the e-Newsletter of Rich & Deborah Murphy, Maranatha Life
Dear Friends & Prayer Partners;
Well, here we are at the entry of another new year. I’m not sure where the last one went; they seem to go by so quick. It’s as if I blinked twice and 2007 just disappeared. Part of that, I’m sure, was the amount of time I spent traveling this year. But, even without that, it seems as if time is running away with itself
-- IN THIS ISSUE --
-- SITUATION IN TABASCO --
We’ve been able to maintain contact with our pastors and friends in the city of Villahermosa, Tabasco. Even though it has been a couple of months since the flood, there are still parts of the city that are under water. The problem is that there is nowhere for the water to go. Word on the street is that some parts of the city will remain lost.
Even though many have returned to their homes, there are some that are still in shelters, or living in tents alongside the highway. A pastor friend recently returned from visiting there, and brought me photos of families living in tents made of tarps. These are obviously people whose houses were in the lower parts of the city, and still can’t return.
However, even with that, our pastors are back in their homes and churches. The week after the flood, one of the pastors reported to me that he held church service in the street, in front of the church, in knee deep water. Since then, the water has abated, and they are holding services in the sanctuary.
There is still much work to be done in restoring their lives. Fortunately, Mexican construction is of cinder block and cement. So, it can’t be easily damaged by the water. Once the cement dries out, and the mud is cleaned out, the buildings can be repainted and are just about as good as new. On the other hand, the contents of those houses and churches suffered much. Furniture has been ruined, sound systems destroyed and computers lost. Whatever books those pastors had are also gone forever.
Looking at it in the natural, it will be months, or even years before their lives can be fully restored to normal. But, praise God, we aren’t limited by the natural. Please keep praying for these pastors, and their congregations, that God will provide the means to restore their lives, ministries, and families.
To those of you who have send offerings for these pastors, we give a great big THANK YOU! All funds that we have received for the needs in Tabasco have been forwarded to the pastors there, to help them restore their homes and churches. They were very grateful to receive your love gifts.
If you would like to send a special offering to help the pastors in Tabasco, we will forward your love gifts to the pastors by the most rapid means possible.
-- 2007 IN REVIEW --
I think, more than anything, 2007 has been a year of travels. I have made 16 trips this year, from Washington, D.C. in the north, to Colombia, South America; including three to Tabasco, Mexico. Although most of the trips were to minister in churches that we know, we also went to Campeche and Yucatan, two states in the Yucatan Peninsula where we’ve never ministered before.
God is opening more doors for travel. I probably receive two or three invitations a week to travel overseas and minister. Unfortunately, in most cases, the people inviting me don’t have money to pay for my travel expenses. Not only are these invitations to minister, but they’re invitations to minister conferences to the pastors in the area. That’s much more effective than just ministering to the congregations.
In addition to the travels, I’ve invested a lot of time in the ministerial alliance. This isn’t a distraction from the ministry that we have here, but it is rather a culmination of several years of investment into the lives of the pastors in this area. As president, I have a greater opportunity to minister to the pastors, and influence their churches. Several of the pastors in the alliance, who have never sought my counsel before are coming to me now, seeking prayer, counsel, and assistance.
I’ve been working to promote the alliance and increase its membership. We have a lot of small Hispanic churches in the area whose pastors aren’t receiving support, or ministry from anyone. One of my goals with the alliance is to reach out to those pastors, and help them in their ministries.
We are also trying to make the alliance more active in the community. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than tired of the fortress mentality that many Christians have. We need to be out in the community, helping the people, and changing society for the good.
I haven’t released one new book this year. But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing. I’ve written over 200 pages this year, but not over one subject, where they can be put together as any one book.
On top of my regular writing, I’m now writing for three different publications. Two of them are Christian magazines, one of which is directed at the Christian community, and the other which is more of an outreach to the community. The third publication is a weekly news magazine, in Spanish. I write a monthly column for them on marriage and family. This is giving me a great opportunity to minister to the community at large.
