A Year of Hope

Cowboy Boots

I have noticed that these days many are putting their hope and trust in governments or those that would like to change the government. Also, some have placed their hope in their finances and suddenly the world markets are shaking.

I would suggest that unless your hope is in the unchanging, unshakable, King of Kings and Lord of Lords—Jesus Christ you will not have peace, and anxiety will reign in your life.

Many years ago, serving as a missionary in Latin America, I learned an invaluable lesson involving passports and visas, cowboy boots, and how to overcome anxiety and replace it with HOPE!

Let me tell you a little about how passports and visas affect your living in another country. I understood that you needed a passport to allow you to visit most other counties. Even though in the 1980’s we could still visit the United States without a passport.

Growing up in Canada I never realized that in just about all other countries—you must carry identification papers with you at all times.

So when we decided to live in Guatemala it was a whole different world. In the 1970’s we had already gone through a very long process to get “green cards” allowing us to live and work in the United States. The Latin American processes were something quite different.

Arriving in Guatemala in January 1980 we were given permission to be in the country for ninety days. Obtaining a visa to stay in the country for more time was not an easy task. The officials didn’t hand visas out freely. It seemed that the rules and regulations changed continually and always involved a mountain of paperwork.

The first thing that we had against us was that we were Canadians!

Let me explain, our rejection as Canadians had to do with Belize. Originally known as “British Honduras”—a British Crown colony claimed after negotiations with Guatemala. The Guatemalans felt that the British had not fulfilled their part of the bargain and they had stolen the land from Guatemala.

Our problem was the Guatemalans lumped the British and Canadians together as one. Someone from the United States would get a visa good for five years—Canadians were lucky to get one for six months.

For years as the time to renew our visas neared, I would struggle with fear and anxiety. “What if they don’t give me another visa?”

I remember the day that I got my first visa extension, I was so relieved and happy! As I walked back to my car, I saw a pair of cowboy boots in a shop window—to celebrate I went in and bought them. They were good boots and a symbol of God’s faithfulness!

I don’t know how many years I struggled with my visa anxiety until one day it all changed. I was standing in line at the immigration office, once again with my hands full of papers. I was ready to submit my request when the Lord spoke to me…

He planted these words deep in me, “Doug you will have a visa to live in this country as long as I want you here—not as long as they want you here!” Those words set me free, it all changed. I still had to do paperwork, but the anxiety was gone.

A while later due to a situation in the church, we began to receive threatening phone calls. The most interesting call was from someone who was supposedly on my side. He said that he worked high up in the government and was just calling to warn me…

He recounted that my name had come up before some immensely powerful government officials. Supposedly they had decided that when my visa became due—it wouldn’t be renewed.

Understanding that this was a spiritual battle—that all these threats were coming from the enemy—the only way we could win was by prayer and taking spiritual authority over the enemy.

Remembering that the Lord had told me: “You will have a visa to live in this country as long as I want you here—not as long as they want you here!” I just said, “Well Lord, you’re in charge of the visa department.”

Interestingly, the next time I went to renew our visas it was one of the easiest experiences and our visas were extended for a much longer time than usual. Once again, the enemy was revealed as a liar!

Time to slip on those cowboy boots.

I have discovered that as I place my hope in my Lord Jesus Christ the future is great, anxiety goes, and He gets all the glory!

In 1969 after graduating from the Full Gospel Bible Institute in Eston, Saskatchewan, Doug traveled as a Child Evangelist before becoming the Youth pastor at the Zion Apostolic Church in Winnipeg—where he met and married Donna Elmwood.

Doug was ordained as an ACOP minister of the Gospel in 1971. Doug and Donna then pastored in Melfort Saskatchewan and Pharr Texas.

In 1978 they were commissioned as missionaries to Latin America and after studying Spanish moved to Guatemala. They spent over 16 years in Central America before moving back to Canada.

Back in Canada, they served for ten years as the Senior Pastors of North Edmonton Christian Fellowship. Doug and Donna now reside in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The above article is an excerpt from Doug’s life story being published as “Adventures Experiencing God’s Faithfulness.”


A Year of Hope

What Impact Does Hope Have On the Mission of the Church?

It might be as simple as chicken noodle soup…

You know, the good ‘ol remedy for when you are feeling under the weather. Nothing else is appealing when you don’t have much of an appetite.

Hope can be the same! It’s a simple comfort when the world seems dark and circumstances overwhelm.

“Jesus gave them another parable: There once was a woman who had ten valuable silver coins. When she lost one of them, she swept her entire house, diligently searching every nook and cranny for that one lost coin. When she finally found it, she gathered all her friends and neighbours for a celebration, telling them, ‘Come and celebrate with me! I had lost my precious silver coin, but now I’ve found it.’ That’s the way God responds every time one lost sinner repents and turns to Him. He says to all his angels, ‘Let’s have a joyous celebration, for the one who was lost, I have found!'”

Luke 15:8-10 TPT

There’s a whole lot of celebration going on in Luke 15—it’s said that each coin was the equivalent of a full day’s wage. The coin’s value was just that, it didn’t lose its value because it was lost. Isn’t that a beautiful (easily overlooked) truth!

But this chapter in the Bible also has another easily overlooked truth…

There are three parables in Luke 15—The Lost Sheep (1 of 100), The Lost Coin (1 of 10), and The Lost Son (1 of 2)—you see it don’t you? Each soul is extremely valuable.*

Having had a salvation experience—you know the extraordinary value that Jesus places on every soul. This is the hope we carry!

A “hope-shaped mission” is a Luke 15 mission—lost to found!

…there will be a glorious celebration in heaven over the rescue of one lost sinner who repents, comes back home, and returns to the fold… (vs. 7)

…Let’s have a joyous celebration, for the one who was lost, I have found… (vs. 10)

…It’s only right to rejoice and celebrate like this, because your brother was once dead and gone, but now he is alive and back with us again. He was lost, but now he is found… (vs. 32)

Luke 15 celebration moments are to be common—like chicken noodle soup is when you are sick. So, what impact does hope have on the mission of the Church?

Two of the three parables necessitated an all-out search for what was lost, but the last parable…

The Father’s heart was on display—longing and looking (…hope…) for his son to return. Let’s not just look for something we lost but, hunger for the lost soul so they can be found—alone to belong, valuable even when lost, significant, and always loved!

So the church becomes what love and hope look like in a lost and broken world…

*Side note: you can feel lonely and lost in a crowd (1 of 100), lonely and lost where you are needed (1 of 10) and lonely and lost in your family (1 of 2)—but don’t think for a moment that Jesus isn’t looking for you!