Saturday, July 30, 2011

Celebrating the 2nd Year in a New Ministy!

Tidewater Regional Jail with the Latinos
Solomon's eyes searched mine as he spoke with a sense of despair, "Of course I can accept Jesus, but how do I know he will accept me?"  This Mexican father of five, had been searching the Scriptures for a few months hoping for some connection with God.  He also desperately longed for a sense that his wife and children would be cared for while he was in jail.  For the next hour I pressed the joyful reality that we can be sure Jesus will accept us, if we simply come to Him on His terms which are repentance and faith.  Solomon opened up and seemed to grasp on the hope found in Christ.
It is greatest to know God's love and acceptance in and through what Jesus' death accomplished for us and certainly through His rising from the dead, defeating death!  The writers of the New Testament tell us that we can "know and rely on" the love of God in Christ!  John the Apostle, bases this confidence on the experience of God's Spirit communicating with us!  Check out 1 John 4:13-16:
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  
 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior
of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives
in him and he in God.  16 And so we know and rely on the love
God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Assurance of God's love and presence in our lives is the privilege of everyone who is trusting in Jesus.  Yet, too many followers of Christ simply do not know what is offered and so, they never seek God for the assurance that the Spirit gives.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children" (Romans 8:16).  I urge you who are reading this, if you do not have the 'witness of the Spirit', seek God for it!  Trust completely in Jesus as your Savior and ask for God's Spirit to come and speak to your spirit.  Press in and seek God until you have an answer.  Our God is a self-revealing God, who rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Another insightful passage where Jesus addresses this marvelous truth is Luke 11:11-13.  
In the jail cell, Solomon and I prayed together.  I cannot say all that Solomon's tears meant.  However, I'm sure the LORD was at work in him and I'm sure there was a deep longing to just be with his family.  When I went to visit Solomon the next time, I was told he had been transferred. 

Siuna, Nicaragua with Pastor David Ford, Newtown UMC and GO International
It's a tough town where the women wear flip flops and spurs!

We had two options to get to Siuna from Nicaragua's capital, Managua.  Either a 19 hour bus ride or a 1 hour flight.  So it was a 12 seater Cesna, which was a lot of fun, especially landing on the gravel runway.  We saw quickly that Siuna was a cowboy town with horses possibly outnumbering cars.  There were 17 on the team all from Newtown UMC in Williamsburg, VA, except myself and Larry and Jenny Cochran who were the team leaders with Go International.
Each morning we traveled a little over an hour by truck (because 17 gringos riding horses was out of the question) to our mission base, Salto Verde Church.  Salto Verde literally translated is "I jump green", for which we never got a clear explanation.  However, it is a beautiful, rural area without electricity or running water, but full of smiling children, a few spider monkeys and of course, lots of horses!  
We served the church and the community in five ways: 1) Medical Mission as Doctor Roberto saw patients throughout the day.  He's a young doctor who is studying to be a Pastor as well!  Brilliant!  2) A prayer and evangelistic ministry to people in the community and those who came to see the doctor.  There was quite a long wait, so opportunities abounded to share Christ and pray over all of those who visited the Doctor.  3) Children's Ministry - Youth Pastor Jonathan Diggs led this charge.  It was beautiful to see the number of kids grow from day to day.  We welcomed about 100 on the last day.  4) Construction of a new sanctuary for the Church.  It was powerful to see the community come together for this with people working who did not attend the church! 5) We brought a few hundred pairs of reading glasses and handed those out as needed.  It was a holistic approach to the community in partnership with the church in Nicaragua.
Doctor Roberto on the left with the Team in front of Salto Verde Church.
There was a young man who looked a bit lost outside the church one day.  I introduced myself and asked him some questions.  His name was Vladimir, which surprised me, as he was 100% Nica.  As we talked it became clear why he looked so lost.  He shared that many years before, his Dad was the pastor of this church; but his Dad was murdered in Managua 6 months before.  Vladimir told me that he wasn't following Christ as he was too hurt and didn't have answers to his many questions.  We talked for a long time about suffering and how God is in the midst of it.  My heart ached for him and after praying together, he headed out for the two hour walk home.
Gabriel, our young Amigo!
We stayed in what was really a hostel, though it was called 'hotel' in Siuna.  It was pretty rough.  Pastor David and I thought we were the only ones in our room, but one morning I almost touched a toad the size of my two fists together!  There was a 4 inch gap at the bottom of our door, so really lots of little critters could come in out of the rain!  The team did well, no complaining and we focused on serving the LORD and the people in unity.  There were great team times of worship, sharing and prayer.  I
We met Gabriel, a 13 year old boy and his mother, Maria, both of whom worked at the hotel.  Gabriel ended up spending much of the trip with us as we received permission from his mother for him to travel with us.  He was a lot of fun and I enjoyed helping him understand why we were there and sharing Christ through interpreting different worship gatherings, ministry times and life events. One of our high school team members, Lauren gave Gabriel her Spanish Bible as we left.

Youth Ministry: Training and Jumping In
I spent a couple days training 8 Youth Interns at Ocean Grove Campmeeting Association in July.  Ocean Grove felt like a hidden treasure as it has it's origin in the Holiness Movement in the late 1800s.  There is a square mile there dedicated to the LORD, with tons of happenings all throughout the summer for adults, youth and children.  The Youth Interns reach out through relational ministry, events, programs and small groups.  They were a solid group all of whom are active in College Ministries.  Another bonus was that Eileen and the children were able to come up with me and enjoy some down time on the Jersey Shore.
King's Dominion for Fun Day with the whole group!
I am currently in the middle of serving with New Creation UMC's "Youth Week".  Becky Lambert and Bill Canaday do a great job along with their interns to gather youth from New Creation, other churches and the community for a week of drawing near to Christ, serving, food and fun!  My oldest son, Josiah participated this year as he is going into 6th grade!  We have seen many of the youth growing in their faith and making decisions to turn from sin and follow Jesus!  

I am now in my second year of serving as a Missionary-Evangelist!  Thank you for your prayers and support, I am forever grateful!  Our financial support continues to increase as we work towards our goals.  
We have a new Life in His Name facebook page with extra pictures and information as well!

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Greg West

Until the IRS recognizes the name change from the Norfolk District to Elizabeth River District, checks need to be made out to:
NORFOLK DISTRICT UMC with 'Greg West' or 'LIHN' in the Memo

And mailed to: 

PO BOX 12654 
NORFOLK, VA  23541

You can put either Norfolk or Elizabeth River District for the address.  It will get there either way; technically it is now the Elizabeth River District UMC.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Address for Receiving Funds

Sorry about the confusion . . . 

Checks can be made out to:


And mailed to: 

PO BOX 12654 
NORFOLK, VA  23541