Pics of Life and Ministry in Ecuador

It has been too long without a blog update.  I hope to be able to start writing regularly again, both as to what the Lord is revealing to me as I pursue to know Him more and more as well as sharing about our life and ministry here in Ecuador.  For now, here are several pictures of our life and ministry here in Ecuador.  God bless you.

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Gabriela found a friend in Calacalí.

Gabriela found a friend in Calacalí.

View from the training center in Tambo, Ecuador

View from the training center in Tambo, Ecuador

Pastor's Training Center in Tambo, Ecuador

Pastor’s Training Center in Tambo, Ecuador

Teaching pastors Biblical Counseling for the week

Teaching pastors Biblical Counseling for the week

First time ever translating the teaching!

First time ever translating the teaching!

Quichua woman herding her sheep...and sporting a pair of nikes!

Quichua woman herding her sheep…and sporting a pair of nikes!

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Me with Pastor Felix and his daughter.  Felix is our contact pastor for the training center in Tambo

Me with Pastor Felix and his daughter. Felix is our contact pastor for the training center in Tambo

Women team members share smiles with Quichua school children

Women team members share smiles with Quichua school children

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Me with IMB missionary Al Rodriguez who has been faithfully serving in Cuenca for many years

Me with IMB missionary Al Rodriguez who has been faithfully serving in Cuenca for many years

Some of the pastors and leaders share a group photo after a long and busy week of learning

Some of the pastors and leaders share a group photo after a long and busy week of learning

On the entrance to the city of Guayaquil.  Very colorful houses.

On the entrance to the city of Guayaquil. Very colorful houses.

Parque de las Iguanas...I wonder why they call it that.

Parque de las Iguanas…I wonder why they call it that.

"Don't mess with me man...I've been here a lot longer than you!"

“Don’t mess with me man…I’ve been here a lot longer than you!”

Our fearless leader, Dr David Sills, teaching about missions to Ecuadorian pastors in Guayaquil.  After this weekend, they all signed a commitment to start a pastor's training center there within the next several years.

Our fearless leader, Dr David Sills, teaching about missions to Ecuadorian pastors in Guayaquil. After this weekend, they all signed a commitment to start a pastor’s training center there within the next several years.

Beautiful view on my 9 hour return trip from the south through the mountains.

Beautiful view on my 9 hour return trip from the south through the mountains.

Beautiful!!!

Beautiful!!!

The whole earth is filled with His glory!

The whole earth is filled with His glory!

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High above the clouds

High above the clouds

13,000 feet in the Andes

13,000 feet in the Andes

Snow capped peaks

Snow capped peaks

Snow capped Cotopaxi with a ring of clouds around the base.

Snow capped Cotopaxi with a ring of clouds around the base.

Jake enjoying the park!

Jake enjoying the park!

Isabela getting ready for takeoff at the new Parque Bicentenario which is the runway areas of the old airport.

Isabela getting ready for takeoff at the new Parque Bicentenario which is the runway areas of the old airport.

Fun with Daddy!

Fun with Daddy!

Welcoming the pastors to our first training week in Santo Domingo and sharing with them why we do what we do.

Welcoming the pastors to our first training week in Santo Domingo and sharing with them why we do what we do.

Teaching the pastors the method of Inductive Bible Study and the importance of studying the Word in its context.

Teaching the pastors the method of Inductive Bible Study and the importance of studying the Word in its context.

Pastor Luke Akins from our partner church in NC teaching Bible Theology of the Old Testament.

Pastor Luke Akins from our partner church in NC teaching Bible Theology of the Old Testament.

The pastors signing a commitment to be part of the three year training program

The pastors signing a commitment to be part of the three year training program

Teaching the importance of exegetical study and expositional preaching

Teaching the importance of exegetical study and expositional preaching

Preaching on Jeremiah 29 about how to distinguish between a true prophet and a false one.

Preaching on Jeremiah 29 about how to distinguish between a true prophet and a false one.

Pastor Luke Akins and Simon Capell from Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh, NC investing their week in training and equipping leaders.

Pastor Luke Akins and Simon Capell from Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh, NC investing their week in training and equipping leaders.

Spanish, English, and the language of the Tsachila. One day, ALL languages will be represented around the throne as we worship our God and King!

Spanish, English, and the language of the Tsachila. One day, ALL languages will be represented around the throne as we worship our God and King!

The team with Eduardo, who is the principal and Director of the school.  He invited us there to share a word with the students.  I gave them the Gospel message.  We have been given an open door there to continue to minister to the students.

The team with Eduardo, who is the principal and Director of the school. He invited us there to share a word with the students. I gave them the Gospel message. We have been given an open door there to continue to minister to the students.

A group of school kids in Santo Domingo excited to see a group of gringos in their school.

A group of school kids in Santo Domingo excited to see a group of gringos in their school.

A woman from the indigenous tribe called the Tsachila explains the many uses of their local plants and flowers, one being used to paint their faces and bodies.

A woman from the indigenous tribe called the Tsachila explains the many uses of their local plants and flowers, one being used to paint their faces and bodies.

