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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Back-to-School Mexico Outreach - Aug 29, 2015

It’s that time of the year again... "Back to school!"  On Saturday, August 29th, Reaching the Hungry brought together a group of 65 willing people, piled into vans and headed down to Tijuana, Mexico to help children and families prepare for the new school year! The group consisted of a worship team from Iglesia Jerusalem, Reaching the Hungry volunteers, Worldwide Transformation Ministries, and a youth group from Saddleback Church.

Trevor Berges (green shirt) took his 11-year-old son, Tanner, on his first mission trip with Reaching the Hungry.
“First mission trip with Tanner and me. Good day in Mexico with Reaching The Hungry ministry. Amazing time!”
Tijuana is a very poor community with a great need of support. How beautiful it is when communities come together to help another community in need. About 300 hundred backpacks filled with school supplies, were collected and distributed to children. Each family also had check-ups from the medical team from Project Compassion and glasses were prescribed and given when needed. At noon, volunteers made and handed out around 500 meals for children and families.

All these things are wonderful acts and gifts of kindness and love. But all of it is completely meaningless if it weren’t for the common denominator: the hope of the Gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ is what ties it all together. Not only were the needs of the physically hungry met, but also the spiritually hungry had an opportunity to “ taste and see that the Lord is good,” Psalm 34:8

Briana Kwiatek recalls of her time in Mexico:

"I had been to Mexico twice before, but this time was different. This time we went to a community of shanties comprised of plastic and scraps of wood. I hadn't seen poverty like this before in my entire life. The kids were so excited to see us and had been waiting since the early morning for our arrival, anxious to receive the gifts we had brought. We got to work right away, making hundreds of lunches and putting together the school supplies and backpacks. My favorite part of the day was getting to meet the children and hand out stickers. As I walked down the line of children waiting for their gifts, I would ask "Cual color quieres? --Which color do you want?" They were so excited to receive a little smiley face sticker. I got to look each of them in the eyes and show them in a small way that they were special, and they had value. That's what these trips are all about, showing people that they are worth it. That God loves them more than anything and that they are valuable." 

We are called to not only bring the good news of the Gospel, but to also live it out. To share the truth that there is rest for the weary, hope for the hopeless, food for the hungry, a home for the orphaned, and safety for the abandoned. That is what these trips are all about. Thank you to all the volunteers and the very generous donations of the communities that helped make this trip happen. See you on the bus next time! 


"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings the good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns." Isaiah 52:7

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Packing in to the Bukid for a Month

(The Bukid is the local term for the mountain villages in the north of Mindanao island)

For the next whole month starting Sunday August 22nd 2015 I will be leading a team of 3 other puti langoy (white foreigner) girls and 2 filipina translators. Yes, I will be leading. I guess if they can trust me around the babies they think they can trust me to lead adults too. That will be an adventure in itself. They are sending us out each carrying 1 backpack packed with our sleeping mat, mosquito net, clothes, toiletries, some little girl’s dresses to give away(courtesy of Reaching the Hungry), some medical supplies in case we see a need, and I will carry one rice sack of pots, pans, and other cooking supplies. Just some bare essentials. For a girl who loved camping when I was young I am really excited, but for a girl with fibromyalgia I am also feeling a bit nervous. Please pray with me that His strength will be made perfect in my weaknesses and shortcomings and that I will be pain free.  
To begin our month we will travel by ferry to another island where we will spend our first week in “boot camp.” There we will do some team building exercises, attend church planting seminars, and do some evangelism training. We also will be learning practical skills such as how to chop the head off a live chicken, showering fully clothed with buckets outdoors, cooking over a coal fire, etc. Hopefully there won’t be too many headless chickens let loose during this week!

Next, on Saturday, August 29th at around 4am we will hop on a bus for several hours and travel far into a small village in the mountains of Mindanao island where we will spend our next week. We will travel to a new village each week. The adventure begins as we won’t know what our living conditions will be like until we get each place. We may or may not have electricity, which makes for sweaty mosquito filled nights or fun evenings by candlelight; running water, which can make for interesting showering and cooking or the developing of huge arm muscles from carrying buckets of water; or we may not have beds to sleep on; which can make for grumpy achy girls or the developing of a deeper understanding of how a lot of the rest of the world sleeps. Pray with me that we’d all go out with expectations of the Lord to work and the open mindedness to really experience the fun out of the adventure.
While we are out there our goal will be to seek the Lord’s direction in planting house church groups, evangelizing, doing health teachings, and building relationships with whomever we encounter. So you can see that we really have no agenda. We are going in the hopes that the Lord uses us and directs us, but honestly I cannot tell you exactly what my days there will look like. The people in these villages that we will be living with are predominantly Roman Catholic and some practice Islam. Please pray with me that my team will be relatable and able to build challenging relationships with the people we will meet over the course of the month and that above all else we would leave a lasting impression that brings glory to the name of Jesus. 

