We're so Thankful!

As believers, everyday should be thanksgiving day as we reflect on all the things the Lord has done for us!  This year will go down in the history books as a very special and memorable day for our family.  For several years we have been sharing prayer requests with you.  Today, we would like to share with you some special praises and answers to your prayers:

  • We are thankful for faithful prayer warriors.  Just a few moments ago we received word that our apartment in Peru is now sold.  The paperwork is completed and the check is on hand with our representative in Peru.   There were several complicated issues that came up in the last few days and we could see that God was truly in control of the situation or the process would never have been completed.  This has been a burden on our family for many months.  We are thankful to close out this chapter in our lives.  We felt it was amazing that it actually sold on Thanksgiving Day
  • We are thankful for our faithful supporters.  When we joined the mission as young people we were warned by veteran missionaries that many churches and supporters are not faithful for the long term.  The majority of our supporters have been with us for many years.  Most of our supporting churches have supported us financially for more than 20 years!  We thank God for their faithfulness.  God always provides our every need.  
  • We are thankful for good medical treatment.  When Debbie first fell ill back in 2014 the doctors told us that she might live less than a year.  Debbie still has major medical problems but with good medical treatment and with the Lord's blessings she has been stable.  She is getting very close to being put on the liver transplant list and we are thankful that God has lead us to a great team of doctors to walk us through this process.
  • We are thankful for open doors of ministry opportunity.  The ministry at EBI is not without obstacles, but we are amazed at the new ministries God opens up to us each month.  I believe that we are now poised for the most successful years in EBI's history.  One example happened just last week, at a counseling conference in Mexico.   Our materials were made available there for the first time and everything was greatly received and gone within minutes.  People are hungry for truth and God has placed  us in a place where we can lead people to truth.  

We hope you are encouraged, as we are as we reflect on the blessings of our Lord.

You're REAL missionaries!?!

“I’ve never heard of such a thing!  You mean, all of you are missionaries?”  I heard these words during a conversation with a local man who had stopped in for a visit to EBI.  He was amazed that we were missionaries.   We didn’t seem to fit the typical model of what he, and many others consider a “real missionary.”  It wasn’t the first time we’ve been questioned about our title.    

Back in 2001 my young family boarded a plane to move to Peru as missionaries.  We were blessed with nearly 15 years of exciting and fruitful ministry in Peru.  We did many of the things that traditional missionaries do:  We shared the Gospel with people, we conducted Bible studies, we preached and taught in newly started churches.  We worked hard to disciple new believers and guide them in their walk with the Lord.  We saw souls saved, lives changed and churches started in a biblical model that could be considered very similar to what even the Apostle Paul promoted.  Somewhere along the line however, in some people’s minds, we apparently stopped being “real missionaries.” 

Things can change quickly.  On Sunday, June 15, 2014, just two weeks after having been given a clean bill of health, my dear wife Debbie fell ill and in a matter of minutes nearly died.  In the coming days she was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease and she was medically evacuated from Peru.  We had plans to spend the rest of our lives in Peru.  We were in the middle of forming a strategic plan to expand our ministry influence.  We were searching for a location to begin our next church.  We felt like we were just beginning to see real progress in our goal of reaching souls with the Gospel.  For several months our lives were in chaos.  Time flew by as we carried on in survival mode.  Life was filled with hospital visits, doctor appointments, medical tests and new medications.  When Debbie’s health was finally stable and the long-term prognosis was given we realized our lives had been changed forever.  Returning to Peru was not a viable option.  We began to ask, “What does God have planned for us?”  Our hearts grieved over the loss of our future in Peru.  Would God give us a new passion for ministry in a new area like we had in Peru?  Were we still missionaries?

