When doing mud-out work after a flood event, we have found these things very useful.
While Spring Break often conjures images of sun screen and lounge chairs, for these Texas students, spring break involved bug spray and visions of a landfill. Last Monday, the student ministry of Lifepoint Fellowship (McKinney,TX) spent the day with us, cleaning up the construction debris from the previous week. They also removed the winter plastic from around our screened in camp dining facility and several other things.
We rejoiced in the providence of God in the timing of their trip. We were able to let the construction team focus all their time on their project the week before, and not spend time in clean up, because we knew the students could handle that. I was encouraged by their willingness to do whatever needed to be done as well as their ability to work with each other so well. You could tell this wasn’t their first mission trip.
The rest of the week, the Texas team worked with Back Bay Church, a new church plant here on the gulf coast. Pray for Pastor Adam Bennett, and the great work they are doing in D’Iberville, Mississippi, for the glory of God.
This Kentucky crew, led by my good friend Tommy Floyd, has made numerous trips over the years to the gulf coast. I lost count of how many homes they framed up following Hurricane Katrina. Their ability to work together and accomplish so much, in less than a week has become legendary in our Rebuild Lakeshore story.
On this return trip they offered to add a nice sized porch to my little cabin behind the church. I spend at least a couple of nights a week on the church property, and much more when we host mission teams. Several years ago we built a little bedroom to replace the camper. It was a little less than 300 sq’, made up of a bedroom and bathroom, with an equal sized screened in area. My wife and I decided to close in the patio, doubling the size of our living space to almost 600′ sq’ and add a porch.
Before the Kentucky crew arrived, some local guys volunteered to set the 8″X8″ posts, no small task since the house sits 12′ above grade. I can not thank those guys enough!
The mission team also did some other repairs and numerous miscellaneous jobs. The main project, the pastor’s porch, turned out awesome. The addition will provide some great out outdoor living space to host company. It also greatly improves the look of the house. I’ve already been enjoying morning coffee overlooking the garden. Thank ya’ll so much!
God greatly blessed our 2019 Mission Trip to Puerto Rico. My two brothers, Keith Elbourne and David Elbourne accompanied me on this trip. What a joy it was to spend time with them and accomplish this good work for the glory of Christ. Our main mission was to bring a particular blessing to my good friend Pastor Jose Ponce. He knew we were coming for a visit, but did not know of our secret mission.
I met Jose on my first trip to Puerto Rico and God immediately established a close friendship. His love for the Lord, love for sound doctrine, and love for people is contagious. Jose planted Iglesia Bautista Resurrección in Isabela, Puerto Rico, about 3 years ago and is doing a faithful work for the Lord. He has a beautiful family, who could use our prayers, especially his lovely wife, Omayra, who is fighting cancer.
When we were praying for particular struggles, he mentioned his dilapidated aging car as a source of difficulty. Not having a car makes it hard to make ministry visits. The unreliability of the vehicle also made it difficult to connect with the other church planters in the network, who mostly live on the other side of the island. The car left them stranded on the side of the road while bringing his wife to Chemotherapy treatments. Something had to be done.
Mateo Melendez and I prayed about it and decided we would reach out to some folks who know Pastor Jose, and others and see if we could remedy his vehicle situation. God is good and we raised $5,200 to go toward a better vehicle. I can’t tell you how surprised and grateful Pastor Jose was when we were able to lay the funds on his office desk. He said, “you have no idea how much this changes things.” This is how God answers prayer. Pastor Jose is now sporting around the island in a 2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor. To God be the glory!
On the trip, we also caught up with my good friend Fredy “Wilson” Toledo, pastor of Iglesia Bautista El Fundamento. Wilson launched the new church , one week prior to Huricane Maria. He, and his lovely wife Roasa, are doing a great work in Cataño, Puerto Rico. On my first trip to the island, despite our language barrier, we quickly found a strong theological kinship. It was a blessing to spend the day with him again and catch up, face to face, with all that God is doing.
Wilson has a heart to reach out to the community through music classes. He plays piano, bass guitar, and clarinet. Please pray that these connections will advance the cause of Christ in the area.
The church currently meets in a rented storefront. Following the storm, over 600,000, of around 3 million residence, have relocated to the states. As a result of the population strain, many school districts have combined. The church has an eye on a nearby empty school building (pictured above), with a good possibility of leasing it for their growing ministry. Please pray for this new door of opportunity.
