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What is it about planting a tree that makes the world a little more beautiful, and the person who plants it a little more hopeful about the future?

Maybe it’s the idea that, given the right conditions, the tree will grow. The tree will grow bigger than the person who plants it. Usually much bigger. Planting a tree reminds us that there are things bigger than ourselves. And the tree will live a long time, probably longer than the person who put it in the ground. Planting trees reminds us that we have good things to look forward to.

And the tree will occupy a space that otherwise might have been bare, or ugly or choked with weeds, and will bring a type of beauty to that space that will be hard to match as the years go by. Planting trees also makes our inner space more beautiful.

And the person who plants the tree, the planter, will look at the tree, gaze at the tree, and will have a sense of the past, present and future, all at once. The planter will remember when his or her hands dug out some dirt from the earth to make a little hole, placed a sapling in the hole, and tucked the little tree into its place, tamping the dirt gently around its tender roots. The planter will also see how beautiful the tree is at the present. “My how it has grown” and imagine what it will look like as it continues to mature – five, ten or fifteen years down the line. And the planter will smile.

Perhaps some of these thoughts were running through Martin Luther’s head when he wrote about planting his apple tree in an uncertain time. Maybe he was thinking of his God who gives strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Maybe he was thinking that he might not be around for too many more tomorrows, but his apple tree would.

Last Sunday, a group of Venezuelans, who live in Oaxaca, Mexico, came to the home for needy children to plant some trees. One hundred and three to be exact. They invited the children to help them and the kids responded with great enthusiasm. It was a blessed, happy thing to see adults and kids, Mexicans, Americans and Venezuelans, males and females, all working together to not only make this children’s home a more beautiful place, but the world a better place.

And to make their hearts a better space.

Venezuelans, living in Oaxaca, Mexico, come to FFHM’s children’s home with 103 trees and we all work together to get them in the ground.

He that plants trees, loves others besides himself. Thomas Fuller

Foundation For His Ministry’s Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for heaven on earth. We ask God that his holiness be revealed, his kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Foundation For His Ministry is God’s hands and feet in Oaxaca, bringing a little bit of heaven down to earth in this southern Mexican state. God’s will is to make beauty, do good and to share truth. Those of us working here at the Home For Needy Children strive everyday, with God’s help, to do just that.

First, we love the children. I came to the children’s home in March of 2005, before there were any children here. They began arriving in July of that year and have been coming ever since. For 14 years I have seen them coming through our doors scared, confused, not knowing what to expect. Most of them have known little of beauty, goodness and truth. They are welcomed with open arms and bright smiles. They soon come to appreciate the beauty of the gardens, the art work all around and the architecture. From day one they experience the goodness of healthy food, clean clothes and a comfortable bed. (A ten year old girl recently came to live here and she was given some new clothes to replace her dirty, worn out clothes. She exclaimed that she had no money to pay for the clothes and couldn’t believe they were free, just a part of living at the Childrens Home.) Most importantly they hear the Gospel Truth about a God who loves them and gave himself for them. Their lives will never be the same, and I am filled with joy and gratitude to God that I get to be a part of that transformation. A day never goes by when I don’t look at one or more of the children and think of what misery their lives would have been without this place.

It also makes me happy to think about all the outreach that FFHM is doing in this poverty filled state (Oaxaca is the fourth poorest state in Mexico). We don’t want to be like the Dead Sea that only takes in and never gives out. It is our intention to be more like the Sea of Galilee that not only takes in the blessings of God, but is also giving out. We have missionaries living in remote mountain regions of Oaxaca, most experiencing persecution, like Modesto in Amoltepec, Maria Villa Pablo and Tere in Juxtlahuaca, Glenda and Manuel in Huajuapan. They are sharing the Gospel, and their lives with people who would otherwise not hear the Truth and be saved.