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Pastors giving thanks to the church who purchased them these fantastic Holman Study Bibles.

Pastors giving thanks to the church who purchased them these fantastic Holman Study Bibles.

All the pastors and leaders who were part of the weekly training.  On the average there were about 20 each night.

All the pastors and leaders who were part of the weekly training. On the average there were about 20 each night.

My new Pastor friend who ministers specifically to the indigenous Tsachila community.  He has invited me to come and preach at his church.  What an opportunity to bring the message of salvation to this indigenous tribe.

My new Pastor friend who ministers specifically to the indigenous Tsachila community. He has invited me to come and preach at his church. What an opportunity to bring the message of salvation to this indigenous tribe.

My new pastor friend, Jorge Rodriguez, who is our contact pastor for the training center in Santo Domingo.  He is only 28 years old and is doing fantastic things to raise up Ecuadorian disciples of Christ.

My new pastor friend, Jorge Rodriguez, who is our contact pastor for the training center in Santo Domingo. He is only 28 years old and is doing fantastic things to raise up Ecuadorian disciples of Christ.

Maria finding some great deals at the huge Saturday market in our neighborhood.

Maria finding some great deals at the huge Saturday market in our neighborhood.

My beautiful bride!

My beautiful bride!

My beautiful Isabela who is growing up into such a sweet young girl.

My beautiful Isabela who is growing up into such a sweet young girl.

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Market day in our neighborhood.

Market day in our neighborhood.

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Update on Vehicle Fund for Ecuador

Hey everybody,

We have just received word from a donor in Texas who is willing to match any donations that come in up to the amount of $2,000. So, if you were thinking about giving a donation to help us purchase a vehicle for the ministry when we get to Ecuador, now would be the time to do so.

We are so thankful for the Lord’s provision through the body of Christ.  We have already received some donations and are thankful for this new opportunity that our friend in Texas has offered.  We give God the glory for all that He is doing among us.  We are praying that the Lord provides us the finances to buy a 4wheel drive SUV that will enable us to get into the rural mountainous areas of northern Ecuador to train and equip pastors and leaders so that they can be most effective in reaching their people for the glory of God.

To make a donation, go to www.rtim.org or  CLICK HERE  Please make sure that you select “Cody and Maria Whittaker” from the drop down menu when designating  your gift.

Thank you so much!

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Would you please pray about helping with this?

Hey all. We hope and pray that you are all doing well.  We are doing great, although very busy with packing and selling all our belongings as we get ready to move to Ecuador in September to continue the mission work that God has called us to do.

We are super excited about this opportunity to train and equip pastors so that they are better able to rightly divide the Word of Truth and therefore be more effective in evangelizing the lost and making disciples.  We are both thrilled and humbled to play a role in God’s kingdom work.

Well, friends, as we get ready to transition to Ecuador to begin these new Gospel labors, we find ourselves with a great need that we cannot meet on our own. And it is to you whom we present this need and ask for help.

We need a vehicle in Ecuador.  Even though we sold our vehicle here in Nicaragua and will put all that money towards buying a vehicle in Ecuador, the truth is that vehicles in Ecuador cost about double than what they cost here in Nicaragua. And vehicles here in Nicaragua already cost about double than what they cost in the U.S.

So, we are needing to raise $10,000 by September 1st.  This money, put together with the same amount of money from the sale of our vehicle, will simply enable us to buy something like a 2004-5 Four wheel drive SUV, which is what we will need for the ministry as we will be traveling in some very rural and rough terrain areas throughout northern Ecuador as we provide training to pastors and leaders

Would you please pray about making a special donation to our ministry right now so that we can meet this goal and be able to purchase a vehicle when we get to Ecuador?  It may seem like a lot of money, but if everybody puts in what God has laid on their heart, then I believe that we will have what we need.  To some, that might mean giving $50 or $100. To others, it might mean giving much more.  We just ask that you pray and give to the glory of God.

I wish it was as easy for me to just put in some overtime at the office for the next several months, or take on a side consulting job, or anything like that in order to get extra money.  But as missionaries, we do not have that option.  Through our supporters, we receive just about what we need each month for basic daily living.  So, when a greater need comes up like this, the only thing that we can do to get what is needed is simply to ask God and then to present our need to the body of Christ.  And this is what we humbly do, trusting that our Father in Heaven, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, will provide what is needed so that His work may be accomplished throughout the world.  The great thing is that we as the body of Christ are often the instrument He chooses to use to meet those needs and thus accomplish His work.

Many of you have been supporting our mission work for years now. We are so thankful to have such a great support team.  I know I sound like a broken record when I say over and over again that we could not do what we are doing without you all doing what you are doing.  Together, we are fulfilling the great commission for the glory of God.

So, dear friends, we humbly ask that you would consider making a special donation so that this need can be met.  We thank you so much for your willingness to do all that you can do for the sake of God’s name being proclaimed among the nations.  You are a blessing to us.

Give on-line:  www.rtim.org  Click on “missionary”, scroll to our name, click on “donate” and then make sure our name is selected when designating the gift. You can add on a note that it is a special gift towards vehicle purchase.

or you can just click here to go right to the giving page.  Again, make sure our name is selected from the drop down box.