On the Lord’s Day, we had the privilege of worshiping with Iglesia Bíblica Metro, pastored by my good friend Andrés Laracuente. On my first trip we spent some time scouting out potential buildings for this new church plant in Carolina, Puerto Rico with him and praying about the possibilities. What a joy it was to worship in their beautiful new facility.
When we arrived, the place was teaming with families and children excited about what the Lord was doing in their midts. I should also add that they win the prize for the best church coffee anywhere. Its hard to find in the states, but Puerto Rico produces very fine coffee. To have it with steamed milk before worship was a treat indeed.
The highlight of the day, of course, was the preaching of Pastor Andrés. One of the dear ladies in the church served as translator for me, my two brothers, and a couple visiting from Ohio. Andrés preached from Psalm 19. Dispite the language difference, it was evident that Pastor Andrés is an excellent communicator and gifted expositor.
If you, or anyone you know, read Spanish, let me recommend Andrés Laracuente’s book, “De Vuelta al Libro” – available at Amazon.
In addition to these ministry contacts, my brothers and I also enjoyed some great food. There is nothing like fresh grouper ceviche.
If you would like to make a mission trip to Puerto Rico, you can contact the North American Mission Board (Send Puerto Rico). They have a housing facility for your team to stay and will set up your projects. If you go, request to work with Jose Ponce, Fredy Toledo, or Andrease Laquenta. You will be blessed.
I am heading back to Puerto Rico and appreciate your prayers for the trip. Shortly after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island my good friend Mateo Melendez and I made a visit to check on several pastors he knows there. The mission was one of encouragement and fact finding to see how we could best serve their long term needs. I know from the experience of Hurricane Katrina that recovery can be a long hard road. What I discovered was a hand full of church planters dedicated to reaching their communities for Christ even under several layers of difficult circumstances-. Its been a joy to point our Rebuild Lakeshore network to partner with NAMB Send Relief and its been such a blessing to see new church plants moving forward for the glory of God.
On this next trip, my two brothers, Keith and David will join me as I revisit several of the pastors to encourage and see how we can best continue to partner with them in the mission God has given them.
One of the particular men I have grown to love is Pastor Jose Ponce, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Resurrección in Isabela, Puerto Rico. This faithful man of God continues to overcome numerous obstacles for the glory of Christ. Please pray for him, his church, and his family. Pray for his lovely wife as she undergoes weekly cancer treatments. We plan to sit down with Jose and see how we can best leverage our network of friends and partners for the work there on the north west side of the island. We plan to do the same with a few other faithful pastors during our stay. I know what kind of encouragement it was to know that numerous believers where praying for us. Please join me in doing the same for them.
Speaking of Jose Ponce and Iglesia Bautista Resurrección, one of our long term friends, Deb Stuber, was recently in Puerto Rico. She and her family had the opportunity to worship with them on the Lord’s Day. Deb is a member of Grace Baptist Church of Carlisle Pennsylvania that made yearly trips to Lakeshore for a full decade after Hurricane Katrina. The picture above is from her visit. What a joy it is to partner with like-minded believers!
Thank you so much for your ongoing support and prayers.
Our good friends from Michigan made another family mission trip to the gulf coast last week. The weather wasn’t quite as nice as it is today, but at least it wasn’t cold. You never know this time of year. The rain and mud slowed us down a bit, but flexibility has always been the motto of a Lakeshore mission trip.
Being a family trip, the kids outnumbered the adults about 3 to 1, but the multi-generational team accomplished a great amount of work while here. I especially praise the Lord for the several repairs and tasks checked-off at the bunk house. Indoor jobs included tackling the Mercy House back room and warehouse. If you have ever worked back there, you know how disorderly and overwhelming it can get. The difference between the beginning of the week and the end of the week was amazing. I can’t thank them enough.
We also were able to do a little bit in The Garden, between the rain. Carrots and beet seeds were put in the ground; yes, we can garden in January on the gulf coast. I’m very excited about potting up over a dozen cuttings from my dragon fruit. The kids also potted up a bunch of Amaryllis seedlings I’ve been growing from a Katrina surviving flower I discovered on our property. It was a fun week.
I am always so encouraged by this group, not only by the work they do, but also just for the fact that they have fun while here and love coming. Its a joy to share some of our coastal living with folks from out of state. Michiganders gardening on new years day, walking the beach, and boiling crabs at the bunk house. God is good!
