When “Going” Means Waiting



Many people think a mission trip is “GO GO GO GO” all of the time. However, if you do enough mid to long-term ministry, you will discover that there is a lot of “down time”. Today is one of those restful, reflective days. Even on a beautiful day like today, I find that sometimes I have to guard my heart to prevent doubt, discouragement and defeat from entering in…

Given the difficult struggles we have seen, it seems silly to complain about my laptop that has fried (at least the battery, maybe more). But today, I fret (keeping it real, people) about my lack of return airfare…wondering aloud if I am going to see my home in Texas again when our mission ends in about 30 more days. And so…I tell my mind to think of good things:

• The amazing work that Pastor Ravi is doing among the villages near Mutchanapalli in AP
• How Pastor Hox is investing in other local pastors
• The families who were blessed by our visits
• Praying for many people in dire straits, including a paralytic mother of two
• The incredible food (I discover new things every time)
• The sometimes enticing, sometimes repulsive smells that often blend together to say “India”

We have been able to spend a good deal of quality time with some amazing pastors in Andhra Pradesh who are literally laying their lives down for the sake of the Gospel. As a result, we have identified some who we know fit our “ministry model” that our Father has called us to serve. This excites us!Conversely, we have also begun to rule out a few whose primary motive seems to be all about money. This hurts, because we love them but cannot work with them effectively because of their mindsets. But as Paul said in Philippians 1:15-18, “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

Please remember me, and our Associate Director, Mahlon McLean as we continue to serve here in India. We remain in SahakaraNagar until Tuesday, when we will board a train to Rayakottai, Tamil Nadu. As our Father provides, next weekend (around the 22nd or 23rd we hope) we expect to go to the far northeast state of Nagaland, where there is much violence but strong requests for our presence. Then, we plan to return to Bangalore in early April for our “little” brother Stevie Dass’ wedding.

 

The people who do the will of God look out of their mind to those who simply exist. Especially nominal Christians. “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.” Spoken by one of my heroes: the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor.

 

Prayer is the fuel that propels us forward. Thank you!

 

CJ 

Hands Held High

http://www.handsheldhigh.info

 

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Duty and honor



2 Timothy 2:1-4

My wife, Carrla & I currently make our home very close to the largest military base in the Free World: Fort Hood, Texas. As a result of that proximity as well as our relationship with many current and retired military personnel, I’ve been thinking recently about the duties and challenges of a soldier. 

Today I find myself 10,000 miles from home, in a part of the world where the spiritual battles are seemingly endless. The indigenous pastors and Christian leaders that my associate Mahlon & I serve are regularly harassed, often persecuted openly and sometimes lose their worldly goods or even their very lives for one reason: They serve the Living Christ.

My struggles are so tiny compared to theirs, yet here I sit in a comfy home in SakaharaNagar, feeling sorry for myself because I miss my wife so much (no guys, this isn’t about “marital relations”, it’s about missing the presence of my best friend, companion, partner & yes, lover).

There have been times in our almost 34 years of marriage that we have struggled, but the past few years we have been closer than ever, which makes the times when we are apart so hard.

There have been some critics out there who claim that a Christian man should never be separated from his wife for extended periods of time. It makes me wonder if they hold natural soldiers to the same standard? Soldiers around the world regularly leave for battle returning in 6 months to 2 years!  Difficult? Yes! Unnecessary? Hardly! While the natural soldier’s war is often (not always) just, this battle for the souls of men is infinitely more important. This is rescuing men, women & children from the yawning jaws of Hell itself. From eternal separation from God.

Thankfully, my incredible wife “gets it” and you know what…it even helps her to minister to and encourage her students and their moms who have a loved one overseas. And if we weren’t walking in unity and agreement regarding our temporary “separation”, I would be home with her as she is my most precious calling. 

He calls me to “Go!”, and I am compelled by Love to do what I can, when I can, where I can. The leaders whom we serve are those who are weary of the battle. They need to be encouraged, sometimes exhorted, equipped and empowered to reach the ones that I will never even see until eternity. 

Time is short. The call is urgent. 

In the words of Keith Green:

“Oh Lord, you said the harvest was great,

But Lord, looks like the workers are late.

It’s getting hard to understand,

How they ignore your great command.

Here am I, send me, 

though you said the ones who labor are few,

Still my heart hears the call, 

and I wanna give it all to you.

Oh, to reach the ones nobody does,

Give up my pride and even work in the mud,

I wanna be like those who spilled their blood,

And gave it like water to you.”

And so I press on, to delight to do the will of the One who loved me enough to take my place and atone for my sins, who is also the Captain of The Lord of Hosts. You may call Him Jesus the Christ, Jesu Christo, Isa al-Masih, or Yeshua Ha-Mashiah.

I call Him both my friend who sticks closer than a brother, my Captain and my coming King.

My precious Carrla, God willing I’ll see you again in mid-April..if not, then in eternity. And for eternity! 

p.s. Mahlon says,”Exchange Camp Ederle, Italy for Ft. Hood, Texas and exchange Elizabeth for Carrla, then DITTO”.

p.p.s. Please remember all four of us in your prayers.

