Confident in the One who calls.

I’ve had many roles so far in my short time with Sparrow Missions. From leading teams to painting the Sparrow Academy to sweeping water out of the hallways, I have been blessed with a wide range of experiences that continually grow me as a teammate, leader, and servant. With that being said, I was a little weary when Justin asked me to take on my most recent task. I never saw myself being a teacher. Growing up I always struggled getting people to see things the way I saw them. It may have been due to a lack a patience, or maybe it was because I was not passionate enough, but whatever the reason, I always thought teaching was not my thing. So, when Justin asked me to begin English classes with the 4 boys who are going to India, I had my doubts. I thought to myself, “I can do a lot of things, but teaching is not one of them”. I doubted myself before my first class began. How often do you lose confidence in yourself? How often do you hear the whispers of the enemy saying, “You can’t do that, or that is just not your thing.”? All too often we let the enemy dictate our abilities, especially our abilities we can use to serve.

You can ask Elena, I had never been more nervous before that first class. But thank goodness that God is on our side, and “… all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Our Lord did not let me falter, and taught me something through a powerful passage in Hebrews. In chapter 10, verses 35 & 36 Paul states,

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

We have a confidence not in our abilities, but in the abilities of Him who has called us. I walk into English class everyday with confidence knowing at the end of all it I will receive my reward. I may not see the impact of my endeavors in this lifetime. But I know that once those 4 young men know English and following their calling to India, that lives will be impacted in a mighty way. I have absolutely loved teaching English to Irvin, Luis, Angel, and Victor. Not only do I get to see them learn and grow, but we’ve grown closer as brothers in Christ. Do not let the enemy tell you that you cannot do something, but have confidence knowing that our God will be with you through every endeavor you take on to further His Kingdom. Please pray that these young men continue to learn English, and the doors for their trip continue to open. Merry Christmas to my Sparrow family!

Joy!

Joy

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:7-12 NASB)

Several years ago, Eric started an Advent tradition where each week one family member is responsible for giving that week’s devotion. This is Ella’s week – Joy. As I helped her study for her devotion, I started thinking about that night and the true joy the whole world would receive in a little baby boy. The holiday season can be harder for some than others, but I believe there is a way to help us find joy even in the midst of our sorrow.

First, we must focus on the gift of joy the angel spoke of to the shepherds (Luke 2:12). The Son of God, was born of a virgin, so He could save the world from its sin. This little baby was God in human flesh. The long awaited Messiah. The One who would bring salvation to the world. He came down to earth from His heavenly throne to be born in a barn. I can only imagine what it was like for Mary to be traveling by donkey while 9 months pregnant. I rode in a golf cart through bumpy grass while I was about 8 months pregnant and made up my mind to never do that again! I digress. Jesus was deserving of so much more, a palace and fanfare, well at least clean sheets and a crib! I have taken care of my share of babies and I would have never even considered placing any of them in a manger to sleep. I had a crib and a mattress with sheets and blankets all ready for each one of them. None of them were the savior of the world; none of them were even royalty. There is joy in the fact that our Savior humbled Himself to be born as a poor, baby boy. We celebrate His birth at Christmas, but the true joy lies in the truth that He was not only born, but He died as the perfect payment for our sins.

Second, we can remember the gift of salvation. The price of sin is death. Men and women have been dying ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Satan lied when he said God didn’t tell the truth when He told them if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. Human beings have been dying because of their sin ever since. But, take joy, because our Savior was born and He has died as the payment for our sins. His death reconciled our relationship with God and allowed us to become heirs with Christ. Sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Now that is something to be joyful about! As usual, God did not stop at salvation, He decided to give us a comforter while He was away.

Third, we rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirt. I absolutely love that God gave us the Holy Spirit, because he’s a Bible commentary and intercessor all rolled up into one. I mean this with no disrespect, because I need Him to do both for me. I need Him to help me understand God’s word. I need Him to remind me of the truths I have read in the past. I need Him to ask God for the things I don’t realize I need. I need His presence to remind me of how very real my Heavenly Father is. I’m so thankful for Him. Yet again, God did not stop at three gifts, He gave us even more to be joyful about.

Finally, we find joy in the gift of our family. When we believe that Christ’s death on the cross is the payment necessary for forgiveness of our sins, we are placed into the family of God. That means we’ve got a LOT of brothers and sisters out there. Even if we aren’t related through blood. Isn’t adoption a beautiful thing? Family doesn’t mean shared genes and DNA, it means shared love. In our case, it means a shared Savior.

