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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The CHURCH in CUBA!

It is always a joy to work and serve in the country of Cuba. I find over and over, whether on the coast or in the city with a project, the churches have a consistent passion for Christ.

On this recent trip to Cuba, I was privileged to host a team from James River Church. In the town of Yaguajay the JRC team worked together with the church to start the process of building a new dinning hall and dorm that will serve the churches in the area.

Together everyone worked hard. The daily work included demolitions, sanding, painting, digging footers, hauling materials, and mixing concrete, while working in the rain.

We had an unexpected awesome surprise when some members of the church provided antique Chevys as daily transportation to and from the project.  There was a beautiful 1952 with original motor, a ’56, and my favorite year, a ’57 Chevy Belair. What a treat!

Escorted to church and the project in style!

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House church in Cuba!

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Dinner is served!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

John

Amazon 100

AJR_8106HOME OF THE LARGEST NUMBER OF UNCONTACTED TRIBES IN THE WORLD, Brazil’s remote and vast Amazon region has extremely limited contact with the outside world. They survive in nearly COMPLETE ISOLATION from the global industrial economy!

Many of the tribes in this part of the world are difficult to reach. The dense growth of trees, plants, and thick underbrush discourages passage by outsiders and affords strict territorial practices for villages that fear intrusion of any kind. In order to protect their borders, they go so far as to kill those who dare intrude. Because of the great number of settlements within these controlled boundaries, there are naturally many different languages, most having no written languages.

Even the government has laws restricting some areas, which prohibit missionaries from approaching the inhabitants of certain villages. BUT GOD IS MAKING A WAY for reaching this primitive society! “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26]

Andy Raatz, Director of AGWM Communications, shared two dramatic cases in Worldview Magazine [Volume 2, June 2016]:

Raatz tells of Edgardo Chung, who had fallen gravely ill after working as a drug runner for Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. Through divine intervention things began to happen. A witch doctor gave him a radio with ritual chants recorded on a cassette tape. Edgardo became frustrated when the tape player wouldn’t work, so he smacked it, causing it to switch to a Christian radio station. At that moment, the preacher said, “If anyone listening has a terminal illness, Jesus Christ can change your life and heal you!” Edgardo ultimately found an AG church, was saved, and was miraculously healed! Today, he pastors a church of nearly 100 families among one of those tribes!

Andy Raatz gave another wonderful example of how God opened doors to a village, in spite of cultural barriers and government laws, for a young Brazilian woman named Elizabeth Vencio. Because of the disturbing rate of suicides occurring among the young in their village, the leaders sought government help in establishing education for their children. Elizabeth had spent many years preparing to reach a hidden tribe for Christ, topping out with an advanced degree in linguistics. Sometime later, she would be a perfect match for that village’s need. According to Raatz, after only five years of Elizabeth’s ministry, over half of the previously unreached people group was saved!

Director Raatz’s accounts of Edgardo and Elizabeth are an encouraging part of the history of how God remembers the seemingly-forgotten people living in this largest river basin on earth.

Assemblies of God missionaries, Mark and Helba Lemos, have a vision for bringing these indigenous people the Gospel by building 100 churches (and beyond) along the rivers and tributaries.

So far, 81 churches have already been built! These buildings are prefabricated metal structures, with metal roof and adobe brick walls. They measure 26 X 56 feet, and will seat 150 people.

We at Builders International are helping with the logistics for team efforts to build churches in this part of the world. Team members who join this adventure will boat in and live on a riverboat for a week while doing construction!

From Builders International Direct Mailer

PANAMA – Equipping Leaders, Training Teachers, Providing Resources!

I just returned from the country of Panama where Pastor Mike Mizell and I had the opportunity to  view the current construction needs of the LATIN AMERICA RESOURCE AND TRAINING CENTER (LARTC). During our visit we were hosted by three missionary families, the  Boyd’s, the Morales, and the Bell’s. Each one of them did an outstanding job of hosting and transporting us about, while explaining the history, culture, and vision of the Panamanian church.

Each missionary shared with us their story and vision for Panama. It was easy to pick up on the common goal they all carried in their hearts to reach Panama by depositing everything they have.

One stop was the Panama Canal. We observed massive cargo ships from all over the world making their passage. Each one contained valuable payloads that would profit other places. Unlike the passing ships, the missionaries have made lifelong investments, trusting it will render a harvest that will go beyond them reaching generations for Christ.

The Panama church is growing and using education to reach their country for Christ. We visited a number of LACC education facilities. You couldn’t help but be moved by the sacrificial dedication of the directors and teachers towards their students.

Continue reading “PANAMA – Equipping Leaders, Training Teachers, Providing Resources!”