I (Matt) experienced an amazing moment in my life this summer that I would classify as one of the top 5 impactful moments of my life; and it came as a HUGE surprise. We were home this summer from Guatemala; resting, working, finding out 3 of us have Celiac, enjoying Canada, prepping for a bunch of push ups and generally processing through the inner workings of the soul. I would call it a good summer and a hard summer. The summer of 2013; which also happens to be my 40th year on the planet.
The day was Wednesday August 13th. My lovely wife Kerry and our friends Loren and Cathy Jespersen were organizing a small golf tournament for Fe Viva. They had worked hard getting it ready and yet there were still problems leading up to the day. One problem was me; I am not a fan of golf and I mentioned to Kerry that I was planning not to go, but attend the BBQ afterwards. She said that I could not skip it because I have to represent Fe Viva that the tourney. So I went, had lots of fun and then at the BBQ received one of the biggest surprises of my life. Towards the end of the BBQ it was revealed to me that this whole day was all a guise for a 40th birthday party. I was not going to be in Canada to celebrate with friends there, but Kerry and Cathy planned a great big one for my. It was an amazing experience. At the end of the night, friends and family spoke of blessings, prayers and encouragement over my life. I cried the whole time. The words people spoke over me were so powerful that I would say that it was one of the top 5 experiences of my life. Those blessings were huge and they will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Now during this time I was preparing for another big event, because I like to do big, crazy events, and the power of this night created something that blessed many people. I call it the Power of the Blessing. I was preparing to do 10,000 push ups in one week. (Another crazy idea that I always seem to come up with.) I had a few people who were joining me, but that night I found out that there were many others that were going to join me. I had not promoted this event that much; I was tired all summer and just wanted to stick to my word that I would do these push ups and hope that we would raise a few thousand dollars.
That night I found out that people were going to sponsor a good amount and as it turned out we raised over $72,000 that week. I strongly believe that this all came about because of the blessings that people spoke over me. These words created something incredible. It was not because I had a good idea, or was an incredible promoter, but because of the love, power and blessings of people and their belief in me. I would like to thank everyone for blessing me, encouraging me and believing in me. One thing that God has spoken again and again this year that I will use for the rest of my life is this:
If you know you are loved, you can accomplish anything.
Remember people; we are loved by the creator of love and He gave His all for us. Let’s give our all for him.
To Those Who Will Not Shrink Back.
After visiting Fe Viva and Casa Esperanza 3 years ago, Jessica Lee, a high school student from Pennsylvania, decided to do something. She started a fundraiser for Casa Esperanza. For the past 3 years, she and her classmates, especially in her Spanish class, have been selling cupcakes to support Casa Esperanza. They have also written the children in Casa Esperanza many times.
This year they decided to join with Casa Esperanza, as they participated in The GOOD Run in March, and donate the funds raised selling cupcakes to Colegio de Fe Viva in Nicaragua.
Here is an excerpt of a letter from Jessica:
“We just finished our final sale of the year. It’s fantastic to look at how much God has supported us through the years. We will be able to send Casa Esperanza $1000 to support The GOOD Run and the school in Managua, Nicaragua. I’m so glad that the children were able to raise so much money through their fundraiser, and I pray that our contribution will be able to bless them as well.
Our club plans to continue running even after I graduate this spring. Our church will be returning to Guatemala this summer. Our team will personally bring the check and the cards to you at Casa Esperanza.
Thank you so much for allowing me to have the opportunity to continue serving Casa Esperanza. I have truly grown through my experiences, and I’ve seen God’s amazing work. My only hope is that I’ve been able to return even the smallest bit of love that the Casa kids showed me three years ago.”
Children of Casa Esperanza running for children in Nicaragua again. They love to run and run. This year we used the local track to do the run. Lots of fun and life. The Children roared to life and had a blast.
These are our wonderful friends, Darrell and Lorraine Austin, from Port Dover, Ontario. Lorraine had an opportunity to come to Guatemala this past February with her church. This was her first time on a mission trip and it changed her life. While she was at Fe Viva, she heard of The GOOD Initiative and she went home with a plan. She decided to bake her fabulous banana bread and sell it to raise funds for Fe Viva’s school in Nicaragua (Colegio de Fe Viva) and The GOOD Banana Bread was born. (I have tasted it, and it is goooood!)
As of June 20th, Lorraine has baked over 120 loaves and raised over $600.00. This has also given her and her husband the opportunity to share with others in their community about God and why she is selling banana bread. Not only is she affecting lives of children in Nicaragua, but she is being given opportunities to share “life” with people next door and down the street.
Thank you Lorriane for using what you are good at and making a difference in peoples lives.
I’m 64 and just realized my love for running this past year, after retiring prematurely from nursing for health reasons. What the running did for me is help me overcome that loss of doing something I loved. I took up running on the Nintendo Wii Fit, using the Free Run activity which tracks my distance.
Another new experience this past year was my first international missions trip to FeViva World Missions’ base in Guatemala with my husband and three daughters in December. That’s where I got to know the children of Casa Esperanza. I received information about the 2012 Good Run the Casa kids were participating in to help Nicaraguan children go to school and have at least one meal per day. It was watching the Casa kids running on a video from the 2011 Good Run that inspired me to combine my love of running with sponsoring them.
