Friday, February 27, 2015

Helplessness and Presence

I would like to share three examples to demonstrate how helpless we are in a place that is filled with people needing help. Hang in there, because I have a good reason for sharing these stories.

Story #1

clip_image001Last week I traveled to Guastatoya to deliver two wheelchairs. The first delivery went without a flaw and we had 11 year old Carla sitting nicely in her new chair. From there we traveled to a local physical therapy center where we met Dora to give her the second chair. However, as soon as she saw her new chair she informed us that it would not work, telling us that it needed to have a much lower seat. At first I just thought she was being unappreciative, as both she and her mother expressed frustration over the chair. But as we talked, they both softened and shared the reason that they were discouraged. This conversation led us load them both into my truck and drive them to their home to talk more. This journey with them changed my entire perspective.

clip_image001[4]The drive to their home was about 1 1/2 miles and ended on a very steep street. At that point we parked, unloaded Dora’s old wheelchair and I lifted her from the truck into the chair. We then pushed her up a hill and turned down a side alley, where we faced another hill. And when we arrived at their home, I suddenly understood the problem. There was a set of steep chairs leading down from the street to their courtyard. Then there was another set of steps from the courtyard into their house. Due to severe birth defects in both her legs she is not able to walk at all, so I turned and asked her the question to which I already knew the answer. “How do you get into you house?” She hung her head in embarrassment and softly answered, “I crawl.”

To save her from doing that in front of strangers, I carried her down both sets of steps. And it was no easy task.

At this point, I realized that she and her mother were right. The chair we brought would not work. She needed a chair low enough that she could get into it from the ground, because regular crawling is a part of her life.

clip_image001[6]We spent time with them in their home and discovered that they were without food and work. Her mother fell and broke her arm two months ago, and she went to the national hospital where the doctors did surgery, if you can call it that. They butchered her, and her upper arm is horribly mangled as a result. So she is pushing her daughter’s wheelchair with one arm. I honestly don’t know how she does it.

There are a few things we can do to help them. We are going to begin delivering a basket of food each month. (If you are interested in sponsoring this $29 basket for them, please e-mail me at I am also trying to arrange for an orthopedic surgery team to look at the mother’s arm. However, I have spent hours since that meeting trying to figure out how to keep Dora from having to crawl in the dirt. But I have come to the conclusion there is nothing I can do. We cannot provide a means to get her into her own home without her crawling. And that really bothers me.

Story #2

IMG_3294During that same trip we stopped to visit Marta. She is an elderly lady with whom we have been working for over three years. She has a nasty circulation sore on her left leg that she has had for over 20 years, and we have been treating it. Each month we visit, clean the sore which wraps all the way around her lower leg, wrap it in gauze and then in an Ace bandage to help the circulation. After three years, we have made no headway in her healing. Why? Because no matter how hard we try, we cannot get her to wrap her leg the way we show her. For a brief period of about two months, she did. And during that time we saw tremendous improvement. But then she stopped again and we were back to square one.

This time I teased her. I told her that I knew why she wasn’t wrapping her foot and leg. It was because I am so good looking and she is afraid that if her leg heals I will stop visiting her. But I assured her I would visit her after her leg healed. She laughed, punched me in the arm and we all laughed together. But most likely Marta will die with that circulation sore, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Story #3

IMG_3370Yesterday morning I received a call informing me that little Maria Jose, age six, had passed away. She lived in the town of Sipacate, right next to the Pacific Ocean, and we had been working with her for around 21 months. She developed cerebral palsy after getting immunized and running a high fever. Many people do not know how to treat fever here, so her temperature spiked and brain damage was the result. Maria suffered from frequent sicknesses and infections. We were providing formula each month and assisting with medical treatment when she needed it. When Manuel, Gerardo and our nurse, Katie Riley, visited her last week, she was sick again with a throat infection. But she was on antibiotics and we expected a full recovery.

However, Thursday morning at around 1:30 her parent found her in her bed, not breathing. Their hearts were broken. And so were ours.

