Message from Ryan & Kelly - 1/4/22
Dear , Mike & Christ Episcopal ,
We want to first thank you for your support this past year in 2021 and wish you and your congregation a blessed and happy 2022.
The past year of ministry in Honduras continued to face many challenges, but from which developed some great blessings and we want to give all the glory to God and share these things with you.
The Bilingual School continued virtually all year, where Kelly and I faced the challenge of really connecting to and reaching the students through the computer for the second year in a row. They did hear the Word and had difficult assignments that really challenged their spiritual thinking in order to grow deeper in their faith, and praise God. There were moments where we knew God was working and opening up hearts to help them through some difficult home situations. We are praying that when we start the new year in February that we will be able to be back in person.
In the Night School Program, Kelly worked in person with a young man who is sixteen and she got him through the 6th grade in all of his subjects, while having some great conversations with him one on one about growing in the Lord. I had worked with a young man with some special needs teaching him some life skills in order to help him find some potential work so he can make money for his family. We connected him into the Rec Center and he became our bread baker each weekend.
The Rec Center was up and down due to continued Covid restrictions. Earlier last year, we opened and later had to shut down for a few weeks, then to return to open up again. As people around the city found out we were open, we began to run at full speed. No matter the attendance, the Word still went out and there were many who made decisions to follow Christ, and we saw several join us in the church.
The Enlaces Church has become established and stable this year, steadily at around 35 people, with many children of whom are excited to come and learn. Kelly and I have also been leading men and women's Bible study groups from this.
The Humanitarian Aid was able to give out many items that opened the doors to evangelize in the city. We also were blessed to be able to go out on an in-country mission trip about 12 hours away with some of the Enlaces team, to give many clothes, food, household items, and a seminar on how to start and maintain a small business that honors God, and most importantly to share the Word with the community there.
As we pray and prepare for a new year of ministry, we hope that you continue to join us in prayer to continue the work God wants us to do, as well as to open new avenues to minister to the Honduran people. As you know, going into a new year we never are sure of what challenges we will face and what changes will be made in ministering, but we trust in the Lord and know that each year we are blessed to be able to look back and see how His hand has moved and guided us through every moment. We thank you again for your continued partnership and thank God for you and your faithfulness to support God's mission in Honduras.
For His Glory; In His Love,
Ryan & Kelly
"Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people" - Psalm 96:3
Dear Family & Friends,
We hope and pray that each one of you had a great Christmas and wish you a very happy 2022! We always are asked about what it's like to do 24-7 ministry with our kids in Honduras. So at the end of each year, we like to give a glimpse of what ministry looks like through the eyes of our son Ezra (who is now 4). Whenever we reflect on all that God has done each year, we learn so much through what our kids experience and the things that Ezra says! He is a great reminder to have that child-like faith. So we hope that you take the time and enjoy this year's video about Discipleship in 2021. You can click on the blue link below to see the video on our website.
God bless you all, and thank you for your faithful support <3 We look forward to continuing to partner with you in 2022.
Discipleship in 2021 - Through the Eyes of Ezra
Update and Prayer Requests: December 2021
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
We hope your Christmas was special, in whatever ways make it special for you and yours! Ours was very quiet but included joining our kids via a video call to watch them open their presents. One of our biggest blessings is what good friends our three kids are.
Last Thursday during Zapotec church, Nicasio asked people to share what they are thankful for from this past year. We were so encouraged to hear how many times people said that they were thankful that we are having Zapotec church online. We know it’s not ideal but because our church isn’t observing any safety precautions, we are thankful, too, for technology that allows us to see and talk to each other safely.
Another theme for their thankfulness was the way we are studying the Bible; that we study in Zapotec and that we study straight through one book at a time. From things they have shared, we see how much they have grown in their understanding of what a Christian’s life should look like and how they are working towards that.
Beto said that he’s thankful that Jesus hasn’t returned yet because that gives him more time to share the Gospel with people. Sofía agreed with him and said that she used to be scared and not know what to say to people but now “I can just tell people. Thank you for how we are studying the Bible here.”