Bayside Baptist Church is on the rebound, in more ways than one. After undergoing a successful church revitalization in the last couple of years, the congregation says, “game on!” Thanks to a mission team from Georgia the church now has an outdoor basketball court on their church property. The new fenced in recreation area, with swing sets, will provide a much needed outlet for local kids to congregate under adult supervision. The church has a big heart for the young people of the neighborhood.
Several of the church members are also excited about the recreation area, especially because it will provide a great space for the outdoor activities of their BUGS Club. “BUGS” stands for “Building Up God’s Servants” and is their children’s ministry which includes Bible memorization, recreation, music, and more.
Rebuild Lakeshore was glad to be a small part of the Basketball court project, as the mission team stayed at our housing facilities while here on the gulf coast. We pray that God would continue to bless Bayside Baptist Church and the gospel efforts there, for the good of the community and the glory of Christ.
If you made a mission trip to Lakeshore between 2005-2012, you will remember the T-shirt collection hanging from the ceiling of our make-shift dining hall. You probably even signed one of your group’s shirts. When the old kitchen came down to make room for the new church building, we tucked the shirts away in the attic of the bunk house. You can find a photo gallery of the over 350 shirts on our Rebuild Lakeshore Facebook page.
Hurricane Michael Florida relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts can use your help. Our friends David and Cindy Jordan have been on the ground there, doing clean up, meeting needs, and providing meals. They have been feeding thousands of victims, volunteers, and first responders. They could use all the help they can get. Their granddaughter, pictured above, lends her expertise by advertising for the free meals they are serving. Will you do what you can to help?
I met the Jordans through their “Carpenters for Christ” mission trips to Lakeshore. They have been a tremendous help over the years. They have served Christ and given assistance to countless people across the country with their generosity. Now the need has come to their own back yard.
The Taunton Family Children’s Home in Wewahitchka Fl. has opened their doors to host mission teams that David leads. It can house up to 45 people. It is a two story house. The second story has two large bunkhouse rooms with 12 bunk beds on each side. Each side has restrooms, showers and sinks. The first floor has a large dining room to feed all at one time. The kitchen has three ovens, a microwave, gas stove, industrial refrigerator and two deep freezers. It does not cost anything to stay but a donation is always welcome but not needed.
David already has a few rebuilding projects going. A church deacon’s block home had the kitchen torn off by the storm. A team of block layers could begin work imediatly. They also could use roofers asap. Whatever you and your group can do would be greatly appreciated. Contact David Jordan (firstname.lastname@example.org or call / text at 850-951-3127) for more details and to plan your trip.
Nearly four-hundred years ago the Puritan influence planted churches throughout New England. Unfortunately, a long history of downgrade in the region has robbed these churches of gospel strength. Many have denied the faith. Beautiful historic church buildings are being converted to restaurants, retail outlets, and other things. Today, less than 2% of the population in the Boston area are professing evangelical Christians. Christ-centered men, like my friend Erik Maloy, desire to see God at work in New England once again. Will you partner with him?
Three years ago, in an interesting twist of providence, The First Church in Charlestown Massachusetts called Erik as pastor. The church boasts a fascinating church history. It begun in 1632 as one of the first churches in the “New World,” the founder of Harvard University, John Harvard,, served as one of its first pastors, and their first church building was destroyed in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Fast forward a few hundred years, and In the early 21st century the church dwindled to only a handful of members and threatened to permanently close its doors. Standing on the authority and sufficiency of scripture, Pastor Maloy has devoted himself to love the community, point them to Christ, and restore a healthy vibrant church for the glory of God.
I recently had the privilege of worshiping with the congregation of First Church. I was blessed and encouraged by their enthusiasm and resolve. Erik shared with me some of the vision he has, both for the Charlestown church and for the entire region. God is doing some very exciting things in New England.
Erik, along with Don McKinnon, pastor of First Baptist Church of Sutton MA, hosts The Practical Church Revitalization Podcast. Even if you do not live in New England or are not part of a particular church revitalization effort, let me encourage you to subscribe to their project, join with them in prayer, and spread the word on what God is doing.
We are especially looking for prayer partners and mission teams interested in traveling to the Boston area and working with the First Church of Charlestown. They could use mission trip teams for Vacation Bible Schools, community events, building projects, and other things. Contact Pastor Erik Maloy for more details. I know that a mission trip to Boston will feel a lot different than a mission trip to Lakeshore, but its the same big mission, for the glory of God.