Give by mail:  Make check payable to Reaching and Teaching International.  Write “Cody and Maria – Vehicle” on memo. Mail to:

Reaching and Teaching International

PO Box 122

Wheaton, IL 60187

Thank you again for your support. You guys are awesome!

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Exciting Ministry News!!!

Hello everybody,

We hope you are having a great day! Because we are. We have awesome news to share with you: WE ARE MOVING TO ECUADOR!!!!

About a month ago we asked you to be in prayer for us as we were praying through some decisions regarding our ministry. Thanks so much for all your prayers. We have been in prayer ourselves for over a month and we know that God has answered and is answering!

We are super excited to share with you that we have accepted an offer through our mission agency, Reaching and Teaching International, to move to Ecuador to start a pastoral training program for many of the churches in the northern part of the country.  We are very excited about this opportunity and believe that this is the will of the Lord for our lives.

We are thankful for how God used us here in Nicaragua. Whether it was through helping train the leadership team of an existing church or working one on one with those who felt called to be pastors, our time here was spent investing in the lives of people and training them up in the Word of God so that they can be more effective in reaching their own people for the glory of God. But now our time here is coming to a close.

A few months ago, we began having conversations with the director of our mission agency pertaining to the overall strategy of the mission and the vision that God was casting for us.  He shared with us something that reminds me of the Macedonian call that the apostle Paul received when he was on his own missionary journey.  Our director shared with us that almost daily he receives emails from pastors and leaders in the northern part of Ecuador begging him to send them missionaries that can help train them up better in the knowledge of the Word of God so that they can effectively reach their people with the Gospel.

During the time that we were seeking the Lord for further ministry direction, our director asked us if we would consider forming a small team with a few other missionaries with Reaching and Teaching International and starting up a training base in the northern part of Ecuador.  And after taking much time to pray and seek the Lord, we gladly accepted.  We will be moving to the Quito area in September.

Here are some of the exciting things about this opportunity:

  • We will be part of a team.  This is the first time in all of our missionary ventures where we will be part of a team with other missionaries from our same organization.  We have prayed for a team for years, and now God has answered.

 

  • There is already the Macedonian call.  Pastors there are eagerly awaiting our arrival and are excited to be taught and mentored.  So, we will have existing connections.  There will be much work to do.

 

  • We will be an integral part of the mission strategy of our organization which includes hosting mission teams, planing, and developing the mission further.

 

  • We will have an opportunity to be involved in orphan ministry again or minister to at-risk kids and youth, which is something that we always have had a heart to do.

 

  • There are unreached people groups that still exist in the highlands of the Andes as well as various tribes that live in the jungle, so it will be such a joy to begin making effort to reach these people with the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

We are super excited because the vision of Reaching and Teaching is really expanding in Ecuador and now there will be a team ministering in the north just as there has been a strong team ministering in the south that began a few years ago.  We are very excited to be part of such a fantastic mission organization and we simply want to use our gifts so that Christ’s church can be strengthened and so that we might reach people for the glory of His name.

We ask you to please pray for us for this upcoming move.  There are many logistics for an international move. Please pray for the whole process of packing, selling, getting visas, finding a home, finding a vehicle, making new connections, etc.  Please also pray that our remaining time here will be well spent for the purposes of God.

We will be coming to the states from June 2nd to July 10th in order to share more about our new upcoming ministry and plans.  We would love to share more with you when we see you in person.

To learn more about the ministry of Reaching and Teaching International in Ecuador and what we are going to be a part of, watch this video:  http://vimeo.com/81443564

Thank you so much for praying for us.  Thank you for being part of our support team.  Please know that we don’t take that lightly. You are investing your  resources so that the Gospel of Jesus may effectively reach the nations. That is our desire and what we aim to do wherever we are.  We are so excited to partner with you in bringing the Gospel to Ecuador.

May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His sufferings.

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Why is it Good Friday?

If there was ever a day in all of history to be called “good”, Good Friday is such a day for mankind.  This is the day in which Jesus, the lamb of God, was slain for the sins of the world.  This was the day in which the holy wrath of God against sin was poured out on the Son of God who was dying in our place.

You see, it was us, me and you, and every single person in the world who should have been the ones receiving the wrath of God.  We are the ones who have turned our back on our creator and have lived for ourselves instead of seeking to live for Him.  He is not just a loving God, but He is first of all holy. As a matter of fact, the attribute of His holiness is far more expressed throughout Scripture than His love.  The only time in Scripture where an attribute is ascribed to Him in a repeated form is when it mentions His holiness.  Isaiah cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord…”  The angels and saints of God in the book of Revelation continuously cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty…”  So, God’s holiness is reflected in everything that God is and everything that God does.  That is why when He made us, He commanded us to be holy so that we might walk before Him.

