Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 17, 2020

Pull Into God’s Garage

I saw an interesting thing while stopped at a red light. I could not help but notice the fellow in the lane beside me. He was a big guy sitting on a big motorcycle — a big and very loud motorcycle.

While the light was red and traffic in other lanes was speeding by, the motorcycle man calmly leaned back to make some sort of adjustment to his rear wheel with a pair of pliers!


Every few seconds he would glance forward to check the status of the light while trying to tighten or loosen or adjust or readjust whatever it was that was locked between the jaws of his pliers. I watched with great interest. When the light turned green the big dude sped on to his destination on his noisy steed.

Now, I don’t know much about motorcycles. In fact, I don’t know anything about motorcycles. But I do have a healthy measure of common sense — which makes me wonder why a fellow riding something with only two wheels would make adjustments to one of those wheels at a stop light.

I could not help but wonder if Mr. Goodpliers continued his repair work at the next traffic light, or if he even made it to the next light.

The more I thought about the motorcycle man, the less uncommon and unusual the whole thing seemed. In reality, there are lots of people who are just like him —

• people whose lives are in need of adjustments but who are too busy to stop and properly make repairs.

• people who insist on trying to fix problems on the run.

• people who will not stop to make minor tweaks and corrections.

• people who feel that as long as the wheels keep turning and the motor makes noise then everything has to be ok.

• people who feel no urgency about pulling off the road to make repairs until a wheel falls off and they come crashing to a horrible halt. And then it takes more than a pair of pliers and thirty-seconds at a stop light to fix things. In some cases all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put the pieces back together again.

Yes, there are many people who are just like the motorcycle man —

• people whose marriages are not running right but who will not take the time to stop for repairs. Instead, they run their troubled marriages at full throttle hoping to make it to the next light.

• well-meaning folks whose parenting is not running properly and are struggling with kids whose obedience is seriously out of alignment.

• parents and kids who are too busy to stop to talk about their problems.

Just plain good-intentioned folks who try to make repairs on the run or who have convinced themselves things are not really that bad. Until the wheels fall off. And then fingers point, tempers flare, voices are raised, accusations are made, feelings are hurt, and damage is done.

What’s in need of repair in your life?

Don’t wait until your wheels start to vibrate to get serious about repairs. And don’t try to make repairs all by yourself. Sometimes you need to spend some bucks to go see a mechanic.

And always remember that God is willing to roll up His divine sleeves to help you. If things are not running properly and you hear the annoying rattles that signal bigger problems, then pull off the road and into God’s garage before you end up in the junk-yard. He can do amazing things with a pair of pliers!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 10, 2020

A Cheap Christianity

The childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is, among other things, a story about mediocrity. Goldilocks was a fastidious little girl who wanted everything to be just to her likes — to be just right for her.

Goldilocks didn’t want porridge that was too hot or too cold. She didn’t want to sit on a chair that was too big or too small. She didn’t want to sleep on a bed that was too hard or too soft. Goldilocks found comfort in everything between extremes, which is exactly where many Christians prefer their commitment to God.

Webster defines the word mediocre as meaning: “of middle quality, neither very good nor very bad; ordinary; commonplace; average.” Goldilocks Christianity can best be described as mediocre Christianity, or Christianity that is bland and blah.

Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle, who lived in the 19th century, observed: “There is a common, worldly kind of ‘Christianity’ in this day, which many have — a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice — which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.”

Why do some choose to embrace a common and cheap Christianity?

For some, the cost of a cheap Christianity is just right. The price is not too high and not too low. This kind of Christianity is affordable because it does not make too many demands nor does it risk offending people by asking too much. It asks just enough to make people feel good.

One of the most attractive things about a cheap Christianity is that most people can work it into their budgets and calendars. It gives people enough of a sense of God to make them feel good but not so much that they feel convicted about the shortcomings and compromises in their lives. It does not ask so much that people take offense or so little that people feel insulted.

Like Goldilocks, a cheap Christianity is concerned about comfort — not too soft or not too hard. It is easy Christianity. It is Christianity by name more than by deed, by confession more than by expression.

