Archive for February, 2012

The Border Crossing into Tijuana, Mexico

The frequent bad news about the border is a reminder of the need for the transforming power of Christ. Only the gospel gives us lasting and real hope.

I just read a good article written in the Miami Herald on Monday about Tijuana, and how it’s becoming a safer place. I always welcome good news about positive change in TJ. The title of the article is, In Revived Tijuana, a new calm delights – and mystifies.

It appears one of the reasons there is peace in Tijuana is because one of the gangs has gained control of the city. The article cites experts who speculate, “they say the calm is because Mexico’s most powerful crime group has seized control of Tijuana’s key drug-trafficking corridor and now enforces the peace.” So it’s good there is more peace, but unfortunate that the gang problem still exists.

Our prayer is that the Prince of Peace will bring true peace to this land. Many Americans come to Tijuana for the prostitutes, abortions, gambling and other vices. There are some major strongholds in this city. Even when peace comes it doesn’t bring with it a transformed people. Only God can do that.

I’ve been touched by Chris Tomlin’s song, God of This City. My prayer is that greater things are yet to come for the San Diego – Tijuana border. Pray with me that it will happen soon!

Check out the song on YouTube here–

And greater things are still to be done in this great bi-national city of San Diego-Tijuana!

In HIs Grip, Dave

Dawn with Diane Karkosh

In my one of my posts about our champions from last summer I wrote about August and Carla Hein. They have been great friends and partners for a long time. Carla is especially good at connecting us with their friends. One of the couples that they introduced us to is Roy and Diane Karkosh.

Dawn and I stayed with Roy and Diane on our last trip. They live in Churchton, Maryland about 20 miles south of Annapolis. Roy and Diane hosted a support dessert party for us, and helped us with transportation. On top of that we just love getting to know them. They love the Lord, and have wonderful stories of God’s work in their lives. Since Dawn isn’t always able to travel with me, it was a real treat for her and Diane to get some time together. They enjoyed the opportunity to sharpen one another as they shared about their journey with Christ.

One of the many encouraging things that I’ve noticed as we travel and visit friends is that the Lord is able to use us to minister to a lot of people in many settings. It’s mutual, because they also enrich our lives. It seems as we’ve gotten older, and maybe experienced more hardships that we can share how the Lord has gotten us through the valleys. Unfortunately there are valleys. We all need to someone to come alongside us, pray with and for us, and to encourage the heart.

Our need for faithful friends to stand with us doesn’t diminish when we are home. I just finished a meeting with a good friend here in Colorado Springs, David Quintanar and I’m reminded once again how vital it is to have friends stand with us. We leave our time together uplifted. I really need that on a Monday! What a great blessing to have so many friends in so many places who love us, and want to see us succeed!

Thankfully, the Lord brings many friends like this into our lives. The trials we’ve endured and the lessons we’ve learned are not wasted. We can share what we learned with others with the hope that they will be blessed, and that the Holy Spirit will speak through us.

Thank you for encouraging us, and we pray that we will be a blessing to you as well.

In His Grip, Dave

As we endeavor to plant churches, and to see a movement started on the San Diego – Tijuana border we need to be sowing the gospel broadly. There is always a danger in the church to get away from one of its primary functions, which is to faithfully proclaim and share Christ.

Dawn and I have been so encouraged by how many people have come to Christ through our partners at Harbor Mid-City. We are excited to work closely with them as we make our move to the border. But even now we are doing more to partner with them to reach out in the community.

Our BEAMM teammate, Ray Call is organizing teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) training with Harbor to minister to the Hispanic community. ESL is a great way to build relationships, meet a need and share the love of Christ in a very practical way. The training will take place on March 23-24. Ray is busy recruiting teachers for the training, and the classes that will follow in April. Pray with us that he will find people in the church who have the gifts, and are willing to help teach ESL.

ESL is one of the ways we believe we will see the seed sown. Our prayer is that many will come into the Kingdom through the ESL outreach.