2 Timothy 2:1-4

“You therefore, my son, be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”

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SIMPLE WORDS, NOT SO SIMPLE DECISION

god-calling-crop

By “simple”, I don’t necessarily mean “easy”. More than 14 years ago, Carrla and I made a decision to follow our Father’s call to serve His people by joining the staff of Hope for the Hungry. This “yes” to our Father’s plan eventually necessitated an uprooting of our family and moving them to Central Texas. Nine years later, we were called to leave the relative “comfort” of Hope and start a new ministry serving those who reach the unreached throughout South Asia. Looking back, there have been times of blessing, times of buffeting, times of wondering, but there is NO doubt that it was He who called us here.

And so…it begins anew, with a prayerful DECISION (with my godly wife’s full blessing) to take a new step. On February 22, I begin my 18th journey to India. What different? This time, I am going with a deeper measure of faith, with no return airfare and an open-ended itinerary. The difference this year is that I have no “parachute”, no extra frequent flyer miles, except for Father’s provision. We expect this mission to be one of my longest with an expected return in two or more months. (A little over a year ago, I made a similar trip that was open-ended, which resulted in ministry not only in India, but Sri Lanka, Germany & Italy.)

These words LEAPT off of the page of a devotional when I read them last week while in the valley of decision last week:

The people who do the will of God look out of their mind to those who simply exist. Especially nominal Christians. “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.” Spoken by one of my heroes: the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor.

I have many good, valid reasons to “not go”, but only one reason to “GO!” – discerning my Father’s will. With the example of Elisha, and with the words of Yeshua ringing in my ears: “Let the dead bury the dead”, and “I must be about my Father’s business,” I cannot refuse my Father’s call to a deeper obedience, to a greater trust in His purposes and plan. Well…..yes I can…but I dare not. Time is short. No time to muck about.

Please remember me, and our Associate Director, Mahlon McLean as we head back to India and perhaps points unknown later this month. Prayer is the fuel that propels us forward. Thank you!

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Remembering Jorge

lattuada Family picture (2)Sometimes…good men (and women) die far too young….

I think of our mentor Billy Godwin; my Ghanaian-American brother Eric Adu; my nephew Rusty Staples; and many others. Perhaps you know of someone who passed away at a relatively young age. But today I remember someone particular…someone very special.

Approximately one year ago, just a few days after Christmas, my Argentinean brother, Jorge Lattuada, lost his short battle with cancer and went to be with Jesus.

Jorge was a man of great courage. Many people who have been given a prognosis of “6 months to live” would have folded their tents and given up. He never did. He planned to serve His Lord by working as the Associate Director of our ministry, Hands Held High (www.handsheldhigh.info). By faith, he led his wife, Karen and their two children, Briana and Joseph, cross country from Georgia to Texas in order to fulfil God’s call upon his life. Karen said it well: “If Jorge dies, he is going to die with his boots on.” Spoken like a true champion & a pioneer. Indeed, just one week after brain surgery, he preached the Gospel at a local church here in Central Texas.

Jorge’s home going was sad for us who remain here but make no mistake about it: Stepping into the presence of God was not sorrowful for Jorge. According to Psalms 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”. He trusted his Lord to care for Karen and their children, and I am sure that he heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of The Lord!”

I don’t claim to understand why he died so young, only a month after arriving here in Central Texas, but I am confident that his faith in his Savior, Jesus Christ, sustained and finally delivered him into the arms of his Father.

Today, the ministry of Hands Held High continues to serve the Body of Christ in the forgotten places of South Asia, but Jorge’s faith is not forgotten. Nor will it ever be. Not only did he and Karen have a successful ministry through Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in South America, but he stepped out in faith to work with us here and actively participated to the best of his ability right up until his passing into a life free of sickness.

I miss this beloved brother and friend but his legacy continues. And I am deeply thankful that my Father reconnected us after a long separation of eight years. Well done, my friend, well done. I hope to join with you again one day soon.

“God buries his workmen but carries on his work.”- written on the tomb of Jonathan Edwards.

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The Church is alive and well in Pakistan!

http://youtu.be/QiWGZ7RBX_s

This video was taken last March (2012) during a rooftop worship experience with my dear friends, Peter and Shazia. They have lost their lease on their home and church facility. Please pray that they will find the place that the LORD has for them to continue their ministry.

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A Conversation About the Unreached

100_4993IMAGINE: MIRACLES, HEALINGS, RESURRECTIONS, WHOLE FAMILIES SAVED, PEOPLE FED, VILLAGES, TOWNS, CITIES, STATES, NATIONS TOTALLY TRANSFORMED

A friend wisely said recently, “Some of the greatest opportunities are MISSED because we say ‘NO‘ in defense of our own comfort.” (emphasis mine)

SOME FACTS:
  • Nearly 2 billion people know no one who can show them Jesus
  • 1 out of 4 (27%) of all people on earth are cut off from the Good News
  • If you counted to 2 billion it would take you 200 years just to say all their names
  • Only 3 out of every 100 missionaries go live among the 2 billion
  • Only $0.01 out of every $100 given to missions goes to reach the 2 billion
  • Over 90% of missionaries go to “Christianized” people groups

WHY IS IT THAT 2000 YEARS AFTER JESUS, with all of our technology and with all of our churches, so many are STILL UNREACHED and WITHOUT HOPE? The harvest is still plentiful but the laborers are few. The disengaged peoples of the world are waiting for us to reach them! The bottleneck is not with their receptiveness, but with our WILLINGNESS TO GO. Lack of workers stems largely from a general lack of understanding of God’s passion for lost people –a lack of basic discipleship. It’s also due to God’s people losing their passionate recognition of their need for a Savior themselves.

