurse came out and shook her finger at us saying, “No mas agua!” But we (both kids and adults) had a lot of fun while it lasted. I don’t know why they do not allow the kids to simply be kids.

DSCF4770 Near the end of the day one of the nursed approached me and asked me to feed little Estuardo. I quickly agreed, even though feeding him is something like running a marathon. He has autism and does not like to sit still. In fact, he quickly screams a piercing squeal if he is restrained, so his feeding usually involves following him around the courtyard trying to hit his mouth with the spoon. But tonight he seemed especially hungry and was standing still for the first four bites. Then, the head nurse arrived, took the bowl out of my hand, and said, “No comida por Estuardo!” (No food for Estuardo!) Are you catching a theme to our day? She then told me to put him in bed. When I tried to argue with her I could get no reason for why he was not to receive food apart from her bad mood and her dislike of Estuardo. So, my little buddy went to bed hungry and I left angry.

This evening I find myself praying a very simple prayer: “Lord Jesus, come quickly and bring healing for these children and shut down Hermano Pedro and every place like it for eternity. And meanwhile, help me love and fight for every child who is oppressed, neglected, and ignored. Let your kingdom come through me!”

This is my last blog from Guatemala. I hope to update again on Monday after our travel day tomorrow. Please keep following and praying!

Here are a few more pictures of our day for your enjoyment and consideration:

DSCF4715 DSCF4719 DSCF4723 DSCF4725 DSCF4727 DSCF4729 DSCF4730 DSCF4732DSCF4734