In the two weeks leading up to the Good Run on Feb. 18, I ran 41 km on the Wii, doing 10 minutes at a time, up to 6 km per day. (I had originally committed to doing 25 km.) I was able to raise $750 and inspired my daughter in Portage la Prairie to raise another $110. My greatest fear in asking for pledges was that people wouldn’t respond, but God put it in my heart so I took that leap of faith — and people just caught the vision. I just praise God and am overwhelmed by the generosity He put in their hearts. My life mission is to inspire my children, grandchildren and everyone in my life to be on mission with Jesus: caring for others.
I want to run the Good Race and be an overcomer!
I did “The GOOD Cut” because it was something I could do to support Children in Central America. I am a hair stylist, and it just made sense to use my skill to help raise money. I enjoy what I do for a living and was happy to help out Fe Viva. I plan on doing it again.
Hello, my name is Gavin Howell. I live in a small community of Stony Plain in Alberta, Canada. I am a husband to a beautiful wife and father to four lovely children and am just over 40 years old … 42 years old if you really need to know! I have been following our Lord for 8 years and He reveals more and more to me as my faith grows every year.
This leads me to a specific event that happened in the summer of 2011, where the Lord revealed many things to me. My friend, Matt Blacklock challenged himself to run 148 kms, non-stop, over mountains, across creeks, and possibly over other runners who had passed out from fatigue. Knowing that he was about to embark on this journey of endurance to raise money for kids in Nicaragua, I also challenged myself. I’m not a runner, like Matt, but I figured I would be able to help the cause by biking. The goal was to bike 291 kms through the Rocky Mountains all in one day, with my family being my road crew. As spring came and went, it was time to let “the rubber hit the road” and to do some serious training if this ride was to be accomplished. Mainly my training would consist of 60 to 80 km rides through the countryside, targeting lots of hills. There began to be a pattern that started on these rides. I would use these times of solitude (did I mention about having 4 kids?) to pray while riding and also listen to worship music. When I would get about an hour into my ride I would pass by an old friend’s house, and tears and an overwhelming sadness would overcome me. This “old” friend was very much a part of my life when I came to the Lord and we would sharpen each other and encourage one another in our walk with the Lord. But our lives had taken different directions and although there were no negative feelings, we allowed our friendship to wither away, and I had not seen him in over 2 years. Over and over again in the months of training, this sadness and grief would come as I came into the vicinity of his home. One day while on the bike, I asked the Lord what this was all about. The resounding answer was, “Do not take lightly, the relationships I have given you!” I knew I had taken this relationship lightly and knew that I had stopped putting effort into praying and encouraging this friendship.
As this revelation from the Lord was brought to me, I knew that this friendship needed to be connected again. One month prior to going to the mountains, I met my friend, Korey, for 2-3 hours every Saturday morning and picked up where we had left off. He was a great source of encouragement, donated money to the cause and I knew he was praying for me.
The day approached to do this ride, so I packed up my family, drove to the mountains and began, nervously to take this challenge on. My wife and I knew that I would have to head out very early in the morning so that I could finish before it got too dark into the evening. As I pedaled off at 5:30 am, it was 4° C and dark. The scripture that I clung to was Romans 5:4 “Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
About 85 kms into the ride, I was cold, tired and discouraged with how much distance was left. When my wife and kids showed up in the truck to give me food and prayer, I sat in the truck, trying to warm up and shake off the discouragement. “Am I supposed to rejoice in this suffering?? Can I persevere past an overwhelming cloud of doubt? Will my Lord give me the character to overcome??”
I stepped out of the truck, after an hour long sit down, refreshed and renewed with an attitude that THIS can be overcome. As worship music sifted through my mind with promises of restoration, redemption, forgiveness and being bathed in prayers from my loved ones, the doubt began to be replaced with hope … the hope that will not disappoint!!
Now that the doubt and discouragement were fading, I began to feel stronger and faster. As the hours went on, not only was I rejoicing in the fatigue and the cramping, there was an unrelenting desire to finish this ride. The Lord had renewed my mind and now was giving me the character to see this to the end.
As it was becoming evident that the worst was over and I would complete this ride, I told my “road crew” to go set up camp and then meet me at the finish line because there was only 60 kms left. Dusk was coming, but I felt strong and confident that I could finish. But … with about 12 kms left to the finish, I got a flat tire (the only flat tire of the day) and darkness was upon me. Hope was fading that I would finish and discouragement once again began to set in. I rode on the flat tire for about 3 – 4 kms, but had to stop from complete exhaustion. I was now into my 15th hour of riding, discouraged, exhausted and I had no communication with my wife to let her know I was stranded on the highway. I got off my bike and began to walk in the dark. I could see a truck pulled over about 1km down the road in front of me and I could faintly see a man walking towards me. Stepping out of the ditch and now standing before me was my friend Korey! I was speechless. We gripped into a hug … him mostly holding me up. My mind was racing. “How can this possibly be happening? Did God send an angel? Is this the hope that will not disappoint? Is the Lord once again saying, “I’ve got your back”? How can this have a logical explanation? How can two men be re-united on a highway 800 kms away from home, without my “road crew” even being aware of it?” Needless to say, Korey gave me a ride in his truck the last 8kms to re-unite with my “road crew”. Korey explained that he parked on that stretch of highway to surprise me with encouragement and support as I would ride by. Little did we know what impact this re-union on the highway would have.
The real lesson is that God specifically puts relationships in our lives to love one another, encourage one another, and to live together. We must intentionally make an effort to nurture these relationships so we can hear Him speak to us through them. Do not take your relationships lightly … nurture them and rejoice that He has placed these people in your life to be “angels” in your time of need.