Cheap Christianity is anemic and passionless. It does not appreciate being held accountable for being and doing less than. It is a dull Christianity that does not make others thirst for God. It does not pierce the darkness. It has no urgency but rather prefers to move at its own pace. It is a Christianity void of earnestness, enthusiasm, and intensity. It is essentially powerless.

Cheap Christianity is fueled by a lower-shelf commitment — the kind of commitment that is within reach but that does not require one to strain in order to grasp. It is characterized by a just-enough kind of commitment that makes no unsettling demands and stops short of being painful. It produces no martyrs, inspires no great deeds, and leaves no memorable legacy.

This new year offers us an opportunity to go beyond a cheap Christianity. Each of us must take inventory of our own lives and become more keenly aware of the line that defines the farthest we’ve ever been and the most we’ve ever done for God and His purposes.

And then, we must step across that line and put ourselves in a context where God can do more in and through us than we ever imagined. Let’s embrace greater intimacy with the Almighty this year and allow Him to use us to bring hope and healing to a hurting world.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 1, 2020

I Resolve

Regardless of how you personally feel about New Year’s resolutions, most people will at least give some consideration to how they can make a fresh start at the beginning of a new year.

We tend to be more open to making resolutions (those decisions we make to do or not do something) at certain times on the calendar — like the start of a new year, a new month, a new week, or even a birthday. These temporal landmarks beckon us to refocus our thinking and to reflect a little more deeply about how we can and should reorient our conduct.

On this first day of the new year, each of us should set aside some quiet moments in which to reflect on the actualities of the past and the possibilities of the future. There is value in looking back to take inventory of our journey — and then looking ahead to consider how our future can look different from our past.

This first day of the year is important because it offers us the opportunity for a fresh start, a second chance, or a new beginning.

Fresh starts have a way of giving new meaning to life. Second chances can invigorate us with the resolve to become better and to do better than we ever have. New beginnings can infuse us with purpose, energy, and the determination to walk through doors that lead to new discoveries and adventures.

Keep in mind that resolving to begin anew is not enough. If we make a resolution to do or not do something, then we must intentionally make the choices that keep us on track.

At its core, life is about choices. If we make resolutions, then we should also consider what it will take to maintain them. And we should make sure that the choices we make this year draw us closer to God and the blessings that are found in Him.

Regardless of whether you make a single resolution, a list of resolutions, or no resolution, determine to, at the very least, make sure that these things are reflected in your life.

Honor God
Love others
Value family
Be kind
Give thanks
Be courageous
Take risks
Move in the direction of people in need
Think deeply
Live wisely
Stop making excuses
Do something hard
Encourage others
Stop wasting time
Make the most of every opportunity
Seize the day

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 22, 2019

Reduce Holiday Stress

I was a seven year-old kid living in San Antonio, Texas in 1963 — the year that Andy Williams recorded a brand new Christmas song entitled, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” And indeed it was a wonderful time in our home. My parents made sure that Christmas was a magical and memorable time for me and my siblings.

For many, however, Christmas is anything but a wonderful time. For them, Christmas has become the most stressful time of the year. Some of this can be blamed on matters outside of our control. But it’s likely that we orchestrate and generate more of our own stress than most of us would care to admit, especially in the current political climate in our country.

We are living in one of the most politically polarized seasons in American history. Regardless of your political leanings, anger over what is happening in our nation’s capital has saturated every fiber of our society, leaving ugly stains in friendships and families. The current political climate change is the result of intolerance belching into the atmosphere and the melting away of respect and civility.

Vitriolic rhetoric has become the new norm — speech fueled by an arrogance that demands that others “see the issues only as I see them” and an intolerance that says, “your views are not worth consideration.” Hatred and intolerance have given birth to willful blindness that refuses to see or acknowledge anything contrary to what we despise about others.

The danger is that in many homes, the joy of Christmas will be edged out by polarizing political rhetoric, especially at the holiday table. The Public Religion Research Institute conducted a survey a year ago that revealed 39 percent of Americans said some political diversity exists within their family. An ABC News survey found that the 2016 election made relationships and friendships tense for a similar percentage of Americans.

For these families and friendships, Christmas can be anything but wonderful. So, how can we guard the sacredness of the family table during the holidays and the irreplaceable treasure of family and friends?

