Maximum Mission – Honduras, 2019

From June 28 to 30, 2019, representatives from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the United States and Honduras worked in the La Ceiba community in Honduras, 98 participants gathering together to serve others through the Maximum Mission program. The weekend included visitation to a nursing home and an orphanage, creative evangelism, children’s vacation bible school, food delivery to families in need, house cleaning, crafting classes, beauty clinics (cutting hair, doing nails, etc.), among other activities.

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The participants were able to experience cross-cultural ministry through sharing with their Nazarene brothers and sisters from different countries, and they also had the opportunity to impact other people with God’s love and the gospel.

During this time many people reconciled with God and others accepted Christ in their hearts. Glory to God because He keeps using his Church to change the world!

Click below to watch a video showing some of the activities that made up this Maximum Mission:

–Luz Jimenez and Karen Pop, North Central Field Global Missions

The Dual Dangers of Legalism and “Traditionalism”

Our Mesoamerica Genesis office is working diligently on assisting churches that exist in large urban areas to become healthy and missional.  One of the first steps in doing so is to take a church health survey in order to discover strengths and weaknesses.  It’s a brave task to undergo actually.  No one wants to find out they are sick, or even worse, dying.

One of the biggest reasons we have found for lack of health in congregations is a combination of legalism and worship of tradition.  Having order and obeying the laws of God are quite important to be sure.  But if we allow our adherence to rule-following to get in the way of mission and loving the world around us, we’ve missed the mark. Tradition is a wonderful thing, and celebrating our rich heritage is a must as Christians.  But if we think the methods from decades ago are holy in and of themselves, we are in dangerous territory.

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Jean David Larochelle’s book in Spanish, A Natural Development of Faith, has much to say about legalism and “traditionalism,” as he calls it:

“The message of the gospel is not negotiable. We do not doubt it. Every principle is eternal.  Every principle is immutable.  Every principle is spiritual and every principle is divine.  But strategies are not principles or doctrines. Neither are they eternal.  I say again, one of the greatest sins of the church is to try to win a postmodern generation with primitive strategies.”

The Good News is not good if it is not understandable. When we do not update our methods for different generations or cultures, we can be almost certain they will not understand them, let alone respond positively.  Grace is diluted by the importance we place on rules and tradition.

“Doctrinally, legalism and traditionalism can become positions essentially opposed to grace . . . God has given freedom to his church, but many continue tying it to legalism and traditionalism.”

In reference to the Pharisees in John 9 who questioned the blind man who received his sight, Larochelle continues, “It is sad to note that, for them, the day of rest had been given priority over the person. Things, interests and laws were a priority over the human person.  Nevertheless, Jesus also made them see that he was opposed to the foolish traditions and legalism they had invented in respect to the day of rest . . . They did not rejoice with the man. They saw humanity through eyes of judgment.”

In closing, the author invites us to evaluate ourselves. “Consider if you have legalistic, rigid attitudes or thoughts towards others or towards yourself.  In the story we are analyzing, which role would you like to take – that of the Pharisees or of Jesus? Which role have you played? Which would you like to play from now on?

These are essential questions for the whole church and for each Christian who desires to reflect the love of Christ in their society.

How to Stay Motivated in Language Learning

By Joey Shaw

It’s been a year or two, or perhaps more, and you are still unable to converse in your host people’s language at the level you had hoped. You get stuck, locals have to slow down, you are constantly embarrassed, you can’t “be yourself,” and you just … don’t … want … to … study … anymore! Let’s face it, learning another language is tough.

Many of you are in this critical phase of your ministry. Without good language ability, you will, inevitably, cut your ministry short of maximum fruit bearing. So you need it, but “success” in language seems so far away. You need encouragement.

How do you stay motivated to keep going with language learning? Here are a few suggestions.

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USE WHATEVER LANGUAGE YOU HAVE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

If you know a few phrases, find ways to use them to magnify God. I always like to learn the religious phraseology of my host people first: “glory to God,” “God is great,” and so on. It helps me talk about God early on. And there is nothing more motivating to study language than the thrill of magnifying our Savior, even in the smallest way possible, in the local language. Each new word is a new tool to magnify God to your host people.

DREAM ABOUT USING YOUR NEW WORDS TO PERSUADE OTHERS TO FOLLOW CHRIST

The languages the remaining unreached peoples speak are most often very difficult for native English speakers. So, perhaps, our job is harder today than a few hundred years ago. Be that as it may, the greater the disparity between our native and learned language, the greater the opportunity to display the love of a God who humbled Himself to become like us. Think about that during your study times. The word you learn today may be the critical word of persuasion to Christ for your host people one day.