This short video presented by another ministry illustrates a great point regarding the need to stay focused on one of the primary callings of the church. It’s a modern-day parable. I think you will enjoy it, and it’s only three minutes long.

Hope you enjoyed the video. With you on the Journey!

In His Grip, Dave

Our friend, Stephen Phelan leading Harbor Mid-City in communion a great Christian practice where we remember Christ death until He returns

Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Forty days before we celebrate Christ’s resurrection at Easter. I remember as a young boy practicing Lent. I would give up candy, or something that I normally enjoyed. It’s a good practice to deny ourselves at least on occasion. I think the problem was that I didn’t really understand why I was giving something up during the Lenten season.

I grew up in the Catholic church, and although there was a time I felt bitter towards the church, because I believed there were some essential truths that I missed. For instance, I really didn’t learn much about grace, and that it’s by grace through faith that we come to Christ. Yet, as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that there are many things that I gained.

I practiced many of the traditions when I was young, but the meaning was lost on me. Now I’ve come to appreciate the good things that I learned in the church while I was growing up.

One of the things I learned is the Bible stories. This was brought home to me when I was studying the Bible with a friend from Japan. We were studying about Moses, and they asked me, “Who’s Moses?” I explained who he was. Then it hit me that most people in Mexico are Catholic, so they know many of the Bible stories.

It is interesting to me to see that many Protestants today are rediscovering some of the good wholesome things that the Catholic church practices. The forty days of Lent are similar to Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert. He was tempted after he fasted for forty days. Many of the disciplines practiced in the Catholic church are healthy. Disciplines like, solitude, guided prayer, even the practice of Lent can be helpful to our Christian faith.

One of my friends from our church, Bill Petro, who calls himself the friendly neighborhood historian has some helpful info on Mardi Gras and lent that I’m sure you would find interesting. You can read more here…

Dave & Dawn Diaso

I just read another helpful article on Lent by Dr. Chuck DeGroat. He wrote, “As people addicted to comfort and convenience, we’re often unaware of how we live to feel good about ourselves, to gain a bit of affirmation, to exert influence, to maximize our own pleasure, to satisfy our immediate needs.  Lent invites us to intentionally frustrate ourselves, to engage in a season of deprivation, which actually makes us more aware of the depth of our dependence on any number of things – a substance, our reputation, control, achievement, being right, being comfortable, being secure.” You can find the whole article including some helpful resources on practicing Lent here…

I hope and pray that we might all grow in our Christian disciplines as we seek to follow Christ.

In His Grip, Dave

Mark Jekel and family

This last summer I wrote about my time with the Jekel family. They are some of our champions! Friends who stand with us in this ministry, and encourage us along the way. Dawn and I are thankful for such wonderful people. We thank the Lord for the army of people who stand with us.

Dawn and I just returned from our trip where we visited friends in three states, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The places we visited are all about a two-hour radius from Washington, DC, which is one of our important bases of prayer and financial support.

While we were in the area we stayed with Mark Jekel and family for three days. I just love Mark’s sense of humor, so we always have a good time together. The Jekels organized a dessert for us to introduce us to three couples that go to their church. We had a great evening with them, and it was so encouraging to see their enthusiasm about what we are doing on the border.

New friends are usually fascinated by my story about when I was kidnapped, and then later held up at gunpoint. After sharing about our journey, and where God is leading us. One of the guys said, “I can’t just live a comfortable Christian life anymore.” Believe me, Dawn and I know we are cracked pots, but we are glad that our lives, in spite of our weaknesses, can be used to both encourage and challenge others to live for Christ. We are not only able to be used in the lives of others, but we also receive from them. It helps us to continue on this journey of faith.

Dave and Dawn with the Jekel’s

On Sunday we went to church with Mark and his family at Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s a very large church with about 4,000 people. They are part of the Sovereign Grace Ministries. There is a Sovereign Grace church in San Diego that we are seeking to partner with as we endeavor to reach the San Diego – Tijuana region. We realize we can’t reach this great bi-national city alone.

