Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 16, 2017

Serving Together

At Kingsland, we value the joy of going beyond — cultivating a spirit of generosity and service that benefits the Kingdom rather than our own agendas. In the context of church life, we acknowledge that every member has been uniquely gifted to serve the Body, and we value opportunities to discover and use those gifts to serve others. We call this “selfless influence” (service) — one of our core values. We further believe that the scope of this high calling begins in our homes and extends to the ends of the earth.

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Selfless influence is a core value that requires movement toward those in need. Whether we move in the direction of others through our prayers or our presence, we must move in their direction in order to live out this core value. The Good Samaritan exercised selfless influence by moving toward a man in desperate need and made a difference in that man’s life. We must do no less. That’s why we are committed to weaving this value into the very fabric of life at Kingsland.

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Last week we challenged our members to contribute canned goods and hygiene items to benefit five of our food pantry partners in Katy and in the greater Houston area. The response was indeed selfless as our folks brought by items throughout the week. In addition, we ordered 11,000 pounds of rice and beans to repackage into quart-size bags for easier distribution by our food pantry partners.

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On Saturday, more than 300 hundred of our students gathered at the church to sort and box canned goods and hygiene items and bags of rice and beans. The energy was through the roof as our students worked and loaded the trucks that would carry the donated items to the various food pantries for distribution to people in need. Because of their work, thousands of pounds of food is moving in the direction of people in need — a beautiful demonstration of God’s love in action.

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Thanks to the Kingsland family, our students, and to Kayla Self for taking point on this initiative. By working together we have helped our partners to continue their compassionate work of helping families in need throughout our community. And by working together we have once again demonstrated that loving and selflessly serving others is an indispensable component of our biblical worldview and a hallmark of what it means to be followers of Christ.

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Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 11, 2017

Trouble

Trouble. There are few things that can wear you down and wear you out as quickly as trouble. Every human being on the planet knows what it means to be in trouble, to experience trouble, and to feel the suffocating weight of trouble. Trouble is, after all, a part of the human condition. No one is exempt from facing troubles.

Jesus understood the dynamics of trouble. On one occasion, He urged Peter and the other disciples to stop being “troubled” (Jn. 14:1). Jesus used a word that described an ocean caught in the teeth of a storm. Storms have a way of tearing our confidence to shreds and leaving us fearfully clinging to any scrap of hope that can keep us afloat.

Speaking of storms, waves are often used in Scripture as a metaphor for trouble in our lives. In the forty-second Psalm, the writer expressed sadness as wave after wave swept over him. He felt as though one wave was calling and inviting another to beat him down. His troubles seemed relentless.

El Salvador Waves
Ultimately, the psalmist understood that God is in control — that everything that troubled him would be kept under a divine check and achieve divine purposes. “You rule the raging of the sea,” the psalmist wrote, “when its waves rise, you still them” (Ps. 89:9). And indeed He does. In the words of a modern-day songwriter, sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms our hearts.

I love the Psalms. There are times when the psalms speak to us. And then there are times when we are so troubled that the psalms speak for us — times when we are in such utter distress that we must borrow the language of the psalms to cry out to God. No matter what troubles you may be facing, you can find your voice in the psalms.

Over the years I have made it a practice to do a couple of things when I am caught in the teeth of a storm. First, I make it a point to read the psalms because, eventually, I find that the psalmist has already expressed exactly what I want to say to God. And it’s ok to use the language of the psalms to complain or to cry out to God in our seasons of trouble.

Second, I make it a point to find some modern-day psalms, essentially Scripture-based songs that express exactly what I am feeling and what I want to say to God. I do this not because I am without words but because I am comforted by the fact that somebody else understands my pain and has survived it. That in itself is good medicine.

So, trouble will come sooner or later. It may linger for a moment or stay for a season. When trouble comes and the sea around you becomes restless, turn to the One who can calm storms and hearts. Trust Him to keep you afloat and to see you through to safe harbor. Look to the Psalms for your bearings and trust the One who rules the raging of the sea.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 26, 2016

On the Feast of Stephen

“Good King Wenceslas” is one of the lesser-known Christmas carols and yet one with a beautiful message. In brief, the carol is about a king and his page who set off on a cold winter day to help a less fortunate individual. They embarked on their compassionate journey, the story goes, “on the Feast of Stephen, when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.”