We also go to local prisons. David and Louis go to preach and teach the Good News to the least and the lost. I give English classes to those behind bars who want to prepare for a better life when they get out. Edgar and the kids distribute hygienic materials to those in the psychiatric ward who never receive visitors, to those who no one seems to care about. We care.

Pablo cares a lot about people going through drug and alcohol rehabilitation and ministers frequently in centers for rehabilitation.

The teenage boys and Ceferino, from the mission, go to the local hospital Tuesday evenings with fresh pastries, hot coffee, a warm smile, and an encouraging word- doing good to those who wait anxiously while family members are being given medical care. The youth group partners with other local youth groups to celebrate Christ in word and song, bringing the message of hope to disillusioned and troubled teens.

Christian and his wife Yazmin, the maintenance man and a cook at the mission, started a church in a community that had no evangelical presence. He tends to his little flock on his days off.

God is using FFHM to bring light and life to a dark Oaxaca that is dead in trespasses and sin. It is doing good to the downcast, oppressed and fatherless. It is sharing truth with those deceived by the world, the flesh and the devil. It is a beautiful thing.

We rejoice and are glad that God is using us to bring a little bit of heaven to earth, in Oaxaca, Mexico. I am thankful that I get to be a part of that.

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The 2017 Advent season has begun!

Advent is a time of anticipation. A time of looking forward to something unbelievably good. Looking forward to Jesus’ birth. God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. God condescending to be with us. Emmanuel.

Honestly, all that doesn’t mean so much to people anymore. Advent in our day and age usually means anticipating buying gifts, going to parties and family get togethers. Things that a lot of people Don’t look forward to. For too many people, the Christ birth event is a minor part of the holiday season, if it exists at all.

Jesus in the manger has lost it’s luster for a lot of Christians for another reason. It happens every year. It’s not new. We Want New. New electronics, kitchen gadgets, clothes and toys. Christmas isn’t new. It’s the same old thing, year after year. I’m 54 years old. I was raised in a Christian family. I have 54 years of Luke 2 and Matthew 1-2 under my belt. What could possibly be new in 2017 Advent? What is there to anticipate?

With this in mind, I began to think about how Jews might have been thinking around the time of Jesus’ birth. The Chosen People of God. They hadn’t had a prophet speak the Word of the LORD to them since Malachi, 400 years earlier. They had been under the thumb of foreign rulers for about 600 years. So, People Of God, how’s that working out for you?

Some of them probably decided that it wasn’t working and gave up on God, but many were holding on to the promises proclaimed by the prophets that someday a Messiah would come and bring peace and freedom. Proclamations like:

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

 Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Some of us look forward to celebrating the birth of the Messiah every year. The Jews had been anticipating that day for over half a millenia!

When I think of looking forward to something good, I  think about our family vacation that we took in July. We drove from Oaxaca, Mexico to Brush, Colorado. In May we began planning for the trip, and the anticipation began. Anticipation of crossing the border into the U.S.A. Anticipation of seeing my parents and sister and oldest daughter. People I haven’t seen for over two years. Anticipation of Mom’s great cooking, as well as Taco Bell and Mountain Dew –  food and drink that are not available here in Oaxaca. Normally we would fly to Colorado, but this time we were going to drive, so we were looking forward to close family time (four days in the car) that would include museum visits, tourist attractions and motel swimming pools (Sally and Kelly, my youngest daughter’s favorite). Anticipation of camping in the mountains and seeing a Rocky’s baseball game.

The fulfillment of all of those things was great. A wonderful time was had by all. Heart’s longings were met and we were filled with joy. And that was after waiting a mere three months.

After waiting hundreds of years, the Messiah came to the Chosen People of God, and brought true spiritual freedom to all who would accept him and his message.  Some were disappointed that he didn’t overthrow Roman rule and bring national freedom.  But many more people through the ages have received something greater to celebrate, freedom from sin and adoption as Children of God.  The hungry eat the living Bread and the thirsty drink the living Water.