Since we will be traveling pretty far away from the city I will be completely disconnected from all electronics and internet for the entire month that I will be gone,, until September 23rd.  You can expect to hear from me when I get back, but until then please please keep my teammates and I in your prayers. We will need a lot of prayer and interceding while we are out as we will be spreading the name of Jesus and the enemy will try and distract, derail, and desensitize us from our goal.

Please partner with Gracie by prayerfully and financially supporting her!
* You will be have an opportunity to designate your donation just before you submit it. If you don't someone will contact you. 

You will receive a tax-deducible receipt. Click on the donation button, or write your check & send it to the following 501(c)3 non-profit organization...  Reaching the Hungry755 Vista Canyon Circle; Vista, CA 92084.

If you are interested in joining us on a future trip, please email, calling (760) 523-0777, or click HERE

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reaching the Hungry Malawi - Staff

Reaching the Hungry has expended our reach with full-time staff in Malawi. Allow me to introduce to you Wonderfu Emmanuel Chibisa. Please take a few minutes to get to know Wonder...
(Special message for Cathey Anderson)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Not Built for Comfort" by Angela Trunnell

If you have been around church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard this idea before. “Christians are not called to a life of comfort.”

Having grown up in a Christian family, Christian school, and various Christian churches, this statement is nothing new to me. In fact, it is one of the many mantras that has been so deeply engrained in my mind that I never thought to meditate on what it really means….Until today. While I was driving. And it totally hit me in the face. (As most epiphanies often do.)

Many Christians tend to walk around with this idea like it is a life sentence. “When I signed up for this deal, I contractually agreed to sacrifice my comfort. My security. My wants. My will. As a good Christian, that’s what I have to do. I have to sacrifice. It is a bummer, but it is my gift to God.”

But what if…..This is actually God’s gift to us?

Think about a situation in your life - past or present - that felt or feels completely safe and comfortable. Relationships? Finances? Work? School? Hobbies? Faith? ….Got that picture in your mind? Good. Now...How long have you maintained that comfy situation and remained happy? Or fulfilled? Or energized?

If you’re anything like me, your natural short-term go-to response is to seek comfort and hang out there. That’s human. But perhaps that is only a surface-level response. A knee-jerk reaction. As time goes on and I get lulled into complacency, however, I start to feel bored, restless, and even empty. As I realized in the car just this morning, my comfort and “security,” therefore, become scary.

So perhaps this is an indication that we as humans are not just called to step out of our comfort zones, but actually wired for it. On a deeper level, we crave stimulation, risk, and forward movement. Long-term comfort is not comfortable because we were made to live for more.

This has been a crazy week full of lots of changes. It should be terrifying. And though my mind is racing, strangely, I feel nothing but an overwhelming sense of peace, excitement, and appreciation.

As I process all of these new changes, I found that the person I look forward to talking to the most is my good friend and personal trainer. Why? Because though I truly appreciate the sentiment behind other loved ones’ “aww, poor thing; let me comfort you and give you a pat on the back” response, what I really love is the response that I know I will get from my trainer: “Yep. You’re right. That’s rough. Now give me 5 more burpees. It’ll make you feel better.”

That’s when I realized that I love to be pushed. I don’t desire a comfy hug as much as I desire to physically sweat it out. I don’t desire companions who will help me dwell in self-pity as much as I desire companions who will help me stay focused and keep moving. I don’t desire to look for an easier way out of these new changes as much as I desire to take on the challenge and tackle them head-on. I am invigorated by being pushed (or pulled) out of my comfort zone.

If this is the case, then challenges and sacrifices are actually a blessing. They are an opportunity to grow and to actually feel life, rather than just mindlessly drift through it.

I recently had the tremendous privilege of visiting Grace on her mission field in the Philippines (another “yes” to being called out of my comfort zone, as it was my very first international trip), and I saw this principle in action in a myriad of ways. I saw it in the local people. I saw it in the poverty. I saw it in the public transportation. I saw it in the sweet patients and incredible staff at the birthing clinic. I saw it in our late night sweat-sessions as we eagerly awaited the power or the water to come back on so that we could find relief from the tropical humidity.

Life in the Philippines is nothing like life here in San Diego... In my opinion, it’s better. This is not to say that it is easy. I am amazed and humbled by the sacrifices that Grace and her colleagues make constantly to build a life in Davao and continue to serve its people. They are truly living a selfless life far outside of their comfort zones. But the quality of their intangible life, their faith, their spirituality, their relationships, their hope, their gratefulness, and their fulfillment is infinitely greater than anything I have ever experienced in my safe, comfy first-world bubble. Though it has been great to be home and back with family and friends, my heart still yearns for Davao. Or perhaps, yearns for the “something greater” that I found in Davao.