But man fell.  Man fell to the temptation in the garden of Eden through the wiles of the serpent to the same temptations that man falls to today…autonomy and the quest for power and control.  Man turned his back on His creator and chose to follow his own desires.  Yes, I am talking about Adam and Eve, which as a result, the Scriptures teach that we are all condemned because of their sin. It’s called Federal Headship…Adam was our representative for all mankind. He represented the whole human race.  When he fell, we all fell.  So many people hate to hear such a thing. The fact that we could be blamed for the sin of somebody who lived thousands of years ago seem absurd to them.  But that is what Scripture teaches us.  But the truth is, my friends, we don’t need Adam’s sin to place us guilty before God.  We have all sinned and turned our back on the God who loved us and created us for His good pleasure.  We have spurned His goodness and decided that we could do better on our own.  So, whether you want to attribute your sin to Adam or not…the fact is that we are all guilty of turning away from the living God to live instead for our own selfish purposes.  Should we be surprised that God’s wrath should burn hot against us?  He gave us everything we have…everything we are…our very existence is owed entirely to the sovereign God of the universe.  And He commanded that we obey Him, yet we decided instead to obey our own carnal desires.  Yes, God has every right to pour out His wrath on such sin.  We fully deserve it for all the ways in which we have rejected God and sought to live life apart from His prescribed way that was given to us.

But back to Good Friday.  We see that we as the created fully deserve the wrath of the creator because of the way that we have repeatedly turned our backs to Him and rejected His prescribed way of holiness.  And a God who is both perfectly holy and perfectly just must punish such a grave act of disobedience.  But now we must understand also that as well as being perfectly holy and perfectly just, He is also a God of incredible mercy, grace, and love.  He loved us so much. His desire has always been to have on-going fellowship with Him forever.  He created man and woman simply to enjoy their fellowship for His glory.  And so, in perfect justice and perfect mercy, He provides the way for sin to be punished and a way for His children to be forgiven and brought back into perfect fellowship with Him.

The cross.  It is not just an icon of antiquity.  It is not just a religious symbol.  It is not just a fine piece of jewelry.  It is the place where justice and mercy came together in the most glorious way ever known.  It is the place where Jesus took our place so that we could be pardoned from our gross offenses.  God had to punish sin otherwise He could not be considered holy and just.  But God loved us so much that He did not want us to be lost forever in hell, forever separated from His love and goodness.  And so, in the greatest act of love, God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus was sent to earth for one purpose…not to be a great religious man…not to be one of the world’s greatest philosophers…not to be a good moral teacher. No, He came to reconcile fallen man back to right relationship with God.  And the only way in which this would be possible would be to first fulfill completely the holy law of God, satisfying the requirement of holiness and obedience, and then also to suffer Himself for the penalty of not following God’s perfect law of holiness and obedience…the penalty that we ourselves deserved, not Jesus who fulfilled all righteousness.  But He suffered in our place.

The cross was the place of the great exchange. Jesus took our death penalty upon Himself.  Our sin deserved God’s holy wrath and fury…a wrath and fury that will one day send the unrepentant sinner to hell forever separated from all that is good and light.  That is what we deserve for turning away from the living God. But instead of us getting that punishment, Jesus took our place. All the righteousness that was in Jesus from perfectly obeying and fulfilling the law was given to us while all our sin and rebellious acts against God were placed on Him when He hung on the cross.  He was our substitute.  He gave us His life while taking our death.  O what love we have in Christ our Savior!

Now, the sinner can be set free from the condemnation that he was under.  Now, fallen man can be reconciled back to God.  Now, the redeemed person has been credited with the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ and has had his filthy garments of sin and rebellion forever taken away.  When God looks at the redeemed, He sees them as being perfectly complete in the righteousness of Christ, and He is well pleased to look upon them and dwell with them forever.

Remember the concept of Federal Headship?  Many people don’t want to buy into the fact that Adam’s sin was credited to our own account even though we had nothing to do with it.  I can understand that.  But the Bible says that that’s the way it is.  All those who were under Adam, being the whole human race, inherited what Adam inherited…condemnation and death.  But now, in Christ, the concept of Federal Headship shines gloriously.  For all those who are under the headship of Jesus also inherit what Jesus inherited on our behalf…forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life.  This is given to all of those who are in Christ…all God has called to Himself.  He has redeemed them…bought them back from the penalty of death that they were once under.  The punishment against their sin has already been paid in full when Jesus died on the cross. His last words were “It is finished”. This signified that the penalty of God’s wrath was forever satisfied.  All those whom Jesus died for have been forever free from God’s wrath. The believer will never experience God’s wrath against their sin because Jesus already bore the fulness of that wrath when He hung and died on the cross.  It is indeed Good Friday for all those who have their hope in Christ.  Redemption has been accomplished.  Justice has been served.  Mercy has been given!  Thank you Jesus!