So, this morning Dale, Anita, Gerardo, Manuel and I traveled to Sipacate to participate in her funeral. We grieved with the family, walked two miles in the procession under a hot sun and watched as she was entombed. And we hugged, wept and prayed with her family and friends.


In spite of our best efforts, Maria Jose is dead. There is nothing that we could do to save her. In fact, we cannot save anyone. We cannot add a single moment to anyone’s life. That is the role of the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Even in those moments in which we have “saved a life” it was only due to God’s plan and His willingness to use us to accomplish His purposes. In a ministry that exists to glorify God by helping, we find ourselves helpless, over and over again.

So, why are we here? Is this an announcement that we are a failure and are closing up shop? No, of course not. Just the opposite. Because in each of these stories, we are doing what God calls all of us to do…be present in lives.

This ministry is not about wheelchairs, medicine, therapy, formula, food and medical treatment. It is about Jesus Christ and drawing people to Him. It is not about meeting needs and fixing problems, although we try to do those things when we are able. It is about being present in lives as representatives of Jesus Christ.

That is exciting when you think about it. You and I, everyday, get to go out as ambassadors for Him. We get to be present in the lives of others and show them what Jesus looks like in the flesh. We get to speak and touch and hug and love in His name.

Don’t misunderstand me, I do this so imperfectly. I know I am but a dim reflection of the One True Light. But increasingly I am reflecting that light. And I pray that is true for you as well.

Dora and her mom need Jesus, far more than they need a solution for her crawling in the dirt. So we will help with the things with which we can, but that is not the reason we are there. We are there to be with them, through whatever hardships they face. We are there to simply be present in Jesus’ name.

Marta’s primary need is not healing for her leg. It is healing for her heart. That is why we will continue to visit her month after month, even though she does not bandage her leg the way we repeatedly ask her to. I want her to know that she is not alone and that she is loved. And I want her to understand that Jesus is the source of that love, so that she will learn to love Him in return. So we will be present in her life in Jesus’ name.

We were not able to save Maria Jose’s life. However, we were able to be present in her life and the life of her family during her final 21 months. And that presence will continue. We no longer need to deliver formula or help with medical needs, but we will keep visiting her family. We love them, and Jesus is the source of that love. We will continue to be present with this family in Jesus’ name.

What about you? All of us are surrounded by people who desperately need the presence of Jesus in their lives. They are in your school, your workplace, your neighborhood and your family. And we are called to be that presence. We are asked to do God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven” by reflecting Jesus wherever we are present. But it is so easy to miss that calling. We are so busy doing good things that we can forget to simply be present with people. Who in your life is starving for the presence of God through you?

What an awesome responsibility and privilege we have. Let’s not forget the real reason we are here. Let’s go and be present.

From a fellow helpless servant,


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wheelchairs, Wheelchairs and More Wheelchairs

Sometimes I sit down to update my blog, only to draw a blank. I know that there is so much about which I need to write, but I just can’t remember. While I know there is more to report on, the things that are filling my mind are wheelchairs.

As a wrote several weeks back, we have recently been given a gift of $10,000 from an anonymous donor to provide wheelchairs. I have had a backlog of people waiting for chairs (10 to be exact), so as soon as we had the funds I went to work. Thus far this week I have purchased eight chairs and delivered four of them to towns scattered over Esquintla. Tomorrow I will deliver two more to the town of Guastatoya in the department of El Progreso.

This has been such a blessing. To be able to deliver chairs without worrying about the cost and finding a sponsor has been a freeing experience. And it seems that for every person we seat, we find another who needs one.

IMG_0297[1]For example, on Monday we delivered three chairs, and one of them was for Teresa. We found this older lady who is recovering from a stroke while we were visiting another person and measuring them for a chair. Her son pushed her up in a ratty old chair that was falling apart. The rubber from the tires had fallen off and the bearings were shot so that both of the main wheels wobbled and brushed again the side as it rolled. The son removed his hat, bowed his head and asked us if we could please help his mother. The answer, of course, was yes.