EVALUATE YOUR MOTIVES

Are there any idols to repent of? Perhaps an approval idol: You just want your supporters to know you are not “wasting” their money. Perhaps you are believing the lie that once you speak the language, then you will be useful to God. Watch out for negative emotions: complaining, anger, impatience, grumpiness. These are all common symptoms of idolatry. The problem is that idols are horrible motivators. Idols are fake gods, and as such, they don’t come through on their promises. So if idolatry is at the root of your motivation to learn a language, then you will be left unsatisfied and, eventually, unmotivated.

PRAY FOR MORE LOVE

No matter how hard you work, no matter how good your language ability, no matter how many people you share the gospel with, no matter how effective your ministry seems to be, no matter how early you get up or late you go to bed, no matter what others think of you, … if you do not have love, you have nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Let that sink in. BUT, if you have God’s love for the people, it will compel you to endless hours of language study and practice so that your host people might know God and make Him known (2 Cor. 5:14).

This article was originally published at: Verge Network

Salt of the Earth

By Charles W. Christian

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” — Matthew 5:13

Salt has, in some ways, developed a bad reputation these days. It can cause high blood pressure and heart issues when it is over used. Part of the reason salt has developed its reputation is that it is so accessible. That has not always been the case, of course. In ancient times, salt was relatively rare. Salt that could be used for consumption was even rarer.

In ancient times, salt could be a method of payment, and until the invention of canning and refrigeration, salt was the main way in which food was preserved for storage. While the overuse of salt can have ill effects on health, salt is an essential mineral for human life.

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Jesus calls His followers the “salt of the earth.”

This means we are God’s agents of preservation and health for this world. That is a big calling! God actually wishes to use us to help keep the world from rotting. We are agents that prevent the decay of our world by sharing the good news of God’s love and grace. When we choose not to participate in God’s agenda for us and for our world, we “lose our saltiness” and can actually become part of the problem.

As Nazarenes, we define holiness as both an individual experience and as an ongoing experience of participating with all of God’s people in the furthering of God’s ways in the world. In other words, there is both an individual and a social component to holiness.

Individually, we are transformed by God so that together we may be the “salt of the earth.” May we look for Spirit-led ways to be agents of God’s transforming love in the world this week and always.

Prayer for the Week:

Lord, we are Yours. As we surrender to You, may you move us from the ways of darkness to the ways of light. In so doing, may we become your instruments of peace, love, and preservation in the world, so that others can be prepared to receive your Holy Spirit and walk with us in the eternal glory of Your presence. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

*Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

This article was originally published at Holiness Today.

Real Life Church in Quito, Ecuador

Some of our friends and colleagues in ministry have planted a new church in the heart of Quito, Ecuador. A few weeks ago they described their initial months and their strategies and philosophy in an article published by Ardeo Global. What do you notice about their approach? Can you see this working in your city?

Greetings from Quito, Ecuador! Our team has recently begun our church planting work here with our first church service in September, 2018. The name of our church, Iglesia Real Life, reflects our mission to show how the message of the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ provide real life solutions to real life problems. I think that is the goal of every church, but our focus can get clouded with church logistics and we can begin to focus on the upkeep of a physical church building and its programs. Our team is looking at church planting from a different philosophy. We’ve studied Jesus’ ministry and found that most of His time was spent ministering to non-religious people outside of religious buildings. Our goal is to break free from non-biblical traditions in order to focus on what really matters: loving on people as Jesus did.

So what does that look like? Most noticeably, we don’t meet in a church building. We want our area of influence to be unrestricted by the geographical location of our church, we want to be free of distraction from the work and resources required to maintain a church building, and we want to be welcoming to people who would never feel comfortable entering a church. Our goal is to eventually have various teaching points throughout the whole city so that every new person we meet can attend a worship service and Bible study near where they live.

Currently, we’re meeting at a really neat place near the commercial center of Quito. It’s a food court with a central area for concerts and other events. It also has a playground and separate area where the kids can meet, and the owner is letting us hold our events there for free! So far we’ve had one church service there, and we did our best to make it really feel like a celebration. We had upbeat music and balloons and confetti poppers. At the end of the service, Pastor Josué closed with a prayer but didn’t close his eyes, so people were a little surprised when they realized he was praying. But why not talk to God as though He were standing in the room with us, since we know He is? In the big things and the small things, we want moments like that in our church. We want to get to the root of why we do things and challenge people’s ideas of what the church is. We simply want to be the hands and feet of Christ, loving and serving the people of Quito unconditionally.

