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