New Heaven and New Earth

Revelation 21:1-4

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.””

God will restore his creation to perfection.  He will again dwell among us.  The redemption and restoration is what the entire Bible is about.  Many of us will never, ever understand what that looks like until the Lord puts the “final” plan in motion.  We wont know until we are there dwelling in the new heaven and new earth.

This January I saw where God is starting that….in Caledonia, Corozal District Belize Central America.

Caledonia is a village that is situation in Northern Belize and like most northern Belizean villages sits amongst the reeds of sugar cane.  Unassuming, quaint and quiet.

In Caledonia, food is scarce; jobs are few and life is hard.

But the thing about Caledonia and specifically the church in Caledonia and their leader is that Hope is not lost.  The Lord is beginning to redeem Caledonia for His Glory.  They are the meeting point of the New Heaven and New Earth.

From the first meeting, we had with Pastor Rosaura, or the general as we affectionately call her, we knew it was a special partnership.  She wept across the table from Rob and Pastor Ed and said “Brothers, I believe the Lord has forgotten about Caledonia.”  They responded “well that is why we are here…to tell you that the Lord has not forgotten about you.”

From that moment on, we have been blessed watching this woman model leadership through humility, sacrifice, and love. She fasts every Wednesday, walks the streets of her village at night anointing the streets and bars with oil proclaiming that Satan and his demons have no authority to chain her people to drugs and alcohol, and quietly leads an army of people determined to revolutionize their village.  She receives respect but NOT because she demands it but because people see the Lord in her.  The church started off small, women primarily.  However, I can attest that it has GROWN.  Men are stepping up and the last time I was in the church in January, I saw 20+ men serving alongside of her.  Praise God.  The revolution, revival is happening.

Before this past January I had only heard stories of Caledonia.  Rob calls it heaven on earth.  The stories of hospitality were unparalleled.   Entire churches out to greet the team upon arrival.  An entire village really responding to her leadership, ready to love big and serve hard.

Oh and the food…..OH the food.  I heard of fresh speared fish from the river one day for a team just because and the mounds of fresh banana cake each night because well, you just can’t go to bed without a piece of banana cake.

The truth was I didn’t totally believe it.  Until I had a team up there.  

We wanted to get a team to Caledonia for dinner one night, so I met with Pastor Rosaura, explained our desires and she said “we will do our best”  I left knowing that she had everything in total control.

The night for dinner came and I drove in ahead of the team.  As my truck poked out from behind the cane fields and rounded the turn to the church, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Tears fell down my face as I looked, stared at the sight before me.  The entire village was out at the church (hundreds of people).  Men swapping stories on the church lawn, kids playing tag, women finishing the last details for supper.

I step out and try to find Pastor through the crowd.  I couldn’t get far as one man offered me fresh coconut water.  He had harvested all the coconuts in his yard, one of his only resources, to share with the team.  A child pulled me in another direction to play tag with her friends.  Women hustled me into the church to sit down for special appetizers just for me as the leader.  I asked for Pastor and found her.  She was reviewing the financial report from her treasurer.  I asked her how things were going.  She looks around and says “The Lord is here.  Things are great.”  I asked if I could help.  She laughed, scolded me for asking and said that I am here to be served not to serve.  She promptly got up and made sure my glass of juice was full.

The team arrives and everyone is immediately peeled off in several different directions, some with kids, some with women, some with men.  They are each given their own coconut water and are off basking in the joy of the community and local church.  We enter the church and there before us is a banquet table.  The decorations in heaven could not be more splendid than those that adorned the table set just for us.

I ask how I can help and the General, Pastor, kindly but firmly refuses.  The food comes out and we enjoy a feast of fry-jacks, BBQ, tortilla, fries, cold cake, and juice.  We over-indulged ourselves and I KNOW my indulgence was gluttonous.  A feast set before kings and queens.  I literally felt as she was sitting and watching, waiting and serving that we were at the King of Kings table. What an honor.

Our night continued with the team heading out for a ministry of food distribution, delivering staples to families and praying over the families, seeking to give them a blessing.  Even the families of the village flipped the blessing around.  Our team came back and said the families spent more time praying for and blessing our team than anything else.

As our team was out, Pastor sat me down, adamant that we review the financial report from the food money and ministry money I gave her for the evening with the team.  As the Group Leader and I sat down, she gave each of us a copy and went line by line through the report.  Every cent was accounted for.  She then hands me an envelope.  I look at it and ask “What’s this?”  She says “It’s the tithe back to the team from the money you gave us for food.”  I explained it wasn’t necessary and asked if she could take it back.  She politely, yet firmly refused.  “Tithing and generosity is just part of Caledonia.” Humbled, I took the tithe and told her I would use it to bless the team.  Such a powerful leader, such humility, such integrity.