So when we pulled up in from of Teresa’s house her son excitedly pushed her out to greet us. I had not even had a chance to get the new chair out of the truck before they and other neighbors gathered around. Since we were in a shady place, we decided to seat her outside. I should have known better. By the time we were done, there were about 20 people gathered around us, many of whom had health problems or disabilities. I explained that I was not a doctor, but told them the best places to go for treatment.

IMG_0303[1]But one of the people who approached us was Carlos. He had a motorcycle accident ten years ago that left him paralyzed from the waist down. But it had done little to slow him down. Each day he wheels across the city of Esquintla to work, and the wheels himself back home at the end of the day. His upper body is buff and he is determined, but his wheelchair is shot. He wondered if we could possibly help him find a chair. So measurements were taken and we will be delivering a new chair to him soon.

IMG_0291[1]We also delivered a new chair to Walter that day. We have been working with him for over three years now and have seen him grow…a lot. In fact, he had completely outgrown the wheelchair we had provided him two years before. There were not more adjustments we could make. So we seated him in a new ride and he was one happy young man.


IMG_0307[1]The final chair we delivered that day was to Henri in the village of Las Palmas. If you know much about wheelchairs you will notice that the new chair is not a very good seating job. He is the most difficult child I have ever seated. I had been struggling with what to do with him and had consulted with Dick Rutgers several times. Dick (aka. The Wheelchair Wisperer) was also struggling with what to do. Then this chair fell into my lap and I decided it was the best that I would be able to do for him.

If you could see his old chair, you would know that this is a big improvement. For one thing, it was falling apart. The sand and salt from the Pacific Ocean had rusted it away. While it was tilted back, Henri was constantly sliding down in the seat as his lower spine is rounded. His new chair allows him to recline to 45 degrees to allow him to settle into the chair. Dick will be doing a follow up visit to see what, if anything, he can do to help him sit better.

But that is the reality of this kind of ministry. We do the best we can do with what we have. In the States Henry would have thousands of dollars of customizations on a specialized chair. That is not an option here. But God takes our best and honors it.

10996144_10153208602775984_113612637859760431_nIn other news, Brittney is settling in nicely in San Pablo La Laguna. She has begun classes with several children and will be working with the local school to complement the teaching they receive there. She has also begun taking Guatemalan sign language classes (which is very different from American Sign Language) to help her better work with deaf students. She has really found her stride.

11001925_10153213196525984_4868510130817963246_nHogar de la Esperanza continues to become more and more efficient and effective, and we are seeing the kids take strides. Our newest little one, Rosalinda, is doing well and gaining weight. At her last weigh-in she had gained almost a pound. Her energy level is increasing and her crying is less. We have had her to our cardiologist, neurologist and nutritionist, and everything has been good news. The cardiologist reports that there are no problems with her heart. (We were originally told that she had serious heart issues.) The neurologist reports that there are no signs of brain damage. She is simply delayed developmentally due to the malnutrition. (We were originally told that she had sever brain damage.) And the nutritionist reported that after only 10 days in our home she saw significant improvement.

10428568_10153213146130984_4689984016543301524_nMeanwhile, Olimpia is our malnutrition success story. The little girl who was skin and bones is now a plump little ball of chubbiness. She is now sitting up very well and is beginning to scoot across the floor. Her hair has grown back in, and she is Little Miss Popular everywhere she goes.

So, that’s it from here. I am sure that as soon as I post this I will think of the other dozen things I was supposed to write, but they will save for now. Blessings from Guate!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Seeing with God’s Eyes

There is much that I could report right now, but at this time I will delay giving an update. Instead, I want to use this opportunity to address an issue that has been troubling me for some time. This is not just a pet peeve, but instead is something that is tearing at the very fabric of the church and diminishing its effectiveness in reaching the world. It is contradictory to the Word of God, and it must change.

