Mexico, May 2014, Soccer

Most mornings in Mexico we visited drug and alcohol rehab centers. In the afternoons we visited parks.

 
You couldn’t do it in America, but in Mexico we went around to announce a soccer tournament, and each evening a crowd turned up.
We went to several different fields of grass, concrete, and dust, sometimes chalking lines for boundaries and sometimes dragging a stick.
 
While the men headed up the soccer games, the ladies played with the children and shared Bible stories. We drew on their faces, turned cartwheels, played hillbilly golf, and washers.
Several of the women, me included, were much impressed and moved by the great need that the children showed for love and affection. They flocked to us and hung on us, sometimes hanging on to our t-shirts as we walked. Wherever we went, they came like magnets.
 
Even though we couldn’t communicate very well, we had fun. Several of the women shared Bible stories with the kids and I gave my testimony to a group of wide-eyed children. I had a captive audience as they heard how I had been rebellious to my parents and hateful toward God. But now they could obvious see that I am happy because I have given up sin, and I gave the gospel as clearly as I could. I also noticed while I talked through the translator that a man was standing nearby and listening carefully. May God bless him!
 
During one soccer tournament a group of young men were dancing to the Virgin Mary. It was heartbreaking to see. Not only is it hard to see worship to a false god when our God is so worthy of all the praise, but I saw young men who depended on this dancing for their salvation. They were very coordinated and disciplined. They danced hard and intensely. And they danced for quite some time.
Interestingly enough, we visited a rehab center later that week where they danced before The Lord. They played music and jumped and clapped for joy. Immediately I compared it to the dancing in the park. In the park they had each moved in time, the steps perfectly memorized, but at this rehab center the dancing was more spontaneous than anything. And what stood out to me most was the joy of the men at the rehab center. Tremendous joy and thanksgiving, not working to get God’s favor, but rejoicing to have it. And most importantly, this dancing was in honor of the One True God.
I know we don’t dance as a regular part of our worship service in America — but maybe we should!
Back to the soccer games, at each soccer tournament the men took time to gather the young men around and challenge them with the gospel. There was no strategy to make an emotional experience. There was no aim to record great numbers. It was the straightforward simple gospel, and then we challenged the men to commit their lives to Christ.
The last soccer tournament we held, Wednesday night, the bleachers were filled with young men spoking pot. No attempt to hide it, no nervousness or shyness, just out there in the open together. During the break, Russ humbly and seriously addressed them about it, and though some were high and laughing, others listened seriously. Please pray for those young men, that these words will have a lasting impression on them. At the tournaments we gave out tracks and booklets and Bibles, and the children eagerly received them and promised to read them.
So for all of the soccer players, spectators, children, parents, and teeter-totter partners, please pray for their salvation. Pray that God may change the hearts of the people to Him and that the work that we have done will not be in vain. Please pray that the words we have said will not fade into the darkness but be a light to destroy it.
Ellie

 All photos taken by Billy and Sarah Jackson

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Mexico, May 30th 2014

The trip has flown by, but lasting impressions have been made.

Monday morning the team visited our first rehab center. Pastor Candido has been faithfully active in ministering to these men and teaching them to play instruments and several of them performed for us. How incredible! That men who once were addicted to drugs are now singing God’s praise!

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We had a time of testimony and several of the men there shared their stories of how they had been at the bottom of the bottom and God had rescued them.

As they shared and as we sang together, it was rather amazing how our hearts and spirits connected in beautiful oneness. Truly we have brothers and sisters we never knew about! God works in mysterious ways, and often, we will never hear of all He has done.

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As Stephanie Weber shared, in the song Santo, Santo, Santo or in English Holy, Holy, Holy we sing about being around the throne. Singing that with the Mexicans is a special blessing. It’s a small taste of heaven, where every tribe and tongue and nation will gather around to praise our God.

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At each rehab center we visited we left a bookshelf and a few books. As we are able to visit again in the future, we will add to the library a few books at a time.

Thursday we were able to visit the first rehab center again. We gathered in a large circle to sing hymns together, and again we had a time of testimony.

Then we played games together. Indeed, this if family!!!! The games were great fun, and if I may say here, I won the Ultimate Trashcan game.