The senior pastor of Covenant Life, is Joshua Harris. He is the author of several books including, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and Dug Down Deep. We had each of our kids read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Hopefully they are following some of its principles, although some people might wonder if we are Amish, especially since we just visited Lancaster, PA! I can assure you the book doesn’t push the Amish lifestyle, so you don’t have to worry too much about us. 😉

Dawn and I met Josh’s dad, and his brothers at a conference in Denver about two years ago. It was good to meet Josh, and some of the other pastors after the service, and share with them about our ministry.

We are grateful for the Jekel family. They’ve blessed us in so many ways. We often pray that the Lord would increase their tribe. We need a number of friends who will stand with us in this ministry, and introduce us to their friends and/or church. I know we can’t do our work without the Lord’s blessing and provision, and we can’t do it without many people standing with us in prayer, and financially supporting us.

In my next post I will write about Roy and Diane Karkosh, and other partners that encourage us along the way.

In His Grip, Dave

The US/Mexico Border

A friend of mine sent me this encouraging report from The Christian Post about what God is doing in Mexico. “When missionaries and pastors serving in Mexico discuss drug violence, a common theme emerges. People are suffering and dying in terrible ways, they say, but the fear this creates is driving unprecedented numbers of Mexicans – especially teens and twenty-somethings – into the arms of Christ.”

There’s so much bad news being reported about Mexico, it is refreshing to see how God is using these trials to drive people to Christ! We’ve prayed for this.

One missionary state’s in the same article, “The Enemy uses deception through the media to paint a bleak, horrible, hopeless picture of Mexico, which isn’t a true one. There’s a tremendous uprising of youth coming to Jesus. Seeds that were planted year after year are coming to fruition. The time of harvest is now.” Keep praying with us for more harvest. Read more of the article here …

We are starting to see God open more doors for us on the border. As we move forward we meet opposition. We know that we need prayer support. We are getting ready to launch ESL training March 23-24, so that we can use ESL as an outreach with Harbor Mid-City starting April 13.

Ray and Michele Call

Here’s some of our requests:

  1. Pray for the Call family as they serve with us. Their family has endured a lot of change and transition moving 5 times over the last 5 years.
  2. Ray Call’s chronic health problems. Healing and maintenance. Pray specifically that this will not interrupt Ray’s effectiveness for God’s glory, but that He may use his weakness for His glory.
  3. For the ESL launch we need six teachers, one administrator/coordinator, one snack coordinator, volunteers to interact with those that come to learn English, Students to learn English and pray for Kristy Holliday who is coming to lead the ESL training March 23-24.
  4. Pray for Michele Call as she home schools five children.
  5. Pray for Ray and Michele as they work on improving their Spanish, so that they will be more effective on the border.
  6. We are praying for direction in areas of evangelism as we seek to strengthen Harbor Mid City’s outreach to Hispanics.
  7. Continue to pray for Dawn and me regarding the sale of our house. We need wisdom as to whether we should consider renting the house.
  8. Jim DeWitt, Dave, Daniel Nuñez, Bill Yarbrough and Ray Call in TJ

    Pray for our new associate member, Jim DeWitt, as he helps us with administration and training.

  9. All three of us need more financial support: the Calls, Jim DeWitt, and Dawn and me. We are close, but it’s slowed down a little lately, so we need perseverance, encouragement and wisdom as we move forward.
  10. Praise the Lord for the team unity that we have, and that our team is growing. I just talked to a woman earlier this week that is going to begin the process to join MTW, and become a part of our team. That’s a huge answer to prayer.

Thanks for upholding us in prayer!

In His Grip, Dave

Will Massey on our fascinating walk

I went on a fascinating walk with my friend, Will Massey while I was in Lancaster last week. He is one of my heroes, because he has dealt with some adversity, and in Christ he is overcoming. Will is the son of Bill and Valerie Massey. Bill is the pastor of Harvest Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I wrote about our time in Lancaster in my last post.

The Masseys are one of the wonderful families that I get to visit while I’m on the road sharing about our ministry. It was extra special on this visit, because Dawn was able to join me. We’ve known the Masseys since before we were married. Valerie served in missions in Italy before she married Bill, and they were both on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ at one time. We met them when they were on staff in San Bernardino, CA with Crusade, now Cru.