My final word is a plea to all who will read this who have not completely yielded their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ…those who, Scripture says, are still dead in their sins.  Remember, God’s wrath was fully satisfied for the believer only…not for the whole world.  If His wrath was already satisfied for the whole world, then nobody would ever have to fear the penalty of hell for rejecting God.  But the truth is that hell is real and it is a place where all those who reject God will go. Why?  Because God’s wrath against sin must be punished.  Christ’s death, the shedding of His precious blood, will cover every single microfiber of the believer’s sin. The believer will never experience one iota of the wrath of God. The believer stands secure forever that he is at peace with God and will dwell with Him for eternity. But the one who rejects this offer, which is simply an offer of grace because nobody can earn it or deserves it, has only a fearful expectation of a future judgment…a judgment in which they will have to give an account to God for the way that they have rejected His offer of mercy…a judgment that will show clearly that their own sin and rebellion has rightly condemned them forever.  It would be no different for the believer were it not for the righteousness that he will be clothed with…a righteousness that comes not from themselves or anything they have done, but rather that comes from Christ Himself, and was purchased for them by His precious blood.  The believer will stand secure on that final day, having the judgment of his sins already atoned for by what Christ has done. The non-believer will have to still pay for his sins…and that payment will be the full wrath of God set against him as he is forever separated from His love and goodness.  To you who read this who have not yet trusted in Christ…your sin has not been covered!  You cannot save yourself by anything that you do…You are not nor ever will be righteous enough on your own…What will you do on the day that you stand before God and give account?  I plead with you today, this very day that we call “Good Friday”, surrender your life to Jesus.  Plead to God that He would open your eyes so that you would see your great need of Him, and that you would truly see that His blood is the only sufficient means of being forgiven and accepted by God.  Turn your hearts to Him today.  Turn away from living for yourself and turn at once to the living God.  He is worthy to receive all glory, honor, and praise.  With His blood, He has rescued sinners from every nation, tribe, and tongue to be gathered to Him for eternity forever living in His glorious presence.  Do not wait, my friend.  Today is the day of salvation.  Will it indeed be for you a Good Friday?

(To all who read this and are part of the fellowship of Christ, please feel free to pass this on to any whom you know that need to hear the message of salvation in Christ.  God bless you.

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Reaching Panama with the Gospel

I just returned from a nine day trip to Panama where myself and two others spent a week teaching, training, and equipping pastors and leaders from Panama to be more effective in their ministry to their own people.  The week was exhausting and rewarding at the same time.  It was exhausting because we were teaching twice a day for about four hours in two different locations. So, we taught from 8AM – 12PM in a rural town called Capira.  Then we would get back to the house for lunch at about 2:00PM.  We would be able to rest for a little while, and then we would get picked up at 5:30 to teach at the church in Panama City from 6:00PM – 9PM, and sometimes beyond.  In total, we each taught about 15 hours.  My part was all the more challenging because I did all my teaching in Spanish!  That really put my language skills to the test.  But it was so rewarding to see pastors, leaders, and church members receive knowledge, encouragement, challenge, and excitement as they put themselves to learn all throughout the week.

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Our session for the week was on Church History.  We also did one hour per day of teaching on the spiritual discipline of Scripture Meditation.  I led three of these sessions and I put together a mini-training on the Inductive Bible Study method.  It was great to see them receive a solid tool that will help them learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth.  Many were really excited as they learned this practical method of studying and understanding the Bible.  The last session was a practice workshop for them to put into practice what I had taught them in the previous sessions. So, I assigned each small group a passage of Scripture and had them put into practice all that they had learned.

One woman was so excited as she was sharing about how difficult it has been for her to understand some Scripture, but now she has so much hope that she will be able to really understand what she is reading.  She was so excited that I told her that she won the prize, and I gave her a pack of colored pens and pencils that she can use as she begins to put to practice the Inductive Study method.

 

 

 

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Another awesome highlight was seeing indigenous people who were part of the group.  These people are from various tribes that still have not been fully reached with the Gospel. Some of these tribes, such as the Embara don’t even have all the Scriptures in their own language.  So, it was awesome to see some of these people writing notes and putting into practice things that they were being taught. Knowing that this knowledge will be carried back to their own people so that they too may know the hope which we have in Jesus Christ.  One missionary there is teaching some of these indigenous tribes Bible Storying, which is basically sharing the message of the Gospel through oral story telling since many of the people are not literate.  So, each morning, one of the indigenous people shared a two minute story of a specific account in Scripture.  It was awesome to see the glories of God being made known in story form to those who may never get the chance to read the Scriptures.  His Word will go forth and reach all those who are meant to hear and respond.

I also had the opportunity to meet a young guy who recently came to faith in Christ.  He is super fired up to share Christ with those around him and to live in a way that honors God.  I told him that I would like to remain in contact with him so that I can encourage him and put some good resources his way so that he is discipled in the truth of Scripture. He was very thankful for my offer.  I love seeing young guys on fire for the Lord.

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Having spent the week training up the leadership of the church to be more effective fishers of men, it was only fitting that we were able to end our week being fisherman!  What a treat that a friend of one of our group knew a guy who has a boat and he offered to take us out on the ocean.  We caught a bunch of huge grouper. I only wish that it wasn’t the last day so that we could have enjoyed how they tasted.