The biggest problem has been in getting things translated. Since Deborah’s teaching in school, she hasn’t had the time to translate for me. I’m working on this problem in two different ways. First of all, God has brought me a couple of women who are translating some of my studies. The other thing I’m doing is starting to write some of my material in Spanish, which means that I don’t need to have it translated; only checked for spelling and grammar.
A couple of times this year, I gave out CDs of my messages, instead of giving the pastors a written study. Several of them commented that they liked receiving my messages that way, because then they didn’t have to read it (I think I hear a little laziness there). However, I’m not sure that I’m going to continue that. Since we’re giving out over 450 copies a month, that many CDs could be a problem every month.
I haven’t written much about the intercessory prayer movement here in Mexico for some time, because not much new has happened. We are continuing to hold monthly prayer meetings in Reynosa, with two different intercessory groups. I have been seeking God about what to do in order to see a breakthrough, because it hasn’t happened yet; nor has the work really grown.
I am also continuing my studies into the Spiritual Roots of Mexico. This year, I probably visited six new archeological sites, and museums. I am still gathering information, and will be making a presentation on this in January. I hope to create a video of what I have so far in this new year.
Video Bible School:
In addition to our previous projects, I’ve started working on a project that has been a dream for years; creating a video bible school in Spanish. This will be offered to pastors and ministers, mostly in outlying areas, where they don’t have a bible school to go to for training.
Each course consists of a notebook, with eight DVDs, student notes, and homework. I am concentrating on applicable themes, instead of theology and homiletics. Mexico has plenty of bible schools that teach superficial information that doesn’t help prepare ministers.
The idea is that the pastors can do the work in their own home, or gather together as a small group. If they don’t have a DVD player, we’ll get them one. Once they complete the course and send in their homework, we’ll give them credit towards a bible school diploma. I’m still working on creating the overall course load for a diploma.
Eventually, we want to not only have the basic bible school program, but in addition have leadership training courses, marriage counseling courses and basic discipleship courses.
Our web site hit a new high this year, with over 25,000 visits per month. I don’t know how many visits other ministry web sites receive, but I’m sure that for a ministry of our size, this is a considerable number.
I receive e-mails from pastors around the world with their comments, prayer requests, and questions. All of this is generated by the web site. From here in San Juan, TX we are touching lives in South America, Africa, and even as far away as Japan.
-- CHRISTMAS TOY DRIVE --
The Christmas toy drive was somewhat of a disappointment to me this year. For the last few years, we’ve seen incredible growth in the number of toys we received, and were able to distribute. However, this year was different. We received many fewer toys than what we’re accustomed to.
Apparently it isn’t just us; other organizations have reported the same thing. In addition, the availability of food has dwindled away to almost nothing. The regional food bank here in the Rio Grande Valley has less than a tenth of what they normally have (We can’t receive food from them to take across the border, but it illustrates the problem).
However, we did distribute what we had, and are expecting to do much more in the future. We’re already planning on holding another event for the Mexican holiday of “Dia del Niño” (Day of the Child); which falls on April, 31st
-- SPIRITUAL KIDS --
I haven’t included notices of what the pastors who are our spiritual kids in my past newsletters, but I am going to start doing that. A large part of our work here in Mexico is pastoring these pastors, and others. I feel it is only appropriate that you hear about their victories as well.
Hector is one of the pastors who was chased out of his church and home by the flood in Tabasco. However, his losses were minimal. Knowing the flood was coming, he was able to move the church’s equipment and his family’s furniture to the second floor. That saved most of their possessions.
When Hector first came under our covering, his family was living in a corrugated tin walled and roof home, with a dirt floor. The next year, he had a cement floor, and had bought a car. The next year, he had built the first floor of their house out of cinder blocks and cement. When we saw him this last summer, they had just completed construction on the second floor of their house. God has done some miracles of provision in the life of Hector.
