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It Is Written’s mission trip to Ethiopia is now in the rearview mirror. Our faithful volunteers are making their way home with lots of photos, memories, a greater appreciation for the simple things of life we take for granted at home, and a renewed passion for the Lord and His mission to save humanity. It was indeed a wonderful and life-changing journey.

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Yves Monnier, left, and his translator, Oromo, right, introduce the sermon.

The grand finale of our two-week mission trip took place this past Saturday. That’s when we had an amazing worship service with well over 2,000 people in attendance. Wow! One of my fellow pastors, who had learned quite a bit of the language (Oromo), decided to be my translator for the introduction (we had scripted what I was going to say ahead of time). You should have seen the people smiling and laughing in appreciation. At the end of my sermon I made an altar call. At first very few moved and then the congregation spontaneously started singing. A God-moment, because that’s when people started streaming down. Just amazing. 

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Hundreds gathered on the shores of Lake Langano for the baptisms.

As soon as the worship service was completed, the It Is Written team was whisked away to the shores of Lake Langano where hundreds of people had gathered to be baptized. On this day, this picturesque lake surrounded by rolling hills became a giant baptistery. Our pastors joined the local pastors to baptize 440 precious souls. The age of those baptized ranged from children to a one-hundred-year-old lady–a reminder that it’s never too late to make Jesus first in your life. The smiles of all the people coming out of the water said it all. 

When good things are happening, the devil always seems to show up. And he did at one of our nightly preaching sites, the largest preaching site. There was significant political unrest in that city (not caused by our meetings). The military were called in, the internet was shut down in the entire country, and our nightly meetings had to be canceled for safety reasons. Thanks be to God that no one was harmed and our dear pastor was able to get out without problems. However, the very large baptismal service planned for that area had to be postponed. 

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On Saturday evening the It Is Written volunteers and the local leaders and pastors had one last meeting together. This was a time to thank our hosts and, above all, praise our Almighty God. During the meeting we gave all the Ethiopian pastors a jacket with the It Is Written logo. This is not something we usually do, but we did in this case for a very particular reason. When I came to Ethiopia in January to plan and organize the mission trip, I quickly realized how poor the people here are. What drove this point home with me was when I saw one of our dear pastors whose only jacket was a hand-me-down with the logo of a cigarette maker. What?! That’s when I determined that he and the other pastors needed It Is Written jackets. The ear-to-ear grins of these guys wearing their new jackets was priceless.

To God be the glory for another successful mission trip. By the way, we’ve got a great line-up of mission trips in 2020. Join us on one of them and experience God in a most powerful way. 

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Click to read the second update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

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On June 9th, I was on my way to Peru from the Atlanta airport. I had butterflies in my stomach, my thoughts were running rampant, and my heart was skipping beats. Not because I was on a plane, not because I was leaving the comfort of my home, but because I had a big responsibility to It Is Written and to the local people in Peru. 

Let me backtrack a little. I have been doing the logistics, behind the scenes, for several mission trips now. Handling things behind my computer is comfortable, but being in the mission field? Well, that is an entirely different story. You see I have never been on a mission trip before, and now I have been given the task to lead a group of 25 people in a foreign country. I did not know what to expect. But I did know Yves Monnier, It Is Written’s evangelism director and my supervisor, expected a lot from me. Rightly so; this was huge! 

When we landed in Peru, we were all exhausted but that quickly vanished due to the overwhelming love shown by the local pastors, our volunteer translators, and the local church school. Wow! We were not expecting that. From that day on, I knew God was going to be right by my side the entire time. No more butterflies, my thoughts were calmed, and my heart went back to beating regularly. God is good.

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The group received a warm welcome at the airport from church pastors and the local church school.

No time to waste. After our warm welcome, we were transported by the pastors to our hotel, El Portal del Marques, and while everyone was getting their room keys and settling into their rooms, I was being pulled right and left, a question here, a problem there. Whoa! Typically, when I am working on a mission trip back home from the comfort of my computer, once the leader of a mission trip leaves for the country, most of my work is done. That was not the case this time around. Decisions needed to be made, and everything was up to me. No more turning to Yves for direction. This was completely new and foreign to me, but I knew I was ready. “One step at a time,” I thought to myself. Decisions were made and plans organized—finally, bed. 

