Wow. Just wow… I can’t believe my time in Bonaire has come to an end and that I have been here for 3 months already! It’s been just an awesome and crazy ride and I wouldn’t change anything about the trip. I have grown so much spiritually, and emotionally during this trip. I’ve matured so much and have grown in my passion and desire for missions/ministry. I absolutely love everything that God has done and the work of the Holy Spirit here in Bonaire and in my life. I’m so excited for the next part of my journey of going to Panama and then Costa Rica after. I’ve had the privilege of working with Carlos and Denise Brunk as well as learning so much from them here in Bonaire. It’s crazy to think that in 2014 I came here but ended up leaving after about a week because of health issues. But God in His sovereignty knew when I would be ready and more mature in life and in my walk with Him to return to make a true lasting impact. Along with serving the Brunks here, it’s been great working with my Pastor, John Lowder and his family. I’ve learned so much from these great people and I’m excited to use what I’ve learned and share how I’ve grown. John has been my mentor and best friend since 2015. Since 2018 we have always talked about how awesome it would be to do full time ministry together. God in His love and grace made that possible for us here. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about this trip and doing ministry with Him. We really are Paul and Barnabas out here!
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
God used me in ways that I never thought I would be used. Preaching; leading Bible studies; teaching youth group; going to the local high school and sharing my testimony and The Gospel in about 15 different classrooms; prayer meetings and growing in my own prayer life; youth revival event and being able to speak there; being part of Sunday services; meeting with people in their homes; doing some counseling; marriage conference; board game nights and sharing my testimony and the gospel with them; evangelism and discipleship, and so much more! This would not have been possible without your support through the giving of your finances and your prayers. I truly thank you all and I pray often for you that God will bless you greatly. I couldn’t do this without you. If I could do it without you, I would not have been as effective without your prayers, encouragement, and love. I thank each and every one of you that made this possible.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Philippians 1:3-6
This was the group of people from the church that I was able to do Bible studies with a few times a week. We covered a series of topics and questions about the Bible! We were able to meet anywhere from 1-3 times a week and it was a great experience of leading Bible study, and doing some parts in Spanish! It was awesome to see their desire to learn and grow and be part of the Bible study.
The last Saturday of every month we go to the top of a “mountain” called Seru Largu – (I think that’s how you spell it). During that time at 6am we meet and pray for the church, the island, and thank God for what He is doing on the Island. It’s very early but a great time to be without distraction and talk to God as the sun comes up. We then usually go for a little walk afterwards and see a large part of Bonaire.
During my time here, I was working with my Pastor John and his family. His son and daughter in law had to leave a little early due to health issues. His daughter in law was not able to be at the church service because of her health issues, but we were still able to honor them both and pray for Jared at his final church service here and send them off in prayer and love.
I want to thank all of you that prayed for our youth revival night! It was a huge success and we were able to have around 30-40 kids come out and hear my story and the Gospel! We were able to play some games and enjoy some fellowship! Along with this revival night, if you haven’t checked out all God was doing in the local high school and the opportunities we had to go and share my testimony and the gospel to about 15 different classes and see kids ask to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, here is the video that we made talking about what God was doing! It’s too much to type so we put it in a video. Please click the link to watch if you haven’t seen my posts of them on Facebook yet!
It was a great time to go to the schools and impact these kids. This experience really gave me a strong passion and desire for the youth and sharing with them that the world will fail to give them the love, acceptance, value, and identity that we were created needing. But it is only in God where we can get those needs fully met. Only by a relationship with Him can we truly find perfect love, acceptance, value, identity and life. I had the opportunity to lead the youth group the last few weeks here and that was a lot of fun coming up with games and lessons for them!
Our game nights have continued to be a big hit and a great success. We always have so many people come and we enjoy great conversations and began to have chances to pray with the people as well as have spiritual/gospel centered conversations with them. My final game night last week I was able to share my story and the gospel with a big group of them and it went great. One guy even said he was so impressed and that even though he doesn’t believe in Christianity he wants to come to church! I was able to have some follow up conversations with others and they have been very open to hear more and talk more! It was always a lot of fun to get together and just share who Jesus is simply by welcoming them to come play board games and build relationships with them! We were able to spend some time with a few of them outside of game nights and talk more as well. It was great!
We held an event at a community center for the children in the church’s neighborhood. About 30 kids from 6-12 years old came out, played some games, made some bracelets, learned about God, and heard the Gospel and had a chance to accept Christ! It was so fun to be part of this and the church was able to give gifts to each of the children that came. It was even a fun time walking the neighborhood to pass out invites and chat with them a little bit to be able to invite the parents to church.
We held a reigning in life conference/Bible study that took place over the span of four weeks. Pastor John was able to teach about the freedom that we have in Christ and what it means that we can enjoy eternal life now. To learn about the rest of the Gospel, that is, Christ living His life in and through us every day and what that means. He was able to minister to the church members in this way and it went great! We also had a chance to see a movie, do some hiking, shoot a bow, use blow dart gun, and spend some time with friends that we met from game night! Sadly I didn’t take or get as many photos of those things or of the many other things that we have been busy with this last month.
Well, we knew the day was coming where I would eventually have to leave these incredibly awesome people and continue on the journey that God has for me. I left Bonaire on 4/4 and came over to Curacao (the island next door), to visit the church here and catch up with them before flying to Panama on 4/7. It’s so crazy just to see how God has been orchestrating everything with this trip, that we could have this opportunity to do ministry together. Unfortunately, that time has come to an end, for now. It’s time for me to move on to Panama for 3 months, and then Costa Rica for 3 months after that. I am sad, but also excited. I will miss Carlos, Denise, and the church of Bonaire. I will especially miss my best friend, my mentor, my Barnabas, John Lowder. I would not be where I am today without this man in my life. We met when I was at a very low point in my life, and he stayed in my life even as my life got lower and lower. As I became addicted to drinking, partying, women, and everything under the sun, he never left or gave up on me. Even when I lost faith and would curse him and God, he didn’t just stay my friend, but he showed me grace instead of condemning me. It was through him that after many years I was finally able to understand the grace of God and learn who I am in Christ. From finally beginning to understand the grace of God and growing in my relationship with Him, I am finally able to do what I am very passionate about. I am not saying that John is my Jesus, because no one can be Jesus for you, but without a doubt, everyone should have a John Lowder in their life. When I first talked to John and asked him for help, he showed me this verse:
Jeremiah 17:7 ,8
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
The Christian life isn’t about doing. It’s about what’s been done. Jesus meant it when He said, “It is finished.” Just… Stay… Planted… He will do the rest as we learn and grow in Him and surrender our lives to Him, but those are things we get to do, not things we have to do. I love you all and I thank you so much for your prayers and support. I miss you all and I’m grateful for every single one of you. Many of you have made a deep impact on my life much like John and I’m grateful for you.
- The transition from Bonaire to Panama. I will arrive in Panama 4/7/23 (This Friday).
- My Spanish learning and transition from using mostly English to now mostly having to use my Spanish.
- To hit the ground running in whatever direction the Holy Spirit leads.
- Continued safety and good health.