First, look around the room or across the table. Regardless of whether you share the same political views, this is family. Keep in mind that when you get into a bind or find yourself in the hospital or whatever — these are the folks who will show up. Don’t expect any politician to rush to your aid or to cry at your funeral.

Second, in the words of that popular song from the animated movie, “Frozen” — Let It Go. Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is to just let it go lest family relationships become cold and frozen. Don’t allow your anger or frustration about what is happening in Washington to create distance between you and your family.

Third, there has always been scandals and conspiracies and crises in Washington. Politicians come and go. Political seasons always bring change. The guys you love will be replaced by guys you hate only to be later replaced by others — ad nauseam. And when the shoe is on the other foot you can generally count on our political leaders to act like heels.

Fourth, keep in mind that the folks in Washington have enough power without us giving them the power to control our joy or happiness. Don’t hitch your wagon to those horses. Sooner or later you won’t like where they take you. There is only one place where you will find stability — at the throne of God. There are no scandals in heaven. Trust that God is guiding history to accomplish His purposes.

Finally, agree to disagree. If the folks seated at your holiday table hold different political views then don’t allow this to cause you to think less of them or more of yourself. And don’t think that a conversation or argument at the table is actually going to change hearts or minds. It’s not that easy.

Fox News host Jesse Watters and his mom Anne have a great relationship. Jesse is the only conservative in a family of liberals. He is outnumbered at home. Anne often sends text messages to Jesse when he is on the air, taking him to task for his conservative views. However, when it comes to home, Jesse said this:

“I’ve learned that it’s not in either of our interests to have a cutthroat political debate at home during the weekends or during holidays. It just doesn’t get us anywhere.” Anne told The Atlantic magazine that she’s not upset that Jesse is on TV promoting beliefs she doesn’t share. “Jesse is enormously committed to his work and he loves what he does professionally and I deeply respect that,” she said.

Trying to win an argument or convince others of the wrongness of their position is not a formula for holiday cheer. We can learn a thing or two from Jesse and Anne. All things considered, they have not allowed their differences to create distance between them. They love and respect one another. And, ultimately, they understand that blood is thicker than politics.

Best wishes for a less stressful Christmas and a more hopeful New Year.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 9, 2019

Embracing God’s Vision

Hillsong Worship made popular the song entitled “Hosanna” — a song in which the worshiper implores God:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

As the year 2020 quickly approaches, my personal prayer is that God will indeed open my eyes and help me to see the world clearly — to give me 20/20 vision, at least in the spiritual sense. Unless we see clearly we are likely not going to respond proactively to the need around us.

Seeing clearly is also a prerequisite to having our heart broken for what breaks the heart of God — and responding compassionately. Unless our heart is broken for what breaks God’s heart, we will fail to make a difference in our world.

A broken heart is essential to fixing broken things. If we want to make a difference, then we must have our eyes opened and our heart broken for what breaks God’s heart. We must get in sync with the rhythm His divine heartbeat.

When we truly get our heart in sync with His, then we can no longer remain the same. We cannot remain passive or complacent or uninvolved. Instead we will be compelled to reorder our priorities to reflect God’s passions and to intentionally spend ourselves on His purposes.

A heart that is in sync with God’s heart is reflected in a life that is willing to go beyond — to do more than talk a good game but to actually get in the game.

Our missions ministry is committed to three key initiatives in the coming year.

First, we are committed to calling men to embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood. To that end we are working with four key national partners to conduct Men of Courage Biblical Manhood Summits in 2020 in Nepal, Cambodia, India, and Brazil.

Second, we remain committed to embracing God’s vision and mandate to move in the direction of the unreached. We have long-standing partnerships to ensure that twelve people groups on the planet gain greater access to the gospel.

Third, we will continue to embrace God’s vision and passion for moving in the direction of people in need. We are engaged in addressing several global concerns that transcend any particular culture — from the fight against human trafficking to championing the sanctity of human life.

Kingsland members will receive their copy of our 2020 missions strategy in the mail. Watch for your copy. Read it from cover to cover. And then pray about how you can give, go, and embrace God’s vision for the nations. Ask God to open your eyes, to break your heart, and to use you to make a difference.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 17, 2019

A Passion for Adventure

As a boy, I read about and listened to stories of great adventures — stories that stirred something deep within me. I loved listening to my Dad recount tales of his travels. The black and white photos that chronicled his adventures became my window to the world. I wanted to be in those photos and at those places.