As our time came to a close, I sat with Pastor Rosaura and she asked “why is the Lord blessing us with this team tonight?”  I looked her square in the eyes and said “Pastor, you may feel blessed but our team is leaving here forever changed.  We have sat at the banquet table of the Lord in the presence of His chosen one for this village.  You are a Queen and your heart has infected the heart of all of us.  Thank you Pastor for your love. ”

She looked back at me and says “We tried our best”

I pray that my best in leadership, in integrity, in serving, in humility, is 1/100000 of Pastor Rosaura, the General.  If it is then I am on my way to a full life in the Lord.

Revelation 21 says the Lord will dwell among his people in the New Heaven and New Earth.  I can attest the Lord is dwelling in Caledonia Belize.

The General with the Group Leader.

The General with the Group Leader.

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Guest Post – Ministry in the Margins – A Spin of the Globe

A Spin of the Globe is a series compiled by Praying Pelican Missions Mission Coordinators and Advocates. Within our individual blogging, most readers only get a narrow glimpse of PPM and our world-wide ministry. Between us bloggers, we realized we never speak much to countries we don’t have experience in – so we are Spinning the Globe. We hope through this series, you can experience another country within (and even outside) the world of PPM and get a taste for ministry that is unique and powerful, in every location. We pray you are blessed.  For more details about all of our domestic and international locations, go here: http://www.prayingpelicanmissions.org/mission-trip-locations

Friends and family – today we have a guest post from good friend Annie, who focuses her ministry primarily in Haiti.  Please take time today to read about her heart, the heart of Haitians and when true ministry happens….in the margins. For more information about Annie and her ministry check out her blog here.

Hi Edmonds friends and family! My name is Annie and I’m a Missions Coordinator with Praying Pelican Missions working primarily with short-term trips in Haiti. This past summer, I had the opportunity to serve alongside a group from Falls Church, Virginia.  We served for a week in Hinche, a smaller city in Haiti located in the central plateau.  It was an amazing week, filled with wonderful ministry – pouring a concrete floor for a guesthouse that will house future mission teams, conducting a VBS for 150+ kids, worshiping alongside a congregation of 800 faithful believers… but the true beauty of this week had little to do with the ministry itself. It was the margins of this week that made it so special.

You see, we had a unique situation for our lodging that week. Instead of staying at the church or at a nearby facility, we stayed in the pastor’s house. He had extra rooms and his house was on the grounds of the church, so it worked out perfectly. We spent the week as family.  We ate with the pastor and his family on their porch, awkwardly bumped into one another in our pre-coffee grogginess in the mornings, and were completely folded in as unlikely brothers and sisters.

Pastor became our dad, quietly imparting his godly wisdom, loving us so well, and orchestrating little blessings.  One evening, I was in the back of the house and suddenly heard what sounded like a party going on in the front yard. I ran out to see that the worship team had moved their practice from inside the church right onto the lawn in the front of the house so we could hear them! We ended up spending the next hour or so worshiping and dancing with them. See the video here.

Madame Jacqueline was our mom, cooking us some of the best Haitian feasts I have ever tasted and laughing at me when I asked where we could buy a birthday cake for one of the girls on the team.  Instead, she insisted on making a cake from scratch and created one of the most beautiful desserts I have ever seen.  Our family continued to grow with Kensley our brother, who patiently taught us how to live life in Hinche, and Sarah, our sassy little sister, who giggled with us way past her bedtime and showed off her awesome dance moves.

When people ask me what PPM does in Haiti, I can default to the things that are tangible, easier to explain: projects we are working on, logistics we tend to, communities we work with, ministries we’re involved in.  All of those things are important and glorify God. But so much of the true beauty of ministry happens in the margins. It’s the “down time” between the scheduled ministries when we realize what it really means to be a family in the body of Christ.  The margins are where relationships are built, where we learn to see Jesus in one another, and where we often see glimpses of the Kingdom crashing into earth.  We were fortunate this week to have those moments of ministry in the margins with Pastor and his family, and our lives are forever changed.

My prayer for all of us is that we would begin to see and appreciate the moments of margin in our everyday lives and cherish the in-between.

Sarah peeking out at us in a rare moment of shyness."

Sarah peeking out at us in a rare moment of shyness.”

Madame "Mama" Jacqueline with one of the week's participants

Madame “Mama” Jacqueline with one of the week’s participants

Miracle in the field.

We have now entered “busier” season for work.  Last year as I was just figuring out what this work was all about and we were adjusting to living here, I started out the “busier” season by leading Asbury Church to Orangewalk Belize.  They started my busy season last year and I was privileged once again to lead their trip to start my busy season this year!

I can’t describe the blessing of seeing the team step off the plane and run and hug me as we were reunited like old classmates and friends.  I couldn’t wait to get started seeing Our God move in mighty ways during the week.