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How exactly are we going to serve and meet the needs of the people here? Well, first we have to learn what their needs are, and to do that we have to start by just getting to know them.  Quito is the capital of Ecuador and in many ways is very modern. There is a large downtown area filled with businesses and people living a metropolitan lifestyle. So far we’ve found that many of the issues of people here are pretty similar to those of people in the US: marriages need help, teens need guidance on what to do with their lives, and it’s difficult for families to spend quality time together amidst the many demands of everyday life. However, Ecuador is also a country with a developing economy where many people face underemployment and struggle to simply provide for their families. Problems with drugs and teenage pregnancies are increasing, crime makes it dangerous to be outside after dark, and Venezuelan refugees here face blatant racism every day.

When we first started planning our outreach strategies, we expected that we would be reaching the people in the modern, business-focused, post-Christian part of Quito, and based on the location of our first teaching point we definitely will have opportunities to minister to them. However, in our day-to-day interactions we’ve met people from all walks of life with various needs, both spiritual and physical.

The need for hope and love is universal and does not discriminate across socioeconomic differences, and neither will we in our efforts to reach anyone who is ready to hear of the immense love that God has for them, whether that looks like hosting a marriage seminar or paying for someone to see a medical specialist that they couldn’t afford on their own. Our daily challenge is to stay flexible and open to where and to whom God is leading us.

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This article was originally published at Ardeo Global.

Returning Home

Nazareno and Yamila grew up attending church in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but left the church in early adulthood. After a serious car accident, Nazareno struggled with feelings of depression. It wasn’t until a neighbor introduced them to the Church of the Nazarene that their hearts for the Lord were renewed.

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Watch the video below and see how God transformed this family: 

Testimony of Dr. Natalia Nikolova

Four months ago I received the news that a friend and colleague in ministry from years ago had passed away.  I have been thinking about her legacy a lot since that day.  The Nazarene Seminary in Costa Rica produced a wonderful tribute to her that can be found on their website.

Dr. Natalia Nikolova was born in Russia and indoctrinated in communism and atheism.  But God had a different plan for her life.  I had the privilege of meeting her first in Costa Rica, and then we traveled to Ukraine in April 2006 on a missions trip with Ardeo Global.  After getting to know her in those two weeks, I asked her to write her testimony. Here, in her own words written a few weeks after that trip, is the amazing tale of God’s faithfulness.

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I was born in Ukraine in 1973 in the city of Belgrad in the region of Odessa.  My father was a communist leader, and we lived very well-off economically.

Since kindergarten I was taught the communist doctrine.  It was instilled in us that the best child in the world was Lenin, and that all of the children of the Soviet Union should be like him. He was very obedient to his parents, he did not say bad words, and he was very well-educated.  Therefore, all of the Ukrainian children wanted to be like him.  The kindergarten teacher chose certain children who showed the capacity to remember the verses of the communist doctrine and recite them by memory.  Of course, the majority of the verses had to do with Lenin.  Many years after kindergarten those same verses still rang out in my memory, the same ones that the teacher had me recite in the kindergarten parent-teacher meetings.

In school we also spent much time reading about Lenin, his childhood, the historical context of his time, about his heroism, his revolutionary character, and that we should be indebted to him because our country was the best country in the world: free, where neither rich nor poor existed, where each person could become what he wanted to be.  That image of him was projected onto all children, and we knew he was a perfect person.  That was Lenin.  The obvious result is that he was not only the best child in the world, but also the best teen and the best man in the world.  I wanted to be like him.  Inside myself there was a sincere desire to be a good person.  And I was taught that the only way to become a very good person was to be like Lenin.  Therefore, I passed through the different stages of the communist discipleship: named in Russian octyabryata, pioneers, and komsolmolsyu.  I even became leader of a communist young people’s organization.

In my family, we viewed God as something based on superstition.  In my conscience I always wrestled with what Marx and Engels had said: that religion was the opiate of the masses, that it was designed to dominate people, and that it was for the weak.