One of the Advent readings for the first Sunday in Advent is Isaiah 64:1-9.   Verse four says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

This Advent season I hope we can all find time to “wait for him”. Wait for Him to reveal himself in new and wonderous ways that can fill our journey on earth with happiness.

In waiting for Him, in meditating on Him, we find hope and joy. Strength and peace. Below is a web address for a video meditation on Advent that may encourage you on your journey.

Thursday night, before midnight, my wife, two daughters and myself were rudelyMexico Earthquake awakened when our apartment complex started shaking.  I’m no stranger to earthquakes since I have lived many years in earthquake prone California and Southern Mexico.  I told my wife that we were having an earthquake.  We have small ones every month or two an it has never been a big deal.  This one was a big deal!  It kept getting stronger and rocking our house more and more.  My daughters, Sally and Kelly, were afraid, especially Sally who sleeps on the top bunk.  She made it out of her bed and we all huddled in what I thought was the safest part of the house while tea cups rattled and my wife’s art work tumbled from a shelf onto the floor.  Finally, after about a minute it was over.  The house stopped shaking, but we were all shaking from the shock of what turned out to be an 8.4 earthquake.

Our house is an apartment that is part of a complex  located in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Nutty Naturedozens of people died as a result of the earthquake.  After the temblor I walked around our building  to look for damage.  There was none.  We live at a mission that cares for needy children and are grateful to God that nobody was hurt and there was no damage to the buildings to speak of.  Unfortunately, other parts of Mexico suffered much damage as the photos show.

I am the gardener here at the FFHM mission.  It is a rather large property and I am constantly battling weeds.  I use two lawnmowers, a weed-whacker and a lawn tractor in my struggle against unwanted plants.  There are tons of thorns here that puncture tires, especially the lawn tractor tires.  Fortunately there is a product that I spray into the tires that seals the punctures.  The directions say that the can must be shaken thoroughly for the product to work properly.

Sometimes I think that I need to be shaken thoroughly for me to function properly.  TheMEXICO-QUAKE-OAXACA earthquake did a good job of that.  The Bible talks about the importance of being thankful:

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17


Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                         1 Thessalonians 5:18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6,7

In life we tend to get complacent, apathetic and take a lot of things for granted.  Sometimes God has to shake us up in one way or another to remind us of all the good things we have, and to express our thanks to Him and to others who bless our lives.  We can always find things to complain about or dream about how much better things could be.  God wants our vision focused on Him.  He wants us think about how much He loves us and wants us to be happy, and all the good things He has given us toward that end.

Instead of complaining about what I don’t have, I am full of gratitude for what I do have – citizenship in God’s Happy Kingdom, a loving wife and two super daughters, and fabulous parents who are always there for us.  I try to have an attitude of gratitude, but sometimes I need to get all shook up to really appreciate what I have.

This year Foundation For His Ministry celebrates fifty years of ministry to the poorest of the poor in

Charla Pereau

Charla Pereau

Mexico.  My first close encounter of this fine organization took place in 1987.  I was working with a youth group in a small church in Healdsburg, California.  I had just moved there from Missouri, where I attended a church that went to Mexico every year to build church buildings for congregations that had no buildings.  I went on three of these excursions and got hooked on Mexico.

Living in California, I was looking for a way to get back to Mexico and expose the youth in the little church to the poverty in Mexico and show them how they could be a part of helping those much less fortunate than they were.  I remembered a couple from my Missouri church who mentioned one time that they had gone to a home for needy children in Mexico.  I contacted them and found out about FFHM and their work in the Baja of Mexico, and how to make arrangements to volunteer for a week.  I got a hold of  FFHM and told them we wanted to help.  After awhile the details were ironed out, and we found ourselves in Vicente Guerrero, Baja, in the summer of 1987.