What is this cancer to which I refer? It is the church using secular standards to determine the ability of its people to minister.

I know, you were expecting something far more dark and sinister. Or maybe something that sounds more spiritual. But trust me when I say this issue is undercutting the heart of God and the effectiveness of the church. Allow me to demonstrate.

Imagine Joe and Susan are feeling led to go to the mission field. So, they approach the missions board of their denomination and express their desire to go to a foreign field to serve God. What happens next? Well, the first thing that happens is a review of their education and experience. Do they have a degree? Is it the right degree? What kind of job experience do they have? Do they have the necessary skills to do effective ministry on the field? And they are placed under a microscope to determine if they are usable.

Then, if they make it past that gauntlet, they are thrown into the deep water of deputation. (For the uninitiated, this means fundraising. And it can be a nightmare of closed doors and frustration.) The couple and their family will spend months or years seeking opportunities to speak in churches, traveling, sharing and asking for support. This is so very challenging for so many reasons. First, it is difficult to get into churches to speak at all. Most pulpits are guarded far more securely than New England Patriot footballs, so most of these calls are met with a simple, “Sorry, but no.” And that is if the calls are even returned.

But they will get some opportunities to speak, often when the pastor needs a vacation or break from the pulpit. So, they go before a congregation where they are subjected to a similar review that they endured with the missions board. Each person in the congregation analyzing whether these people are worthy of support. But that determination is often determined more by how dynamic they are as speakers and how well they communicate their plans. Do they know exactly what they are going to do? Do they have a clear plan to get there? (I know, that sounds like reasonable questions. But it is important to note that almost always everything changes when they get to the field. Effective ministry is not determined by one-year, five-year and ten-year plans, but by the ability to hear and follow God’s voice one step at a time.)

So, for some this process is quick and relatively painless. They have good contacts, are strong speakers and organizers and are charismatic in their approach. Money flows quickly and they are on the field in no time.

But for others, they struggle for years seeking to raise support. Not because they are not called by God, but because so many deem them unworthy and unequipped.

But is this what God had in mind? I don’t think so. This is the church using the world’s standards to determine believers’ abilities to minister. And we are missing the point. Allow me to demonstrate:

“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD.’ But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’" – 1 Samuel 16:6-7

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’" – 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

The Word of God makes it clear that God intentionally chooses the ones that the world overlooks. God picks the weak, the unimpressive, the ill-equipped and the insignificant through which to do His work. Why? So when the work is done the person does not received the glory. He wants it to be obvious that it was done by God’s power, not man’s. But the modern church has abandoned this principal and instead looks to résumés to determine a person’s ability to serve. And it is crippling ministry.

One of my daughters, Carissa, was wrestling with the decision of whether to go to college or not. She has been called to missions, but recognized that college may or may not be a part of that plan. If God wanted her to continue in school she was willing. But, at the same time, she did not want to spend tens of thousands of dollars and end up with student debt that would delay her heading to the field unless she was sure that was what God wanted.

During that struggle, a well meaning believer counseled her to go to college. And the illustration she used was one of a lumberjack chopping trees. She said, “Time sharpening the ax is never wasted.”

My response to that is this: Yes, it is, if your ax is already sharp. And, yes it is…if you are not an ax. Different ministries require different preparation. Let’s not waste time sharpening a wrench.

After much prayer and consideration, Carissa chose not to go to college while two of my other daughters, Brittney and Krishauna did. Their calling were different, as they felt led toward special education, so they needed their degrees. Carissa, however, is called to open a group home for girls with special needs in Uganda. She felt her best preparation would be hands-on experience working in a similar group home. So, she has been serving as the co-director of Hogar de la Esperanza. And she is fantastic at it! The Spirit of God is on her to do that work, and it shows.

Carissa is organized and efficient at running the home, even though she is laid back and artistic in her personal life. She is intentional and well-thought-out in her ministry, even though she is laid back in her personal life. She is the near-perfect blend of playful and serious that enables her to keep her head even when everyone else is losing theirs. God has empowered and equipped her to follow her call.