So, we’ve got a lot to be joyful about around here at SMCH- a little baby born in a manager who grew up to be the Savior of the world, our comforter the Holy Spirit, and our growing family. We’re so excited to have the Amador family living here and we are really enjoying making new Christmas memories with them. I pray that this post reminds you of the many reasons we have to be joyful. Now, get out there and spread the joy!

 

Justice versus corruption.

After the national elections ten days ago, the people of Honduras live these days in moments of great social and political tension. The opposition, led by Salvador Nasralla, accuses the current president who is seeking to be re-elected illegally, Juan Orlando Hernandez of electoral fraud, which has unleashed massive protests in the streets asking for transparency in the process.

After the protests, the situation worsened, and things went out of control. There was destruction of tolls, burning in the streets, and many people took advantage of the situation by looting and destroying private companies. All this sparked violence between the police authorities and the town, leading to the deaths of several people.

 

As a result of what happened, the government declared a curfew at night for ten days, but did not stop there.  They even began to repress the protests of the people. However, the peaceful protests have continued during the day. There’s no public institution in Honduras that can go against the president, because he controls all institutions and the congress, even the army. And with this, Honduras falls in frustration.

 

It has been sad to see how this situation triggered the vandalism bomb in many people, which shows the quality of values ​​that has been formed in our culture, first by families, not by the corruption of our government leaders. Yet it is also very sad to see how corruption in our nation has been reigning for so many years reaching the instance where it becomes almost unbeatable. People seeks justice but the government commits fraud in our faces and nothing or no one can stop them. As citizens many, and I include myself, have fallen into the feeling of helplessness and despair, in part by realizing that even though most people try to fight for democracy, corruption is winning. To see how a few people can do so much damage, to see that our humanity is so contaminated by greed, lust, power, love of money, this reality brings hopelessness to an entire nation.  Psalm 42:11 reads,

Why am I going to worry?

Why am I going to be anguished?

In God I will put my hope,

and I will still praise him.

He is my Savior and my God!

As a result of all this chaos, I see many people changing their actions and expressing themselves with solidarity.  I see them with words of encouragement, desire for justice, with love. And I celebrate this, but even better would be that these lessons learned in the wake of a crisis remain in us, become part of our values, be transmitted to our neighbor in our daily lives, and above all, we do it for love of God , not because of a need for personal well-being. Because that is our mistake; when it does not affect us, we are indifferent.

Also, this reminds me of the great responsibility that we, Christians, have to teach others of the love of Christ! To stand firm in Jesus and be examples in our words, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity (Timothy 4: 12).

We need to be making a difference in our families, our communities, at the Bordos, at work, at school, on vacations, on trips, that is to say, in our daily lives. So this is my prayer that peace fulfills our hearts and nation, and that we react and turn to God before the chaos, before the tragedy. For if tragedy still comes we will be ready because our hope will be placed on the King of Glory, our savior Jesus Christ.

Our dreams, God’s plans.

With the end of the year approaching fast, Chris and I have been thinking back on all of 2017, and it’s clear that this is a year of fulfilled dreams for our family and for our ministry.  Proverbs 16:3 says,

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

This year, God added another blessing to our lives, and we’ve watched as all of our kids adjusted to and flourished because of Micah’s presence. K has taken on the role of a nurturing big sister with pride. She helps with and cares for Micah with such love, and we’ve witnessed a new understanding of gentleness growing in her soul. There is also no one else who can make Micah giggle like his two big brothers, B and A. Their hearts have softened, and they have both really opened up so much more since Micah was born. Being able to add a bundle of joy to our family was a dream God put in our hearts, and when He fulfilled that, He grew us in more ways than we could have ever imagined.

In terms of ministry, we have dreamed of so many things that have come into fruition this year. At the beginning of the year, our sewing clinic began, and it has led to a women’s bible study, true friendships, and spiritual growth among women in our community. Roxanne and I have been able to grow relationships and disciple some beautiful souls. Our dream of a sewing clinic was just the start of God’s plan. 