Overall, it was a great week.  I am super excited to be part of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries.  Just to know that at the same time that we were in Panama teaching and training pastors, there was another team in Ecuador doing the same thing.  And soon a team will travel to Brazil where they are launching their first Reaching and Teaching program…and they will also be in Peru, Dominican Republic, etc.  I love being part of this organization that is so focused on equipping and training pastors and leaders so that they can be most effective in reaching their own people for the glory of God.

I’m also so thankful to God for giving me an excellent wife!  She held down the fort with three kids for nine days all by herself.  She is such a blessing and I’m so thankful to have her as my help-mate, lover, and best friend.

 

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Remembering Susana on her 3 year home going anniversary…

Today, February 11th, is a day that will forever have a shadow cast upon it as it was this day three years ago in which my little girl was temporarily removed from us and carried by the angels to her heavenly home.  The pain that we felt in that moment is something that will never be able to be fully described. The scars that we bear are ones that will never be able to be fully visible to the naked eye.  It is a pain like no other pain.  It is the deepest level of suffering that I have ever known. But God has been so faithful through it all to reveal Himself to us, comfort our broken hearts, pour out His love, and give us a greater assurance than ever of the hope we have in Him.

The Bible, in speaking about this specific hope (the resurrection of the saints from the dead), tells us in 2 Thes. 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep (dead), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”  I shared this same verse when I spoke at my daughter’s memorial home going service.  I also handed out to everyone a tiny square of black cloth, reminding us that, yes, grief is still real, there is indeed a dark shadow that has cast itself upon our lives, but still we have a greater hope because of Christ rising from the grave.  So, yes, I still have that small black square cloth that covers a part of my heart, and it is as real as can be, but the light of the hope of the Gospel far outshines any shadows that may linger still.  As Paul stated in Thessalonians, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope.  What does that mean?  Yes, we still grieve.  There is still the sting of death and separation that we currently feel, but our hope is in God and we know that He has overcome the power of the grave, that death has been defeated…that Christ has risen from the dead, giving us who hope in Him the assurance that we too shall rise.

And so, that day three years ago upon my daughter’s bed, with my natural eyes I saw life leave my little girl once and for all, but the reality, though I was not privy to see it, is that my little girl immediately crossed from death to life.  She was immediately ushered into the presence of the living God, gathered around with all the saints of old that have passed on before us.  She immediately became one of the great cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 12 mentions who are now eagerly looking down upon us and waiting for us all to finish our race so that the fulness of God’s redemptive plan can be put into effect.  Though I did not personally witness these things with the naked eye,  I trust fully in God’s Word which reveals His power, His goodness, and His love, and so I know that my little girl is only experiencing life to the fullest in this very moment.  There is not the slightest black cloth that shrouds her heart. She is fully free and able to see God in all of His glory.

But for me, yes there is still a pain that remains…and shall remain until that great and glorious day when I too shall finish my race and be ushered by the angels into the presence of my God and King.  So, though I have a lingering shadow over this day, more importantly I have a great reminder of the light that has come, which has expelled darkness, which has opened the way for eternal life, which has defeated the power of the grave, which has purchased me for eternity by His precious blood, and which has given me the blessed hope that I shall one day be with Him and all the saints of God for eternity.  What a great hope we have in Jesus!

And so, I am reminded again from God’s precious Word in Rom. 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  And again in 2 Cor. 4:17 “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  O blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.  O what a foretaste of glory divine…This is my story…This is my song.  Here’s to remembering my precious Susana and the blessed hope we have in Christ.

 

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We have changed our mission agency to Reaching & Teaching

To our support team,

 

Happy New Year to all of you!  May the Lord give us continued grace and strength to love and pursue Him above all other things and may He give us favor among the people as we seek to make His great name known.  We pray that this upcoming year will bring about many great new things for God in your lives.

 

This is such the case with us. We have some very important news to share with you.  We have changed our mission agency from Global Outreach International to an agency called Reaching and Teaching International Ministries (RTIM).  The change is effective as of January 1st.  We have known the founder of RTIM, Dr. David Sills, for a few years now as he was a board member of Global Outreach. Dr. Sills himself was a missionary in Ecuador for over 12 years, therefore he has quite a bit of experience in knowing how to minister to Latin America.  

 

We have been discussing and planning for this change for quite some time. The reason being is that RTIM is much more directly in line with both our doctrinal beliefs as well as our philosophy of ministry. Their vision is simply to reach the Latin American countries with the biblical Gospel and train up nationals in mature biblical truth so that they may in turn reach their own people.  This is exactly what we are trying to do here in Nicaragua.  Therefore, their focus is specifically on discipleship and equipping, something that has been greatly lacking in Latin America.  We also will be working with them directly here on the field as they send us teams periodically to help us develop a training and equipping program for pastors and leaders.  We are very excited to see how God is going to use this partnership for His glory. 

 

We have served with Global Outreach International since 2009 and have been blessed to have been part of their mission family, but we truly believe that the Lord is leading us to transition to RTIM so as to be more effective in our mission of reaching the people of Nicaragua with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our work here does not change, just our mission agency.