Adventure, I believe, is central to manliness. Sadly, it’s easy for boys, as they get older, to lose the passion for adventure that filled their childhood. Adventure is easily crowded out by the pressures of making a living and juggling a myriad of adult responsibilities. Regaining our passion for adventure, however, is worth the effort and the struggle.

One of the key components of my Band of Fathers core group is shared adventure. In addition to studying and serving together, we set aside time to enjoy adventures. Our adventures are not about the cheap thrills of adrenaline but about making valuable discoveries about ourselves in the context of the great outdoors.

This month several of the guys in my Band of Fathers core group and I traveled west to Big Bend, that magnificent and wide part of the Lone Star State that lies beyond the Pecos River. We wanted to spend some time camping, biking, and hiking in what is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

We always enjoy our time outdoors. The food and fellowship are always great. Meals just seem to taste better when we are on an adventure. We have the added benefit of having James Meredith in our group — unquestionably one of the best camp cooks in the world (in my humble estimation). His Dutch oven desserts are truly amazing!

Some of the guys in our group headed to Big Bend Ranch State Park to hit the bike trails. This park has miles of challenging bike trails that wind through the rugged terrain of the Chihuahuan Desert. Several of us have participated in the Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Bike Endurance Ride at Big Bend Ranch State Park over the years and have logged lots of miles on these trails.

A few of the guys hung around to help me insulate and install the ceiling in my off-grid cabin in Big Bend. My cabin was our base camp for this adventure. I am excited to make progress on our property and to share the site with my fellow adventurers. It’s a great place to pitch a tent and enjoy a campfire under big Texas skies.

We also hiked a couple of trails at Big Bend National Park, located less than an hour from my front gate. This national park is one of the most beautiful in the country and features the darkest skies in Texas. The vistas are beyond expansive and beyond description. This is iconic cowboy country. It’s easy to let your imagination run wild with thoughts of what it must have been like for those early settlers who were the original off-gridders.

After our Band of Fathers headed for home, my friend Doyle Lowry drove out for some camping and hiking time. We had hoped to summit another 8,000+ foot peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park located four hours to the north. Wind gusts in excess of 50 mph dictated that we live to summit another day.

Undeterred, we changed gears and headed back to Big Bend National Park to hike for a couple of days. Although we were a bit bummed about not being able to do another peak in the Guadalupe Mountains, we were more than happy to hike at Big Bend. We had some bad weather that eventually cleared and rewarded us with magnificent skies.

I returned home late Friday night refreshed and renewed by my time of shared adventure with good men. I enjoy taking advantage of every opportunity to opt outside and to engage in adventure. As I get older I want to keep my passion for adventure strong, even if it hurts to hike or to paddle or peddle. In the words of county singer Toby Keith, “don’t let the old man in” — lest he come in and quench your passion for adventure. I am committed to keeping the old man from breaking in!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 2, 2019

10 Parenting Lessons

I keep a prayer list on my desk, a handwritten list of people for whom I pray daily. My list includes quite a few names of individuals who have chosen to wander down prodigal paths — and the names of their parents who live daily with the fear of where these paths may ultimately lead their kids.

Having lived through some very dark years when one of my own kids became disoriented, I take seriously the responsibility to pray. I also offer hurting parents practical wisdom gleaned through those years of wondering if our own story would have a happy ending.

I thank God often that our story, that very painful and frightening part of our story, had a happy ending. We are now past those dark years of parenting a prodigal. Looking back, those long years now look like a short chapter in our continuing story — a beautiful story. And, although I wish that we had not experienced what we did, I am grateful for what we learned.

As a dad, the turning point for me came when I finally stopped struggling. I reached a point of exhaustion. I was tired of fighting, arguing, raising my voice, trying to talk sense, and all of the other things we tend to do as parents when we see our kids making bad choices.

I remember the moment as if it was yesterday. I closed the door to my office, sat alone, and wept. I cried out to God from the depths of my frustration and despair and He answered me. “Your son is battling fierce and terrible giants. He cannot fight this battle alone. Stop fighting him and start fighting for him. Become Jonathan’s champion.”