Two people I remember.  Max, the administrator, a great guy from Canada, and Jorge, a little baby that had recently come to live at the children’s home.  We went on a tour of the place and I fell in love with it,  and the organization behind it.  I had recently graduated from Bible college with a degree in Missions, having wanted to be a missionary since I was 14 years old.  After graduating, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be one anymore.  To be a missionary in the denomination I belonged to, you had to spend at least a year going all over the U.S. of A raising thousands of dollars in support, and then go minister in a foreign country for four years, and then go home and get more money for another four years of service.  That wasn’t for me.  I wanted to go to another country, preferably Mexico, and just live there and serve and not worry about money.  So I thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out for the mission field if that was what it took.

I was excited to learn that Charla, who started the home for needy children, and the board of FFHM, had a different approach to missions.  They believed that any Christian who had a desire to help the poorest of the poor, could fill out an application and if accepted, could just come and serve.  They provided a place to stay and food to eat and gave people a few dollars as well.  What could be better?  Nothing that I could think of!  I hoped that one day I would be a permanent part of this fine organization that not only took care of the physical, educational and spiritual needs of about 80 children, but also reached out to thousands of migrant workers who lived in camps that surrounded the mission, with food, clothes and most importantly, the Gospel, the good news of a great God who loved them and wanted them to be happy.  FFHM also provided medical services in a medical clinic  on the property, with expertly trained doctors and nurses.  They also had a dental clinic and tended to  many patients everyday.  This place was incredible!

I returned almost every year, for the next 15 years, to spend a week helping out in whatever way I could, like so many countless volunteers have done over the fifty years of FFHM’s existence.  I have always loved gardening and looked forward to working in the experimental orchard or the macadamia nut grove when I was there.  But, as often as not, I would be put to work cleaning shelves in the pantry, pouring concrete or painting buildings.  It didn’t really matter what I did.  I just loved cooperating with God and making a difference in the Kingdom.

One year the mission was raising pigs and I met a super guy in charge of the project named Mario.  I raised pigs for 4-H when I was a kid and loved it.  I thought Mario had the best job in the whole place, and hoped that someday, when I joined FFHM permanently, that I would get to be the hog farmer!  Mario went on to be the administrator of the Baja mission for decades.

I always wanted to meet Charla, to see this incredible woman in the flesh, and per chance, to talk to her and tell her how much I admired her and the work she was doing on behalf of the poor in Mexico.  Every year as I made my trek to the Mecca of ministry in the Baja, I would think that maybe this would be the year that I would encounter Charla.  One of the highlights for me at the mission was the first morning when all the visitors would be given a tour of the grounds.  I always called it the miracle tour because at every location, the guide would tell us how God miraculously provided something or someone that was desperately needed in order to make that aspect of the ministry to function at its peak level.

The tour always began with the miraculous story of how Chuck and Charla arrived at the place in the dead of night, out of gas, not knowing where they were, where they would sleep or how they would get home.  Nevertheless they trusted God completely and he provided miraculously.  The high point in the story was how Charla arose early the next morning, went for a little walk, and heard children laughing.  She looked for the children, but never found them.  She did find God speaking to her heart, telling her that one day this desolate, run down place, would be the home of countless laughing children, and that she would have a big part to play in making that happen.

I never ceased to smile and be encouraged at hearing that story and then reading about it Charla’s book Charla’s Children, and watching a show about it on the 700 Club.  Finally the day came when I met her.  I was at the mission with my friend Bruce, who was a relatively new Christian and was making one of his first mission trips (he, like so many others, would never be the same after visiting the children’s home in the Baja.  He is now a leader in his church and has gone all over the world evangelizing and leading pastors conferences).  We were eating lunch in the cafeteria and Charla and a friend sat across from us. She was friendly and we all had a nice conversation.  Bruce used to be a mail carrier in San Clemente, the headquarters of FFHM, so they had something in common to talk about.  I’ll never forget that day.  Over the years I have had the great privilege to get to know Charla, and listen to her speak on many occasions.  She is a gifted speaker and I always end up laughing one minute at some humerous story, and then tears are running uncontrollably down my face the next as she recounts how some wrecked and hopeless child was saved, changed and loved because of how God used Charla and FFHM.

