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  • Len Raynor

WHAT MANY MIGHT NOT KNOW

I can’t speak for all missionaries, but after being in the field for almost ten years, you pick up on stuff. Writing an update can be a little stressful at times, because we always want to paint a beautiful, bright picture, full of smiles, joy and positivity. And many times, in updates you read words like “challenging," "trying times," "fighting the good fight," "please pray for," "God will make a way," or "God is able."

 

For a missionary, these words on the surface don’t mean much on first read, words that on the surface would signify - "things are mostly good, but a little difficult." And these words are used because we don’t want to alarm anyone to how severe the situation may be in the moment.  Many missionaries feel that all updates need to be happy, leaving the reader feeling joyful - just another perfect month full of blessings on the mission field; but that’s not always the case in ministry or life on the field.

 

To share what some these common used "update words" usually mean if someone was to dig a little deeper it would look a little more something like this: "Challenging" = I’m treading water here, barley getting by, tired, broken. "Trying times" or "fighting the good fight" = these seasons are harder than anyone would dare say. These types of issues are usually and always outside our control.  "Please pray for" = this usually means the church, the ministry, or the missionary outright does not have the funds to meet a need that they see or have. Outreaches can’t be scheduled because something thing has broken and funds need to be diverted to the repair and not a ministry activity. And lastly, "God will make a way" or "God is able." = we, here as missionaries on the ground, don’t see a way through this one; it signifies things are starting to get or are currently really, really difficult.

 

So, for us, this past month has been a bit "challenging" and "we have been praying" for a few different ministry opportunities and we know "God is able." Let me explain. We have been noticing over the last months that we have not been getting many new people. We brought this up in our leaders' meeting and prayed for answers. Well, we got those answers. Let's first start by explaining life and religion here in a small town in Mexico… churches are different here. The churches fight over people like they are clients for a business (because for many they are). To give you an example - suppose someone is attending church A and they have friends that attend church B and they want to visit or start attending church B. That person needs to go ask permission from the pastor of church A if they can leave and attend church B. I will give you one guess what the answer is from the pastor of church A… The churches here do not get along, they don’t really work together. But the one thing that they all agree on is they don’t like Calvary Motul. This is the one thing that they can unite together for. Some ugly, untrue stories have been shared about Calvary Motul and the ministry here.

So, we are currently in the process of planning creative ways to demonstrate that we are a Christ-centered, Bible-teaching, good church that loves God, loves people, and has some fun. Keep us in prayer as these plans are being prayed for and being put into place. One of those ideas we started this month - to have a coffee talk the first Tuesday night of every month. This is our newest outreach. We send out a mass-social media invite announcing the topic, everyone is invited to come and enjoy some free coffee in the Café courtyard, as we sit and talk about the topic of that night. Clearly, I give a biblical point of view, but people are welcome to share their point of view also. It is common ground over a cup of coffee, to share Jesus, to hear opinions, to possibly agree, or agree to disagree. It is inviting and we are meeting new people. We had our coffee talk this month and had a great turnout as we talked about a marriage.

Next, it has been "trying times" this last month. Caleb competed in his 2nd Muay Thai event. He did great and finally he has connected with a sport and is building friendships.  If anyone has ever met Caleb, this is a shock for everyone. Caleb has the sweetest kindest spirit to him. When he played soccer here before the Covid shutdown, he would not play hard because most of the kids were shorter than him. He would say, “I don’t want to be mean and take the ball from them.” And now he has connected with Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA fighting. I’m still shocked. At his 2nd competition, it was a hard fight. His opponent was a couple years older than Caleb and the fight went the entire distance of 3 rounds. Afterwards, Caleb had a post-fight headache. The next morning, he woke up sick with a high fever. We took him to a local doctor, and the doctor said he just had a bug and gave him some fever reducer and we went on our way. But his fever kept going higher and higher. At 10pm the next night, we checked his fever to find it was 104.5 while he was on fever reducer. We moved him to a cold shower and with the cold shower we could only get his fever down to 104. So, as a parent, the reality of the situation hit - that this is serious. We live in a small city that cannot deal with any serious injuries or sicknesses, so we knew we would need to travel to the state capital to seek medical care. As we loaded Caleb up in the car, still wet from the shower and covered in wet towels, he was cold wrapped with ice packs, but yet still burning up with his fever. God forgive my speed, but let’s just say we made good time getting to the hospital. Caleb received the medical attention he needed and his healing began. I am grateful to say he is now back to 100 percent.


A new added ability for Caleb, besides being a good fighter, is he has learned how to do animal balloons really well. He is now working one day a week at Calvary Café making animal balloons for the customers. God has some unique plans for Caleb for sure.

Our next big event happened just last week. Friday morning, I received a call from a dad in the church saying his electricity was out and he didn’t know why. I wanted to stop by to see if I could help at all to get his electricity up and going for him and his family. I approached the stop sign about a block from their house. I came to a complete stop, looked both ways, the cross street was clear, and was about to proceed forward when I saw a white flash. I heard the most horrible sound of metal colliding, and then felt the impact. I was just rear-ended. I was hit so hard my glasses flew off my face, my baseball cap was knocked off, my truck was thrown to the other side of the intersection, and when I looked in the rearview mirror, all I saw was the roof of his SUV. The other driver hit me so hard it up-ended his SUV, momentarily knocking me out. He was going at least 60mph. The impact was so loud the family I was about to visit heard it from their house. So, now we are praying about how to replace the truck. It wasn’t a new truck, but it was a good running 2004 truck that I had saved for, but "God will make a way," and we are still waiting to see what will happen.

 

But I am grateful to be here writing this update. I have some back and neck pain, but God protected me. I walked away from a serious accident. I was able to go home, hug my family, and return to teaching that Sunday. Praise God - we had new people come! And yes, these last few months have been "challenging," but I know it's darkest before the dawn. I feel in my heart God is about to do a great thing in our lives and in the ministry of Calvary Motul. If you would like to reach out personally, I can explain more; or if you would like to keep us in your prayers or help at all with the ministry or the truck it would be a blessing.

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