That was the beginning of the end of that awful chapter. I talked with Cheryl, my wife, and told her about what the Lord had clearly spoken to me. I told her that I was going to take the battle to the enemy by praying and fasting.

I fasted a total of forty-two days for my son. Cheryl and I understood that while the answer might not come during that period of prayer and fasting, we believed that those days would set the answer in motion. We braced ourselves for a full head-on collision with the enemy who was determined to destroy our son.

I did not sleep much during those days. Our battle was not against flesh and blood but against an enemy bent on the complete destruction of our child. I talked to God constantly — and I also talked to the enemy. I reminded the Devil several times a day that he would not have our son. If it meant I had to pray and fast for a hundred days I would do it. We would not give up our son.

Over a period of time our son made his way back. Today, he is married to an amazing young lady. So many times I feared I would officiate his funeral. Instead I officiated their wedding. Earlier this year God blessed them with a beautiful daughter and us with our first granddaughter. Looking at my son and his family fills me with deep gratitude to God for this new chapter of Jonathan’s life — a chapter that might never have happened.

Through those years, God taught me these ten lessons about parenting a prodigal.

10. Choices Matter
Erwin McManus, one of my favorite pastors and writers, observed, “The most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices. Our choices either move us toward God and all the pleasure that comes in Him or steer us away from Him to a life of shame and fear.” My son clearly made some bad choices, but so did I. Many of my choices caused me to miss the signals that my son was in danger. I try to be more attentive now.

9. Turn Fear Into Motivation
The realization that our story might not have a happy ending was the most frightening thing we dealt with during the dark years. We feared the knock at the door at 3:00 AM to inform us that something awful had happened to our son. This fear motivated us to pray and to fight hard for our son.

8. Fight Strategically
I learned that it was much easier to fight with my son and turn him into the enemy than it was to fight the enemy who was trying to destroy my son. My son was not the enemy. The enemy is the enemy. I learned to fight the right enemy and to do so strategically.

7. Watch and Pray Expectantly
Praying without ceasing took on a whole new meaning during those painful years. Fasting helped me to intensify my prayers with laser precision. I was inspired by the story of the lame beggar in the book of Acts. He looked at Peter and John “expecting to receive something from them” (Acts 3:5) — and received more than he expected. I prayed with the same expectant attitude. Like David, I prayed and eagerly watched for the answer to my prayers (Psalm 3:5).

6. Choose Your Battles
I learned to resist the urge to gripe and complain about every little thing that bothered me lest these skirmishes distract me from the greater war. Don’t complicate things by fighting about things that are symptoms but not causes of the greater concerns.

5. Love Unconditionally
In most cases a prodigal child will know that you do not approve of their choices and behavior. However, never let them doubt your love. Keep your heart open and find ways to affirm your love.

4. Let Them Return at Their Own Pace
Be patient. The first step back is taken only after hitting bottom. Be grateful for every step in the right direction. Celebrate small steps. And, don’t despair when they backslide or lose traction on the way back.

3. Find Ways to Stay Motivated

I created a playlist of songs (on my iPod in those years) that encouraged me to pray for Jonathan and that gave me hope. I listened to those songs every day. In many ways, the lyrics of those songs expressed my hopes.

2. Run In Their Direction
Luke 15:20 says it all about the prodigal son and his dad — “And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.”

1. Continue To Be Available
Our choices often have lingering consequences that may take years to resolve. Be available to help your child put the pieces back together. Continue to help them move toward healing and wholeness.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 29, 2019

Baghdadi is Dead

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Iraqi-born leader of ISIS, is dead at 48.

In keeping with a life steeped in violence, Baghdadi did not die alone. As US forces closed in on him in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.

Using women and children as human shields (and suicide bombers) is a tactic commonly used by Islamic terrorists. In the end, Baghdadi hid himself behind his own children and made them the final victims in his long resumé of killing.

Baghdadi earned a reputation as one of the world’s most brutal terrorists. He effectively led ISIS to use acts of brutality to fuel the organization’s propaganda machine. Using social media, he showed the world what terror looks like in graphic, bloody, and unedited detail.

Baghdadi was unquestionably evil and guilty of a host of atrocities and human rights violations. He ordered and documented the beheading of prisoners, crucifixions, rape, and efforts to wipe out the Yazidis to name a few.