The Feast of Stephen is one of the lesser-known Christian holidays, at least among many in the West. The day after Christmas on the Christian calendar is known as the Feast of Stephen or Saint Stephen’s Day. What makes this particular holiday so interesting is that one day after we celebrate the birth of Jesus we commemorate the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

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The seventh chapter of Acts records the account of Stephen’s death at the hands of an angry mob. Stephen was one of the original seven deacons who helped the apostles meet the needs of widows in the early church. He is described as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” and also “full of grace and power.” He was stoned after preaching a powerful sermon about Jesus.

Just before he died, Stephen “gazed into heaven” and saw “Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” The Bible makes it clear that after completing His redemptive work and returning to heaven, Jesus “sat” at the right hand of the heavenly Father. However, when Stephen died, Luke recorded that Jesus was “standing.” Interesting! Perhaps Jesus stood to welcome Stephen, the first of many martyrs, home.

Martyrdom is not a thing of the past. Since the time of Stephen, many faithful Christ-followers have paid the ultimate price for their devotion to Christ. More Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and the more recently published Jesus Freaks record the moving accounts of Christian martyrs — individuals of whom the world was not worthy. By some estimates, 100 million Christians around the world are currently suffering some form of persecution for their faith — including abuse, intimidation, threats, imprisonment, hostilities, and death.

Blood of the Martyrs
The reality is that while we live our lives in relative safety, many Christ-followers in the world today will never know what it means to live a single day without the threat of violence for no other reason than they are Christ-followers. The task of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be accomplished without the blood of the martyrs. History illustrates, however, that no act of persecution or terror against Christ-followers will halt the advance of the gospel.

And so, on this day after Christmas, may we remember, reflect, and pray for all those who are suffering some form of persecution, loss, and abuse at the hands of those who are hostile to the good news of Jesus Christ. And just as Stephen prayed for those who persecuted him, let’s pray for those who mistakenly believe that their acts of hatred, terror, and violence will frustrate the purposes of God. God’s purposes will ultimately prevail.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 19, 2016

An Atheist Christmas

The group known as American Atheists have once again launched their annual anti-Christmas billboard campaign. Two years ago, their signature piece featured a little girl with a mischievous look writing her letter to Santa. “Dear Santa,” she writes, “All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”

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This year, the group is once again urging folks to skip church. “It is important for people to know,” they write, “that religion has nothing to do with being a good person…” I agree. But it is also important for atheists to know that religion has nothing to do with being a good Christian. Christianity is, instead, about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Of course, atheists believe that Jesus Christ is a myth. At least that’s the message American Atheists promoted in their 2011 anti-Christmas campaign. That year they featured billboards with images of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa, and a devil-like figure with the words “37 million Americans know Myths when they see them.”

Scholars Burridge and Gould, authors of “Jesus Then and Now,” comment in their book that respectable scholars do not deny Jesus’ existence (p. 34). James Hannam, a scholar who came to Christianity from a scientific background, said that to claim that Jesus never existed “requires selective skepticism about which sources are reliable and how others are interpreted.” He continues, “In the end, if Jesus did not exist, it makes Christianity a much more incredible phenomena than if he did.”

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Another of this year’s billboard ads is a parody of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. The message calls on atheists to “Make Christmas Great Again” by skipping church. This particular campaign is specifically targeted at those who no longer believe but still occasionally attend religious services. This is kinda goofy since atheists have never regarded Christmas as great!

I have stated in previous years that I am neither offended nor threatened by these atheists attacks on Christmas. Instead, I have come to regard them as opportunities for non-believers and believers alike to think deeply and to dialogue openly about the meaning of Christmas and the Person of Christ. And that’s not a bad thing. We should think and talk more about Christ at Christmas.

This Christmas season, as in previous years, the people of our church have invested lots of money and time in caring for those in need throughout our community and around the world — even places like Aleppo. We are feeding the hungry, providing water for the thirsty by drilling water wells in villages without a clean source of drinking water, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, caring for the hurting, bringing hope to refugees, and more.