This feeling is hard to describe in words. I wish that I could transfer this feeling to each and every one of you so that you could experience the exciting, invigorating, and yes, a little scary, passion for life that I feel burning in my spirit at this moment in time. But that is something that you will have to pursue for yourself. I encourage, or rather urge you to step outside of your comfort zone. Near or far, big or small, public or private...Just do something that scares you a little bit. Don’t take this as a call to be reckless. Approach it prayerfully and use your common sense. But push yourself just a little bit further than you would normally go. You just may be surprised to find that “scary” is the most fun, inspiring, fulfilling, and comfortable place to be!

On behalf of Grace, thank you so much for your continued support and prayers. The solid foundation that you have built for her back home is making all the difference as she builds her life and ministry in Davao. Her team is delivering and changing lives. What a powerful thing to be a part of!

Live boldly and may you be blessed!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prayer; Melody of My Heart. By Grace Sales

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” -C.S. Lewis
Melody came in on a Sunday morning, 18 years old and looking a bit frightened and laid on the bed as I began to check her baby's heart tones. “Is it okay?” She asked with big eyes. “It sounds good. There’s nothing to worry about, I will stay right here with you.” I assured her. About an hour or so later the pain increased and her contractions began to pick up and her breathing got heavier and more rapid and she grabbed my hand and with tears in her eyes said “I am scared will you pray with me?”

“God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” -C.S. Lewis
It was a midweek afternoon when I met her. “Hello!” she greeted me with a big smile on her face. “Hi! Komusta?” I greeted back. I began to check her vitals and baby’s heart tones. She was ten years my elder but she didn’t seem to mind a bit. She joked about it and asked me many questions and we laughed together as she danced around the clinic trying to get her labor to progress. “zumba! zumba! I will do zumba until my baby comes!” She said in a sing songy voice. Due to her labor’s failure to progress she needed to be transported. She continued to stay in a joyful mood throughout preparing to transport and I was surprised to still see a smile on her face as she asked me questions in the back of the ambulance. “Can I pray for you and your baby Melody?” I asked. “Please! Please!” she replied. I began to pray and thank the Lord for her overflowing joy. I asked His hand to touch her and her baby’s body and to give the doctors at the hospital wisdom. As I finished and looked up at her I noticed her face had changed. She still smiled but her eyes were red and she had tears streaming from her eyes. “The Lord is good and He knows. I am thankful He sent me you.” She said.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” -C.S. Lewis
In the joyful and the sad I see the power of my prayers. In my helplessness I can do nothing else but pray and His power gives life to the words that flow from my lips. It is my prayer that the melody of my heart will always be words from the Lord and that He would change me and those I pray for through it. I ask that you pray with me that the Lord continues to give me a song that overflows and the opportunity to pray with the women who come into the clinic will never cease.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Malawi Mission's Trip - May 17-29, 2015 by Nathan Giles (Trip Leader)

Lately, life has been a bit like one of those dreams so vivid that even upon waking, you think it might have actually happened. Stepping out of the airport in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, and seeing my friends Wonderful and Deni again felt a lot like waking up from one of those dreams. It felt like the 6 months since my last trip had only been a dream; then suddenly, I was awake, ready to get back to work.
Our work began the next day at Mtema Village- an area I had visited in October last year known to be a stronghold for witchcraft and masked dancing. Upon arrival, we discovered that the well was a bit too wide at the top to set the pump equipment on. A bit discouraged, we took a few minutes’ drive to a second location, my mind still on the first well. We had prayed that morning during our devotional time for God to reveal solutions to us so that we could accomplish our assigned tasks. Just before we arrived at the second site, I noticed that we had many more metal rods than we needed for the depth of the well and that we could use the extra as supports for a concrete platform to cover the over-sized hole. We were immediately encouraged and confident in God’s involvement in our trip. The rest of the well went in without any problems. Later that night, we were able to show the Jesus Film (an incredible tool for evangelism when your audience has never seen a movie before). Our teammate David, a college student and former Marine, took advantage of the opportunity created by the well installation to share the Gospel with several hundred people in the surrounding area. With well over one hundred people responding in prayer to God, our first day was a tremendous success.