The first clinic in Cajamarca, Peru.

The next morning, Friday, we got ready, bright and early, and were excited about our first day doing the medical clinic. After months of planning this mission trip, I was about to see my work in action for the first time. So many emotions ran through me at that moment. Upon arriving to our first site, one of the small plazas in the city of Cajamarca, more decisions needed to be made. Again, one at a time, I was able to get through them, but not alone. God was right by my side, and so was my team. I can’t express my gratitude enough to all the wonderful team members I had the pleasure of working with. As a team, we decided where triage was going to be placed. We then assigned the doctors, which included a local dental surgeon, to individual stations. Afterwards we set up the last two stations: one for our pharmacy and the other for eyeglasses. We gave close to 700 pairs of glasses away for free. Praise the Lord!

Although it was winter in Peru, during the day it was extremely hot. That didn’t stop the line from growing. We saw nearly 200 people that day. We were able to help people of all ages, from small issues to severe ones. 

Suranny, right, and Ines, left, saw many patients at the clinic.

Suranny Sarria, our nurse practitioner, shares her testimony. “It was the first day of the clinic, and I was with a patient when I heard one of the pastors scream ‘We need help now, someone just fainted!’ I immediately dropped my clipboard and ran to him. When I arrived, the patient was awake and alert, but she was still very pale and weak. I brought her to my station and checked her vital signs and asked her questions about her food and water intake. She said she had a small breakfast. I asked her about her family, and she told me she had been married for two years, since age 18. I don’t know what prompted me to ask her, ‘Does he treat you well?’ ‘No,’ she answered. I followed with more questions, ‘Is he abusive? Does he hit you?’ All to which the answer was ‘Yes.’ She was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. I asked her if she could go to her parents; unfortunately they both had passed away. At that time, I stepped away and spoke with Ines Requejo, a local nurse and wife of the campaign coordinator. I told her we needed to report this to the authorities. I went back to the young lady and before calling the authorities, I asked her if she wanted to report this. She agreed; Praise the Lord! Ines took the woman to the authorities where she was able to report the abuse and get counseling and therapy. Before she left, we gave her food, water, and multivitamins. I prayed for her and we cried together. I told her that if I didn’t see her here on Earth again, I would see her in Heaven. I also told her how much God loves her and that she deserves so much better.”

Before we knew it, it was five o’clock. The whole team was exhausted, but our hearts were touched by the many individuals who trusted us enough to let us help them. 

On Sabbath morning, we had 12 speakers assigned to 12 different churches. Praise the Lord for the hard-working pastors and translators who were also there day and night helping the team. I was assigned to Sabogal Central B with speaker Brian Kretschmar. This was his first time preaching and my first time translating an evangelistic series. A first for both of us. As I was sitting up on the platform waiting for our time, I began to feel butterflies in my stomach and my legs started to feel shaky. As the congregation sang, I began to pray. I heard Brian’s name announced, and we both stood. Immediately, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Just like that, they were gone! No butterflies, no trembling, nothing but calmness. God is good.

Everyday had its challenges, but with lots of prayer we were able to get through them. Dr. Mark Murray experienced a challenge with getting medicine. “Each morning,” he said, “I was taken by the pastor to the wholesale pharmacy to purchase medications that had been depleted from our inventory. One morning, we showed up, and the pharmacy was closed. We learned that the government had shut them down due to some rules infractions. The pastor got on the phone with the owner of the pharmacy and asked if he would help us. Soon enough someone appeared at this metal door and opened it for us. We walked down a dark alley to the back of the pharmacy. Thankfully, he did business with us, and we were able to continue operating the clinic.”

Day after day, our team, although exhausted, was always ready for another hard day’s work. Medical in the morning and preaching at night. At every site we went, a big line awaited us. Some people would arrive as early as 4:00 a.m. The need is great in Peru, and we were so thankful that the Lord brought each of us there to help his children. 

Tina Arnall, one of our nurses, told her testimony. “We brought many supplies to treat the people who came to our clinic. However, we had so many people that came to be seen, that we were very limited in the amount of medicines we could give each person. I think we saw around 1,800 while we were in Cajamarca. It dawned on me that we couldn’t rely on the medicines and treatments we had brought with us; we must rely totally on Christ for the real healing. It was so beautiful to see the doctors praying with the patients.