We are keeping the spirit of Christmas alive by doing for others what Jesus would do — by being His hands and feet throughout our community and in the most desperate places around the planet. We are about much more than going to church, we are about being the church. Ultimately, that is what will make Christmas great this season and throughout the coming year!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 9, 2016

Why Burn the Flag?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America” — words I learned as a child and own as an adult. I love our country and I have great respect for our flag and what it represents. My respect for our country and our flag has only deepened over the years as I have traveled extensively to more than forty countries around the globe, including many places where freedom and opportunity is suppressed.

In recent months, displays of disrespect for our national anthem and our flag have increased. Most notably, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has repeatedly refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African-Americans and other minorities.

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Following the presidential election, some who were unhappy about the election results expressed their personal frustration and anger by, among other things, burning the American flag. While both Kaepernick’s actions and those of angry protesters who have burned our flag fall under the umbrella of freedom of speech, I personally believe they are the wrong actions.

Our flag is a powerful symbol both at home and around the world.

The American flag is a reminder that, in this country, we have the right to vote for whatever candidate we choose. We have the right to campaign on behalf of our chosen candidates, to dialogue and debate about issues, and ultimately to cast a single vote. But while the flag guarantees that we have the right to do so, it does not guarantee the results. So, why burn the flag?

The American flag is a reminder that, in this country, we have the right to express our views before and after an election. We have the freedom to peacefully protest, express our respective views, hold candlelight vigils, and shout as loud as we’d like. But, the flag does not give us the freedom to wantonly destroy the property of those in the paths of our demonstrations. So, why burn the flag?

The American flag is a reminder that, in this country, we have opportunity to right wrongs. We have the right and the freedom to work as hard as we want and to invest as much as we want in the causes that resonate in the deepest chambers of our heart. But the flag does not guarantee us the results. The results are up to us and our determination to put our money where our mouth is and our time and efforts toward the change we desire. So, why burn the flag?

Dad with crew chiefs at Spangdahlem Air Force Base. | 2010 | Germany

Dad with crew chiefs at Spangdahlem Air Force Base. | 2010 | Germany

The American flag is a reminder that, in this country, every citizen has the right and the freedom to pursue the American Dream. As a kid, my father told me that I must work hard to achieve what I want and that I was not entitled to anything just because I happen to be a minority. So, I worked hard. I kept my hand to the plow. I have always earned an honest wage. The flag reminds me that I must work hard to pursue the American Dream but that the American Dream is not something that will just be handed to me. So, why burn the flag?

The American flag represents freedoms and opportunities that are available in this country and not necessarily other countries. If Kaepernick showed a similar disdain for the Cuban national anthem and flag he would certainly be transferred to a smaller playing field sans multimillion dollar contract. The same would hold true in other nations around the planet both for Kaepernick and flag burners.

The American flag is a reminder of a depth of courage and sacrifice far greater than Colin Kaepernick has ever made or that anyone who burns the flag may ever understand. Our flag is still flying because of the sacrifices made by countless men and women in uniform who courageously moved in the direction of harm’s way on our behalf. These individuals respected our symbols of freedom. They understood that the American flag speaks to rights and not results. We would do well to remember that.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 3, 2016

Behold the Nations

Our missions ministry is engaged in moving in the direction of people in need both here and abroad. Every year, more than 3,000 Kingsland volunteers serve among the people of our community and among the nations.

The journey toward better understanding and effective communication begins when we take our first steps in the direction of others. The greatest insight often comes when we are onsite — when we join others in the context of their lives.

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In a few days, those of you who are Kingsland members will receive our new Behold the Nations publication. Ryley Rush, one of my interns, conducted interviews with several of our members who are engaged in our work around the world. Ryley did a great job of helping us to tell the story of how God is using us to serve His purposes.

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Look for our full-color publication in your mailbox or pick up a copy in the foyer of our worship center. And then, Behold the Nations through the eyes of our own members who have traveled the world with a purpose — to make Christ known.

We are committed to seeing people clearly, moving in their direction, and building bridges of love over which the gospel can travel. Thanks for investing in our missions initiatives around the globe. And thanks for praying as we seek to invite all people to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ, one home at a time.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 19, 2016

Intentional Adventures

When it comes to adventure, it’s important to be intentional. That means planning ahead and having something hard or challenging to look forward to. Several months ago I set my sights on a new adventure, one that I know may take a while to accomplish — to make it to the summit of the seven named peaks in Texas that are 8,000 feet and higher in elevation.

