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’s 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 Acts tells how God used the Apostle Peter to display His glory.

Act 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 the Holy Spirit, could heal the sick, how much more can we trust in God.

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. Psalm 63:6-8

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. John 16:33

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

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

Time Spent With Builders International

John and I joined Builders International in 2009, after serving with MAPS Constuction. I never thought our missions work would involve construction as a ministry. Up until then our work had primarily consisted of pastoring and evangelizing as missionaries in the country of Guatemala. Today I can say without hesitation, how amazing it has been to be a part of Builders and grow with the development of this ministry.

If you would like to join us in praying for projects around the world that we have currently partnered with, click on the DOWNLOAD button above for a free listing.

1 Corinthians 2:9 

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
    the things God has prepared for those who love him.

HOPE Along The Amazon!

img_5526 2

THE LOWER AMAZON RIVER . . . When I hear the stories told by teams returning from the Amazon, I am amazed at what is being accomplished along the banks of this enormous river. Many of you may have heard of the movie that captures the majesty of the Montana wilderness called, A River Runs Through It. While the lower Amazon River does not display such beauty, it has an amazing uniqueness of its own. Outside of Manaus, the Rio Negro  and Rio Solimoes converge forming the lower Amazon. Along its banks are villages full of families, linked to 300 unreached ethnic tribes nestled deep in the dense jungles. The river people make their home on the riverbanks like in the photo above.

The teams going join missionary Mark Lemos and board the blue vessel (river boat) in route to the villages along the riverbanks. They’re ready to work and build churches that will help village pastors reach further into the jungle. The teams are equipped with water filters, building supplies, medical, and most of all ready to share the love of Christ.

“The spiritual rivers run dark among people unaware of God’s grace. But as the stream of God’s workers flows into the region, there will be a meeting of the waters.” – Andy Raatz

Check out this video of the journey into the Amazon! https://vimeo.com/313546141

At Builders International we believe everyone deserves a place to find HOPE. The Amazon river is a place where we are striving to bring that HOPE, where there is sickness, violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, murder and suicide.

There are more projects bringing HOPE through the construction ministry with the help of  many appreciated volunteers and donors. It is our joy and privileged to be a part of this work and effort.

And you can be too!

img_2442.jpg