Meche, who leads the music when we have church in-person, has been out of work since the beginning of covid restrictions. (She did house-cleaning and making traditional type clothes at home to sell to tourists but there haven’t been any tourists, of course.) Part of what she was thankful for was that about when she was starting to look for work, a dog ran into her and she fell, hurting her knee so that it was very painful to walk. She had to quit looking for a job but a Christian lady contacted her and asked if she would make traditional type clothes for her to sell! Meche thanked all those who have helped her and her mom financially during the pandemic and thanked God for providing what they need each day. (In the spring she had told Nicasio that she was so thankful for all the rain because they’d been able to gather wild greens for meals.)
Nicasio’s parents shared how thankful they are to have survived covid and that they have their own house next door to us. They said they couldn’t imagine how that would happen since they hadn’t brought anything with them when they came because Dad was so sick with covid. “But thanks to many Christian brothers and sisters and our children, we have everything we need!” Dad thought they wouldn’t be able to eat sweet corn or raise beans but Nicasio encouraged him to plant the whole yard. Mom wanted to have chickens. They have had lots of corn, beans, and chickens!
Beto’s wife Candi said that this year had been really hard for her, with her mom so sick (diabetes) and then her death in November. She said she was thankful for everyone praying for them and for the financial help they were given. Both Beto and Candi were thankful for Yari’s successful emergency appendectomy, recovery and for the financial help they were given for that, too.
Candi also shared how she needed to go to the doctor. (We had planned on making this happen just before the covid restrictions started in March 2020.) She was scared because she thought it was going to be diabetes (which many in her family have) but the medicines cleared up a bad urinary infection; while she showed no signs of diabetes, the doctor did give her information about how to eat and exercise to reduce the chances of it. The other part of her health problem is that she needs to have her gall bladder removed but she needs to lose almost 30 pounds before they will operate. She would appreciate your prayers as she works on this difficult job.
Both Nicasio and I said we are thankful that Mom and Dad are living next door and are doing so well. Nicasio said that one of the good things that has come out of them having covid is that all their kids come and visit them, and then we get to see them, too.
Another thing I shared was that I am so thankful that our kids are following the Lord and are involved in their churches. Mike and Tara are on the music team, Rusty teaches in his church’s Wednesday night and Sunday morning programs for the children.
Nicasio has really enjoyed teaching his class on Indigenous Languages in the Translators and Interpreters Master’s Degree program. A highlight for him was the presentation that a friend and colleague gave (at his request) about glossaries and dictionaries. Nicasio said that his students appreciated it so much and learned so much from it. (There are three more classes in January.)
Rusty says that he is happy to put 2021 behind him but he’s thankful for the Lord’s goodness through it all. Most recently he really enjoyed spending Christmas with Mike, Tara and Royan. (He will have a check-up about the testicular cancer in March, one year after his surgery. We are praying for a continued clean bill of health.)
Mike says: We have been enjoying the month since Royan's birthday trying to keep up with him as he runs around getting into everything. We are looking forward to watching him grow and are excited to be doing some updates to our house.
We would really appreciate your prayers for going back to in-person church. At a meeting with those who attend the Zapotec service, we decided to start going back in-person at the beginning of February, provided things haven’t gotten bad again.
This update is longer than usual—I guess it’s more of a 2021 update than a December update! We appreciate you for taking the time to read our updates, share in our burdens and our joys, for your support of the Bible translation for the Quiatoni Zapotec people. We pray God’s blessings on you in the New Year of 2022.
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Message from Julia Schatz - 12/21/21
I pray you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas!!
I returned to the U.S. after 33 days of ministry overseas. Thank you for your support and prayers! I wish there was a better way that I could express the depth of my gratitude, more than simply saying "Thank you" and sharing about what happened! What a fruitful time of equipping Christ followers for the works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:12) It is clearly evident that God is fervently working in the lives of His children, His family, for His kingdom purposes. The Bible tells us the Harvest is plentiful but the workers of few! The Lord instructs us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to raise up harvest workers. God is healing the hearts of broken people in His church to bring them to a place of wholeness and abundant life. Their lives will shine with God's love and compassion..... grateful, healthy and strong "harvest workers", for God's glory! We are all talking about this with great expectation and hope of seeing a great harvest of souls in this part of the world. We conducted Trauma Healing sessions and trained trainers for discipleship and church planting. Already the 2022 calendar is filling up with exciting invitations from churches in Central Asia. You are a huge part of this. Thank you! We will go again and again to be ambassadors for the Lord to multiply the hope of healing and wholeness. One of my favorite parts of our time there was meeting with the home based churches. What wonderful places of worship, prayers and spiritual growth. Please continue to pray for this! God is moving in this part of the world.