 

Therefore the way we receive your monthly giving will change.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

For online donations, we are transitioning to Reaching & Teaching’s online giving portal which will allow you to manage both credit card and digital check giving online.  We need your help! We need you to transition your monthly giving from Global Outreach to Reaching & Teaching immediately. 

 

To make this change in your monthly electronic gift (credit card or electronic fund transfer from a checking or savings account) please go to www.reachingandteaching.org/support.html and click on the Donate Now button to establish your recurring or one-time donation. Make sure you scroll to our name to designate who the gift is for.  A donation from your checking or savings account is better as it eliminates the  3% fee charged by the issuer on every credit card donation. 

 

Afterwards, if applicable, please cancel your monthly electronic giving contribution to Global Outreach by contacting Marla Nunlee atmnunnelee@globaloutreach.org and simply notifying her that you wish to cancel your monthly giving.   Or, if you’d like, you could let us know you’ve made the change and we can pass the word on to Marla. This needs to be done immediately, but no later than January 31st.  After the 31st, your donations will be refused by Global Outreach and sent back to you.  This will hurt us greatly as we depend on your monthly giving in order to live and minister here in Nicaragua.

 

For mailed donations, please send to the home office of Reaching & Teaching, including a note indicating that it is for Cody and Maria Whittaker. The address is:

Reaching & Teaching International Ministries  P.O. Box 122 Wheaton, IL 60187

 

Thank you so much for your continued faithfulness and support towards our mission work here in Nicaragua.  May the Lord be pleased in all of our labors to make His name known.

 

Sincerely,

 

Cody and Maria Whittaker 

 

P.S. If you would like to learn more about the ministry of Reaching & Teaching, visit www.reachingandteaching.org  

 
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Videos of me teaching Guillermo…

Hey all,

I have posted some videos of me teaching Guillermo as I am currently training him up to be the pastor of the church that we are planting (more on that later). Anyway, this is what the majority of my time is spent on these days. I meet with Guillermo 2 times per week for 2 hours each time. Then our families also meet together on Sunday morning for a time of study in God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship. Then we also meet together on Tuesday afternoon to lead the Bible Study for the kids and youth in the neighborhood.   And now I also have also begun to start training one of these youth in the Scriptures. He is 13 years old. His name is Josue. When he learned about all the training that I am bringing Guillermo, he told us that he too wants to learn the Word of God better and asked me to teach him. So, now I meet with him once every Wednesday to take him through Scripture. So, as you can see, God has me doing a lot of teaching and training these days. I absolutely love it. I love communicating the rich truth of God’s Word and seeing other people receive the blessing when God opens their eyes to such truth.  It is hard work…especially doing this all in a language that is not my native tongue. But thanks be to God for the grace that He gives me to proclaim His truth.

Anyway, I wanted to post a couple of these videos for a couple of reasons. First, I would like to say a very important thing to anybody who feels called to serve on the foreign mission field…learn the language!  This is crucial.  Ok, I know to you spanish speaking people watching, that you are going to hear a lot of mistakes. I know. I watched the videos afterwards and I was cringing at various points when I saw errors. But…the truth is that even though I still commit errors and forget words or am still developing my vocabulary bank, by means of taking a year to study in Costa Rica before coming here, I can now sit down with a hungry soul and spend hours upon hours expounding on the truth of God’s Word. And this is what being a missionary is all about…the proclamation of the Gospel!  We cannot effectively proclaim and teach the Word of God when we don’t know the language.  As missionaries sent out by the local church for the sake of making disciples of all nations we need to be able to say a lot more than just “Jesus loves you”. We need to be able to teach and explain God’s Word. We need to be able to use the Word of God to correct faulted doctrine. We need to teach the Word of God to make disciples. And we can’t do this if we don’t know how to speak their language.  So, to anybody that is thinking about full-time foreign missions…please please please devote yourself first to learning the language.  Many people ask me if spending a year in Costa Rica at language school was really worth it.  I suppose showing these videos will answer that question.

So, the other reason for showing the videos is just so that you as our supporters can see what your support is enabling us to do. God’s Word is being taught. Hearts are being changed for the glory of God. God is raising up people who are hungry to know Him. And we have the awesome and humbling privilege to play a part in His great plan for the nations.

The last reason why I wanted to take the videos (not necessarily post them) was simply to monitor my progress in the language. As any other missionary who is learning the language will tell you…sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days with regards to the language and the ability to communicate effectively. So, sometimes I really don’t know how I am doing. I’m often hard on myself and always seeing how short I fall in knowing this language. So, in recording this session of our training, I was able to see fairly accurately where I’m at. In many ways, I realize I still have a long ways to go. And I know that it is simply the grace of God that is working in me that enables me to do what He has called me to do.  So, as I watch the videos, I cringe and I see so many mistakes.  But on the other hand, as I watch the videos I truly realize one thing that I don’t often truly realize…I’m speaking spanish!  Seriously, this may sound silly, but because I’m always learning and often struggling through different conversations, its hard to look at myself as one who speaks spanish. But after looking at these videos, though there are several mistakes and some misuses of words, the reality hits me…I really speak spanish!

