The Bucket List!

Ihave always loved the mountains and I would like to think I grew up like Heidi. The Green Mountains weren’t the Swiss Alps, but as far as I was concerned it qualified me to be a highlander, NOT a flatlander. The first time I traveled to Guatemala as a young missionary I didn’t expect to see anything as beautiful as home. To my surprise the next morning, I found myself gazing out my window at mountains rising up 10,000 ft. The smell of fresh tortillas and the cool air quickly reminded me I was far from home. Ever since that first missions trip, I’ve always wondered what was beyond my backyard.

With the easy access to travel these days many people travel far and wide. “What’s on your Bucket List?” has become a commonly asked question, almost as frequently as asking one’s name. Many times I have sat down to make my own Bucket List, only to be reminded again of how short time is. What have I done with my time to make any difference.

Psalms 103:15 says . . . As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

TIME is a person’s most valued commodity and how one spends it says a lot about who he or she is.

Aside from working, sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, etc., I think of the many who have sacrificed their time and their life for freedom, justice, and humanitarian efforts. Harriet Tubman was one of those persons. Being enslaved herself, she escaped, and helped countless others gain their freedom as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Later in life she served as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War, again fighting for freedom. She had a strong faith and was called with a passion to help those suffering. There are so many valuable ways we can spend the time we have been given. So, what about this “Bucket List” we dream of?

What if . . . we started our bucket list at the beginning of our lives instead of the end?

Many times we think of a Bucket List as being a list of all the things WE want to do, or places WE want to go before we die. But, what if we started our bucket list at the beginning of our lives instead of the end? And, What if we looked at our list as an opportunity to meet someone God has on his heart, someone waiting to hear the good news in a distant land, desperate to experience love and freedom.

James 4:13-17 says . . . Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Looking back to my younger years, I am reminded of the extraordinary places God called me to go and situations He has seen me through. When I think about my “Bucket List,” I dream of places I would love to see and things I would love to do. But, above and beyond those dreams, I want to live my life in the light of eternity, seizing opportunities I’ve been given to introduce people to the hope we have in Christ. God is the “fulfiller” of dreams. I want peace that comes from knowing I have been obedient to the Lord with the time He has given me. For that, it takes a daily discipline in your relationship with the Him, listening to what purpose He has called you.

“Ultimately each of us must be persuaded in our own heart and begin to move an act where we are. Nowhere does the Bible say that all–out committed to Christ means we have to take our family to some remote jungle area and die there. The calling of the Lord is different for each individual.” — Dr K. P. Yohannan

Unlike Harriet Tubman, none of us grew up in the time of Civil War. But like Harriet Tubman we can look beyond ourselves. We should consider what is lasting, and stewarding our time with purpose, bring hope to others.

“One hundred years from now, what will remain? Houses, money, plans, buildings – these will no longer have any meaning. We must adjust our lifestyles now and invest our lives to reach the lost world.” — Dr K. P. Yohannan

Recently, I learned the story of Sam and Lisa Paris, living in a community located in the jungle of Tanna. I was overwhelmed with their story and sacrifice. You may be, too.

Building Hope Together! Deborah Sims

My Heart 4 CUBA!

Of all of the countries in Latin America that I’ve had the privilege to work in, Cuba has in my heart a special and unique draw. In this world there are many challenges that can stretch us to our limits. In Cuba, though, I’ve experienced a perseverant and giving people who are genuine in their passion for God. It’s absolutely amazing and refreshing to your spirit to be around these wonderful people.

Panoramic view of Havana, the capital of Cuba

The Team . . .

This last team I had the privilege of hosting from JRC were both veterans and a few newbies, who all did an awesome job. Our team slogan for the whole trip was, “We move as one!” We also suffered as one, due to a virus of some sort that infected us. The local tonic of the day was “Onion Oil” and I’m not sure it made it worse or became the remedy. In spite of the circumstances, everyday the team was prepared to work and serve. A hundred pairs of new shoes were carried and given, tools for the job delivered, worship instrumentals were played, and testimonies shared. Everyone gave 100% and in return were blessed immensely by the loving Cuban people.


The Church . . .

The construction project at the church in Manzanillo is strategic to the area. The Pastor and congregation take seriously the responsibility God has given them to encourage and build up other surrounding churches. The special women’s ministry is another key part of growth in this area.

In a women’s meeting and several other services, we were given ample opportunity to encourage, pray, share, and minister. The team and I were excited to be a part of what God was doing. Some were saved and others experienced healing in their bodies.


The Project . . .

Altogether, in my estimation, the work in the church is half finished. To complete the building there is a need for several more teams willing to go and at least $80,000 in project funds to be donated. I join with the church in their excitement and hope in seeing the completion of this building.