Dear Pastor Mike,
Well when I first starting to write this Christmas newsletter I told myself to make it brief. I know you are busy! BUT, it is Christmas! I just really want to talk about Jesus!
I recently read a newsletter article I really loved! The writer, who is Jewish, shared how he came to faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. He said it was by discovering the ways Jesus fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. He said that growing up in a Jewish home he would have never imagined the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus. Christian ministry leader Josh McDowell, Author of many books including Evidence that Demands a Verdict, states: "One reason that Old Testament prophecy is so important to Christians is that over 300 predictions, like the threads of a tapestry, establish the Messianic credentials of Jesus!" Peter Stoner, in his classic book Science Speaks, calculated the chance of any man fulfilling these prophecies, even down to the present time, to be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (10 to the 17th power). How can anyone think that Jesus just “happened” to be in the right place at the right time?
Does that speak to your heart and mind? Maybe when reading that your spirit wants to do a dance.... clapping your hands and shouting AMEN, AMEN! That's my Savior, my Lord, Jesus! or.... maybe you want to run and put your hands over your ears and sing, La, la, la, la.... I don't hear you!.... you just will not be convinced no matter how compelling the evidence. That's ok. It just means, not yet! God is still working on your heart. But don't wait too long.
I'm currently reading, People are asking, Is This the End," by Pastor David Jeremiah. Signs of God's Providence in a Disturbing New World. Here is the part that made me want to do the AMEN dance, while sporting goose bumps! Talking about the necessity of an intelligent source of creation: You are probably reading this book sitting down. Sitting still. BUT actually we are moving through space. Our galaxy is rotating at almost 140 miles a second and moving through the universe at 190 miles per second. In the time you read the last paragraph you have traveled thousands of miles! That's not to even mention how quickly we are turning, AND we are orbiting the sun at 66,000 miles per hour!
Well all of those things above are the highlighter-underliner- exclamation point on my happy face. But, this is what it was and is for me. There was a time in my life when I was depressed, alone, and fearful. I was headed for a life crash and going at high speed. I was anxious and afraid about everything. Then God sent someone into my life who spoke to me about God's love letter to me in the Bible, His love for me and how Jesus, God's Son, who was without sin, died a terrible shameful death to pay the penalty for the sins I committed that separated me from a Holy God, who loved me and wants me to know Him. I learned that it wasn't just knowing about this - it is more. When I trusted that God did that for ME and I put my faith in Jesus, His atoning death, burial and resurrection, God, in a moment in time, would give me the gift of eternal life! A forgiven, forever child of God. I said yes! I believe! He changed me! He is still changing me and giving me wholeness and healing. Now I have hope because I trust that God has a plan for my life. Instead of fear I have excitement and joy about be fellowship and walking with the one who saved me! Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! Now I have peace because I know the Prince of Peace. Is life always "peaches and cream easy"? No! And, certainly not for the Christ followers I know in other parts of the world who suffer from persecution and many other very hard things. But I, we, have the Good Shepherd who lead, guides, provides, protects and treasures us. We trust that only God is able to take the hard things we go through and use them for good.
What was it..... is it for you? What is the thing that stirs in your heart about you and our Jesus this Christmas? Please email me and tell me. I would love learning that about you. Also let me know if you have any prayer needs, ok!?
Maranatha, Merry Christmas!
Fondly with love and gratitude!
As you may remember, despite the wealth of incredible church buildings and majestic cathedrals, there are very few church communities here in France. In our town of 100,000 inhabitants, there is one catholic church, a beautiful cathedral in the town centre which dates to the 11th century. On Sunday morning there are usually about 20 - 30 people at mass. There is also a reformed protestant church, a Pentecostal church and a non-denominational evangelical church, each has about 80 - 100 members and approximately 40 - 50 people who worship on a Sunday. There are not many believers in our town!!