Hiking or scrambling up anything higher than Enchanted Rock is a big deal for a flat-lander like me. That’s because I grew up in a place so flat that a fellow could see his dog running away for three days and maybe four if he stood atop a tuna fish can. That’s pretty flat! I have no doubt that God designed me to enjoy the oxygen-rich atmosphere of low places.

Omar on Guadalupe Peak Trail
But I also know that God designed me for much more — for higher places. And venturing to higher places requires leaving the kind of geography where breathing is easy and our legs don’t burn or cramp up when we walk. One thing is certain, going up is hard. Elevation gain does not come easy. At some point it all starts to hurt. But if you keep at it, the payoff is definitely worth every painful step.

Two years ago I set my sights on making it to the top of Guadalupe Peak — the highest point in the Lone Star State. The hike is rated as strenuous and the elevation gain on the narrow and rocky trail is brutal. But, hiking at my own pace, I reached the highest point in Texas on December 2, 2014. I will never forget that day or the feeling of accomplishment.

Since then, I have learned that there are seven named peaks in the Lone Star State that rise more than 8,000-feet into the Texas sky. These seven peaks are a bucket list unto themselves, even for a flat-lander like me. In order of height, they are:

• Guadalupe Peak | 8,749 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Bush Mountain | 8,631 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Shumard Peak | 8,615 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Bartlett Peak | 8,508 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Mount Livermore | 8,378 feet | Davis Mountains
• Hunter Peak | 8,368 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• El Capitan | 8,085 feet | Guadalupe Mountain

Doyle on GP Trail
So, a few months ago I started planning my latest adventure to the highest points in Texas. My friend Doyle Lowry agreed to join me on this first phase of the adventure to summit Guadalupe Peak, Bush Mountain, and Hunter Peak. This past Monday, we crammed all of our gear into Doyle’s pick-up truck and headed to Guadalupe Mountains National Park at 4:30 in the morning.

Over the course of three days we made it to the top of Texas and signed the register atop Guadalupe Peak. We also made it to the top of Bush Mountain. We hiked somewhere in the neighborhood of six miles up steadily rising switchbacks just to get to the trailhead to Bush Mountain. Bush Mountain was the least spectacular of our three summits but we were happy to check it off the list.

Omar-Doyle on Hunter Peak
After Bush Mountain, we set our sights on Hunter Peak. Reaching the summit was the absolute highlight of our trip. The views were even more spectacular than we imagined. In our estimation, Hunter Peak is the hidden gem of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, boasting the most spectacular views of Texas.

We ended the week’s adventure by hiking McKittrick Canyon. Other than Lost Maples State Natural Area, this is the best spot in Texas to see and enjoy the Fall colors. McKittrick Canyon is definitely a Texas treasure.

As you look to the year ahead, be as intentional as possible in planning affordable adventures. Get outdoors and see beautiful places near you. Plan something hard that will stretch you and require that you do a lot of preparation ahead of time. God did not design us to stay indoors or to watch other people do hard stuff. He blessed us with the capacity for more than that.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 6, 2016

Affordable Adventures

I love adventure. It really doesn’t matter to me whether the adventure is big or small. I have learned to embrace and enjoy even the briefest adventure — like a bike ride along the bayou trails near my home. If we lead ourselves to believe that only big and costly adventures are adventures, then we will miss out on a lot of really cool stuff.

When it comes to my adventure metrics, everything counts — not just the epic-sized stuff. To think otherwise would be like saying that the only meals that can nourish me are the ones I eat at a fancy restaurant. While I love eating at a great steak house, I can’t afford to eat at a place like that every day. So, I eat at a lot of places where you have to look up to see the menu.

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This past Friday and Saturday I had the opportunity to enjoy a couple of fun — and affordable — adventures. On Friday, I packed up my fishing gear and made my way to Cat Spring to join my old friend Steve Peace for a day of fellowship and fishing. Some mutual friends were very kind to give us access to their 300-acre spread complete with a multi-acre pond.

