A Night that Changed His Life

Jose Hilario woke to cold metal being pressed against his temple. "Don't move or talk," the stranger warned. Masked men tied up Jose and his wife Ismenia, rendering them helpless. "We've been sent to kill you; lie still." Sheer terror gripped Jose's heart as he heard the men break down the door of his only son's bedroom. Sixteen year-old Christian was just down the hall, but Jose couldn't see or hear him at all. Would they kidnap him? Or kill him? Jose prayed as he had never prayed before.

Just three years before, an American missionary couple had knocked on Jose's door and invited him to a neighborhood Bible study they had just begun. Ismenia had trusted Christ as her Savior years before, but Jose and Christian had never been very interested. A little curious about these foreigners, Jose agreed to go visit Pastor Robbie's Bible Study. A few weeks later, Jose trusted Christ has his personal Savior, and Christian soon followed his example. Things began to change at the Rodriguez household.

The family attended church together faithfully and all took the personal discipleship course in order to learn more about the Bible and grow in their walk with the Lord. It was exciting to see changes in their lives.

On this terrible December night, bound and gagged in his own home, Jose reflected on what the Lord had done in his own heart and in the hearts of his family. Pase lo que pase, estamos seguros de nuestro destino final. Whatever happens, we are sure of our final destination, he thought. He prayed for courage and strength as the masked men ransacked his house and continued to yell profanities at his family. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally escaped into the night.

After struggling for some time, Jose and Ismenia were able to free themselves. They ran to Christian's room, where they found him safe and sound. They thanked the Lord together that they had made it through this ordeal and that He had spared their lives. The men had stolen jewelry and some cash set aside for their business, but the loss was minimal in comparison with what could have happened.

Over the next few weeks, changes became evident in Jose's life. He began to attend soul-winning visitation for the first time. He had realized in his darkest hour the value of the gift of eternal life; how could he not share this with others? During the following months, he led person after person to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord had used a horrible situation to create a determination in Jose's heart to share the good news he'd been given. So many in Progreso still have not heard...

Have you realized the value of what you've been given? Our eternal security offers us not only a home in heaven, but also guarantees us peace here on this earth. What are you doing so that others may receive this gift?

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. -Matthew 6:19

Ismenia (Jose's wife) talks with Joey Goins at a church activity.

Christian and Jose both serve as ushers at Iglesia Bautista El Faro.

Searching for a Way Out: Maria's Story

There are countless stories of lives changed because of the Medical Missions Outreach Brigade hosted by Team Honduras this past week. As you read the story of Maria, will you pray about how you can be involved in world missions? There are many more Marias still waiting for help.

Maria (name has been changed) was desperate. This was not what she had planned at all. She knew Christ as her Savior, had attended church faithfully, and loved her husband. However, somehow along the way, problems began to creep into her marriage. Discouraged and backslidden, she had dropped out of church; things began to spiral downward from there. She and her husband separated for two months, and she was absolutely miserable. She knew it was wrong, but during this time, she sought comfort in the company of another man.

She and her husband were back together, trying to reassemble the pieces. But Maria began to feel the familiar nausea and tiredness that could only mean one thing. She was pregnant. Instead of turning to the Lord, she sought advice from her friends. "Take this pill. It will take care of everything, and he will never know," she was told. Her conscience burned, but she could not bear the thought of facing her husband with what she had done. She took the pill and waited. Nothing happened.

"Oh, if that didn't work, you need to go get an injection," the unsaved friends advised. Maria once again silenced the Holy Spirit and tried to erase what she had done. Still nothing.

Finally, she went into her room, locked the door, and physically removed the life growing inside of her. In agonizing pain, she hid the bowl of evidence under her bed, praying no one would find out. She had never been more ashamed of anything in her life.

Maria developed a high fever, continued bleeding, and was in great pain. She told her family members only that she was sick, and they began to worry. Her brother told her of a Medical Brigade that was being hosted by the church where he faithfully attended with his family. "It's right down the road, Maria, at the school. Why don't you let the nurses there examine you? Maybe they have some medicine that would help."

Maria reluctantly went to the clinic and spoke with Michelle McPhillips, CRNP, about her symptoms. Not having the full story, Michelle was puzzled. She knew something was wrong, and she was not getting all the information she needed. She asked Maria to return the next day. This time, Michelle directed her questions toward Maria's spiritual condition. She recognized the agony on this lady's face; it came from something deeper than physical pain. The more they talked, the more of the story came out. Michelle sent Maria directly to the hospital to be treated for the sepsis related to the home abortion. She needed blood, an ultrasound, and a DNC. Late that night, Michelle and Lauren Kubik, RN, headed up to the hospital to visit Maria. After checking with her nurses and inquiring about her progress, Michelle took Maria's hand and sat on the bed next to her. "Do you know you could have died this week?"
Maria's eyes filled with tears as the reality hit her. "Yes, I know."

"Where would you have gone, Maria?"

The weight of Maria's sin had caused her to even doubt her salvation. Michelle led her through the Roman's Road verse by verse, wanting to be sure that Maria knew her eternal destiny. When Maria assured her that she had indeed repented of her sins and trusted Christ, Michelle continued by telling her of her own testimony, sharing personal hardships and battles that the Lord had brought her through.
"You know that the Lord is there for you when no one else is, don't you Maria?" Maria nodded, her heart heavy with the knowledge that she had failed Him. She knew she needed to ask for His forgiveness. As they prayed together in the dark room, she felt a burden being lifted. No, she didn't deserve His love and forgiveness. No one did. But she knew He did love her. Why else would he send these sweet nurses to care for her exactly when she needed it most? They were proof that He still cared.

She would start over. It wouldn't be easy, but she would seek her husband's forgiveness, she would go back to church, she would move on. Most of all, she would guard that precious relationship with her Lord. He had reached out to her in her time of greatest need.

