A Word From Papa Stan

We have now completed the first half-year of operating the ministry of Rocsana’s Hope here in Guatemala. It has been an exciting 6 months and what’s more, it is only the beginning of a ministry that we truly believe is going to make a difference in the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of young ladies.

The ministry now has three young ladies who are living here and preparing for their futures. Diana was the first to come to us in April and she has adjusted really well to being here. She is currently enrolled in classes for English as well as a free class on how to do nails. She loves that kind of thing and is excelling. Next came Fabiana in May. Fabiana was trying to make it on the street with her brother and was not doing well. She was accepted into our program. She is a go-getter and is doing really well. Besides working a job up the street, she is enrolling for classes next year and is working towards becoming a teacher of history and art. Finally, Darling was accepted into our program the first week of June. She cried a lot her first day but since has adjusted wonderfully. She is still enrolled in and attending school at the high school level and will be done with this year in October, after which she might need another year before she can graduate.

Every girls’ situation is different but they all have a similar heart. They are grateful to be here and thankful that they get to be a part of a program that is going to impact the rest of their lives. What a joy this has been. God is so good.

Grace: The Forgotten Truth We Must Return To

I was recently asked this question: “How in the world can you forgive someone who has wronged you so deeply and cruelly? How can you have any care or love for them after what they did to you?” Well that is indeed a good question and, as always, the answer lies in God’s amazing word. If there is anything that has come to my mind given the current political climate we seem to find ourselves in, it is that we are all truly broken and imperfect people. We have all fallen short in some way and have made some awful decisions and mistakes in our lives. In God’s word it says it like this: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) I also believe that if every intimate detail of our lives were to be revealed, it would destroy every single one of us. But do you know what is even more amazing? GOD ALREADY KNOWS EVERY INTIMATE DETAIL…AND HE STILL LOVES US AND SENT HIS SON TO DIE FOR US. How in the world can a holy and righteous God do that? He knew our sin and our darkest deeds we would commit before we were ever born…and that brings me to one of the most amazing stories from God’s word about Jesus. Do you remember the woman who was caught in adultery? The story is in John chapter 8 if you are not familiar with it. Basically there was a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. She was apprehended and brought to Jesus. Jewish law was clear: she was to be stoned, and I am sure that was the plan. However they thought that they could also use this opportunity to cast Jesus in a bad light, which they were desperate to do so they threw her down at the feet of Jesus and explained the situation. At first Jesus ignored them by stooping down and writing in the dirt as though they weren’t even there. After pressing Him for an answer He stood up and uttered those well known words “He that is without sin let him cast the first stone.” The bible says that they began to leave beginning with eldest then down to the youngest. Jesus was left alone with her in front of the crowd who had gathered to hear Him teach. She expected death at any moment. Finally she looked up and the only person standing there next to her was Jesus. She looked up at Him and He said to her “Woman, where are those that accuse you? Does no man condemn you?” She answered “No man Lord.” He said “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Now there is something amazing that happened here. She was GUILTY. Jesus knew that, and what’s more is He also knew that His Father was getting ready to take her sin of adultery and put it upon Him when He was going to be on the cross. He KNEW that and still stood there and refused to condemn her and see her pay the price that she deserved. The reason could not be more clear. He was not excusing her sin. In fact He told her to go and not do that or any other sin anymore. But the reason He did not condemn her was not because she wasn’t guilty, but because He was getting ready to be condemned in her place. The price for her sin still needed to be paid, but He was going to pay it for her. Based on that He was able to offer her what no one else could: forgiveness of her sins. Did she deserve it? No! Again she was guilty. But Jesus bore her and indeed all of our punishment when He hung on that cross. He now turns to us and offers that same forgiveness. We don’t deserve it any more than she did. But that is the nature of God’s truly amazing grace. I don’t know about you, but I have done some pretty bad things in my life. I often feel that I do not deserve anything from God, especially His forgiveness. Nonetheless He loves me enough that He knew all that I would do and still offers it to me. What an amazing God and Father He is. One other thing Jesus said that we so desperately need to remember. He was accused of spending time with “tax collectors and sinners” in Matthew chapter 9, which He was doing. When He knew they were asking His disciples why He would stoop so low as to hang out with those miserable rotten sinners, He said some amazing things. “It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I DESIRE MERCY and not sacrifice” (capitals mine). There are so many people who are totally devoid of any kind of mercy today, and yet God’s mercy was shown to us even when we absolutely did not deserve it. God’s mercy and grace go hand in hand. So there it is. God desires that we have mercy on those who have hurt or wronged us, just as He has had mercy on us because with our sin we have hurt and wronged Him too…and this is yet another aspect of God’s amazing grace. We cannot forgive and love after being wronged on our own. We also need God’s grace for that too. So don’t even try to do it alone. If you do you will fail every time. Rather simply go to the One whose grace is so great and freely offered and ask Him to fill you with it. I assure you that if you do that, He will.