In 1989, when I was 16 years old, I finished high school and enrolled in the State University of Medicine in Odessa.  In 1993 I married a medical student from Costa Rica. He was studying medicine in Ukraine on a scholarship from his country.  It was a bit strange; I was educated in the communist spirit and, as we were engaged, I told him that I loved my country so much and that I was not willing to abandon it.  He insisted that we get married, and after 9 months of persisting, I think out of compassion I gave in to the pressure.  Ever since I was very little, I had dreamed of having a beautiful home where my future husband and I could live in love and bring up our children in a loving environment.  And so, eventually in order to fulfill my dream I had to travel very far away, and I became willing to do so.

That same year my daughter Linda was born.  In 1995 I finished my degree at the School of Medicine and I traveled with my daughter to Costa Rica, where my husband had been waiting for me for a year.  He had to leave a year earlier because, upon finishing his degree, he had to leave the country immediately so that he would not lose his free airfare that Ukraine had given him.  And there was no option anyway because he was from a poor family.

Upon arriving to Costa Rica and spending one month there, I wanted to return to my country, because the person that I thought I had married, a loving and attentive man, had become very prideful and repugnant.  He was not prepared to manage large amounts of money nor was he prepared to be viewed as an important person in society, because he was before accustomed to being poor and insignificant.  I wanted him to change and be the man he was before, and I complained to him of his coldness and lack of affection, but he simple blamed me and my character and said that I did not pay attention to him.

My family in Ukraine was very opposed to my marriage and my move to another country.  They warned me of the risk of failure, but my husband (now ex-husband) had promised me heaven and earth and that he would always be faithful to me and love me as long as I lived.  I believed him and not my parents and I risked everything to travel so far away and create a happy home.

As a result, the idea of returning to my homeland appeared very embarrassing to me. So, I tried to fight for my home.  However, the situation got worse every day.  It got to such a point that while I was pregnant with my second child, Leonardo, I decided to run away from home.  I wrote my husband a letter telling him that I could not last in such a hell and that I was giving him a week to think things over.  After one week, he promised that he would change, and I returned home.  But due to the constant suffering that I lived with in my own home, in no way was I ever happy as I had imagined I would be after getting married in Ukraine; I began to have contractions and I was only seven months along in my pregnancy.  It was 1997.  Due to the increased risk of infant mortality in premature babies, I traveled from the city where we lived to the capital of Costa Rica and to one of the central hospitals. In order to avoid neonatal hypoxia, I had a Caesarean.

I remember very well when I went to see my son after the C-section.  It was a very moving image for me.  My little son, only weighing 3 lbs. 13 oz., was connected to the assisted breathing machine and he had various vein catheters with various solutions attached.  He was connected to the monitor and was in the critical care unit of the nursery.

I burst out in uncontrollable weeping.  I could not take the pain that had overwhelmed my entire being.  I felt powerless, unable to help him in any way.  My son was gravely ill and, although I am a doctor, I understood that I could do nothing for him.  Every mother wants her son to live.  I also wanted my son to live.  But upon realizing the gravity of the situation, I felt crushed by the pain and the personal sense of powerlessness.

Every day in the morning I arrived at the hospital and spent the entire day until 10pm with my son.  And every night I arrived at the house of some friends in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, and I cried all night until I could wake up in the morning and rush to the hospital again.  I always hurried frantically to my son’s incubator, and I feared I would find it empty and they would tell me that he had died in the night.

One morning I arrived at the hospital and the neonatologist told me that my son had breathed in 5 milliliters of blood into his lungs.  That was the worst night of my life; I knew that babies in similar condition often died of massive heart hemorrhages.  After arriving at my friends’ house, I told them that my son’s condition was very serious. My friend told me to prepare myself because my child was not going to survive.  But his wife, who was a Christian, simply told me, “Ask God to help.”

I had no idea how to ask God to help, and she did not explain to me any further, so my first prayer was very primitive, although sincere: “God, help my son.  Do not let him die.”  I did not understand what Christ had done for us.  To say that I had much faith in God is false.  Furthermore, in one moment I said to myself: “If God did not save his own son and he allowed him to die on a cross, how is he going to save my son?”

My son spent 22 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  There was a great risk that he would die or at the very least end up deaf, blind, or paralyzed.  But my son survived.  And I was with him through the entire process.  I was a witness of the power of God.  By the time he was 2 months old, he was a chubby, beautiful baby, and no one who saw him could have imagined how difficult it had been for him to survive.

After I saw that my son did not just survive, but that he was a perfectly healthy boy, it left me very surprised.  I understood that something extraordinary had taken place.  I did not know how it all had happened, I could only comprehend that I was seeing a miracle of God.  My atheist mind had suffered a 180° turn.  I remained so profoundly grateful with this God that had saved my son that I wanted to find him so that I could tell him: “Thank you for what you did.”