But, from the outside, you might think that Carissa is not equipped. Who does this young lady with no college degree think she is? How is she, a young, single lady ever going to move to Uganda and begin a new ministry? And so, she is often overlooked. And her fundraising has been difficult. (Part of that is because she is often not allowed to speak in churches. Part of that is because she is not a natural public speaker. That is not her gift because God is calling her to a ministry that does not require public speaking.) But, I guarantee you, God is going to use her to do great things for Him!

Carissa is just one example out of hundreds of thousands. This is occurring, not just in relationship to the mission field, but in day-to-day ministries in churches. People are examined with eyes of the world instead of God’s eyes and deemed worthy or unworthy. Many are discarded because of their “lack of qualifications” and many others, who see this played out, don’t even try to rise up. We are stifling entire generations and squelching what could be a movement of God.

But God uses the unlikely and overlooked. I give you the following examples:

My friend, Dick Rutgers, who has no degrees. He is one of the most effective ministers of the Gospel I know and is used daily to touch the lives of the poor and disabled. And he touches thousands of believers, myself included, through the way he lives and ministers with selfless abandon. He is the primary tool God used to bring my family and I to Guatemala. He is one of the people I most respect in this world. But Dick would likely be overlooked by most missions boards.

My friend, Judy Kerschner, is trained as a nurse. Yet, do you know what she does? She started and runs the best school for children with disabilities in all of Guatemala. (This is not spoken carelessly and is not an exaggeration at all.) Can you imagine someone trained as a nurse suggesting that they wanted to open a school for children with disabilities? But God led her and, through His power, she has. And it is clear that God has done it.

Me, a pastor with a degree in Christian Education, directing a ministry for children with special needs. Are you kidding me? What am I doing opening a group home, bandaging bed sores, treating infection and fitting wheelchairs? I never planned on this and am sure not the best equipped to do this. Yet, here I am. On January 25th I posted the following status on Facebook:

“Four years ago today my family and I stepped off a plane into Guatemala. We had no idea what we were doing, but we knew we were called.

“Today I stand in awe of all that God has done. The group home is open and providing excellent care and abundant love under the direction of my incredible wife, Wanda. Our rural village ministry has provided care and assistance to over 150 families. Our new special education ministry is being established in San Pablo La Laguna, headed by Brittney. And, Lord willing, our ministry will be expanding into Africa as Carissa makes her move to Uganda in 2015 to open a group home for girls with special needs. And God has surrounded us with amazing partners in ministry, including Dale N Anita Beyer, Gerardo Hernandez, Manuel Moran, April Clark, Katie Riley, Anny Yesy and many more who love and serve selflessly.

“Who am I that God would allow me to be near Him as He does His work? Today I praise Him, because He is worthy of every drop of credit and glory!

And that is the key. No one who knows me would ever give me the credit for what God has done. I am weak, frail and poorly equipped. Even the few skills and little training I do possess have resulted from God’s orchestration of my life. I, of all people, should be overlooked and discarded. Yet God came along and picked me, not because of who I am, but because of Who He is.

So, can I encourage all of us to do something? Let’s stop looking with human eyes and start seeing with God’s eyes. Instead of asking who is the best speaker and who has the highest degree, let’s start looking deeper and noticing the unnoticed. There are people all around us that God wants to use, in spite of their weaknesses. (By the way, that includes you and me.) When a missionary comes to your church, take a deep breath, be still and hear God’s voice. Let’s stop seeing the outward men and women and start seeing hearts.

In every situation, there is only one thing that matters…the call of God. If the call is there and the person has the courage to follow it then God will do great things. And this will have nothing to do with degrees, charisma, speaking ability or job training. Instead, it will have everything to do with God.

Okay. I feel better now. If you have actually continued reading to the end, thanks for letting me share. Let’s go unleash the church on the world.

Because of Him,

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew.