Abiding in the Shadow of the Almighty!

I stepped up to the platform and faced the large crowd in front of me. My stomach was churning with nerves. The women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other, looking at me intensely. How would I tell them my story? These people lived continually with the terrifying realities of this country. I had only experienced that terror for one night. Just weeks earlier I’d fled for my life into the night, running through the jungle with my four-year-old in my arms. It was never meant to happen this way, as we arrived in the country of Guatemala on our first missions assignment.

My interpreter turned to me; it was my turn to speak. Out came the words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me . . .” To my complete surprise, people jumped to their feet and began to cheer and dance, expressing great enthusiasm. I continued to share my story, repeating the truth that when bad things happen it does not mean God has forsaken you.

Throughout my life I had struggled with fear, especially when circumstances seemed out of my control. Dependency on God meant TRUST.

That terrifying night I had hidden in the thick jungle with my son, close to the road. The highway bandits continued to search for us. As their shadows passed by me, I was quickly reminded of Psalms 23:3, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil . . .” Suddenly, the Lord’s presence encompassed me. Peace overcame my fear in a way I had never experienced before. I quickly came to realize my only chance of survival was dependency on God, completely trusting Him. When we are placed in a difficult situation and one of total dependency on God, we are given an opportunity to experience Him in a deeper way.

David knew all too well the shadow of death after fleeing from King Saul and hiding in a cave. But, he also knew another type of SHADOW, which he wrote about in the book of Psalms.

Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

Psalm 36:7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Many times I’ve walked through the shadow of death, but the shadow of the Lord has always been closer.

I was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect that was corrected at 12 years of age. Later in my adult years, I battled stage 3B lung cancer and was only given a 3% chance of survival. Lung cancer was followed by stage 2 endometrial cancer. I spent time in ICU with a ruptured bronchial artery in the lung. I spent more time in ICU with a staph infection in the lung. All this to say, this respiratory virus called COVID-19 has tried to take over my heart with fear. But I am reminded of . . .

Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

There is a greater shadow, then the shadow of death. It is the shadow of the Most High, the Almighty, our Lord and Creator!

I look back and choose NOT to forget His goodness and faithfulness to me in times of trouble. King David describes how he would have despaired unless he had believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

The book of Acts tells how God used the Apostle Peter to display His glory.

Acts 5:14-16 More and more believers in the Lord, crowds of men and women, were constantly being added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried their sick out into the streets and put them on cots and sleeping pads, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on one of them [with healing power]. And the people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing the sick and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.

If the shadow of a man like Peter, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, could heal the sick, how much more can we trust in God.

Psalm 63:6-8 For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Deborah Sims

The Bucket List!

Ihave always loved the mountains and I would like to think I grew up like Heidi. The Green Mountains of Vermont 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. 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 and 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

Building On A Firm Foundation

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In traveling with teams, I’ve had the privilege of helping rebuild churches in the country of Cuba. Every time I go my heart is moved to help support the construction needs connected with rapid church growth throughout the island. With the lack of resources, many of the buildings are crumbling. Along with old churches in need of repair, there are new pastors in training waiting for facilities.

As a builder, I recognize the importance of building a firm foundation. In the picture above, it is easy to see that the depth of this foundation being laid in Manzanillo is a clear reflection of another foundation spoken of by Christ.

Luke 6:47-48

47As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. 

At Builders International we believe every person deserves a place to find HOPE. Deborah and I have embraced this vision with a passion, working to help provide opportunities for people to receive that HOPE through the efforts of the construction ministry.

Old Church – New Church (Manzanillo, Cuba)

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Ministry Time – James River Church Team

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John and Deborah Sims

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Helping Hands In The Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are two groups of islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas, northwest of Puerto Rico and north of Haiti. They’re are eight main islands and 299 smaller islands. TCI is a part of the Commonwealth of England so, when you arrive you will find everyone driving on the wrong side of the road.😊 The extreme beauty of the islands has brought a rapid growth in tourism.

On the island of Providenciales, many migrant workers have come from the surrounding countries in the Caribbean in search of work. Many Haitian’s came at the time of the 2010 earthquake. Pastor Bradley of Community Fellowship Center had a vision and a plan to see the people coming to the shores of Turks and Caicos Islands reached for Christ.

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The family roots of Pastor Bradley go back for generations in the TCI. If you travel with him, it’s not long before you realize everybody on the island knows him. His influence has helped establish the civil laws for the TCI and brought education opportunities. When you hear the testimony of how God moved in his father’s life, it’s evident God began something years ago to establish him in a key place of bringing hope to many nations in the islands.

The Sunday we shared with Community Fellow Center, thirteen countries were recognized and celebrated as a part of the church. We had the privilege of tasting authentic food from every nation so proudly represented! We were honored to pray with the first appointed female governess (Premier) over Turks and Caicos.

Monday morning the work began as the team laid block for the new bathrooms that will serve the 200 children in the elementary school and the Caribbean School of Theology.

A97I7742Hurricane Harvey did its damage throughout the islands in August of 2017. We finished painting the main sanctuary ceiling of the new roof. Additional plans where then made to complete the new Creole church currently reaching out to 200 members. Many of these families arrived in Providenciales in search of relief and hope, leaving loved ones behind. I am grateful to have been a small part of this trip in helping further the work of Community Fellowship Center.

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MY TESTIMONY –  It’d been some time sense I’d had the opportunity to travel on a work team with John. I wasn’t sure what I would be useful for. To my amazement the opportunities to serve were endless. Meal prep, painting, serving water, shoveling mortar, moving chairs, playing with children, praying with and encouraging ladies, and much more. But even in the midst of the sweet fellowship and team work, God lets you know He see the troubles you carry deep in your heart. One day I’d finished preparing the lunch with Pastor Rachael. I said good-bye and left, only to realize I’d left my backpack in the school lunch room. When I returned, Pastor Rachael responded with enthusiasm. She asked about my health and said God had told her to pray for me. We shared a great time of prayer and dreams. God always knows!

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  • NORTH TEXAS TEAM – Three churches joined together to make up a team of four pastors and wives, a plumber, general contractor, two teachers and a military veteran. 
  • THANKFUL – We are so thankful for everyone of them. They made a difference!
  • AND. . . one photographer/videographer!

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