Baghdadi was also responsible for the torture, repeated rape, and death of Kayla Mueller. Kayla was a gifted young lady who had devoted her life to helping people in need. She was taken prisoner by ISIS while serving Syrian refugees at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo. The US military operation that led to Baghdadi’s death was dedicated to Kayla.

Given Baghdadi’s etched-in-stone reputation as one of the most violent men in the history of the world, I was shocked and puzzled by the Washington Post’s headline after his death: Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.


Political partisanship aside, we are all in danger when we fail to recognize evil for what it is and to call it out. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah (5:20) cautioned: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Words matter. The Washington Post should know that and, I believe, does know that. Their original headline referred to Baghdadi as the Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief. They should have kept that headline but instead changed it to refer to Baghdadi as an “austere religious leader.” Yet one more edit in the headline referred to Baghdadi as “extremist leader of Islamic State.”

Baghdadi chose a path that resulted in an untold number of deaths. As an “austere religious leader” his decisions were governed by a religious worldview with an impoverished understanding of the sanctity of human life. Out of respect for those he murdered, like Kayla Mueller, Baghdadi does not deserve the right to be called anything but what he chose to define his life.

In the end, no matter who a person is or what he does, we will all die. And, those who live violently, like Baghdadi, often die in the same manner. Sadly, others will rise to take his place and to devote themselves to acts of death and destruction.

After the death of Bin Laden, I wrote these words:

As a Christ-follower I may be called upon to lay down my life for what I believe but I will never take a life in order to spread what I believe. Bin Laden chose a path that ultimately led to his own destruction. I have chosen a path that will lead to life and to spreading the message of life to others.

The path I have chosen starts at the foot of a cross, a divine plus sign raised on a hill more than two-thousand years ago. The world needs the message of the life-giver who hung on that cross so that fewer will choose paths of death and destruction, like Bin Laden and those he influenced. Bin Laden is dead, a reminder that while the wheels of God’s justice may move slowly, when they come they do grind finely.

And now, Baghdadi is dead. Like Bin Laden, he wrote the script that is now entered into the pages of history — in spite of the Washington Post’s headline.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 19, 2019

The 106-Year Wait

Ecolástico Arrevalo Enriquez is the oldest living member of the remote mountain village of Caserio El Salitre, El Salvador. Although he was born in the months preceding the start of the first World War, Don (a title of respect) Ecolástico has seen very few advancements in the place he has called home for the past 106 years.

The twenty-one families that make up the village of El Salitre live pretty much off the grid. A few homes have electricity but everyone depends on the rivers and a couple of muddy shallow wells for water. In regard to electricity, don’t let that fool you. One family showed me their current electric bill. It came in at a whopping $1.02 for the month. For many families that subsist on only a few dollars a month, even a dollar for electricity takes a bite out of monthly earnings.

Life in El Salitre is hard. Every home in the village is constructed of either adobe or scraps of tin, complete with dirt floors. You can’t escape the dirt or the mud that comes with seasonal rains. Living with dirt and mud is simply one of the harsh realities of everyday life.

Perhaps the hardest thing about it all is that when the rivers dry up in the summer, the people have no water for bathing. Several parents told me that the only option for bathing is a river located several kilometers away — hardly worth the walk to get clean.

Water for daily use, though a kilometer or two away, still robs families of lots of time. Every day, women and children must walk to one of the shallow wells for water and to the river to do laundry. Hauling a few gallons at a time takes lots of time and even more effort. We hardly ever give any consideration to the weight of a gallon of water. Not so for the people of El Salitre who must carry several pounds of water every day in order to cook and hydrate — it’s just a way of life.

This week all of that changed for Don Ecolástico and the people of his village. Our Kingsland team arrived in El Salvador last Sunday morning to drill a water well at El Salitre in partnership with our friends at Living Water International. We have now surpassed underwriting and drilling twenty wells in the country of El Salvador alone. Knowing what these water wells mean to folks in remote villages, we were eager to start.