So…for those of you who are native spanish speakers…go easy on me as you watch the videos. And for the rest of you who don’t speak spanish…well…though it will sound like a bunch of babble…I really am speaking spanish.  May God be glorified as we continue to make His name known among the people of Nicaragua. Que la paz de Dios sea contigo. Cuídate mi amigo.


This is just us opening up in prayer. Also, keep in mind that I edited these videos just to show some moments when I was speaking. All of our sessions include back and forth dialogue, but these videos are just clips of me speaking.

 


This is just me introducing what we will be doing in our upcoming training module.


Talking about the need to be more bold in our proclamation of the Gospel and the dangers of what is commonly known as “Friendship Evangelism” which stresses the idea that you really need to makes friends with a person first before you can be effective in sharing the message of the Gospel.


Talking about the importance of weighing everything up according to God’s Word instead of falling into pragmatism, which is the idea of determining something as valuable only as long as you can see ahead of time that it will produce good results.

 

 

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Some videos of our ministry

Hey all,

Just wanted to share some videos of our ministry here in Nicaragua with regards to the children and youth whom we are reaching out to with the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ.  The Lord continues to use this ministry to reach many kids and youth in Guillermo’s neighborhood.  The truth is that it is sometimes very difficult trying to reach these kids. So many of them are just very broken and come from broken homes where neither love nor discipline is modeled to them. So, often times many of these kids bring a lot of distractions and interruptions while we are trying to share precious truths of God’s Word with them.  Thank God that Guillermo has way more patience than I do and therefore we are able to balance each other out.  But my desire is that these kids get it…that they really understand the Gospel…that they are able to comprehend the truth of the glory of God and His amazing love. But I must remember that not only are they kids who are easily distracted by a mere butterfly that passes by, but also that many of them are kids who are growing up on the street without having a parental figure who is really invested in them, showing them both healthy love and discipline.  These kids are broken and they require a lot of patience, love, compassion, and understanding.

For this reason, Guillermo and I have been talking more and more about the need to invest more in these kids lives beyond a once a week Bible Study. We really need to show them our love and compassion on a more frequent and intimate basis. So, we have started to try and meet with them on Saturday mornings just to play soccer or other games with them and continue to build relationships with them.  Maria has also invited one of the girls (Johanna) to come to our house once in a while so that they can hang out and bake cookies or sew. This girl is very sweet, but seems to be starving for real love.  She is being raised by her Grandmother even though her mother is alive and well.  Every time Maria mentions God’s love while she is teaching the girls, she tells me that Johanna just seems to check out and stare outside as if she is totally disconnected from the concept that God loves her.  So, I think it is awesome that we can have this girl come to our house and just model to her what the love of Christ really looks like.  It is awesome also that she can have this modeled to her whenever she comes to Guillermo and Hacknier’s house. Our prayer is that the Lord will smother her with His love and that she will come to know His amazing love and salvation.

So, Guillermo and I invited the kids on Saturday to play a game of soccer in his neighborhood.  We all had a good time. We bought them snacks and drinks and then afterwards we all piled in my pickup truck and headed back to Guillermo’s house where I brought our flat screen TV so that we could all watch the soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid.  The kids were going crazy since Barcelona won the game and most of us here are Barcelona fans.  It was a blessing. There were about 14 kids that came. We had a great time.

We had our Tuesday night Bible Study with the kids yesterday.  Since it was the last Tuesday of the month, we took them all to a very nice park where they had never been. They had a blast. It was a great time to get to spend with them and get to know some of them better. There have been some new kids that have recently started coming.  But before we went to the park, we had a time of worship and a time of Bible Study.  For the next several weeks we are going to be sharing the specifics of the Gospel with them, so Guillermo took the first session last night and gave them an introduction to what the Gospel is using Romans 1:16 as a reference. He did a great job.  It was a blessing seeing him teach since these are things that I have been training him in for the past several months.  So, its awesome to see how God is giving him great understanding and that he is able to clearly articulate these truths.

Precious cargo...the main reason why we bought a pickup truck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finished taking Guillermo through our first leg of training where we studied intensely the doctrines of grace for several months. Now, we are moving on to other issues of theology. Tomorrow I will start teaching him about the different covenants that God has instituted throughout the Scriptures and how those covenants pertain to us today. The formal name is Covenant Theology.  It is so great teaching these precious truths because it also ministers tremendously to my own heart as I both spend hours pouring over the Scriptures in preparation as well as when I teach it. It is such a blessing.  There is an older youth in the program who feels called to the ministry and has asked that I begin training him as well. So, I’m sure that my schedule is going to be getting much more busy in the coming months. Guillermo and I have also been invited by one of his friends who is a pastor to come to his church and preach on a Sunday morning pertaining to the doctrine that we have been studying. So, praise God that His truth is going forward and that even other pastors are interested in hearing what it is that we are studying.

We are excited about the plans that God is leading us towards and will be sharing these things with you in the near future. We also will be sharing in the next post our plans of how we want to bless these kids for Christmas and how you can play a special part in doing this.  Que Dios sea glorificado en todo lo que hacemos!

 

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