FFHM sends out a newsletter every month, and in the early years of the new century, they began writing about a new vision and new ministry.  A conference/training center in Oaxaca, Mexico for graduates of the Bible Institute that they had in the Baja.  Most of the migrant workers in the camps surrounding the mission were from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.  Many came to know Christ through the outreach programs.  Some felt a call to ministry and studied at the Institute, and then went back to their hometowns and villages in Oaxaca to spread the Good News to their family and friends that God loved them and wanted them to be happy, and had provided a glorious way for them to enter into this happiness.  This proved to be difficult work and often very dangerous to the people from the Baja Mission who returned to their homeland to people who were hostile to new approaches to relating to God.

FFHM wanted to offer a place for these new ministers of the Gospel to go where they could be encouraged, refreshed and equipped in their work.  So it came about that miraculously (of course) that FFHM purchased a piece of property that had a little building on it, from another ministry.  This  would become the Oaxaca base for graduates of the Bible Institute and further outreach to the many unreached people groups of Oaxaca.

Charla came down to check out the property and sign on the dotted line.  Oaxaca had a special place in her heart because many years before, her and Chuck had adopted a baby boy that was born to a young lady in difficult circumstances in this southern state of Mexico.  As Charla traveled around Oaxaca she encountered another home for needy children that was in dire straits.  They asked her and FFHM to take over the home.  In a couple of talks that I heard Charla give, she recounted this story and told the people in charge, “No thanks.  Been there, done that.”

Later on she heard the still, small voice of God speaking to her heart, telling her to care for these poor children.  Always careful to follow the prompting of her gracious Lord and Savior, she returned the following day and told the leader of the children’s home that FFHM would take over the ministry and care for the “least of these”, God’s precious, neglected children.

So began a new phase of FFHM, another children’s home in one of the poorest states of Mexico.  Many people from the U.S. and Canada responded to the new outreach with large donations and even larger hearts, to go where the need was greatest.  After a few years a brand new facility was built on the newly purchased property.  The call went out for Believers to come and help with this new endeavor and make a difference in the Kingdom of God.

I was at a point in my life where I was free to heed the call and go to Oaxaca, finally fulfilling my dream of being a permanent part of FFHM and their incredible ministry.  I arrived at the Oaxaca mission on March first, 2005.  It was still a construction site without kids.  I went to work helping put tile on floors, electrical wires in the ceilings and paint on the walls.  In my free time I began planting gardens, as that was one of my jobs in Santa Rosa, California.

In August of that year, the children made the move from the squalid confines of their old place across the city, to the brand new digs of Casa Hogar, set in the beautiful countryside of the Tlacolula valley.  The work continued.  It seemed more meaningful now with happy kids running all over the place.  We could see the fruits of our labors in the smiling faces of all the boys and girls.  We painted the last walls, put the finishing touches on the modern kitchen and I continued to plant gardens, including the grassy courtyard where the children would eventually play tag, catch and have picnics.

My jobs eventually entailed teaching English and other classes, doing prison ministry, driving kids to and from school and occasionally going on service and evangelistic outreaches, as well as preaching and  maintaining the gardens and planting an orchard full of a variety of fruit trees.

I met my future wife, Anita, a beautiful and extremely talented cook, at the mission.  We have two fabulous little girls, Sally and Kelly.  I will have spent eleven years cooperating with God and FFHM come March.  The best eleven years of my life.  I daily pray for Charla, FFHM leaders, the staff and children at Casa Hogar, and thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to be a small part of such a great ministry.  I remember Charla saying one time that God doesn’t want our ability so much as our availability.  I have thought about that a lot.  My ability isn’t so great, but I thank God that he took my availability and is able to use it in some small way to make a difference in the lives of “the least of these” in Oaxaca, Mexico.
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helping the poor


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