As we enter into 2018, we have much to be thankful for!
This is a recapping of 2017’s most memorable moments for us.
When I get the opportunity to talk with someone about what God has done this past year in the Isaiah Ministry it almost always begins with me jumping to what I feel is the most exciting news of last year, which are the numerous testimonies of eternal life-giving decisions to receive Christ as a personal savior.
You can glance through past blogs of 2017 to read more detail about Kenner, Katherine, Josefa, Berman, Jose, and other’s decisions to believe on Jesus Christ but needless to say for me those are moments not easily forgotten when I think back on all that God has done in 2017.
We are blessed to be able to reach out to our surrounding communities in so many ways through sewing programs, construction and home restorations, educational assistance and much more; however, no matter what we are doing, the service we are providing, with whom we are engaged, we are always most concerned with the question/s:
“Where does this person stand with the Lord? Do they know Him?
How can we best love this person like Jesus would if He were standing in front of them in my place?”
This year I have felt more than ever the burning inside my heart of which the prophet Jeremiah makes mention when he says in chapter 20:
“If I say, I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name, there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
But it doesn’t end there. It’s not just about speaking about Jesus or learning things about Him, its sharing His life that is on the inside of us with the outside world. It’s more than Bible Studies and more than singing worship songs; for years I did these things and they were nothing more than religious activities that would occupy my time and check the box.
Our life lived speaks volumes about where our hearts are and I truly believe that how we spend our down-time or any time that is not directly involved in religious activities is a pretty accurate marker for how we are doing spiritually.
The Lord has done a great deal in showing me in how to “just be” with Him. To actually enjoy being alone with Him 1 on 1, sharing my heart with Him and letting Him love on me as only He can do. I feel that when we begin to enjoy the Lord, not just in sermons or moments of worship, but in every moment of every day, that’s when we really begin to have a deep impact on others as we choose to walk with Jesus not out of obligation, but rather our own free will birthed from a place of thankfulness.
I feel like that is why 2017 has been the year in which we have seen the most decisions to follow Christ than any year prior. Please continue in prayer with us for those who have begun their relationship with Jesus this past year and for us as we continue to pour into them while we walk alongside in eager expectation for what Holy Spirit will do next in their lives!
Another wonderful highlight of 2017 was that we had the privilege of seeing 3 of our students graduate from high-school! This is no small achievement here in Nicaragua as graduating high-school is roughly the equivalent of getting your master’s degree in the U.S.
We are very proud of Jessica, Elvis, and Alejandro for sticking with their studies for the long haul and not allowing one of the many challenges our kids face over the years to derail them from achieving this milestone in their lives.
All three of our graduates are the eldest of their siblings and are providing their other brothers and sisters with a positive example to follow, the likes of which are not to common in the neighborhoods in which we minister.
Jessica had been with us since the 6th grade and has always been one of our more exemplary students of the Isaiah Project; always maintaining a high GPA which eventually earned her the right to attend a private school where she would end-up graduating this past year.
Elvis joined us in 2015 as a rare high school new addition to our Project family, even though we usually don’t accept older high school kids as new students due to problems we have had in the past with rebelling against authority. Elvis, however, made the most of his opportunity, worked hard and earned his way to a private school invitation as well, and was a blessing to have with us as he finished out his high school tenure.
Alejandro was actually one of the original students of the Project way back when, but had to leave for a few years due to familial conflicts. He rejoined us about halfway through high school and earned his way to a private school as well with an excellent GPA.
All three of these wonderful kids are believers which made this event even more special for us, but at the same time a bit sad as we knew we had come to the end of a season in the life of the Isaiah Project with our three eldest graduating.
Even though 2018 will present new challenges to each of our three graduates, we still expect and hope that our friendships with each of them will continue as we remain close by and sincerely desire the absolute best God has for their futures!
We are thankful that we will be returning one of them, Alejandro, to join our team as a tutor moving forward. It’s always a beautiful thing to see those that have been blessed learn how to be a blessing to others in the same way in which they themselves were.
To all of you who have helped to support and give towards the education of these three kids we honor and salute you!
As many of you reading this already know we have a sewing program that completed its second year in 2017. It was a huge success! We grew from 4 to 9 students this past year and all of them finished the year long course and became equipped to repair clothes and even design a handful of things as a means to support their families economically from home!
We are super proud of these women, and I, Michael, am even more proud of my beautiful wife Jessica who teaches the course and has done such an excellent job loving these women, the majority of which have very challenging home lives, economically and socially. And we are also very pleased to be able to say that all of them have already begun using their machines to support their families and a handful of them have even signed up for a more extensive sewing course this year to even further mature their seamstress talents! How awesome is that?! Praise God!
One last highlight of this past year that i’d like to end with is the partial restoration of a home we were able to take-on in December.
Everytime we can bless a family with a better living conditions it is always something we are very grateful to be apart of, but this home-restoration was a bit more personally special for me for several reasons. One of the reasons being that when we began the work on the home we didn’t have the funds to carry it out to completion as desired.
I saw it as another great opportunity to not only help a family in immediate need of assistance to meet their basic needs of security, but also to watch our God provide yet again for everything needed and even more.
We were able to buy all the supplies that we needed to restore the home, money to pay the laborers, even extra money to give some of our ministry’s youth a way to stay busy during vacation-time as they learned a new trade!
It was fun to watch the Lord give this family a suitable shelter and it was an added bonus that practically the whole work-crew were believers and it was a joy to see them working so well together in the peace and joy that only knowing Jesus can provide.
So I guess that leads me into the second reason as to why that specific project was so special to me and that was because of the crew that was working on the home. As I mentioned earlier the work crew was pretty much comprised of believers, from young boys to adult men, it simply blessed my heart to be able to step onto the job-site each day and feel peace, joy, and unity amongst my brothers.
The community in which we were working has seen so much strife, gossip, slander and brokenness that I really loved knowing that I had a team down on those streets representing Jesus unashamedly.
So in the end with that home restoration we got to come alongside an economically struggling single-parent home and help meet an immediate need that they in now way were able to realize themselves. The mother of the family is named Damaris and she’s had a hard life due to the combination of just the nature of the situation she was born into and unwise decisions she’s made along the way.
Damaris is not a believer and I believe desperately needed to see the unconditional love of God lived out in front of her. I trust there has been a seed planted in those two weeks or so we were down in her home and we are excited to watch the Lord water it and give it increase as only He can.
I and all of us here at the I.M. are just so thankful to all of you who take the time to read these little blogs I put up from time to time and who choose to pray for and support our efforts financially.
You truly are part of our ministry family and we love each and every one of you and take nothing given and no prayer spoken for granted.
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