DIOS BENDIGA a CUBA!

Together we build HOPE! John Sims

Liquid Gold!

Raised on Liquid Gold!

If you grew up in the state of Vermont, more than likely you were raised on something called Liquid Gold and proud of it! Yup! In other words, Maple Syrup!

This time of year Vermonters will be setting their taps in thousands of trees in preparation for the sap that is about to run! Hoping for a good season, the anticipation supersedes the work. It starts with days of hiking through the woods, usually in deep snow, requiring snowshoes. Then come the long hours through the nights boiling the sap. It’s definitely not for the half-hearted!

The first run off is like sweet water with a taste of its own. It goes on everything from ice cream to coffee. There’s nothing like a hot pancake with warm Fancy Maple Syrup, fresh bacon, and a dill pickle. I remember as a child collecting the sap from the buckets hanging on trees, then lugging it to horse-drawn tanks. You could see the steam rise off the backs of the horses.

Nowadays, it is done a little differently, but the outcome is the same. Whether it is a big operation for profit, or a small family hobby, it’s collected, boiled, and enjoyed! Finally, we’d top off the season with a traditional social event . . . a good ‘ol “sugar on snow” party!

Silver or Gold . . . Please!

The first time I walked down the streets and into the villages of Guatemala, I was confronted with poverty and sickness in a way I never could have imagined. The crippled, sick, and orphaned were abandoned to the streets. I remember on the old beautiful steps of the Cathedral sat young and old alike, suffering and begging for portions. My youngest son was only 4-years-old. His immediate response was to share everything we had. At first I felt a strong sense of helplessness. The few dollars I had to give would only bring temporary relief. But then I was reminded of Peter!

Guatemala, View of San Jose Cathedral

In the Bible, Peter was confronted with the same circumstances.

Acts 3:2-3, 6 When a certain man crippled from his birth was being carried along, who was laid each day at that gate of the temple called Beautiful, so that he might beg for charitable gifts from those who entered the temple. So when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them to give him a gift.

But Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have, that I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”

That day the thought crossed my mind . . . “Unlike Peter, silver and gold I do have.” But that in and of itself is not enough. Jesus spoke to the woman who touched the hem of His garment . . .

Mt 9:22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “Your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Jesus offered more than relief from suffering. In the story of the woman at the well, He offered her eternal life and freedom from her enslavement.

John 4:13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

At the Cathedral that day, I was reminded that I had something greater to offer than silver and gold, it was Jesus. I love the taste of sweet maple syrup, that “liquid gold,” but what Jesus offered the thirsty woman at the well was eternal life. My desire is to use whatever resources I have to bless others. But greater than that is to tell others about Jesus, so they may know His love and receive freely eternal life.

Building Hope,

Deborah Sims

Called To Run! Called A LOSER!

Moments away from taking the stage, we stopped to pray.  We were very aware of all the things that could go wrong, even though we had practiced night after night in preparation for this outreach. Prayer was our weapon.

Many times we began our evangelistic outreaches with music. I’d play the saxophone and John would play his guitar at parks, villages, streets, beaches, prisons, etc. The goal was to set a platform for the gospel to be preached.

Guatemala Park Outreach

The Race And The Runner!

That evening while praying, I envisioned myself running on a race track towards a goal when suddenly, someone in the bleachers called out, “LOSER!” Over and over again they continue to taunt me, “Loser, failure, you’re defeated.” Out of frustration, I finally ran over to the bleachers and began to engage with the heckler in an argument, defending myself.

It wasn’t long before I realized that as I stood there, arguing with the accuser, I had become the very thing I was being accused of.… A LOSER.

I had stopped running long enough to lose sight of the goal set before me, dropping out of the race.

Paul wrote to the Galatians asking them . . . who had bewitched them, who had convinced them to stop running the race?

Galatians 5:7-8 says . . .

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

That night, as prayer ended, I realized my focus had been misplaced. For Christ is the author and finisher of my faith. Focusing on the wrong thing seeds fear and doubt. My eyes were on the accuser, leading me away from the truth and my trust in God.

James 4:7 says . . .

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says . . .

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith . . .

My goal is . . . to stay in the race . . . keep my eyes on Christ . . . for He is the the champion who initiates and perfects my faith. He makes me a winner!

Are you a Winner? You can be!

Romans 8:37 says . . .

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us.

At Builders International we build HOPE . . . a HOPE that comes from knowing Christ! He gives us the opportunity to introduce that HOPE to others by building places where HOPE can be shared!

Together We Build Hope!

