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Welcome back, Joel!

It's been exciting to welcome Joel Augustus back to Lifeline's staff!  In the 1990's Joel and his wife Janny served with Lifeline in Honduras.  Today, Joel joins us as our Vice President of Ministries to oversee our field ministries relating to health care, schools, nutrition, children's homes, and home building.  

Recently, he had the opportunity to return to Honduras to reconnect with the staff and ministry.  Joel shares...

Twenty-one years ago, next month, my wife Janny and I stepped off an airplane onto the hot tarmac in San Pedro Sula to begin a great adventure.  We were fresh out of college and God had opened doors and led us into ministry serving as field directors with Lifeline in Honduras.  What was originally a two-year commitment would end up becoming ten. 

God blessed those ten years in Honduras as He shaped and molded us and even worked through us - even when we seemed to do our best to get in His way.  Those were fun years.  We were newlyweds, our three children were born, and we made many dear friendships.  Those were difficult years.  We experienced loss and hardship, we struggled to see lasting impact, and we wrestled with God's long term plans for our lives.  Those were revealing years.  We discovered our weaknesses, we experienced God's grace, and mostly, we saw God show up time and time again. 

Those were great years.  But years pass and things change.  We returned to Ohio in 2006 and I pursued another degree and began serving on the staff of a local church.  Our children began to mature, our hair began to turn gray, and still God demonstrated His grace and His faithfulness.  After another ten years, it became clear to us that it was time to move on to a new phase of life and a new ministry.

Little did we know that God would lead our steps right back to Lifeline.  He opened doors quickly and completely.  He removed obstacles in the way.  He made His plan clear.  So on May 1, I was blessed to join Team Lifeline again, this time as Vice President of Ministries.  On May 2, I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to return to Honduras to visit dear friends and ministry partners - for only the second time in 10 years.

When I stepped off the airplane this time, I wondered what God had been doing through Lifeline since I had left a decade before.   As I rekindled friendships and began new ones over the next several days, I was amazed at what I saw. 

Honduran staff and pastors
Meeting today's leaders in Honduras

Everywhere I looked I saw fruitful ministry.  I saw Kingdom impact expanded into ten new communities throughout the country.  I saw depth in the lives of those who are impacted by the ministry.  I saw strong Honduran leadership taking initiative and ownership to move the Kingdom of God forward in spite of many obstacles and setbacks.  I saw those Lifeline ministered to in the past becoming those who are ministering to their neighbors in the present.

Children that were just kindergartners in Lifeline's school when I moved away in 2006 are now leading Bible studies, collecting funds locally to build homes for their neighbors who are in need, and leading their own mission trips to the public hospital to care for those who going through difficult times.  Kids who were in elementary school in 2006 are now teachers in Lifeline's elementary schools at both Gonzales and Ocotillo.  Girls who were raised in our children's home in Omoa are now serving as nurses and technicians in our clinic in Ocotillo and another is almost done with dental school.  Kids who a decade ago were snot nosed teenagers in our church youth groups are now worship and ministry team leaders in our congregations. 

Joel with an old Honduran friend
Joel reconnects with a past Lifeline employee

God has worked through Lifeline - in spite of our weaknesses and failures - to produce lasting life change in the lives of those we are reaching.  Now they have joined the team and taken ownership of the ministry and are leading the charge forward themselves.  That is what fruitful ministry looks like, and that is what was clear to see when I returned to Honduras recently. 

Sometimes though, it is not so easy for those closest to the ministry to see the fruitfulness.  Sometimes those involved in the day to day grind have to be so focused on overcoming challenges and obstacles that they often don't see the victories.  They often miss the celebration.  Sometimes their role doesn't allow them to take note of the life change happening, slowly day by day, one little bit at a time, right in front of them.

Joel spoke with the students (he speaks fluent Spanish)

For those of you that are parents, you've probably experienced this.  You are so close to your kids and so focused on shaping and preparing them for adulthood that you may miss the transformation along the way.  You may miss the growth that is happening because you are so focused on helping them have the growth that hasn't yet happened. 

Sometimes our field directors and other staff that together make up Team Lifeline go through something similar.  Sometimes we are overwhelmed with what still needs done and we overlook what has already been accomplished - we miss the celebration, we struggle to see the fruit.

As you finish reading this - right now -  would you pause to pray to thank God for the fruitful ministry He has done through Lifeline, and would you also, right now, ask God to allow Team Lifeline to take a step back from the daily challenges of ministry and to be able to see the fruit that is all around them- to see the good things that God is doing through them.  If you have personally met someone on Lifeline's global or stateside staff, please pray for them specifically by name.  Thank you!