I saw Hector a couple of weeks before the flood. He was doing well, and his church was growing by leaps and bounds. Although he is in the poorest part of Villahermosa, his church has 800 members.
The week before the flood, Hector e-mailed me with testimonies and pictures of a healing crusade they had. A number of people in their neighborhood, who had never come to the church, came to receive from God; and did they ever receive!
We call Benjamin “our spiritual firstborn” both because he was the first Mexican pastor to come under our covering, and because he and his wife are closer to us than any of the others.
Benjamin has been living in financial struggle, after financial struggle as long as we’ve known him. There has been much witchcraft raised up against him, and much gossip on the part of the other pastors of the city. God has been strengthening him, as iron sharpens iron. The proof of how he’s grown through this came in the last attack. Although the enemy tried to destroy him financially once again, Benjamin managed to keep a smile on his face.
Benjamin is starting a new project in January that we are helping him with. He has written a number of songs for Marcos Witt (probably the best known Christian singer in Mexico). So, in conjunction with Marcos’ ministry, Benjamin will be starting a music school.
What makes this school different from others is that it won’t just be teaching music, but forming music ministers. The students who come to this two year school will receive bible school training in the morning, and music training in the afternoon. That way, they won’t just be more musicians who cause problems for their pastors, but will be ministers who can minister both in music and the Word.
This is a totally new concept in Mexico. As I mentioned, Benjamin has the support of Marcos Witt, who will be sending him instructors for the music part. I will be one of his teachers on the Bible part. People have given him money to add classrooms to the church; and he already has 30 students who have signed up.
-- FAMILY NOTES --
The family has had a very busy year as well. It seems that getting the whole family together in one place is somewhat of an event. I’m glad that my office is in the house; otherwise I would never get to see anyone. You know how some families congregate in the living room, and others congregate in the kitchen? Well, in our house, everyone congregates in my office. When they all come home from work and school, they come into my office, and tell me about their day.
Deborah and Rebekah are continuing to be a great impact at their school. The Bible club they started seems to grow every week, with more and more new students stopping by to see what is going on. Instead of a club that is training leaders (Deb’s original idea) they have a club that is evangelizing the student body (obviously God’s idea).
Deb has had some problems with her department head in the school, but we took care of that. Rebekah came to us and asked if I (Rich) would lay hands on them and pray for them, before they leave every morning for school. Since we started that, Deb has had favor at school, and the department head that has been such a problem has been nice to her.
Jenni has only one more year of college before she’s ready to graduate and start teaching music. She’s looking forward to teaching, and is getting some practice now by teaching private lessons through a local music store.
One of the big things that God did in my life this year was to deal with me about me. I never did like the idea of Deb going back to working in the schools, but let her do it anyway. Little did I know how much emotional problem it was going to cause me. God used that situation to deal with some areas that I didn’t even know were there. I’ve come out of it with a much greater understanding of unconditional love in the marriage.
Rebekah just recently received a blessing from her ballet school. We’ve been paying for her to take one class a week, which is on Saturdays. Recently, we had to pay for her costume for the spring recital. There was a problem with the pricing on the costume, which opened the door to talk to the owner of the ballet school. Not only did she give us a special discount on Rebekah’s dance costume, but she said, “Rebekah’s so gifted, and the only student I have who is using her gift for the Lord. I want to give her an extra lesson a week, and I won’t charge you for it.” Rebekah was thrilled!
In addition to his school and work, Josh has been learning how to do piano tuning and repair. One of his friends is a certified piano technician and is teaching him. Recently, he’s been working on rebuilding the action of a couple pianos. He also tuned Deborah’s piano.
As we go into the New Year, I expect God to continue working in and through our family, and yours. May this year be the best you’ve ever had; with more of God’s presence, power, and holiness in your life.
Blessings in Jesus,
Rev. Rich Murphy
Copyright © 2007 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All