Their son, Will is a great young man. He loves the Lord, and he is always happy to see me. He sure knows how to make me feel welcome when I visit his family. I believe my life is richer, because of my relationship with Will and his family.

I asked Will if he wanted to go on a walk with me. He was reluctant at first, but then he agreed to join me. While on our walk Will told me how he wrote a letter to James Earl Jones, because he had a problem with stuttering when he was younger. He wanted to know how James Earl Jones overcame this to become such a great orator. Can you believe that the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King among other public speaking accomplishments, once had a problem with stuttering?

Will also has some challenges he is dealing with. When I think of it we all have challenges we face. They may not be the same, but we all have our limitations. Part of the key is how we respond to the difficulties that life brings our way. Paul reminds us in Second Corinthians that God’s grace is sufficient, and when I am weak He is strong (2 Cor. 12:9 my paraphrase). I feel especially weak today as I write this. I think of some of my own shortcomings. Goals I have set that haven’t been met. Not always being the father, husband or friend that I want to be. I take comfort in Paul’s words. God is able to take my weakness, my brokenness and use it for His glory.

Dave and Dawn with Bill, Valerie and Will Massey at their church - Harvest Presbyterian

Thank you Lord for the privilege of having a friend like Will. He is positive and he has a great sense of humor. He’s a fun guy to be around. I learn from him how to keep going when the going get’s tough. I can’t wait to get a chance to see him again.

Keep Will and his family in your prayers. The Lord has used them to plant Harvest Church. The church has grown, and they’ve just moved into a new building. There are some challenges that come with a growing ministry. They are important partners in ministry and they are a great blessing to us.

Thank you Lord for the Massey family, and my good friend, Will.

In His Grip, Dave

Lancaster Farm & Countryside

Lancaster, Pennsylvania offers some beautiful and intriguing country. The landscape with the farms and the rolling hills is breathtaking. It’s also intriguing, because of the Amish and their life style.

We were in Lancaster to visit friends from Westminster and Harvest Presbyterian. These churches have a heart to not only reach the people in Lancaster, but to see the gospel go forth to the outermost parts of the world.

One of my roommates from seminary, Bill Massey is the pastor of Harvest Presbyterian Church. The Lord has used Bill and Valerie to plant a strong church. They just moved into a new building this fall. They started the work ten years ago. Great to see how the Lord has used them to raise up this church to be a light in the community.

Dave and Dawn with Bill, Valerie and Will Massey

The Masseys have been great friends to us over the years. Dawn was able to accompany me on this visit, and we realized it was the first time that she had seen the Masseys for 20 years. Wow! Where does the time go? But God has proven himself faithful as he has worked through Bill and Valerie’s ministry over the years, just as he has done for us.

It’s also been great to get to know the people in their church. We leave encouraged after enjoying fellowship with these friends. They are excited about what God is calling us to do. We had lunch with Lee and Anita Troup, and Bud and Gwen Gray. They are older faithful saints, who love the Lord. Lee leads the missions movement at Harvest, and Bud is involved in leading missions at Westminster. It’s a blessing to see how they have served the Lord over many years. These two couples went to Wheaton College together in the 50’s. They shared some great stories. They’ve seen some wonderful things that the Lord has done, but they’ve also been through their share of trials.

Lee and Anita know a number of Amish families, and they took the time to introduce us to some of them. It’s fascinating to interact with the Amish, and to see how they live.

Before we left Lancaster, we had lunch with Eunice Nichols. Eunice loves Jesus!  What an outstanding woman of God. She’s been such a great encouragement to us. I pray that the Lord would increase her fold. We need an army of friends like Eunice, the Masseys, the Troups and the Grays to stand with us in ministry.

Thank you Lord for such a wonderful group of friends!

In His Grip, Dave

Dave at Liberty Church

Dawn and I had a great time at Liberty Church in Owings Mills, Maryland, this past Sunday. Liberty is a great name, as we think of the liberty that we have in Christ! This church supported our ministry when we were in Mexico City. It’s thrilling to connect with them again! Thank you, Jesus.