My life began to change.  I started to distance myself from certain sins: bad words, bad thoughts.

My relationship with my ex-husband changed.  Both of us felt guilty because our child, due to our arguing, was born too early and had to suffer.  But the change did not last long.  Very soon we were arguing as badly as before.

In September 1998 some of my friends gave me a Bible.  Seeing that my home situation was nearly unsalvageable, I began to look in the Bible for ways to save a marriage.  I told myself: “God saved my son once; perhaps he could do the same with my marriage.”  I was not familiar with the Bible, so I looked in the concordance at the back of the book for any verses that mentioned “husband,” “wife,” etc.  Through that process, I found a verse—Ephesians 5:23—and I read that God said that the husband should be the head of the wife.  Discontent and angry, IclosedtheBible.  “That cannotbe,” Itold myself.  “There is no one in this world that is going to tell me what to do.”  I could not believe this was the will of God, for communism had instilled in us the equality of the sexes.  I could not accept that I had to have a husband as head over me.

I did not touch my Bible for the next 3 months.  Although I felt very thankful to God and there remained in me a deep desire to search for him, I was not in agreement with that verse.  Many times during that period, I thought, “Why would God invent something like that?” But my home situation continued to worsen.  And what hurt me most was not the thought of losing my husband; even the idea of marrying again did not scare me.  But it hurt me that my kids were not going to live with their father.  I understood that some day I could choose another husband if need be, but my children could not choose another dad.

At the end of 3 months I sensed the desire to go back and look for the verse that had caused me such disagreement.  And I began to convince my own self: “¿What good is it if I order him around? When he does what I tell him to do, and it ends up well, he says that it was his idea.  And when it ends up badly, he blames me.”  So, I decided to obey God, and I told my husband that from that day forward, he would be the one who could order me around.  Of course, he was very impressed.  But for me it was the end of a difficult test.  If the test with my son was very hard, this test was not any less difficult for me.  My will was being broken in order that it could be submitted to God.  Many times I felt inside myself like a volcano that was in discord with God, but I remembered what he had done for my son, and at great cost I submitted to him.  For many years I was a very domineering person, and for that reason it was not easy allowing God to dominate me.

The test with my son dealt with my emotional side, while the test of submitting to my husband dealt with my will.

Every now and then God won and every now and then I won.  Finally, I grew tired of fighting with God, I grew tired of a life of sin, and I told God: “God, I want to do Your will.”  It was April 2000.  That was my conversion experience.  From that moment on my life began to change more rapidly.  I still did not understand God’s plan through his son.  But God had much mercy on me in spite of my great ignorance.

During that time, I started to understand that the communist leaders had tried to remove the true God and replace him with communist idols.  While before I wanted to make anyone who talked bad about communism disappear, now I comprehended that I was a victim of communism.  We were deceived!  I felt betrayed.  My heart became overwhelmed with so much pain for my people.  My poor people!  How could we endure so many lies and deceptions?!  In 1991 alone, there were 250 million inhabitants of the Soviet Union.  How many people went to hell during those 74 years of idolatry?!  I could not believe it—all that I had believed was a great farce.

Due to this disillusionment, I was very fearful that I would be deceived again by some sect.  I wanted to start going to church, but I wanted to know something about the Bible before choosing a congregation.  So, when I found out that the Church of the Nazarene in Ciudad Quesada, where I lived, was offering a course called Old Testament I, it interested me a great deal and I enrolled.  It was September of 2002.  After that course, they invited me to the Old Testament II course that they were going to teach the following month.

When I arrived to take the class, they explained to me that this class was a part of a program made up of 30 courses spanning 3 years, 10 courses each year.  I liked the doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene.  I prayed to God and through this process I made the decision to join a congregation.  However, the first day my husband followed me to church without me knowing and when I returned home, he told me it was scandalous that I, being a medical doctor, could go where they were playing tambourines.  He also said that if I went back he was going to kill the pastor and place a bomb in the church.  His entire family was Catholic.  But he was more an atheist than a believer.

I spent several months very discouraged, thinking that I could not join a congregation until he became a convert.  I saw other brothers and sisters that could go easily to church, but did not, and I wanted so badly to go.  I decided that I could not do it because it would have created problems in my home, and I felt that it was not God’s timing.  I did not have much faith that I would be able to go to church any time soon, but God had a surprise in store for me.  He always surprises me.  I received a word from him that I was going to begin going to church very soon.  I felt that this word was truly from God.  An assurance came to my heart.  I began to pray that God would prepare my husband for the news that I was going to give to him.