After meeting the villagers on Monday, we wasted no time in firing up the drill rig only to hit a lot of rock. Slow going on day one, to say the least. And then an unexpected setback on Monday afternoon — rain and more rain. More than twenty-four hours of non-stop rain caused severe flooding and mud slides in the area. The government declared an emergency and closed the schools. Because of swollen rivers, we could not get to El Salitre the following day. So, we waited for the rains to stop and for the waters to recede.

Finally on Wednesday morning, we were able to make the hour-long drive and cross the three rivers between us and the village. Although the drill site was a muddy mess, we were able to drill past the underlying rock and, over the next couple of days, to find water at a depth of 223-feet — all to the cheers of the folks.

One man could not contain his gratitude. “Every bucket of water we fill,” he said, “will remind us of the goodness of God and His kindness in sending you here.” Some of the children made it a point to tell us that they looked forward to bathing (let that thought sink in for a minute). And because the well is centrally located, every family will benefit from time saved by not having to walk so far to fetch water.

We ended the week with a beautiful celebration in which we dedicated and presented the well to the village. A local pastor shared a great message about Jesus, the living water. Perhaps the best thing of all is that every member of the village stood in a long line to hug and personally express their gratitude to our team. We left with hearts filled with joy for the opportunity to be the answer to years of prayers for a source of clean water. And as for Don Ecolástico, his tears and his smile said it all.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 9, 2019

Apostle of the Bleeding Feet

Sundar Singh was a remarkable man — someone whom I have added to my list of historical mentors. Historical mentors are individuals who, although dead, continue to influence the living because of the way in which they lived their lives. Barring some unforeseen discovery, their story is not likely to change. Their flags are still waving atop the summits of their respective achievements.

Singh was born in 1889 to a prominent Sikh family in Northern India. Unlike Hindus who have a pantheon consisting of millions of gods, Sikhs believe there is only one God. They also reject Hindu’s caste system. They are often confused with Muslims because the men traditionally wear turbans.

As a child, Singh’s mother took him weekly to sit at the feet of a Sadhu, an ascetic Sikh holy man. She also wanted him to learn English and sent him to a Christian mission school. After the death of his mother, fourteen year-old Singh became angry and turned on his missionary teachers and burned a copy of the Bible. Despondent, he decided to commit suicide.

Before he could follow through on taking his life, Jesus appeared to Singh in a vision in the middle of the night. He heard Christ asking, “Why do you oppose me? I am your Savior. I died on the cross for you.” That vision changed the course of his life.

That morning he told his father that he had seen Jesus in a vision and heard His voice. He further told his father that he would follow Christ forever. His father demanded that he give up the notion of following Jesus. When Singh refused, his father denounced him and put him out of their home.

Singh was baptized on his sixteenth birthday and then set off in the direction of those who had not heard the gospel. He was given refuge at a home for lepers operated by Christians. There he began to serve people in desperate need. Over the years that home became a base of operations for Singh.

In 1906, Singh made a controversial decision. In order to identify with those who needed Christ, he adopted the traditional garb of a Sadhu, a Sikh holy man. He wore a turban and a yellow saffron robe, renounced all material possessions, and began to travel as a religious teacher. Although he looked like a Sadhu, he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Singh wrote, “I am not worthy of following the steps of my Lord, but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God.”

Like a Sadhu, Singh did not wear shoes. Because he walked barefoot his feet were covered in blisters and often bloodied from travel. People began to refer to Singh as the “Apostle of the Bleeding Feet.”

In 1908, Singh started traveling to Nepal and Tibet. Some believe that he was the first evangelist to take the gospel into these two Himalayan countries. He faithfully preached the gospel throughout this mountainous region.

Finally on April 18, 1929, at the age of 36, Singh made what would be his final trek into Tibet. He was never heard from again. Rumors circulated that a group of men killed him and disposed of his remains in a river. Others speculated that he died of natural causes. We will never know for sure what happened to Singh.

What we do know for certain is that he was a man completely devoted to Christ. He did not allow any worldly thing to distract him from his mission to make Christ known in hard places. He suffered much persecution over the years but remained steadfastly loyal to Jesus and played a strategic role in the spread of the gospel in India, Nepal, and Tibet.

In his diary, Singh wrote these words: “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for Him. Dying takes only a few minutes or at worst an hour or two — but to live for Christ means to die daily to myself.” The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet was right.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Singh indeed had beautiful feet.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »