December 26, 2014

December Newsletter

 Christmas greetings,

“Christmas is not a time for shopping.  It is a time for being thankful, sharing, and giving to others.”  These words came that out of the mouth of our 5 year old (who is wise beyond his years) continue to resonate over and over.  Rather than getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we are reminded to stop and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of all times…His son.  We also want to express what a great joy and privilege it is share the love of Jesus Christ with others and share with all of you the wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon us and the ministry in Belize.  The giving of time and resources that we have witnessed taking place this past year is beyond words.  What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our Lord…basking in His love!

One of our primary focuses this year has been on teaching and training the pastors and leaders of the churches who are part of GEM.  Randy has been spending a significant amount of one on one time with the different pastors mentoring them in their walk with God and their service as a pastor.  In addition to the individual time, we had another amazing weekend conference in October with an even greater number in attendance than we had at the July conference.  There was literally no vacant bed in our dorms and the team assisting had to stay off campus.  What a dramatic change from the complacency often experienced stateside to see the almost desperate hunger for more and more of God’s Word!  What an exciting weekend of fellowship and spiritual feasting.  Special thanks to First Baptist Albertville, AL for sponsoring this event and making it all possible. 

We have hosted many, many wonderful teams over the past 7 years and 18 teams in 2014 alone.  However, not much has been said about one man’s burden and dream for the people in one particular village in Belize.  GEM has a church and a preschool in the village of More Tomorrow.  Although we have been able to bring villagers to the saving knowledge of the Living Water, we have not been able to provide water to sustain life on this earth…until now.  An engineering student from the University of Arkansas visited Belize with a team of fellow engineering students.  This group took water samples and found that the water people were drinking in More Tomorrow was literally poisoning them.  With no clean drinking water, the villagers relied on rain water collected in buckets or water drawn from the river.  Though this student soon graduated, he had a vision that went beyond just “testing the waters” both literally and figuratively.  He continued to press forward, developed plans, and raised the funds necessary to provide clean drinking water to this village.  As a result, a water well was drilled and a tower with a 2500 gallon tank was constructed and erected onsite in October. Thank you Father for giving this man the vision and providing the means to accomplish the goal!

All in all, 2014 has been our greatest year yet regarding the number of people we have seen give their lives to Christ.  Randy has baptized approximately 50 people recently with at least that many more still waiting to be baptized.  September begins the rainy season in Belize and the rivers became so swollen that we had to suspend baptisms until the waters recede to a safe level.  What an issue with which to be faced…look out crocs, here we come!

We are also thrilled about a weekend training workshop hosted by a team from Alabama for all of our preschool teachers.  The teachers received great instruction and materials to use to carry out the new ideas and techniques they were taught.  Not only were our teachers equipped with knowledge, they were provided with many much needed tools of the trade.

The Gaither family is also excited to be back together for this Christmas season as Randy, Sheila, and Micah are currently stateside.  As a matter of fact, we are trying to stay very close together in order to deal with these chilly temperatures.  To go from 91° to 19° in 48 hours is a bit of a shock to bodies which have developed very thin blood after living in Belize.  As previously mentioned, Micah is trying very hard to keep us all in line and we are desperately attempting to stay off the “naughty list” while Brandon is trying to survive another semester of finals.  All joking aside, we are so very thankful for all of God’s blessings and for such a wonderful year.  We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Merry Christmas!
from Randy, Sheila, and Micah

Tax deductible contributions may be made to GEM at PO Box 348, Bismarck, AR 71929

September 10, 2014

September Newsletter

Greetings from Belize,

It has been a wonderfully, busy, exciting summer! 

Since the last newsletter, we have distributed food, clothing, toiletry items and school supplies throughout five different villages and to each of our pastors.  We have held five revivals, one pastors/leadership training, four VBS sessions, door to door evangelism, numerous Bible studies, and two preschool graduations.  We have also painted two church buildings in addition to five ongoing church facility constructions, one water tower construction project, and various maintenance on buildings, buses, and equipment.  In addition we hosted nine different groups from high school students to senior adults that assisted with some of these activities.  One group was a medical team that did a great job ministering to the physical needs as well as spiritual needs while treating 790 patients in five different villages.  But most importantly we have been keeping the river waters stirred up with baptisms as people are being saved throughout the churches.  Check out the Gaither Evangelistic Ministries facebook page for more details and pictures of these activities.

As summer kicked off, the end of June also meant the close of another school year here in Belize.  Two of the students sponsored through GEM graduated from high school and at least one is now enrolled in college.  Graduation ceremonies were held at both of our preschools on June 27th.  There were five graduates from the preschool in More Tomorrow and 29 graduates in Valley of Peace.  We want to express our gratitude to all of the churches and individuals who lovingly donated funds to keep our preschools operational.  The two preschools are completely free of charge to the students and parents.  For the 2014-2015 school term, we are asking for sponsors to assist with the costs to enable us to continue to provide a free preschool education in the villages.  Our purpose is to use a Christian-based curriculum to teach school readiness skills and English as a second language to enable the students to be successful once they reach primary school.  The cost per student is $250.00 for the entire school year.  If you would like to sponsor a preschool student, please send your check payable to GEM to PO Box 348, Bismarck, AR  71929 and mark “preschool sponsorship” on the memo line. 

One of the highlights of our summer was the pastor’s conference that was held in July.  The conference was open to all of the GEM pastors and leaders.  Through funding provided by Zion Baptist Church in Fordyce, AR, we were able to bring all of the attendees to the northern campus and house them overnight for a weekend of worship, Bible training, and preaching.  We were also able to provide each pastor with a Bible in his native language whether Kekchi or Spanish.  Though our facilities may not be five star compared to US standards, it was somewhat of a resort get away for many of those attending who live in remote villages that often do not have electricity and running water.  There were over 50 people in attendance excluding the team members who were on hand to teach, preach, and serve.  The pastors and leaders returned to their home villages with a fresh excitement and love for Jesus.
There was a small interruption in our busy summer schedule with the fall of a very large tree limb (the size of a tree itself) onto our shop building.  Fortunately no one was hurt, not even the Dodge that was sitting under the shed, and the heartless tree (both literally and figuratively) has since been removed.  However, the building itself was destroyed.  Now we are in desperate need of a construction crew with project funds to rebuild our shop building.  Please contact us if you are interested. 

As far as Gaither family news, the four of us enjoyed a summer of serving together as Brandon was able to join us again in Belize during his summer break from college.  It was wonderful being back together  here in Belize…especially since Brandon kept the yard mowed and all the grounds cleaned up…ha.  Micah was a little concerned that “Bam Bam” was trying to infringe upon his self-assigned title of “team leader”, but they worked out the pecking order and duties (as assigned by Micah).  The summer activities have come to a halt now.  Brandon is back in the states attending college and Sheila and Micah have started home school.  We aren’t quite sure who is teaching whom, but word has it that Sheila is learning quickly.  Randy tries to stay as far away from the home school classroom as possible as well as staying away from the crocs with all the baptisms he has been conducting.  Wow, how blessed we are!
Randy, Sheila, and Micah

April 2, 2014

April Newsletter

Greetings from Belize,

Wow, what a fantastic start to 2014!  God continues to demonstrate His love and pour out his blessings.  This is evidenced by so many people being saved and the growing excitement among the congregations within GEM.

Although we operate two preschools, sponsor students financially who desire to attend school, provide medical care through volunteer teams, and distribute food and clothing to people in need, the primary calling of GEM is church planting and discipleship.  We are seeing tremendous growth among the various congregations.  Congregations are outgrowing the homes or temporary structures where they are meeting with a hunger for the Word of God.  Our biggest obstacle right now seems to be trying to keep up with the activities and the needs of churches that are a part of GEM…but what a wonderful problem to have!

One village in particular where we have seen a lot of growth and excitement is in Otoxha.  That church began with a handful of Christians and one man called to preach.  The congregation was meeting in a small building that had literally begun to fall apart.  We hosted teams of youth and college students from Fellowship church in Rogers, AR that initially went to Otoxha to conduct sports camps and VBS activities.  Those team members established a bond with the people in Otoxha and went back home wanting to do more.  As a result, they began to raise the funds to build a new church building.  A construction team from Darden, TN saw what was going on and wanted to help as well.  We are excited to report that a team from Rogers, AR and a team from Darden, TN completed the roof on the church building in January and a second team from Rogers, AR installed the doors and windows and painted the church in March.  The congregation now averages 45 in attendance and they are thrilled to have a beautiful building to come together to worship and learn about the Word of God.
Braving the mud & jungle to reach a village

So far this year we have also hosted three medical teams.  Two of the teams were based out of Corinth Baptist Church in Darden, TN and scheduled back to back with some team members staying for both teams.  The third team was from Bethel University in McKenzie, TN.  These teams each visited 5 to 6 villages per week and treated a total of 2158 patients.  In addition to providing medical care, they distributed food, Bibles, and showed the Jesus film in the native language of the villagers. As you can see from the pictures, there are no roads to some of the villages and the teams had to hike 2 ½ hours through the muddy jungle carrying their supplies.  How wonderful to have Christians meeting the physical needs of others while also sharing
Come on guys...just a little farther
the love of Jesus and the message of His salvation. 

With all this mention of various teams ministering in villages throughout Belize, we would like to mention a special word of thanks to the Corinth mechanical team.  We would literally be grounded without these guys who came down in January to get all of our vehicles up and running again.  Most of our vehicles are older and the roads in Belize are very rough which requires a lot of TLC and maintenance to keep them running safely.  These guys are the “unsung heroes” that make it all possible. 
Our newly painted bus. Thanks mechanical team!

With the hot, dry season apparently coming early this year we are even more grateful for the carport built by a team from Living Hope Church in Eldon, IA.  This team blesses us each year by coming down to take care of various maintenance and repair issues.  In addition to repairs, last year this team began construction on a roof to cover our storage trailer.  They completed the carport this year which has made a huge difference in us being able to keep equipment and supplies cooler and as a result makes them last much longer.

The Gaither family is doing all we can to keep up with everything.  We have had to make huge adjustments to being in Belize without Brandon while he attends college stateside.  With the onset of our “team season” we have really missed having him to help with teams, projects, and basic day to day activities.  Besides, Randy and Sheila find themselves drawing straws over who has to take out the trash and put away the dishes!  Micah has enjoyed the beautiful warm weather swimming in his pool or playing in the sprinkler while everyone in the states was covered in layers of ice and snow (ever think of moving to Belize?).  On another note, some of you know that Randy’s mother has had a significant decline in her health.  We would like to express our appreciation for all of the prayers for Randy and his family during this tough time.  We feel truly blessed to have so many people lifting us up in prayer each day.  Thank you for loving us and continuing to pray for us.

There are so many other wonderful things to share about other teams and congregations, but space on the paper will not allow us to do so all in one newsletter.  So…to be continued!

Randy, Sheila, and Micah

December Newsletter

Christmas greetings,

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11).  This is undoubtedly the most wonderful and amazing message ever heralded of all time.  After hearing this great news, the Magi began the tradition of giving gifts in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and as children we looked forward to the gifts we found in our stockings on Christmas morning.  As we grow and mature we realize that the greatest gifts are not those that can be contained within a stocking, but those that are from our Heavenly Father and cannot be contained on this earth.

With the Christmas season upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on this past year and all the wonderful gifts from God regarding the ministry in Belize.  Since the beginning of 2013, the number of GEM churches has increased to 18 in Belize and 2 in Guatemala.  Not only has God increased the number of churches, but He continues to open the doors to many other villages hungry for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
We were privileged to host 13 teams this year that helped us with several construction projects, evangelism, discipleship, food distribution, pastor’s training, and medical services. Construction on three church buildings has continued with two of those three nearing completion.  A well was dug in the village of More Tomorrow to provide clean drinking water as that project is still ongoing.  Over 2,803 people were seen by volunteer medical teams working through GEM.  Also, 30 students were sponsored to attend primary school and high school, and a total of 34 students graduated from the two preschools located in Valley of Peace and More Tomorrow with 42 currently enrolled.  Most importantly, we have seen over 100 people saved and follow the Lord in baptism.
The Gaither family is also greatly blessed and enjoying this Christmas season.  As tradition would have it, we have made out our Christmas lists and are looking forward to what we might find in our stockings that special morning.  Just to give you a glimpse, Randy is wishing for his 30-year-old body again while Sheila is still hoping for that never-ending buffet that includes lots of chocolate with almonds (hold the rice and beans).  Brandon is looking for 6 credits in chemistry to miraculously appear on his college transcript without having to take the courses (A’s in both please), and to quote Micah he would like “every toy they show on TV commercials and have in Walmart!” 

But in all seriousness, we are honored that God allows us to be used by Him in His great plan to expand His Kingdom.  It has truly been an amazing year!  This Christmas season, and for the years to come, may each of you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope, and the peace of His love.

Merry Christmas!
from Randy, Sheila, Brandon, and Micah