Deborah Sims

It's All About The Shoes!?

I looked down at the floor as we began to pray for the service that was about to start. Around me stood leadership staff and volunteers of all ages ready to serve. Everyone was dressed in casual plain clothes, nothing unusual. What did stand out to me were the SHOES. There was nothing casual or plain about the SHOES. Sparkling, glittering shoes, red shoes, expensive-looking men’s leather shoes, short suede boots, all types of sneakers and colors, pumps with bows, pumps without bows, slip-ons, loafers, tall leather boots, etc.👟 👠 🥿 👞 IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE SHOES! Each pair of shoes seemed to be an expression of the personality of the person wearing them. Thinking about shoes reminded me of my time spent in Guatemala with my family working as missionaries.

I remember so clearly running through the jungle of Guatemala barefoot with my 4-year-old in my arms, pursued by thieves. In the days that followed my rescue, my heart ached to give every barefoot person a pair of shoes. 👠 👞 🥿 👟 Any kind of shoes. I had so many sitting in my closet unused. For shoes can bring protection, relief, and comfort to tired, sore feet. But is it all about the shoes?

My thoughts quickly went to a time when we traveled to the Guatemala City dump where 8,000 people scratch out a living. At the dump we distributed food. Our goal was to share the love of Christ with the children and their families through puppets, songs, gifts, and fun games. Before we left the dump the team had given away all their shoes, one thing we had not planned on doing. After lots of hugs and good-byes everyone returned to the bus barefoot. Shoes aren’t anything without feet to put them on, but they’re everything to those who do not have any. On that day the simple act of giving away our shoes provided an opportunity to share the love of Christ!

So, is it really about the shoes? When entering God’s presence, the Lord told Moses to remove his shoes and to stand barefoot before the burning bush.

Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Acts 7:33

In the story of the Wizard Of Oz, when Dorothy clicks her heels together, her magical shoes transport her home to the place of her heart’s desire. But in the real world, it’s not where your cool shoes can take you, but rather where your feet can take your shoes? While your shoes serve a practical purpose, your feet are what it’s all about.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

So, whether you are wearing leather wing-tipped dress shoes or flip flops, where have your feet taken you!?

I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to serve in missions and travel to places where there are those who have not heard of the love of God. And I am thankful for your partnership in sending John and me.

TOGETHER WE BUILD HOPE!

Deborah Sims

2020…To Latin America/Caribbean and Beyond!

This coming year we will be working on these amazing projects!

The Bahamas

On September 1, Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 hurricane swept across the Bahamas smashing communities in Grand Bahama and Abaco with 12 hours of sustained, 185 mph winds and a storm surge of 23 feet that delivered 4 feet of water more than five miles inland.

There were five Assembly of God churches on Abaco Island and five on Grand Bahama that were heavily damaged or destroyed from the most powerful storm recorded in the history of the small island nation.

People are suffering from the devastation resulting from the unrelenting fury of Hurricane Dorian. For the most part, they are still in a state of survival. At a time when people need the church more than ever, rebuilding is vital to these island communities.

We at Builders International sent an assessment team to Grand Bahama and Abaco and now we stands ready to host construction teams in January 2020 to help rebuild churches throughout the islands. 

1st Assembly of God, Marsh Harbour, Abaco

Hope For Uruguay 100

Hope for Uruguay 100 is an initiative to build 100 churches in 10 years throughout Uruguay, which is known as one of the most unevangelized nations in the Americas. This atheistic country has legalized prostitution, abortion, marijuana, and same-sex marriage! Hope for Uruguay 100 will bring hope to communities across this secular nation by providing permanent buildings for newly-planted churches.

A new church plant in Uruguay!
The night lights of Monte Video, Uruguay.

Berea ChildHope School

Many children in Zacapa, Guatemala suffer from the effects of extreme poverty and do not have access to basic education. There is a great need to provide a Christian education for the children in this area in order to break the cycle of poverty.

Children who attend this school will learn about God’s love and will be given the opportunity to excel in life. These at-risk children will be the next generation of Christian leaders in Guatemala and beyond.

The construction of Berea ChildHope school will benefit more than 500 children, bringing transformation to Zacapa and hope to the entire region.

Berea ChildHope School
Zacapa, Guatemala

HOPE FOR URUGUAY

Uruguay is one of the most stable countries economically and politically in Latin America, yet one of the hardest to reach with the gospel. It is the only atheistic country in the Americas and the only country in the world to have legalized abortion, same sex marriage, prostitution and marijuana. It has been called the most unevangelized nation in the Americas and the “Graveyard of Latin American Missions.” – Steve and Jill McCarthy, Missionaries to Uruguay

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