Tina, right, cleans a man’s diabetic ulcers.

One man I prayed with came with four diabetic ulcers on his ankles. He had evidently been managing them for 25 years. I was impressed they weren’t deeper than they were and had no odor. With there being such a short time for treatment, I prayed a heartfelt prayer for guidance. I felt a peace over me as I cleaned the wounds and lightly removed damaged tissue. I felt a deep thrill as I thought of Christ washing His disciple’s feet and the opportunity I was given to do this for Christ in ‘one of the least of these my brethren.’ I put charcoal in some ointment, applied a dressing, and did some teaching with him and his family. He came back a few days later, and new tissue growth could be seen. I praised God, and we prayed some more together. In the clinic, I found myself teaching lifestyle medicine because it could really make a difference when our little bit of medicine ran out. One man had a very high blood glucose level. Our medicines had disappeared that day, so Dr. Murray had gone to buy more. I had nothing physical to give the man, so I taught him the principles of reversing diabetes as I had learned from Wes Youngberg’s Diabetes Undone seminar. I had him out walking. It was so sad to send people away in the evening. Made me think of the many that thronged Christ for healing. Certainly I’m learning how true it is that the medical missionary work is the right hand of the gospel!”

We had one more day of clinic, but this one was going to take place inside of a penitentiary. Being inside a foreign prison was a first for almost all of us. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were all ready to help each individual. The process to enter was long but for good reason: They wanted to make sure the same people that went in, came out. We were all thankful for that. One hundred and fifty prisoners later, both men and women, we were done. Each one of them showed gratefulness for our presence. They each received a El Camino a Cristo (Steps to Christ) book, and they all accepted it with a smile. 

Our last Sabbath in Cajamarca came too soon. It was a bittersweet day–our last Sabbath with our churches, our new families. I will never forget these members who welcomed us with their whole hearts. I’m sure I can speak for the whole group when I say they will all hold a special place in our hearts. We had several baptisms that Sabbath afternoon from all 12 of our locations. Praise the Lord! 

Jeremy Arnall, pastor of the Greeneville Church, explains what happened with the baptisms that morning. “As we approached the end of our evangelistic campaign at the Cajamarca Central church, the pastor and I, along with my translator, went visiting with some of the interests. Several appeals were made throughout the week with a few coming forward each night so that on Sabbath morning before the first service, we were anticipating seven baptisms. As we finished first service, we had two baptisms and then had Sabbath school. As I finished preaching the message at second service, I began an appeal for individuals to come forward for baptism. A few came forward, and then I announced I needed to go get dressed for the baptism. We had planned five to be baptized at second service. I quickly got ready as the pastor stepped in for me and continued the appeal from the front. Finally, due to the length of his appeal, I came around outside and looked into the window to see what was happening in the sanctuary. I was so inspired to see several more who had come forward. We ended up baptizing 12 at second service, and then, as I was getting dried off and ready to go, I was told one more had come forward for baptism. Most of the congregation was now gone, but I quickly put the pastors waders back on. The few remaining members gathered about as we baptized the fifteenth precious soul that morning. I was inspired by the enthusiasm and energy that the Peruvian people bring to evangelism and their work at building the kingdom of God.”

What an experience! What a blessing! I will never forget my first mission trip, the team, the pastors, the translators, the hotel staff, the sweet smiles on the kids, and the members from Sabogal Central B church. With God’s help, our mission trip was successful, one step at a time. 

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On Wednesday, Current Season ba&sh Bash Pure Silk Happy Playsuit Bordeaux Small 1 36FR 6US 8UKDuchamp Mens Double Breasted Blazer 38Rlast One, Pastor Robert Costa, speaker/director of It Is Written’s Spanish-speaking ministry Pistola - Aline Tux High Rise Skinny Pant - Vice Cersa, visited the president of Guatemala, Mr. Jimmy Morales, to express Escrito Está’s commitment to sharing Jesus and to pray for him in his role as the country’s leader. Pastor Costa gave the president a brief report of what Escrito and local churches have been doing in the areas of education, health, spirituality, communications, and social work to relieve the needs of Guatemala’s citizens. Pastor Costa was warmly received by the president and gifted him and other members of the government a favorite book about the life of Jesus, The Desire of Ages, another devotional book, and an Ambassador of Peace medal. Toward the end of the meeting, Pastor Costa prayed for God to lead and bless President Jimmy Morales and his country.