Our story has been repeated in similar ways in the lives of many of EBI’s staff members.  Almost every EBI missionary has on-the-field experience in a foreign land.  Several EBI missionaries were on the field when a health crisis brought them home.  Others had their steps directed by the Lord in unique circumstances to bring them here.  Only one couple began their journey in missions planning from the start to be EBI missionaries.  As first glance, the ministries of EBI might not sound as exciting as some other mission fields. A pin on a mission’s map showing central Florida doesn’t look especially impressive.  Yet, God is using EBI to impact lives in about three dozen Spanish speaking countries.  EBI is special.  Unlike any other training and publishing ministry, our entire staff is made up of missionaries sent out and supported by local churches.  Yes!  We really are missionaries. 

What exactly is a missionary?  Dictionary.com defines a missionary as, “a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism, a person strongly in favor of a program or set of principles, who attempts to persuade or convert others, a person who is sent on a mission.”  After returning from Peru my family had to come to terms with our new position as stateside missionaries.  Were we still missionaries?  Was God done using us?  We had to adapt from being considered missionary heroes to becoming missionary servants simply because our location changed.  Over time, God gave us a real peace about EBI.  We have seen the Lord working in incredible ways and opening doors of opportunity for this ministry like never before.  Missions in Latin America is in a new, important phase.  After decades of diligent missionary work, the foundation has been laid for great growth.  Thousands of churches have been started and national pastors are now in place to help grow the work.  EBI is strategically placed to come alongside these national workers and provide them with the tools they need to reach their land with the truth of God’s Word. 

While we no longer spend our days in a foreign land we do have a clear belief that God wants us here.  Each of us, before coming to EBI, gained valuable experience in a different culture, with a different language and with different circumstances.  His plan is always perfect and He has brought together a team that is effectively serving together to expand the reach of the Gospel in the Latin world.  Our ministries are training national workers and providing the materials that churches need to grow.  While we may no longer fit the mold of what the world considers a “real missionary” I can confidently say I work with a great team of missionary servants that must certainly be pleasing the Lord with their lives.  It’s a joy that God has shown each of us here that we can still be “real missionaries” right where He placed us.  May we all be faithful in the opportunities God brings our way, no matter where we are!

Shocking Statistics

In this month's update we would like to share some shocking statistics that motivate us in missions.  You'll also get the latest news on EBI publications and find out about our next ministry trip.  Here's the link:

On the GO | Shocking Statistics

ON the GO...Costa Rica, Colombia and More...

There has been a lot going on in our lives and ministry.  Please take a few moments and read our newest prayer letter.  Just click on the link to read more:

Current Newsletter-May 2018

Hurricane Updates:

In order to maintain communication with our family and friends we have been asked to keep a running report of what is going on.  We will try to make updates as news happens and as long as we are able.  Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!  (Newest Reports are on top and age as they go down)

Wednesday, September 14, 201

  • We have been told that Highlands County was the second worst hit county in Florida.  There are many damaged homes, downed trees and extensive damage to the power system.  Schools will be out for at least a week in this area.  
  • Thank you for your continued prayers.  Please see our Facebook page for further updates.  You can find it at:  www.Facebook.com/poefolks

Monday, September 11, 2017

  • 5:45 a.m. -Wow, what a night! I never want to experience any stronger winds  I thought the roof was going to fly off. From what we can see with flashlights we have a lot of trees down in our yard  we have a big cleanup but thankfully it looks like our house is ok.  We are still having 45 mph sustained winds with higher gusts.  Curfew in place until at least 11:00 a.m.
  • Lost track of when but right as power went out we got in laundry room.  It is scary hearing the howl of the wind.  It sounds like a jet roaring.