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? -I John 3:17

Fighting for his Life: Maynor's Story


Maynor rode his bicycle down the long, dusty road in Negrito to buy meat for his family. Though only fifteen years old, he already had a common-law "wife" at home to feed. He needed to run his errand quickly so that she could start lunch. Up ahead he saw an neighborhood teenager he knew, leaning against a post. This teen had a rough background in gangs and drugs, and although Maynor knew he shouldn't stop, he decided just to speak to him for a moment. As he drew nearer, he realized the other boy's eyes were red and bloodshot. Through his drugged stupor, he commanded Maynor to surrender his bicycle and cell phone. Before Maynor realized what was happening, the drug addict drew his machete and slashed at Maynor's face. Blood gushed from a gaping wound starting at Maynor's mouth and extending to his right ear. He dropped the bike and cellphone and somehow managed to run the seven and a half blocks to his mother's house. She screamed for a neighbor to give them a ride in a pickup truck, and they headed for the village doctor.

Since the doctor was not able to treat such a serious wound, he bandaged it up the best that he could, started an IV, and instructed them to go to the nearest hospital. They began the hour and a half trip to El Progreso, fear in their hearts and prayers on their lips. There was not much time to spare; Maynor's lungs were quickly filling with blood. He would soon suffocate.

Ninety long minutes later, they burst through the ER doors at the Hospital El Progreso. Maynor was covered in blood from head to foot by this point. He could not survive much longer. The Honduran nurses panicked. What could they do to such a wound? Then someone yelled, "Get the American doctors!"

In an OR just down the hall, a group of doctors from all over the US had come to participate in a medical brigade organized by Medical Missions Outreach and hosted by Team Honduras. We were performing a routine laparoscopic gallbladder removal when we heard shouts coming from down the hall. "Come quick! We need help!" Sparing whom we could from our surgery already in progress, we rushed down to find Maynor on a stretcher with a large group of people crowding around, watching him struggle for his last breaths. Blood stood in pools at our feet. As Steve Taylor, PA, tried to remove the bandages to see the wound, Maynor panicked, flailing his limbs and fighting for his life. "We need sedation!" The doctors managed to sedate and intubate Maynor so that they could begin to suction the blood from his lungs. Then they looked at the wound. Maynor's right cheek was splayed all the way to the jawbone. "Go get Dr. Levitt!"

Rob Levitt, an MD from Ohio, deftly sutured the cheek, layer by layer. With most of the blood now suctioned from his lungs, the breathing tube was able to be removed. Maynor finally began to cough and breathe on his own.

He was transferred to a recovery room, where he rested, groggy from the sedation. When he awoke the next day, he was surprised to have a few visitors he had never seen before. The American doctors explained to Maynor exactly how close he had come to dying. "What would have happened to you if you had died, Maynor? Where would you have gone?" Maynor heard how he could receive complete forgiveness for his sins and eternal life in heaven. Although he did not make a decision at that moment, a seed was planted. He thanked the doctors profusely and promised to stay in touch.

Maynor was just one young man helped by the medical brigade this week. We had a great opportunity to minister as Christ did: to both the body and the spirit. We praise the Lord for 66 souls who trusted Christ as their Savior. Please pray that Maynor soon joins them.

Maynor reads a brochure from Iglesia Bautista El Faro that tells him how he can trust Christ as his personal Savior.

Maynor poses with Reuben Driedger, CCP, who suctioned the blood from his lungs to save his life.

For more information about Medical Missions Outreach, a ministry that works with local churches on the mission field to organize a unique outreach into their communities, see their website: http://www.medical-outreach.com/.

Now what was I saying?

I was sitting on the front row on the porch of our church house last Wednesday night, enjoying my husband’s sermon from the Life of David series he has been preparing over the past few months. I took notes and absentmindedly swatted at the bugs with the other 100 or so people on the porch. Soft singing came from the two children’s classes inside. Suddenly, the worshipful spirit of the service was interrupted by a loud voice. “Shut up! Shut up!” the voice insisted. I looked up, startled, but Robbie continued unfazed. “Shut up! Shut up!” the voice grew louder. I was starting to get very annoyed. Obviously a child from the neighboring house was enjoying a good prank. Where were his parents? “Shut UP!” The voice grew louder. People were starting to exchange sideways glances, and the teen section was snickering now. I couldn’t believe the ushers weren’t moving to take care of the little brat! I finally caught Pastor Matt’s eye, who was sitting to the side of the pulpit; I mouthed, “Should I go take care of that?” and motioned to the back fence where the voice originated. He grinned and mouthed back, “It’s a BIRD.” Sure enough, the neighbors had left their parrot out on the porch that evening, and he didn’t appear to be enjoying service as much as the rest of us.

This wasn’t the first time we’ve been rudely interrupted. Two separate ladies’ meetings come to mind. Once, I had to move everyone right in the middle of my lesson, because coconuts were falling from the tree above. It was a concussion waiting to happen. At another, a lady screeched in the middle of my first point because one of the chickens wandering about our feet had decided to relieve itself on her leg.

Interruptions. We all face them. The day is planned, lists are made, tasks are prioritized. Now I can get this all done, if everything goes according to plan… But I’ve found that life rarely goes according to plan. We face constant interruptions throughout the day that force us to reevaluate. Okay, I'll do this later so I can take care of this situation that’s come up. It’s hard to keep a level head and stay flexible…especially after the third of fourth interruption.

It’s a constant battle, requiring a repeated prayer for selflessness and understanding. I am praying this week that the Lord will help me take what comes my way with patience and willingness. I know I can do it with His help.

Now we exhort you, brethren,…be patient toward all men. I Thessalonians 5:14
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