During a recent trip to the Orient, I was struck by how much consumerism is taking over modern Asian society. I noted this during “free talk” sessions with teachers. You might say they are chasing the American Dream–pursuing a good education, to get into a prestigious college, to land get a high-paying job, to buy a big house, with the end goal of having a happy life. Perhaps it was their honesty and transparency that made the greatest impression, since I tend to hide my personal ambitions for much the same in my life.

Speaking to the insecurity of the human situation, missionary and author Alan Hirsch writes in The Forgotten Ways:

“It was Jesus who said ‘So do not worry’, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:31-31).

“Consumerism is thoroughly pagan. Pagans run after these things. Seen in this light, ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Extreme Makeover, Big Brother’, and other lifestyle shows are of the most pagan, and paganizing, shows on TV. Even the perennial favorites about renovating the house paganize us, because they focus us on that which so easily enslaves us. In these the banality of consumerism reaches a climax as we are sold the lie that the thing that will complete us is a new kitchen or a house addition, whereas in fact they only add more stress to our mortgages and our families.”

In their groundbreaking book Affluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough, economists Hamilton and Dennis detailed how having more than ever before has made us unhappier than ever before.

May the Lord not only help our Chinese friends recognize what brings lasting peace and contentment, but help us do the same.



The bottom picture shows Rev. Prudencio Lim, superintendent of the United Brethren Philippines Conference, speaking to some of his people. In the Batangas province, they baptized 25 people on Holy Thursday last April. Notice the setting–a very public place. That photo should inspire.

martinez_guillermo150.jpgMarilyn Reeck, UB endorsed missionary serving in Honduras, sent an email Sunday about the declining health of Guillermo Martinez, former superintendent of our work in Nicaragua. Rev. Martinez, a native of El Salvador, was a highly respected UB pastor in Honduras for many years. When the Soccer War broke out in 1969 between Honduras and El Salvador, he was imprisoned in Honduras. After the war, he couldn’t stay in Honduras, but neither could he return to El Salvador with his Honduran wife. So he agreed to go to Nicaragua, where a United Brethren work was in the beginning stages. He led the UB church there for many years.

Don Guillermo has not been well for some time now, has problems walking, and has become very thin. He is now 83 years old, and over the last few months has been in the hospital several times.

On Saturday it was confirmed that he has stomach cancer. Dr. Saul Hernandez took him yesterday to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to see a Christian oncologist. He confirmed the diagnosis and stated that he has to be operated on immediately. He would need to be taken back to San Pedro Sula again.

Three of his children live here in La Ceiba, one lives in Managua, and one lives in Guatemala.

Plese pray for the Martinez family, for seeking wisdom about the operation, and for the finances. The family, including the church family, have been supporting all these many months but the situation has become very difficult.

I personally remember Don Guillermo from away back when he first came to La Ceiba and became a pastor with the United Brethren, his wedding, and his move to Masaya, Nicaragua to start the work there. He served as Superintendent of the Nicaragua work for many years. My memories are of a great man of God. Each time I visit him now he says, “I prayed for you today.”

geer_valerie200.jpgHuntington University’s newly launched  Institute for TESOL Studies has hired Valerie Geer as associate director. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

“TESOL is a very specific field of study, complete with its own set of approaches and methodologies,” Geer said. “People might mistakenly think that, by virtue of speaking English natively, they can competently teach English to others. This is not the case. Huntington University’s Institute for TESOL Studies is offering a valuable training tool for many types of students and majors who might find themselves interacting with ELLs (English Language Learners).”

In her new position, Geer has designed courses for the TESOL/English as a New Language (ENL) programs and selected textbooks and library holdings related to the TESOL field. Her other tasks will include raising awareness about the institute, networking with organizations and agencies that work with ENL populations, communicating with current and prospective students, and teaching the Foundations of TESOL course.


martinez_guillermo150.jpgWe received word that Rev. Guillermo Martinez, long-time leader of our work in Nicaragua, has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Several of our international fields started almost by accident, a result of taking advantage of political upheavals and unusual circumstances.

  • Our work in Sierra Leone ties into the fate of freed slaved who originally came to America on the slaveship Amistad. Slaves seized control of the ship, and after a trial in New England, were allowed to return to Sierra Leone. The mission established through those former slaves was later turned over to the United Brethren church.
  • Jimmy O’Sullivan was headed to the Bahamas to start a new mission for the United Brethren church. When a hurricane shipwrecked him near Jamaica, he started preaching there. He never made it to the Bahamas. Thus started our work in Jamaica.
  • When communists took over China in 1948, the UB workers in China fled to Hong Kong, which is now the center of our ministry in China.