It was a great encouragement to worship with them, and to share about what God is doing on the border. They expressed interest and enthusiasm about our ministry.

While at the church we met a college student who would like to explore a possible internship with us. Dawn and I got to know her better over dinner  and she has a neat heart for the Lord. She would be a wonderful addition to our team. Pray with us that the Lord will lead and guide her as she prays about and considers the possibility of working with us after she graduates.

Dawn and I are praying for the Lord to raise up many interns. Young workers that we can build into. We’d love to see them grow, and gain ministry experience with us. We would love for them to be thrust out into the mission field, including BEAMM San Diego – Tijuana, for long and short-term service. O Lord, hear our prayer!

We do have two interns that are already committed to working with us this summer, Zach Lutz. He is a student from Moody in Chicago. Our son, David is ministering with our partner, Harbor Mid-City. This summer we will put them to work to help us as we launch our BEAMM ministries.

Another huge need we have now is for somebody to head up our mercy ministries. There are so many needs and opportunities on the border – ESL, medical, food and clothing distribution, job training, etc. We need a person called by the Lord that can head this ministry up. This will enable us to mobilize friends to get involved in reaching out in the love of Christ to meet some of the physical and spiritual needs.

Dave & Dawn - with you on the journey!

Wow! I just received an email as I was writing this from a friend who has been considering working with us. She said  she has a strong interest in working with our team this summer. Thank you, Jesus! It’s possible that she could help us with mercy ministries. Could this be our answer to prayer for someone to lead mercy ministries? Stay tuned!.

We pray that liberty will ring on the border, and that the captives will be set free. Isaiah 61 speaks of proclaiming the gospel to the poor, and setting the captives free. That passage describes our hearts’ desire to see the gospel so fill the border that those living in San Diego and Tijuana are transformed in every way, socially, culturally and spiritually. Join us in prayer for a movement of the God’s Spirit on the border!

In His Grip, Dave

Dave with Daniel Martinez at Calvary Church

I shared our story during Sunday School at Calvary Presbyterian in Glendale a few weeks ago. I wrote about my sentimental return to Calvary after I visited the church. Usually when I have an opportunity to elaborate on our journey of faith as missionaries I recount how I was kidnapped when we lived in Mexico City. You may remember that I also was held up at gun point, and had my car stolen. For the most part, we had a wonderful experience in Mexico, but these trials are part of our life as well.

After I told the group at Calvary about our life and ministry in Mexico, I gave them an opportunity to ask questions. One woman asked, “How were you able to stay in ministry after being kidnapped?” I can’t remember exactly how I responded, but that question stuck with me. Later I thought, “Yes, God has ministered to me and my family. He’s brought us healing and wholeness! Thank you, Jesus.”

Most of the time when people ask me questions they are good helpful questions.  I feel encouraged by the interest they have in what God is doing on the border. I must admit that sometimes I get a question that appears to be trying to pin me against the wall. I wonder what their agenda is? But the overwhelming majority of people who Dawn and I interact with are very encouraging.

God definitely uses the church to spur us on. I don’t always take time to reflect on the many good things the Lord has done in our life. He has protected us and preserved us. Yes, he’s allowed us to go through the fiery furnace at times, but never alone and never without purpose. That doesn’t mean that we always know the purpose, but we do understand that He has one.

Dave Sharing at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs

We will have many more opportunities to share our story and answer questions. Pray with us that God teaches us, and gives us His wisdom and grace as we interact with new and old friends alike. Dawn and I leave this morning for a 10 day trip that will take us to Liberty Presbyterian in Owings Mills this Sunday, and to visit many other present and potential supporters of our ministry with Mission to the World.

It is a story of God’s faithfulness, just as He was faithful to my friend, Issaid, who I wrote about recently.

Pray also for Jonathan and Hannah as they will have to care for themselves while we are gone.

Thanks for going with us and praying for us on this journey.

In His Grip, Dave