Our next outing took us to Mponda Village in Kasungu. After a late night, we pulled up to the well moments after a man had climbed out of the newly dug bore-hole (quite an impressive feet). We quickly forgot our own tiredness and began the installation process with a new burst of energy. We were able to finish the well with time to spare before our drive to Nkhoma and took a look at the village’s old well. It was a hole about 5 feet across with nothing to keep children, animals, and contaminants from falling inside. With a new source of water, there are able to seal up the old well and stop worrying about its dangers. We ended the day with a drive to Nkhoma where we met with and had dinner with a close friend and partner of Reaching the Hungry, Hamilton Yassin. He and his wife opened their home to us again and prepared a wonderful dinner as I introduced the RtH team for our May 2015 trip, David and Wade (my uncle and still active duty Marine).
We enjoyed a bit of a late start the next day and had the honor of presenting Hamilton, along with the rest of his class and teachers, with solar-powered talking Bibles. The new pastors and graduates of the Nkhoma Theology school can now use these tools to expand God’s kingdom throughout Malawi as they are assigned to congregations in early June. It was very humbling to present gifts that were received with such reverence and thankfulness. We took a walk through the mission station, hospital, nearby market, and up into the hills before loading up for our second showing of the Jesus Film. David spoke again along with Hamilton at the end of the film to kick off a several day long revival meeting on the outskirts the of Nkhoma region. Before departing for Mtakataka, we reluctantly said goodbye to Hamilton and his wife and congratulated them again on his graduation and upcoming move to a new congregation.
We arrived in Mtakataka, ready to hit the ground running, but found that the well was not suitable for a pump. We made plans for a well to be placed there later this year, giving time to better fortify the well and ensure that it will be a long-lasting well in the future. Wonderful took us to a secondary location where a single well (installed in October 2014) has been serving more than 1,500 families in several villages. The well is so busy that it often pumps day and night to meet the needs of the people. Nearby, a second well had been dug in hopes of receiving a pump. The well had more than 3 times the needed amount of water for a pump to be installed and was nearly 50 feet down. Once we took the measurements, the team began working quickly to finish before the sun went down. I then left to meet local village group heads with Amos (Wonderful’s father) who coordinates the Chiefs’ Ministry. I saw many familiar faces from my last trip and had the opportunity to share a message of encouragement. Amos and I also spoke to them on the importance of legacy, not in worldly terms, but in leaving behind a legacy of Godly children leaders in their villages. The chiefs were presented with and extremely grateful for a number of talking Bibles currently being used in Bible studies throughout the area. Amos and I returned to the rest of the team who were putting the finishing touches on the well after taking some time to perform some maintenance on the nearby well.
We were blessed with a meal prepared by some of the women in a nearby village. As we sat in the small hut, I thought about how many people were directly contributing to the work we were doing. Of course there are those who traveled on the team, as well as our ministry partners in Malawi. However, the list goes on from there, well sponsors, team members’ financial supporters, prayer teams, and even the numerous donors who supply us with clothing and soccer balls to take to the villages. Even the people who we thought we were coming to serve were involved in God’s work. Children gathered water, rocks, and sand for the cement; men prepared bricks for the platform and helped assemble the well; and the women had prepared meals for us. Realistically, the team (including Wonderful, Deni, and Amos) could have had a great deal of success responding to God’s call; however, when God’s children each take up a bit of the weight, the results are beyond anything we can imagine.
For our final day of planned outreaches, we visited a church in Salima. This area rarely sees outsiders and is extremely hungry for God’s word. We attended morning service and worshiped with a small congregation which grew and grew as the morning went on (it takes a long time for people to walk from miles away to the only local church in the area). David encouraged the congregation with a message about turning to God knowing that He will help us grow through them. We also had the chance to answer some questions you normally only hear in theology classes. It is a one-of-a-kind experience to worship our Creator with our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. Later, we sat in on a Chiefs’ Ministry Bible study. We had another wonderful time of worship and teaching before the RtH team was invited to speak. I spoke to the chiefs about living out our faith with urgency and how we prepare for spiritually dry and stormy seasons just as we prepare for those seasons in farming. We then presented the trans-denominational group with talking Bibles to start ministries in their own villages.
We ended the night with another wonderful dinner in a local family’s home before the trip’s final showing of the Jesus Film. That night, the crowd grew to around 1,000 people with more hands than could be counted during the prayer time receiving salvation in Jesus Christ. It was incredible to see how God enabled each member of our team to perform the tasks at hand despite our perceived flaws. There is no amount of skill that can prepare you for ministry, just as there is no amount required before you are useful to God. Our final two days were spent admiring God’s creation and trying to wrap our heads around everything we had seen and done. The time of reflection allowed us to solidify our understanding of all that God had shown us and helped us determine where we would go from there in our spiritual walks.

We would like to give special thanks to all who were involved in this trip. Thank you for partnering with us in supplying 3 new water wells serving over 2,000 families! Your efforts have also sent more than 50 talking Bibles to Malawi and allowed our small 3 man team to reach thousands with the Gospel!