Sunday, September 10, 2017
  • 9:10 p.m. -Cellphone service is out. The radar looks intimidating right now. 
  • 9:00 p.m. -114 mph wind just recorded in our county.  Rain looks like a pressure washer. 
  • 8:40 p.m.  -Radio says 100 mph winds getting close. Our cellphone service is going on and off. 
  • 8:20 p.m.  -Sheriff's Office just texted that the leading edge of the eye-wall is entering the southern part of our county. So it's almost time for the worst part.  Pray for an uneventful passing. Oh, and our power is still on!
  • 7:50 p.m. -Wind gust of 81 mph just reported in Sebring. 
  • 7:30 p.m. -If this is only 70 mph gusts I don't want to experience anything more!
  • 6:30 p.m. -Winds are extremely strong. The sound is unnerving.  We have limbs down, neighbors mailbox blown out of the ground, lots and lots of rain.  Power still on, but out all around us.  Thankful that the storm is weakening.  
  • 5:00 p.m. -Hurricane Force winds have arrived in our county.  The eye is still 120 miles from us and we will be on the strongest side of the storm.  We still have power! 
  • 3:00 p.m. -Thanks for praying we are still doing great. We are having very minimal effects so far.  We still have power!  
  • 11:30 a.m. -Perhaps the "calm before the storm" is deceiving us.  it's raining pretty hard here, its breezy, and reports are coming in of tornadoes and some roads flooded.  Yet, it seems pretty minor here so far. We pray for those along the coast.  They now say our peak winds will be tonight about 10:00 p.m.
  • 9:15 a.m. -Local news reporting a tornado 25 miles to our west.   Our girls are hearing from friends nearby that they have lost power.  It's too early for that!  We'd usually be about ready to start Sunday school now.  We sure will miss our church friends today!
  • 8:45 a.m. -Now we have hard rain and its blowing sideways.  Hard to believe the storm is so far away.  Eating a hot breakfast while we still can!  
  • 7:45 a.m.  -We are in good shape at our house.  It's raining hard now.  Local police report water flooding some streets but not in our neighborhood.  We slept well!
  • 5:15 a.m. -Its been raining all night but the heavier rains have started. It's raining hard enough now to wake us up.  The storm continues to take a more western track so we may miss the worst of the winds.  
  • 12:15 a.m. -We are currently under a tornado watch.  It is raining and the heavier rain bands seem to be getting close.  The wind has picked up a bit.  We're headed to bed now.  We probably better sleep while we can!  Thanks for your prayers!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

  • 9:45 p.m. -If the forecast is correct we could see tropical storm force winds for more than 24 hours.  They continue to send out text messages urging folks here in Highlands county to head to shelters if they do not have secure homes. 
  • 7:30 p.m.  -It is surprisingly breezy already.  We just watched a video online of white caps and crashing waves on Lake Jackson already and the winds haven't even picked up.  More ice made, laundry is also all done.  
  • 5:00 p.m.  -We just got word that students of our online Spanish Masters program begin their first day of classes in their newly founded Bible seminary today in the Dominican Republic.  We are so thrilled to see this next phase of missions taking place.  Now the nationals are qualified and excited about training their own people!  What a blessing that they were spared the destruction of this hurricane at this important time.  Some good news for us during the storm.
  • 4:15 p.m.  -We just heard that some local evacuation shelters are full and secondary locations are being opened.  It is good to hear that people in vulnerable houses and low lying areas are heeding warnings.  Elizabeth is taking advantage of the winds to do her afternoon running before the rains start.  
  • 4:00 p.m.  -We have now filled our huge rolling recycle bin with water for emergency use.  We've placed sand bags around a side door that is a little lower than the rest.  We have also added extra bracing to our garage door just in case.  Everything we own that is rechargeable is now full charged and ready to go.  Water bottles are frozen to keep perishables cold.  Those photos they suggest taking for insurance are all taken.  
  • 3:00 p.m.  -We ventured out of our house for the last time.  We needed to stop at an ATM to have some cash on hand for after the storm.  Now almost everything is closed.  Many homes and businesses are boarded up and secured.  All of the billboards in town have been taken down as well as many store signs.  The clouds have rolled in and the breeze is now constant and steady.  

Hurricane Irma Update

Please visit the Current Newsletter link above to read the update regarding our preparations for Hurricane Irma.  We would appreciate your prayers at this time!  We will update everyone as much as possible in the coming days.

You can also visit our ministry Facebook page for updates:  On the GO with the POES