Guillermo Martinez, a native of El Salvador, was a highly respected UB pastor in Honduras for many years. When the Soccer War broke out in 1969 between Honduras and El Salvador, he was imprisoned in Honduras along with hundreds of other Salvadoranians.

After the war, he couldn’t stay in Honduras, but neither could he return to El Salvador with his Honduran wife. So he agreed to go to Nicaragua, where a United Brethren work was in the beginning stages. He led the UB church there for many years, including through the Sandinista revolution. The full story is told in the book Tio Archie.

PatPam_215.jpgDuring this time of transition, Bishop Phil Whipple agreed to have Pat Jones stay on at Healthy Ministry Resources to assist for a short period of time. Pat will end his time at Healthy Ministry Resources September 30. Pat has served as Director of Healthy Church Ministries since August 2005.

On October 1, Pat will  assume a new role as senior pastor of Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Williamsville, NY, a suburb of Buffalo.

In early August, Pat preached one weekend at Eastern Hills and then was invited back for a formal interview. That was followed by a “call” weekend August 28-30, during which he held numerous question-and-answer sessions with different constituencies from the church–staff, men’s group, women’s group, youth, etc. He also preached, again, for their Saturday night and two Sunday morning services.

A congregational vote was taken September 1, and Pat and Pam received a call that night inviting them to Eastern Hills. Pat and Pam have accepted that call and will be moving to Buffalo to begin their duties October 1.

Eastern Hills is the fourth largest Wesleyan church, currently averaging around 2000. Pat will follow Dr. Karl Eastlack, who led the church over a 22-year period from averaging 19 people to almost 3000 at one time in its history. Dr. Eastlack has accepted the presidency of World Hope, a mission organization headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

Pat says, “Pam and I are so grateful for the 27-plus years of ministry, relationships, and heritage we have had among our United Brethren. Those will never change. The challenge of leaving everything and everyone you have known to follow the Lord’s leading is great. We ask an interest in your prayers for this transition and for the Lord to honor Himself in and through it.”

Please pray for Pat and Pam Jones as they prepare for this new venture. You could also pray for the sale of their house in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Pat can be contacted by email at pjones@easternhillschurch.org or patrickjones@me.com.

Dice200.jpgMy first few weeks of language school in August 1990 were particularly humiliating. I’ll never forget the three-year-old neighbor who asked his mother why the “gringos” didn’t know how to talk.

I can’t help but think that Jeff and April Dice and their four children are facing similar circumstances as they began Spanish language study this week in San Jose, Costa Rica. Their children–Camden, Mason, Karis and Ellie–are attending a transitional school that will move them from English to Spanish-only over a period of months.

Jeff and April Dice have been to Nicaragua numerous times as short-term team leaders. Jeff, a former missionary to Macau, is Associate Pastor of the Brown Corners UB church in Clare, Mich. Because of the partnership Brown Corners established with the Nicaragua Conference, the church is sending the Dices to Nicaragua for 3-4 months of the year to serve as the Global Ministries Central American Liaisons. In that role, they will oversee numerous projects and assist in leadership development and pastoral training throughout Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.

In addition, this partnership with Global Ministries allows others to come on board as part of the Dices’ support team. Although Brown Corners has been a major contributor, Global Ministries would like to expand the Dices’ support base as “non-traditional” staff so they can resource and assist others working with our Central American conferences.

2 Samuel 23:20-21 tells about an obscure man in the big picture of the scripture. But his peers woudn’t have considered him obscure. He was the kind of guy you would have looked at and wondered, “What is he thinking?” If you were going into battle, you would be very glad to be on his side. His name was Benaiah.

Mark Batterson, pastor of National City Church in Washington, D.C., wrote a book entitled “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.” Benaiah chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day, and then went into the pit and killed the lion.

I simply shake my head in amazement until I begin to apply this story.

I encourage you to consider the Christ who lives in you. “God did not give us the spirit of timidity but the spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). He wants us to walk with courage and stand for what is right.

This is not a call to the church to simply get on our soapbox about the political issues that we care about, but rather to understand that many people around us need to see Christ’s love lived out in extreme ways. Do the people we rub shoulders with see that we love Christ and each other? They should.

My prayer is that God will fan into flames a burning desire in me to reach others for Him. Lord, let it spread through out your church. Is there anybody out there that is ready to chase a lion?