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Fishing a pond on private land is like catching fish out of a bucket — only better. The aim of an adventure like this was to do more than fish. It was to wet a line with an old friend and to get caught up on life. There is no better place to have a conversation than around a campfire or next to someone holding a fishing pole. And converse we did. Hours of conversation while we caught and released too many fish to count.

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Of course, we had to take a break for lunch so we hopped in my pickup and drove to nearby New Ulm for a big tasty burger at Texas Star Cafe. More conversation. And then, back to the pond. Conversation. Catch. Release. And repeat. There is no better way for me to clear my head and hit the reset button than to get outdoors. Loved this adventure.

On Saturday, after a morning of leading one of our small groups to serve our partners at Manna House in Brookshire, I set off on another great adventure. I put on my biking toggs, tossed my mountain bike in the back of my pickup, and drove off to meet some of the guys in my Band of Fathers men’s group.

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The guys and I do a lot of mountain biking adventures. Absolutely love riding with these guys. What made our adventure even more enjoyable was deciding to get off the familiar trails at George Bush Park and ride through the woods — making our own trail. Whoa! This was intensely fun and more than a bit challenging.

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Sharing our off-trail adventure made it even more enjoyable. We rode. We laughed. We stopped to get our bearings. We dodged tree limbs on the ground and on the trees. And when we finally emerged from the woods, we all agreed that we had just shared one of the best riding experiences we have had. The only thing it cost us was a few scratches here and there. Well worth it.

As you think about your next adventure, remember that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to be an adventure. There is an entire menu of affordable adventures waiting to be enjoyed. Take your pick. Order up something fun, something hard, something old or something new. Fit something cool into whatever time you have available. God gave us a heart for adventure. So, go have an adventure!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 19, 2016

Reflections on 100 Trips

This month, I had the privilege of leading my one-hundredth international short-term mission team. Over the years I have seen God do amazing things in and through the lives of those willing to go beyond. Traveling to so many places around the globe has also caused me to reflect deeply about the things I have seen and experienced. The following are my top ten reflections — the things that have come into sharper focus as a result of going beyond.

10. We must embrace inconvenience. | Every major discovery in the history of the world has been made by those who were willing to take risks and embrace inconveniences. Over the centuries, the map of the world was slowly redefined by those who lost sight of familiar shores in order to move toward uncharted lands. Their commitment to the bigger picture enabled them to press on in spite of inconveniences. We must remember that the kingdom of God always advances at our inconvenience.

Lee & Omar
9. We must move in the direction of people in need.
| Even a cursory study of the life of Jesus will reveal that He moved toward people in need, something that the religious leaders of His day were reluctant to do. If we want to become more like Jesus, then we must intentionally close the distance between ourselves and those who, like the lepers of Jesus’ day, are longing for the kind of touch that will build a bridge from our heart to theirs.

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8. The geography of our birthplace matters.
| The geography of my birthplace made it possible for me to have access to the gospel and to resources that enable me to live with a relatively high measure of comfort and security. Not so for many in our world. For some, the geography of their birthplace means that life will be difficult and dangerous. I have a responsibility to be a good steward of the blessings I enjoy because of where I was born and must not neglect the welfare of those born in difficult places.

Omar at Mother Teresa's
7. Worldview impacts everything.
| Among all of the worldview issues that impact whether people live in fear or with hope is the matter of the sanctity of human life. I have seen what can happen to people who live in cultures that devalue human life. From the displacement camps of Darfur to the narrow alleys of Kolkata where Mother Teresa rescued the destitute and dying, worldview impacts whether people live or die. I have a responsibility to live out my worldview regarding the sanctity of human life both at home and abroad.

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6. Injustice is a reality.
| Knowing that there are approximately 27 million people in the world today who live under some form of slavery is mind-boggling. A statistic like this can easily anesthetize us to the painful realities experienced by the individual people who make up those statistics. It’s one thing to hear that there are 27 million people held as slaves, but it’s another thing to personally meet someone who has been rescued from such a hell. Charts and graphs can give us insight into the magnitude of a problem, but meeting a victim can compel us to become a part of the solution. I have a responsibility to fight against injustices like human trafficking.

