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“He Has Done All Things Well.”

A “Flying” (Literally!) Report from the Field

28 May 2019

A birthday celebration for Jim at ESUM Guatemala 2019I can't quite remember how many birthdays I've spent while teaching in Guatemala!

I’m dashing this off during a layover in the Atlanta airport. I’ve just finished 11 days of ministry in Guatemala and I’m spending this, my 67th birthday, on a 20-hour marathon journey, flying a “dog leg” flight path (via Atlanta) from Guatemala City to Lima, Perú. (It’s cheaper to go “the long way,” and we’re all about being good stewards.)

Anyway, the verse that best sums up what the Lord has done in the last month — the days leading up to departure, the teaching, and the interactions in Guate — seem best summed up by one of my favorite verses about Jesus: “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37a).

“All Things Well”: Provision

Guatemala pastors studying togetherHere are some of the pastors in a break-out session during the first morning of the ESUM conference.

We have been praying and fasting for a breakthrough in our finances for these teaching / training / discipling trips. Jesus did “all things well,” moving on hearts for a response to the last newsletter. Within days, there was enough money to pay for the ticket. And the ticket price, which had seemed to increase every week, came down by $500 all at once — even lower than when I first priced it. (The flight to Guatemala was more than half empty, a very unusual situation in my experience. The sudden lowering of price may have been a last-ditch effort to fill those empty seats.) Many, many thanks to those of you who gave so generously.

Pastors and pastoras gathered for ESUM 2019 in Guatemala
Most of us who were at the retreat.
They call this annual conference ESUM:
Estudios Superiores Ministeriales (Higher Ministerial Studies).
In their minds, it's something like Bible “grad school.”

“All Things Well”:
Peace During a Perfect Preparation

Pastores Edwin Reyes and Fermin ChávezTwo longtime friends: Pastors Edwin Reyes and Fermin Chávez. They've been my friends, too, for 10 years.
Jim Kerwin teaching with Lilian de Chávez Teaching as Pastora Lilian de Chávez translates. She does a good job — and keeps me humble. Years ago, during the applause following the conclusion of teaching, she leaned over, whispering, “You know, they might be clapping just because they're glad you're done!” 😉
 Praying with pastorsI was able to pray over and lay hands on each pastor
during the re-dedication ceremony…

Remember the flooding-caused mess I described in the last newsletter (Squishing on Carpet, Walking on Water)? Well, step by plodding step we have been working through the maze of homeowner choices and responsibilities required in such a situation. (It’s been all “on Denise’s head” since I left.) I spent most mornings with Denise helping her with contractors, purchase decisions, etc. Then for more than a week I “escaped” the house every afternoon and evening in order to wait on the Lord for guidance on writing the notes on 1 Peter (“Primera Carta de Pedro”) from which I would be teaching in Guatemala.

It had been my hope to teach all the way through the five chapters, but the Holy Spirit put my “hopes” on His lathe and carved all of it down to a focus on seven passages to highlight in the epistle. The result of His custom turning and shaping? A perfect fit! Along the way I learned quite a bit about 1 Peter, an epistle I have read around 200 times over the last 50+ years. There was exactly the right amount of teaching material to fill the eight teaching sessions (11.5 hours). There was sufficient time for the notes to be translated before the start of the conference, even though I submitted them so late to our translator — and then she took ill, which delayed the process further. Once again doing “all things well,” the Lord gave me a welcome, but unexpected, day and a half without responsibilities in Guatemala to quietly review and prayerfully “polish” the notes, which were delivered for printing two days before the start of our pastors’ conference.

And all of that was done abiding in the peace and presence of the Lord. That’s not a boast — it’s a testimony of God’s goodness, and a witness to the big difference your prayers make. Many, many thanks to you who pray so faithfully.

“All Things Well”: Ongoing…
and Going On… to Perú!

Pastors praying for their teacher…and then they did the same for me. We're all in ministry and we all need as much prayer as we can get!
 A children's Bible story in CoatepequeBible teachers try to reach all ages. Here we are together before the Sunday preaching in Coatepeque, sharing the story of the little heroine of 2 Kings 5.
 The Pérez girls
The Pérez ladies, my hostesses for my final evening in Guate: Siria (the English major), Stefy (the engineer),
and Emy (the pastora).

Don’t quit praying or giving! The trip is only one-third over, which is another way of saying, “Eleven days down, and twenty-two days to go!” Health can be an avenue of attack — I got hit with a stomach bug the next-to-last day of the conference, but it was of very short duration. The teaching time wasn’t affected in the slightest. In our final two sessions on the last day, we found in Peter’s counsel to pastors (5:1-11) a reason for us all to come forward and re-dedicate ourselves and our ministries to the “Prince of the pastors” (“Príncipe de los pastores,” the Spanish translation of “Chief Shepherd” in 1 Peter 5:4).

This newsletter should drop into your “inbox” before I touch down in Lima, Perú about midnight local tonight. What awaits is another three weeks of teaching and preaching at three or four locations, at least one of which is on the far side of the Andes and requires more airfare for me and for a translator. (About another $300 for two round-trip tickets. It’s either a 75-minute plane ride each way, or two 20+-hour drives, there and back, over less-than-safe mountain roads — a pretty easy choice in terms of days saved and safety secured!) The Perú Report will follow as soon as I get home.

Much love in Jesus, the One who “does all things well,”


P.S.: If you’re on Facebook, check out https://www.facebook.com/FinestOfTheWheat where I'll be sharing trip updates from Perú during the next three weeks, as time allows.

Credits: Photos taken by Fermin and Lilian Chávez and the author

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