What I would really like to impress on you, is that you have brothers and sisters in Christ in Mexico. We heard stories about destroyed marriages, destroyed families, living in abandoned houses, young teenagers on drugs, and lives ruined by addiction. Rehab center after rehab center, relapse after relapse, until God saves them and changes their lives. Through Christ we are overcomers. While the world says, “once an addict, always an addict” the Bible says, “the truth will set you free.” Many of these men want to be pastors and help \ QQple who are in the same situation they were in. And most of the directors of the rehab centers were once addicts themselves.

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Please remember your family in Mexico and in other parts of the world.

America is so small and contained as far as we see it, but God is so big and beyond all that we imagine. And He is working in Mexico, among the men who had no hope before Jesus. Pray for these men, pray for their growth, and pray for the lost.

Ellie

Departing for Mexico

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I leave for Mexico at 5:30am today. I’m terribly excited. My suitcase, travel bag, and tupperware bowl are stuffed with clothes, gifts, books, and snacks. I probably ought to be a little more nervous than I am, but I can’t help just smiling and smiling. I feel almost unkind for smiling so, but I can’t help it, so just forgive me.

Our team has acquired two more team members. First, Mrs. Weber, my sister-in-law’s mother. With her help, we will be running a medical clinic one day and helping as many as we can. And the second new member is our wittle-itty-bitty Jackson. Yes, if you didn’t know by now, I’m going to be an aunt. That’s another reason for great excitement.

While we are gone, I’m not sure of the internet access I will have, so though I will be writing in the mornings as consistently as I can, I don’t know how often I will be able to post here, and on the Psalm 67 blog. But keep in touch with the Facebook page, because it is the most likely to be updated throughout the trip.

 

An elder of my church said something interesting the other week. He said that when he is tempted to sin, he has assigned himself with a person to pray for, in no way connected to the sin. When tempted to anger he prays for one person, when tempted to discontentment he prays for another and so on. It is a way to resist the devil. If every time he tempts you, you begin praying, well, maybe that is part of making the devil flee. And it really is a good practice, because if we could assign a different person to every single sin, then I for one would be praying constantly, which is Biblical.

So could I pray for you, and will you pray for me? At the top of the screen, there is a page called “Prayer Requests” with a form where you can give me your prayer requests. Or, even better, comment so that others can pray as well.

 

 

With love,
Ellie

Mexico Approacheth

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10 days! TEN DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything is starting to become real to me, I’m actually going to Mexico again! It’s almost time to start packing!

I’m so terribly excited about this trip. About the people, about the mission, about everything! I’m excited to be writing it, excited to have good pictures to show, and I’m most excited to have God work through me and the team to bless the people in Mexico. May we richly encourage and serve them in God’s perfect love!

I have been thinking about my role to document this trip. Besides reading books on writing and looking to apply them to my own writing, I have been praying that God would give me skill far surpassing my own, and a love that I haven’t had before. And while seeking to be a blessing to others, I already know that this trip will be a great blessing to me, as was on the last trip.

I’d ask that you continue to pray for me while I prepare and especially while I am down there. I know several of my blog readers are praying, and it encourages me beyond words. Thank you so much.

God has truly brought this trip together in a wonderful way. Funds have come in and expenses paid for.

We are still working to raise funds for theological libraries for the Christian Rehabilitation Centers that we will be visiting. For more information about that, click this link.

During the trip you can stay updated by visiting our Facebook page and blog.

Thank you everyone for your support and prayer. I am wonderfully blessed to be in the family of Christ, and I don’t take it for granted.

 

In Christ and His love,
Ellie

An Exciting Adventure In Sight

My upcoming clap-my-hands event is—get ready—MEXICO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mexico-flag-2I’ve applied and was accepted for another trip to Tamalipas Mexico, to the same church I went before—and can you believe it, I’m even more excited this time! (Which says a lot!)

During my first dive into Mexico, I was able to see the depths of potential, but I didn’t reach them. Specifically in two areas:

First, I didn’t volunteer myself like I might have, had I been in my comfort zone. I wasn’t looking for opportunities to step into the awkward to do some good. And I saw opportunities slip by me and I didn’t seize them. I know a second mission trip isn’t going to break me of my comfort-zone-barrier, but I’m going to put forward a better effort.