The meeting was made possible thanks to the president’s butler, who is familiar with Escrito Está and connected to local churches in the area. It is the Armani Jeans AJ Jeans Trouser Cotton Woman Browns C5P10ADcam PA Sz.40 MAKE OFFER Pastor Costa has met with local government officials in Guatemala, as the local church seeks to reach people in all levels of society with a message of hope in the second coming of Jesus. Pastor Costa was in the country to celebrate Escrito Está’s 25th Anniversary and held a series of meetings entitled, Un Futuro con Esperanza (A Future with Hope). The meetings concluded with 210 baptisms.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, center, poses for a photo with Pastor Robert Costa, right, and his butler, left. During his March 13 visit, Pastor Costa gave President Morales an Ambassador of Peace medal.

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You might think that a young man with money, fame, and the adulation of thousands (or millions) of people would be the happiest person on earth. Living the dream, wealthy beyond imagination, hot and cold running everything… What’s not to love?

Evidently there’s a lot not to love. Earlier this year, Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association commented on the mental health of professional basketball players. He said, “What surprises me is that they’re truly unhappy.” He explained that there are “pervasive feelings of loneliness and melancholy across the league” and stated that many players are lonely. “If you’re around a team in this day and age, there are always headphones on,’’ Silver said. “[The players] are isolated, and they have their heads down.’’ He reported that one player said, “From the time I get on the plane to when I show up in the arena for the game, I won’t see a single person.” Mr. Silver’s comments were reported on Maison Martin Margiela Womens Wrap Top Shirt Yellow White Striped Size IT 42AZZEDINE ALAIA White Shirt Blouse with Lace Trimming FR 38 IT 42

There are several factors at play here. One is that social media and electronics allow people to very easily become isolated. A generation ago it wasn’t possible to put earbuds in and separate yourself from what was going on around you, whereas today it’s not only possible but extremely common. Smart phones allow people to immerse themselves in another world, away from the reality of what’s happening in their presence. For these and other reasons, young men at the height of their professional powers are miserable, not happy.

But this phenomenon isn’t unique to über-successful sports people, at least not according to Mr. Silver. “I don’t think it’s unique to these players,’’ he said. “I don’t think it’s something that’s just going around superstar athletes. I think it’s a generational issue.’’

If he’s right, then loneliness and isolation and melancholy are a “generational issue.”Boss Hugo Boss Nordan Sport Coat Size 40R Dark bluee NWTCavani Veneto Grey Three Piece Suit Wedding Formal Prom Party Ascot Racing SuitDerek Lam Navy bluee Women's Size 6 Geometric Jacquard Dress Pants - Put another way, mental health challenges are a “generational issue.” But if young adults earning millions of dollars a year can’t find happiness, who can?

Anyone can. It depends on where you’re looking for happiness, and what you prioritize as truly important in your life. Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” While that might sound foreign to someone crowding God out of their life, God’s promise is that when you make room for Him—when you spend time at His “right hand”—you’ll experience “fullness of joy.”

What is important to you? Where are you looking for affirmation? From where do you derive your happiness? If your focus is on acquiring money, possessions, and Instagram likes, life will ultimately prove to be a hollow existence. But when you let what is important to God become important to you, life has a way of becoming decidedly more meaningful. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” That’s a very similar thought to the one expressed in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with earning large sums of money and enjoying professional success.Nic+Zoe - In The Lines Tank - MultiJW Anderson Asymmetric White TopErdem Silk Blouse Brand New-Flower print - Cecilia Blouse But the Bible and society tell us that these things aren’t the key to happiness. They may even be major contributors to unhappiness. Real happiness comes from oneness with God. Paul wrote in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The person whose sins are forgiven has peace in his or her heart. The one who understands the love of God experiences a deep-seated joy. The one who knows he or she is living out God’s purpose is a person who has a settled existence.

Be sure you’re taking time for God. The knowledge that God has your heart gives you the certainty you need to live with meaning and hope.

If you are experiencing mental health challenges, please seek professional help.