Omar and Jay in Amazon
5. There is no place where God is not at work.
| While there are fields around the globe that are unquestionably white unto harvest, there are also places where God is quietly at work. God loves the nations and wants them to have knowledge of Him. I have met many people in closed or restricted countries who have lived a lifetime without access to the gospel but whom God prepared to receive His message by speaking to them in a dream. Amazing stories like this and others I have heard have convinced me that there is no place in the world where God is not at work.

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4. There are kind people everywhere.
| The evening news can easily lead us to believe that many nations beyond our borders are filled with nothing but angry and violent people. I have in fact met more than a few people on my travels who fall into that category. However, I have also met the kindest people in some of the most dangerous places I have visited — people of all faiths who have extended their hospitality and protection to me. These persons of peace have embraced me with the same spirit with which the Gentile centurion named Cornelius embraced Peter in the book of Acts.

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3. National partners make all the difference.
| Over the years I have met and worked with numerous national partners who are passionate about the spiritual and physical welfare of their own people. Many of these serve at great risk to their own lives. A handful have lost their lives for the sake of the gospel. The sacrifice of these individuals who have counted the cost or paid the ultimate price for following Christ keeps me sober-minded. I count it a privilege to pray for them, encourage them, and assist them with their efforts to reach their own people.

Ukraine 1995
2. Many in our world are still waiting to hear the good news.
| Years ago while in Ukraine, a friend shared the gospel with an elderly woman who had grown up under Communism. The woman embraced the gospel and then asked, “How long have you known about this good news?” Our team member replied, “All of my life.” The old woman then asked, “Then why didn’t you come sooner?” I feel the weight of my responsibility to the nations. Like Paul, I am a debtor — I understand that those of us who know Christ owe Christ to all who do not know Him.

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1. We must attempt great things for God.
| William Carey, the father of the modern missionary movement, said, “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” We can neither attempt great things nor expect great things unless we have the courage to go beyond the line that defines the farthest we’ve ever been and the most we’ve ever done for God and His purposes. Unless we are willing to put ourselves in a context where we must depend on God, we will never reach our highest potential in Christ nor will we make our greatest contributions to His work. I remain committed to going beyond in order to become and to accomplish all that God has for me.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 13, 2016

A Dream Come True

El Maderal, El Salvador

When we arrived in the tiny village of El Maderal on Monday, the people told us that they dream about water — clean water. The older folks remember when the streams that run near the village were more than a source of water, but a source of food as well.

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All of that changed fourteen years ago when the district started dumping garbage just up the road from the village. It was not long before the fish disappeared, an indication that the water was contaminated. The people not only lost their source of water. They lost a valuable food source as well.

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And so the people complained to local and regional authorities. But nobody took action on behalf of the poor people of El Maderal. The problems continued and worsened. And so the people began to dream about water. And they began to pray. Daily. Hard. In earnest.

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Some, by their own confession, had little faith that their prayers would be answered, that the dream would come true. But others held on to their faith. And this week, the hopes and prayers of the people of El Maderal were finally answered. Their dream for clean water came true.

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This was not the easiest week in terms of drilling. We spent an entire afternoon and evening trying to break through a layer of rock. We measured progress by the inch. Painfully slow. But we thought of the people of El Maderal. And we thought of God’s faithfulness. We persevered. And we broke through and continued drilling to one-hundred feet.

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mark-w-kids-el-maderal
As we developed the well, abundant and clear water gushed up from the depths to the cheers of the people. The kids, and even a few adults, seized the opportunity to run and play under the spray. Laughing. Jumping up and down. Soaking themselves in the showers of blessings — a dream come true.

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On our final afternoon we gathered around the well with the people of El Maderal. We enjoyed skits, a puppet show, a gospel presentation, lots of words of thanks from the folks here, and a special unexpected presentation. The people not only thanked us, they made paper crowns and presented them to us as they sang the words to “Thank you for giving to the Lord.” This was one of the best moments of any trip I have led — absolutely heartwarming.

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I remain deeply grateful for Living Water International for making dreams come true for people all over the world longing for a source of clean water. And I am grateful for the people of Kingsland for loving the nations and investing so much so that we can share and show the love of Jesus in places like El Maderal. That is indeed a dream come true.

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