Second, I came home with the enormous task of “I must write absolutely everything front to back, and right now!” I failed, obviously. Few articles were written about the amazing experience I had and the inspiring people I met. I credit that mainly to the weight I gave myself. The enormity scared me out of it and it never got done for fear of having it done wrong. Later I did write some of it out in my journal so that I would always have it, but it never got out to the church that prayed and supported me through the mission trip. Again, it won’t be perfect this time, but I’m making it a particular goal to write these things out, and to begin while I’m there. During the last mission trip that Psalm 67 Missions Network made I heard many, “It was incredible.”s and “I’ve never seen anything like it.”s, but I didn’t hear a lot about what “it” was. I want to write that for you. I only have my skills, but I’ll stretch me as tight as I know how to document this trip.

Once more, I plead for your prayers. Exiting my comfort zone is not my strength, neither is discipline or patience. But my strength is loving people, and I want to put that into full use on this mission trip, even when loving looks and feels silly.

The trip is between May 22nd and June 1st, and until then I will be raising support, both prayer support, and financial support. I will also be working in improve my Spanish, as hopeless as that seems.

Like I said, I’m incredibly excited. We expect the Lord to do amazing things through this trip.

If you feel led to support me financially, you actually can online now, by going to my profile: https://psalm67.managedmissions.com/mytrip/elliejackson4 But I want your prayers even more than that. Prayers that God will give me a godly attitude and skillful hands.

 

In Christ,
Ellie

God “became an ant” into a Man

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We live so deeply intrenched in the physical parts of this life that we forget the ever important parts of the spiritual. We worry about food, clothing, and finances, instead of prayer, spiritual warfare, and sanctification. We concentrate on our family and our friends, but forget God and His angels. In such a culture, God is strongly disconnected from our natural way of thinking. We cannot see Him. We cannot hear Him. We cannot feel Him, as far as our five senses tell us. And because He is of such a different nature–His character perfect and His sovereignty absolute–it is hard to remember that we were made in His image.

When I think about God’s incarnation, I am always reminded of a story from a missionary named Bruce Olson. He taught to alienated tribes in deep jungles and forests, people whom no one had reached before. When he tried to tell them that God became a man–like us–they shook their heads and could not comprehend it. Bruce was beginning to think that describing “incarnation” was hopeless and useless – these people just had never heard of such a thing! But then he was told a legend of the people: A man had seen a host of ants scrambling about and building their home in the ground. He knew how to make the home better, and he wanted to help them. When he tried to help, however, they scattered in fear. Then he became an ant himself and since he was one of them, he was able to help the ants make their home better, and he “walked their trail” with them. He then became a human again, and since the ants had known him as an ant, they let him help them even as he was a man.

Bruce was thrilled to hear this story, and using the word that meant “became an ant” in their language he told them, “God ‘became an ant’ into a man!” They were immediately filled with awe and wonder and they understood! God became an ant into a man to help us, to walk our trail, so that we can know Him. What a wonderful thing! The knowledge that God became a man ought to humble us to worship and praise.

Ants are such little things that walk under our feet. We feel no pain when they die. They are just little, metallic insects which we do our best to keep outside. But God saw us trying to build our home, and He became one of us. He came into our ant home, under the ground with many problems and pains. He walked our trail.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

To walk our trail meant He had to live life like us and grow like us. He had to be a baby, carried around by a mother, fed and burped, put to sleep, and cared for when He cried. He had to be a young boy, learning carpentry, learning school, with skinned knees and smashed fingers. Then He was a man, betrayed by a good friend, denied by another, given over to His fellowmen to be killed in the most painful way possible. He had the same bodily needs as us, He needed food and sleep. He suffered pain, both physical and emotional. He lived just as us and yet without sin. And then He died to have us, to show us how to get to His home that He made for us.
God ‘became an ant’ into a man.

Hebrews 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

That is what Christmas is about: A God who knows us and understands us. A God we can turn to. A God we can love, for He loves us.

Merry Christmas!
Electric Bubbles