The protestant pastors occasionally meet together to pray (2 or 3 times each year) and Vincent and I join them when we can. Last month, Christian, the pastor of the reformed protestant church, invited us for a meal to meet the new priest, who is in charge of the greater Grasse parish and recently arrived to his post. Christian encouraged us to bring one or two people from our Parfums de Vie community, so we invited our friends Harry and Marjorie who serve as elders and ministry partners with us. We were invited to the chaplaincy of the Catholic Church where we were warmly welcomed by Father Francis-Regis and also Jean-Claude, one of his lay leaders (whom we all already knew well as he is a retired hairdresser and good friend of Harry, also a hairdresser). It turned out that Father FR is exactly the same age as Vincent (48!) and they went to the same middle school in Orange and High School in Avignon! All of Vincent's schooling was in catholic schools in France. Although they didn't remember each other, they talked about the teachers (all nuns and monks) whom they loved and were deeply impacted by!
It was just the 7 of us and a lovely and intimate evening of sharing our stories of faith (Father FR wanted to know all about Parfums de Vie) and he also shared about his childhood, family and his calling to the ministry. He expressed a deeply personal faith in Christ and both he and Christian share a vision for unity and a heart for reaching the youth. The four of us were warmly embraced and deeply encouraged by both Pastor Christian and Father FR.
The following day, Christian called me to invite us and our Parfums de Vie youth group to a joint youth event two weeks later! The catholic youth group meets once a month on a Friday evening, and the protestant group meets twice a month. The catholic group are currently working through the youth version of "The Alpha Course" and so we were all invited to participate in their next meeting, which was focused on the topic of "prayer". With our three groups together, there must have been 60 kids! We sat around tables and shared a pot-luck meal together and then had wonderful conversations about prayer. Vincent, Harry, Marjorie and I each sat at different tables and our Parfums kids mixed in with all the other kids. Afterwards we compared notes, and it was very interesting to observe that the kids from both church groups had shared that they didn't have much experience of prayer in a personal sense and that their experience was more in a formal liturgical setting. So they didn't feel sure about prayer, how to do it, if God was listening and very few had personal stories of answered prayer. On the contrary, our Parfums de Vie kids shared that they prayed together regularly as a group and individually every day, that they had a sense of God's presence in their hearts and faith that He was hearing and answering their prayers. The teens from both church groups were from privileged backgrounds with comfortable home lives, and all their parents were regular church goers. Many shared that they only went to youth group or church to keep their parents happy. Again, these stories were in stark contrast to our Parfums de Vie youth, who are from muslim backgrounds, live in very cramped and precarious circumstances, and yet all shared their deep convictions and personal faith in Christ. Vincent, Harry, Marjorie and myself all found this so encouraging to witness! Our Parfums de Vie kids also found this interesting! All of the kids we spoke to were so interested in learning about Parfums de Vie and amazed that we spent time together every day!
It was so encouraging for everyone. The pastor and the priest, who had been planning the event for some time, facilitated the table discussions together. The focus of both of them was unity, emphasizing the fact that we all share so much more than what separates us, and that our common faith in Christ was the most important thing, even if we all have different expressions of worship. They asked Vincent to do the closing address, he did an absolutely amazing job, and although we may be slightly biased, Harry, Marjorie and myself all felt that Vincent's words were the true highlight of the evening, because he was able to bring together his own experience of being raised in catholicism, how he found personal faith in Christ, and how God is at work trying to get our attention, in so many ways. He encouraged all of the kids not to ignore the flame of faith in their hearts, and instead to welcome it, cultivate it, pursue it and let it burn all the more brightly. It was perfect for a group of teens who despite their church background were lost and without a personal connection to Jesus. Who knows how God might use those words?!
At the end of January, the protestant youth group has invited Parfums de Vie and the Catholic Youth Group to a youth worship service that they are planning at the reformed church! We will be attending with the Parfums teens! I'll let you know how it goes. God is clearly at work in Grasse and we are encouraged to see this beautiful spirit of collaboration and unity from Father FR and Pastor Christian.
I've attached a few photos of the joint event - I hope they will inspire you to pray with us for the youth of Grasse, Father FR, Pastor Christian and the work of Parfums de Vie.
with love and thankfulness
Nicole & Vincent