We are at the eve of 7 years in Nicaragua. We’ve soared and laughed and lived…as well as cried and groaned and died. We’ve soared with anticipations and expectations. We’ve laughed with friends and lived under the shadow of the Almighty. Cried with grief and frustration and joy. Groaned over making hard decisions. Died…dying, rather, to self-trust.
Many of you have supported us from the beginning of our time here. (##Shout Out to our moms and dads!!!) Others of you we’ve met along the way. Some have even passed away. Through these years, we’ve grown more amazed at God’s patience and forbearance with us…more aware of His sovereignty…more humbled by His great grace…and less capable of being quiet about it all! The God we serve is worthy to be praised.
Through spaghetti plate sales, golf tournaments, magnet fundraisers, benefit concerts, and much simple sacrifice, we have seen the hand of God in you. We praise God for our supporters! You encourage and enable us to make disciples. We realize that what we do is not esteemed by the world’s standards. Nevertheless, because of the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8), we press on to make Him known.
We want to take a little time to do a quick review of the past several years…NOT because the 7 year mark is of any significance in the big picture…but because sometimes it good to remember where we’ve been.
We spent the first two years working with CCA and learning how dumb we were, how poor our Spanish was, and how out of touch we were with this culture. In all honesty, not much has changed! When our time was up with CCA, the Lord brought a very special group of people from North Carolina into our lives. We didn’t know we had family in North Carolina until then. Sometimes you sense the great love of the Lord when He brings certain people into your life.
Through that friendship we began a family sponsorship in San Antonio in Dolores.
“It was the best of times…It was the worst of times.” Food bags, back packs, hugs, smiles, babies and baby formula, dog bites, rabbits, chickens, chicken plucker, maggot farming, black plastic, carpentry, the HollieLoo, funerals, brawls, rocks on a “hot tin roof”, preaching through the book of Romans, memory verses. Some of you know!
Patience and forbearance! We learned a lot, cried a lot more, and prayed for wisdom we didn’t have. Slowly?!, we realized that the spiritual needs were much more than we were equipped to handle. We needed godly Nicaraguan men that could fill the cultural and language gap. The Lord heard our prayers and sent us some faithful men. These men were quick learners, hard workers, faithful stewards, and humble servants.
Over time, we had to rent a place outside of the village to conduct our efforts from. It was one of those “good” decisions we made! We were able to have more orderly distributions and Bible studies with the families.
Through this “learning curve”, we began to see some things that concerned us. In God’s providence, the sponsorship never grew large enough to include every family in the village. Unfortunately, in some instances, this created strife between families…instead of promoting community. Families migrate in and out frequently and sponsorship fluctuates from month to month. There were other issues that caused us to realize that we needed to pray more for wisdom.
There were lots of encouraging things too. We’ve had many one on one visits different families that have afforded us lots of opportunities. Some have gained skills and learned how to support themselves. Some get life-changing medicines monthly. Most importantly, we feel certain that the gospel has thoroughly been explained and proclaimed to the young and old in that community.
This next year (as in all the previous years) we will be making changes. We will continue to provide for physical needs, but not through such a mechanical approach. Dr. Reina Tiffer will help us with that! However, spiritual poverty is absolutely the greatest disease of all people. Our Lord fed the multitudes and healed the sick, but He gave His sinless life to make people spiritually whole. Because of this, we appreciate the need for discipleship more than ever before!
As many of you already know, we have all but outgrown our current place where we work, the place we call “the office.” Praise the LORD!
There are many men, women, and children hungry to know more about God here. We are constantly in need of more Bibles and workbooks and evangelistic materials. Praise the LORD!
The one thing we are sure about is that God hears our prayers. We ask you to continue to lift us up in your quiet time.
Our God is worthy of praise and adoration from all nations. The most important thing we can do is teach and instruct others on the importance of giving God our praise.
Deuteronomy 4:7-8 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?
If you would like to support God’s work here in Nicaragua financially by setting up a monthly automatic payment or you can make a one time donation, Click here
If you would like to support God’s work here in Nicaragua financially, you can make a tax deductible gift by mailing a check with the note: Joel Gass Family on a slip of paper to:
CENTRAL MISSIONARY CLEARINGHOUSE
PO BOX 219228
HOUSTON TX 77218-9228