We prayed and spoke all week about faith and obedience.  We prayed as a team that when we step out in tune and from prompting of the Holy Spirit that the Lord would reward our faith and obedience with miracles….and He did!

We saw people baptized with the Holy Spirit, praying and petitioning the Lord in tongues, and saw God set up and show up in divine meetings!

A Story…

One day while our team was on a prayer walk, three of them met up with a young man who was struggling with addiction and anger.  Dirty, tattooed and aggressive, I heard how one of our staff was initially stand off-ish but two women of great faith stepped forward and approached the gentlemen.  He was not in his right mind and was mentioning how someone owed him money and he desired to take of that.  Our team listened intently.  He dug deep into his pockets becoming more and more agitated at the debt situation; our team did not falter.  Faith did not waver.  He said he has never felt loved.  The women looked him directly into his eyes and with a calmness and sincerity that is only of the Lord, told this addict “I love you.”  Perplexed he stopped agitating around in his pockets.

“I do drugs” – he said

“I love you” – our team responded

“I deal drugs” – he said

“God loves you.” – our team responded

“I have guns and want to hurt people” – he said

“God love’s you” – they said.

“I need help” – he said

“God loves you and wants to help you” – they said

And just like that, this man full of anger, full of hate, addicted to drugs, starts asking for help.  His whole countenance changed.  He then proceeded to tell our team that he couldn’t say Jesus name.  He refused and had never said it.  Our team’s faith / belief never changed.  They prayed..”Lord open this man’s ears and mouth to hear and proclaim the mighty name of Our God”

No sooner than they said Amen…the man proclaimed “Jehovah is God.  Jehovah God”.  While to many this may seem trivial or unbelievable or set-up, our staff witnessed it and I am here to report it.   Faith and Obedience results in God’s miracles.

Here’s the “most interesting part.”  The night before this encounter, we had prayed as a team that like the people who responded to God’s miracle when he burned the altar on Mt. Carmel that people we came into contact with in Orangewalk would proclaim “The Lord – He is God”

Look at what the drug dealer proclaimed again….Jehovah is God…sounds a lot like The Lord – He is God to me.

Praise God for another miracle in the field!

Machine Gun Family Update!

  • Amy – had a great week when I was gone with Ms. Kimbell coming over and helping around the house.  Amy learned to make panades and creole bread!!  She’s going to be a Belizean cook before long!!  Next up paddies, meat pies, and banana cake.  Pray for our weight and discipline to work out!.  Also seeds are planted in our newly constructed garden (I have the blisters to prove it!).  We are looking forward to tomatoes, peppers, chives, oregano, sage, and okra!
  • Madeline – She loves school!  Great times with her friends and teacher.  She is full of life and love for all people!
  • Jojo – is in the throws of potty training, and he is doing GREAT.
  • Elijah – is all over the place.  He should be moving from army crawling to official crawling (or creeping as it is called in Belize) very soon!
  • Josh – I am off to Guatemala for a week today!  Pray that the Lord would be in our meetings with key pastoral leaders AND that He would open my eyes to the needs of that country!
  • Children’s Ministry – Kicked off this week!  We had 14 kids, 15 volunteers, and everyone had a BLAST!!

Prayer Requests

  • Home – Pray for sickness to be rebuked in the name of Jesus from our house.  We are proclaiming healing over us and are petitioning the Lord to keep us from sickness
  • Marriage – Right now is the middle of a busy three week stretch!  Pray that the Lord would strengthen our marriage and that the time between trips would be fruitful and refreshing and that Amy and I could take great delight in spending the precious time with each other!  Instead of talking about the kids or doing things around the house!
  • Work – Pray for Guatemala.  This is a HUGE opportunity. We are meeting with key leaders!  Pray that the Lord is in it and that the small team of (Rob, Ross, Pastor Ed, and myself) respond to the Lord’s prompting during our trip.
  • Children’s Ministry – Pray for 100 kids to attend this Saturday!
  • Fundraising – The Lord is faithful and He will provide.  Great news!  We are about 50% funded for 2014.  We are praying for the Lord to bring (5) new monthly supporters this month.  If you would like more information on how to contribute financially to our ministry, feel free to email me at joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com.

We love you guys!  We read every response that you all provide.  Please continue to write.  Your words are of great encouragement to our ministry and souls here!

Great conversations about a greater God on the streets

Great conversations about a greater God on the streets

God demonstrating His love for us through His beauty

God demonstrating His love for us through His beauty

Our workers during the week at a house project

Our workers during the week at a house project

Hard work deserves a break

Hard work deserves a break

VBS craft time!

VBS craft time!

Ms. G's house that we improved during the week

Ms. G’s house that we improved during the week