30 January 2021
Denise and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday, and I am reminded that when we got married we owned a high-mileage black 1965 VW “bug” as our first car. Though loved by economy-minded VW owners, that model more than deserved its nickname of “gutless wonder.” Did you ever get stuck on an uphill freeway on-ramp behind a “bug” that was reciting “I think I can, I think I can” as it strained up the incline? If you did, you probably got close enough to read the bumper sticker that only a VW bug owner could fully appreciate:
I’M PEDALING AS FAST AS I CAN!
Sometimes I think that old car and the bumper sticker serve as analogies for my work here at Finest of the Wheat.
Slow But Mostly Reliable
Our VW “bug” was never fast, but it got us there… eventually. I feel the same way at the end of many days. I didn’t cover as much ground as I had hoped, didn’t carry as much cargo as I needed to, and just generally felt cramped for time. But at least I spent the day with and for the Lord and accomplished something.
For instance, I’ve been slow in reporting the progress in our publications ministry. Over the last three or four newsletters, the focus has been on the relief work you’ve made possible in Latin America — and rightly so. But now I’d like to catch you up on some of our teaching ministry through writing.
Kindle E-booklet Bible Study
Our titles are available
in multiple formats.2
Since the summer, we’ve been able to publish a few e-books and one paperback:
- July: Logos & Rhema and The Double Portion of Elisha, both by Percy Gutteridge
- September: My own Leper in the Throne Room, a unique look at the wonderful truth depicted in the spiritual drama of Isaiah chapter 6
- October saw our first paperback in a while: Soul-Help Papers by Isaiah Reid. Think of a serious, but folksy, down-home devotional and you’ve nearly got it.
- January: We released my Reading, Writing, Reigning, a practical look at what a neglected kingly passage — Deuteronomy 17:18-20 — has to do with a neglected discipline — regular, systematic Bible reading.
This isn’t a “sales pitch”! Those of you who know us know that almost everything we publish in paperback or e-book format is freely available to read on our website. We even make it easy to print off. But some folks would rather enjoy the read on their Amazon Kindle, while others prefer a paperback. Publishing like this makes the teaching material available to a world beyond our website. The teaching is birthed out of waiting on the Lord and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we trust the Holy Spirit to move through it in power to make a difference in people’s spiritual journey.
Articles and e-books currently in the works include:
- Pulling the “Mnemonic Trigger”, a look at a simple way to dig deeper in your Bible reading. (This is a chapter excerpt from the work-in-progress manuscript of The John the Baptist Experience.) Lord willing, we’ll have this ready for you by the time of the February newsletter.
- Also in active editing at the moment: The Feasts of Israel: God’s Prophetic Calendar by Percy Gutteridge. Our target date for this is March 2021.
Going Quite a Distance!
It’s hard for my 68-year-old body to believe, but nearly five decades ago Denise and I actually drove our 1965 VW bug from California all the way to New York State… and back! No cruise control, no air conditioning, no power steering, no speed (especially in the mountains!), but it went the distance.
Your heartfelt giving for Latin America has gone quite a distance, too! In fact, since the last newsletter your gifts have supplied needs in unique ways. For instance:
Life support? No. Engine support? Yes!
The “patient” after its “motor-ectomy”4
Honduras: I know an angel who drives a pickup truck — specifically Pastor Angel who leads two churches, one in “Téguz” (the nickname for Tegucigalpa, the capital) and one on a steep cliff on the outskirts of the city. His faithful pickup truck has been used on many a ministry trip, often with me as a passenger. The Lord undoubtedly used that four-wheel-drive truck to save our necks this past March as we traveled back from Trojes to Téguz down an unpaved, rain-slicked, muddy mountain road. Other vehicles slipped and skated down (and up!) the sloppy “slip ‘n’ slide”, while Angel’s truck gripped the road prudently in a lower gear. That truck must have a mind of its own, too, because — without warning — it often leaves the main road to bump down other unpaved roads and splash through river fords to visit the homes of pastors living in remote locations.