“There is still much to do where Christ has been named, BUT OH how we need to pray for an army of hundreds of thousands with Paul’s passion to reach the unreached and unengaged people’s of the world.” – John Piper

From Oswald Chambers: “The Call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.”

This post is dedicated to the 200 people who died while you read this, who didn’t know that Jesus (or anyone) cared….and the 300 new babies who were just born.

wheat harvestTHE HARVEST WILL ROT IN THE FIELD IF THERE IS NO ONE THERE TO HARVEST IT.

WHO WILL GO? WHO WILL SEND? WHO WILL EARNESTLY PRAY?

for more info: www.handsheldhigh.info    (Here am I, LORD. Send me.)

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AN UPDATE ON INDIA…plus an explanation of sorts

Carrla and I want to thank all of you who have been so faithful to pray and to sow financially into the work God has called us to do; for nine years at Hope for the Hungry and the past 9 months through Hands Held High (www.handsheldhigh.info) . During this ten-year period, we have been blessed to minister in 19 nations,  some of them multiple times.

Lord willing, in less than two weeks, my beautiful wife and I will leave for South Asia. This will be my 11th ministry trip to Incredible India! but Carrla’s first.

This trip is unique in many respects.

FIRSTLY,  we have purposely not sent newsletters or used other devices to raise support recently (except for one blog that we believe was “God inspired”). We believe that the Lord has been leading us in a new direction concerning trusting and believing Him and His Word. We will be walking a similar path to Hudson Taylor’s, Amy Carmichael’s and George Mueller’s. (Look them up) Bottom line, we will be trusting THE LORD with our finances on a deeper level than ever before. And our trust is NOT misplaced. HE IS JEHOVAH JIREH and HE WILL meet ALL of our needs according to HIS RICHES IN GLORY BY CHRIST JESUS. Period. Note: This blog, our website and Facebook page will be our primary resource for ministry updates.

SECONDLY,  when Carrla returns to the USA on July 28th, I will remain in South Asia for a season to continue the work. This extra season may last a few weeks or it may be for a longer time period. The Lord has given marching orders, but not a specific date to return to Texas….yet. Like Abraham (my hero), as described in Hebrews 11:8 NKJV

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

It will not be easy to be away from my family and USA friends during this time but Jesus said this in Matthew 19:29 NKJV “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother  or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”

Even in the natural, soldiers go and serve for months at a time hoping to return home as soon as possible. Dear friends, THERE IS NO GREATER WAR THAN THE WAR FOR THE SOULS OF MEN. And South Asia is my battleground. The LORD has not sent us to go as Generals or “brass” but as servants to lay down our lives for pastors and church leaders who are on the front lines of supernatural warfare.

Many years ago the Lord spoke to me and made it clear that He didn’t call me to a comfortable place…and I am very aware of my weaknesses. But where I am weak…He can show Himself to be strong. As Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NKJV:

“7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;  we are  perplexed, but not in despair;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

Going into new territory involves risk. Everything Abram needed was in Ur. Nothing he needed was in this unknown place. Except for the presence of the LORD, which was really all he needed.

Faith releases ability. Sarah believed God’s promise even when it was impossible. But even this happened in the promised land, not in Ur.

Several times over the past few years it has been clear that the Lord has called me to a “pioneer-type” faith walk. (So I guess it’s a little humorous that I married a Nebraska gal! Right?)

The lyrics to a Rick Pino song sums up this part of the Call pretty well, so I’m going to share it with you. It is worth a listen if you can grab it off of iTunes or the Amazon Cloud:

“Pioneer, Pioneer Keep pressing onwards beyond your fears And only your Father goes before you to your own frontier You’re a Pioneer

Uncharted wilderness stretches before you And you thrive on going where no one has gone Still it gets lonely when darkness rears So sing by the fire until the dawn

You travel light and you travel alone And when you arrive nobody knows But your Father in heaven, He is glad you can go Cause those who come after you will need the road

And what you have done, others will do Bigger and better and faster than you But you can’t look back, you gotta keep on pressing through There’s a wilderness pathway and it’s calling you

[Last chorus] Calling you, calling you Keep pressing onwards beyond your fears And only your Father goes before you to your own frontier You’re a Pioneer”

And so…we go in faith…with a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions. But He who has called us is FAITHFUL. Please pray for us as we step out and follow the next step of our LORD’S plan for our lives. If you believe God is calling you to join us in this adventure by sowing financially, here is the direct link through our Cooperative Ministry partner, Hope for the Hungry:    https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VNBKQQ8SSZM8J

THANK YOU!

CJ and Carrla Rich

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