Another plan that we had this year was for me to take “maternity leave” after Micah was born, and for Chris to take over my English classes at the local public school. Chris planned out what he would be teaching, but what he didn’t plan on was how much God would grow his relationships with the older boys at school. Our plan has always been for me to teach them, and this was simply a break, but God knew that this time was more special than that and He grew relationships between Chris and these boys. One of the boys even recently shared with us that he wants to be just like Chris when he gets older. He wants to find a woman and love her the way Chris loves me, and in his words, “I’ll love her even if she gets fat. Just like you with Miss Alishia.” We all had a good laugh about that one, but it really made me reflect on the way God used this time to fill a gap that I couldn’t fill as their teacher. God’s plans are always greater than our own!

Isaiah 55:9 says,

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We’ve also dreamed big in terms of our kids’ education. We worked hard to get the district, then state level educators to make an exception so that K could skip ahead two grades, since she had to start in first grade when she came to live with us. In October, she was finally registered into the fourth grade. That was something she had dreamed of and we had been working on since January. But God didn’t stop there. Tomorrow, our kids are starting classes in a great bilingual school in Tela, and the quality of their education is going to be so much greater! We are so excited about how God’s plan is so much greater than ours!

We invite you to spend some time in thankfulness and reflect on ways God has fulfilled dreams in your lives, and we also ask that you spend time in prayer today for our kids and the Amadors’ kids as they take a huge step tomorrow starting classes at their new school.

God Bless!

A call to love, not to judge

As we are getting reading to wrap up the school year and getting close to Thanksgiving, we had our own little celebration at the Sparrow Academy. This year was a little different; last year all the kids, staff and some extra visitors sat together in one big table and ate chicken(Honduran style for Thanksgiving) and thanked God for all his provision. This year the Lord put in my heart to celebrate it with an act of thanksgiving by showing honor and love to our parents. Let me tell you why….

Through all month God has being working in my heart in specific areas of my life, areas I didn’t know I needed work but areas that were making me have feelings that were not of love. As you all know I have a close relationship with the kids at school, they are part of my life and my heart.  It is almost as if they are my own. Our relationship goes beyond more than just me THE PRINCIPAL making them obey at school; it goes deeper to them sharing their feelings, their dreams, their struggles, and their rejection, and I usually dig in a little bit more on what happens at home as well. With that being said I found myself being angry and judgmental toward some parents that I knew they were not showing love and value to their own kids. Of course my judgmental feelings, of how they needed to fix it or how their only job of being parents was not done right, needed to be addressed. My thought was “if they can only see the kids heart” they will know how much they are missing”. But I figured that though was not from the Lord and he showed me that, through the Friday celebration with the parents.

He guided me to the scripture of Luke 7: 36-50 – this scripture talks about the woman who came to Jesus recognizing he was the savior and in need of his forgiveness. But I want to talk about what the Pharisee, who had invited Jesus to his house, said:

v.39 “Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, if this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner”

Let’s stay there for a minute.  The Pharisee knowing the law and the word of God, decided to judge really quickly in his heart. I found myself doing this.  “if Jesus only knew how they act”, I used my time to judge instead of love, forgetting Jesus already knows who they are.  This past month I have been reminded of who my God is and how I am called to love and serve to be able to show Jesus.

So back to the celebration. We invited the parents to the academy and they were surprised by the Thanksgiving brunch that led into a talk of how grateful and happy we are for their lives. Teachers made little cards of encouraging words for each individual parent. At that moment, I knew the Lord was showing me if I keep letting my judgmental heart get in the way I will be wasting my time. As Mother Teresa once said, “If you judge people you have no time to love them”. I cannot change who they are, and fix the things that are broken because that is what Jesus does.  I cannot judge the lack of love from someone that is in need of the source of love. Instead, what I can do is spend my time searching for ways that I can serve, and be a support for them when things aren’t easy.

God works in ways we don’t expect, and I recognized that this past week when I saw the smile of a mother who was tired, struggling and weary, being told that she is valued, she is loved and there is redemption. This is a reminder of what God does for us daily. When we hear his voice saying, it’s okay, I know what you are going through, and guess what? I still love you the same.

So as we celebrate and thank God for what he has done, who He is to us and to our families, why don’t you join me in prayer for those moms and dads that are lacking that love. I encourage you as well, to give love and show your thankfulness in thoughtful ways this week, especially to the people who you are quick to judge. Find them, show them kindness and make them feel love. We are grateful for his sacrifice, and for his redemption in our lives. Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving!

With Love,

Elena Faulkner