And God backed up his word.  The day came when I told my husband, “I did not know it at first, but a while back I became a convert.  God is in first place in my life and you are in second place.  So, I am going to church.  You can kill the pastor, you can go and put a bomb in the church, but you are not going to kill the faith that I have.”  My husband was perplexed and stayed that way.  He ended up reacting against all of this, but only after 15 days had passed.  He disputed my going to church, but it was already too late.  I was already attending church each Sunday and I was not going to give up the position that God had delivered into my hands.  For me it was like seeing the impossible, because I never imagined myself going to church, especially with my ex-husband being radically against the evangelical church.  Even though he never went to church at all, if I would have gone to a Catholic church, it would not have been a problem for him.  But the evangelical church was the church that he most detested.  It was a miracle for me.  God made possible something that was previously impossible.

For many years I lived a clandestine Christian life: I read the Bible or listened to Christian songs or watched the Christian television station only when my husband was not around.  I suffered much verbal abuse; he told me my head was empty and I had turned into a religious fanatic.  I never imagined that it would be possible for me to serve God with my husband being an unbeliever.  Even though he saw and admitted that there had been a great change in me, he never ended up accepting my faith.  God had changed me, but my home life was a wreck.  My ex-husband always blamed me.  And for many years I accepted that guilt and blame.  I told God that I was willing to suffer through the hard treatment and pain that he inflicted on me if it meant that God would change me through it.  I did not want to be the same anymore.  And the truth is that God fulfilled that request.

Still, my ex-husband continued in his alcoholism and rebellion against God.  I could not take such suffering much more.  I told God that he needed to change my husband or take him away, but either way I was at the end of my rope.  However, God allowed me to endure one year more.  I was at a dead end.  I wanted a loving spouse, but I instead had an aggressor; he was violent toward both me and our children.  Furthermore, I understood that I could not take part in serious ministry for the Lord while my home was stealing all my strength and courage from me. I went through a very serious depression that I managed to conceal in my workplace so that I could survive and not close myself up in my home.  The Lord was my only refuge.  Finally, a year and a half ago he led me to a crossroads where I could make a decision. After much prayer, I said to my ex-husband, “I cannot take one drop more of your liquor.  I am giving you 15 days.  Think about it and choose between liquor and your family.  I am not pressuring you.  Take your time.”

After 8 days my ex-husband threw off his wedding ring in front of our children and said, “I’m getting out of this house.  I will keep drinking.  No one tells me what to do.”  I felt that God himself was liberating me from this monster of a person.  Later God revealed to me that my ex-husband wanted to possess me as if he were my owner, annulling every personal decision I might have made.  He wanted to make my decisions regarding everything.  The Lord truly became my Liberator with regards to this.

Five months after being separated from my husband, I realized why things never went well in my home.  All the years since I arrived in Costa Rica, and possibly before, my ex-husband had been unfaithful to me with many other women.  As a doctor, I have had to treat many patients that have lived lives of infidelity.  They testify that it is a life of hell, living a double life, and they end up coming to a point where even they have no idea whom they love.  It is an unhappy life.  That was what I went through with my ex-husband.

I believe that was the hardest test of my life. Before getting married, we had talked about that subject—even during our marriage as well.  I always held the position that if one day he wanted to look for another woman, that he should just let me know, and we could end our relationship completely in that moment.  I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it or get in his way.  Each one can choose what he wants.  The one thing I asked of him was that he be honest and never deceive me. He swore that he would always be faithful to me and that he loved me so much.  So many times I had my doubts, but usually I did not have any proof, so I continued believing his lies.

When I realized all of this, my heart truly broke. I spent a month in agony with unbearable pain.  I understood in those moments why some choose to end their lives by committing suicide because of betrayals like this one.  In my life I have suffered with 2 terrible betrayals: with communism for 27 years, and with the infidelity of my ex-husband during more than 10 years of my life.  But the Lord was faithful in raising me up from these difficult tests.  So once again I must testify to his power, and that he lifted up one whose heart had been crushed to pieces.  In Him I found genuine truth, holiness, and so much tender and eternal love.  He is my King.  He is my reason for living.  He is the one who gives my path direction and meaning.  Thanks to Him I can live a life of love and holiness.  May His name be praised!  Amen.