When People Are Standing Beside My Casket

It’s not what people are going to say about me, but what are they are going to be thinking in their hearts about me? In that moment, as they stare down at my earthly remains, what they are thinking about me is what I worry about. I am certainly not afraid to die. In fact there is a great part of me that looks forward to it. I will get to see my mom and dad and so many others that are already in heaven with Jesus and I can imagine how excited they are going to be when I can join them. It is something I look forward to.

But I am also excited to live. While I am still in this world I get to do something amazing and that is serve the Lord Jesus Christ, glorify Him, and be a part of seeing kids’ lives changed by His power.

I never understood how amazing and life-changing that could be. I know so many Christians who go to church, sing the songs, put their money in the offering plate, and even say an occasional amen. But when the music has been sung, the sermon has been preached, and when the service is over they return to their real life, which for so many is chasing the “American Dream.”

The Great Lie

Denise and I spent a lot of years “serving the Lord” in various ministries but at the same time we were trying to keep up with the Jones as well. We had lived so poorly for the first 15 years of our marriage that we wanted to finally live like everyone else, at least everyone else we knew in America. So we worked hard and finally had the nice house, the nice cars, good jobs, and nice things. I mean, this is what it’s all about right? Marriage wise, it was some of the worst times in our relationship. For some reason, we seemed to be struggling in other ways and it was one of the most unhappy times in our entire marriage. Actually, our worst year was the year we made the most money. We couldn’t figure it out and something just wasn’t adding up. I mean, the more you have the happier you are, right? We were just beginning to learn a valuable lesson: True happiness, inner joy, and real contentment absolutely cannot be bought, no matter how much money or things you have!

When It ALL Changed

We started seeking God and, to make a long story short, we surrendered to Him and His purpose for our lives. We had NO IDEA what was getting ready to happen. Denise lost her job, I lost my business, and eventually we lost our house. That led to us moving to LaCygne, Kansas where I pastored a small country church. THAT, in turn, led us to taking a seemingly benign mission trip to a small country in Central America. Within a year after taking that trip, we surrendered to the mission field. We sold everything we had and moved to Guatemala.

Stupid right? Well to many still chasing the “dream” I am sure it looked that way. But for us it was one of the most liberating things we had ever done AND when we were on the field serving God and working with our girls, those have become the happiest times of our lives. I know for me, I have never ever felt a greater depth of joy than I have ever known before and a deeper sense that I found what I was looking for all along. You see, the happiness that so many seek through material things and big bank accounts can only really be found when we give that all up. I don’t necessarily mean literally, although for some that might be exactly what God will ask, but I mean realizing that the mythical pot at the end of the rainbow will never be found. It isn’t until you let all of that go and realize that total surrender to the Lord and finding your purpose in Him is what really can give us what we are looking for.

And so it isn’t what people are going to say about me when I die. It is what they are going to think. It is going to be what was really true about my life that I care most about when people stand beside my casket. How did he live?
So when people are standing beside my casket, what are they going to think? What has always scared me is that some people might be able to think things like “He had so much potential” or “He could have done so much more for the Lord” or “If he had only sold out and gave his all to the Lord and not given up”. People thinking those things is what I fear the most. What I hope for, what I pray for and desire more than anything is for people to say things like “Man, that guy gave his life to serve the Lord and help others”, “He didn’t hold anything back in his commitment to the Lord”, and “That guy served God with all of his heart.” I want people to know that I was broken and spilled out in service to the Lord and I want people to know that I never surrendered to discouragement or defeat and that God used me to make an impact in other people’s lives for eternity. That is what I want… just to serve God and live for Him. My time is coming one day… and so is yours. What are people going to be thinking about you when your time has come?