Well, the engine on that faithful vehicle finally died shortly after I left Honduras this past year, and re-builds are not cheap. When a special gift arrived from Ohio, I knew that a good portion of it was what the Lord had promised to resurrect Angel’s pickup truck. The work is ongoing as I write these words.
Guatemala: Our Guatemalan friends used one of the gifts we sent them to help purchase part of the new sound equipment that was needed for a church in Guatemala City. (I’ve seen some of the old equipment; it was past “retirement age”!)
A more personal need was being able to help a pastor suffering from renal (i.e., kidney) problems. The local doctors in his area didn’t have the training or expertise to diagnose or help. Visiting various specialists in Guatemala City (“G.C.”) cost nearly $450, and we were able to cover the expenses.
And this comes just two months after helping a young woman, the young-adult daughter of a husband-wife pastor team, see specialists in G.C. for help with problems related to recurring ovarian cysts. We’ll receive more medical updates on her in early February. But right now she’s feeling so much better that she’s just landed a job teaching English in a private Christian school.
Nicaragua: We were also able to send an additional $600 to help the 20+ widows of COVID-victim pastors. I had hoped to have photos from their gathering, but it turns out their assembly happened just this week, so the expected images haven’t arrived yet.
Get Out and Help Push!
Let’s travel back from Latin America (not in a “bug,” thank the Lord!) and finish with another VW story to close this letter. Early in my pastoral ministry in California, I worked side by side with a friend and co-pastor named Terry Haugh. For some reason, whenever Terry and I would ride in a vehicle together (often my black VW), there was a 75% chance that we would wind up helping to push someone’s stalled car out of an intersection. More often than not, that stalled vehicle was a VW “van.”
The vans, like the “bugs,” were much easier than other cars to push-start, so that was part of our “mid-intersection ‘ministry’.” Folks usually appreciated the help. And we really appreciate how many of you push-start us in prayer, keep us lubed and fueled in prayer, and give so generously to bless the brothers and sisters in Latin America, help send us there for teaching trips, and give regularly to help make the rest of our ministry possible.
Now I’d be happy to be near the head of the line
for the sake of the next missions trip.7
I was going to share a prayer list, but instead I think I’ll limit it to just one item, something that definitely needs a “push start”! As a matter of policy (and personal cowardice!) I hate hypodermic needles. Nevertheless I am longing to start the two-month countdown that kicks off with the first of the two COVID-19 vaccinations so that I can get back to Latin America to teach pastors in person. Right now, like most of us who aren’t “first responders,” Denise and I can’t even get on a list to get on a list to get a shot. Please pray with us, then, that we could get the vaccination process started.
Yes, I know that getting the two injections and waiting four more weeks doesn’t guarantee immunity from this worldwide plague and its mutations. But really, when you think about it, there are no “guarantees” when we go on any missions trip. There’s obeying a clear “go” command, looking to God in faith, trusting Him for protection, and letting Him work out His will. We’ll do what we’ve always done — obtain the necessary vaccinations (like we do with yellow fever and the rest) as required, and go in faith when God says “Go”. We can do that because we know that you’re out there “pushing”! Thank you! You’re part of our team, and we appreciate you! Meanwhile, I’ll keep “pedaling the VW” as fast as I can!
Much love in Jesus,
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- Title image by Jim Kerwin using an image by Pexels from Pixabay. ↩
- The covers shown are from the Kindle e-book and Amazon paperback versions of our publications. ↩
- Photo of Pastor Alvarez by Jim Kerwin ↩
- Pickup engine re-build photos courtesy of Pastor Angel Alvarez ↩
- Photo courtesy of Superintendent Atilio Chávez ↩
- Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash ↩
- Image by Liz Masoner from Pixabay ↩
- Photo used under license from 123RF.com. ↩