A Vessel In His Hands

IGNITE Class 13 intern, Julio, has just finished three months of training in Guatemala. He shares about how the program has impacted his life and thanks those who support the work of Potter’s Field Ministries.

 

Dear Potter’s Field Sponsors:

My name is Julio André Castillo and I´m 20 years old. I was born and raised in Guatemala in a town called Morales, Izabal, but for the last 11 weeks have been living in Antigua, Guatemala.  For this part of my life, I am going through IGNITE Class 13 during the training phase. I got to know this ministry last year by my friend Natalia Navas, a staff member here in Antigua. While she was sharing her testimony with me and all that God has done and still was doing in her life, I found myself in awe. It was surprising to see the change in her life after a few months of IGNITE; it was something I didn’t expect from her. Seeing her face shine as she shared and knowing how God was using her life for His work started to move my heart. During that time, I was finishing my second year of Business Engineering in Universidad Francisco Marroquin. Without a real relationship with God, I was surviving, not living. Through some struggles of lacking purpose, purity, and self-identity, I didn’t care for His will. The only thing that remained was what I knew from Him since I was a kid: the desire to be His servant and something great for Him. My heart and prayer has always been the dream to live for God, but fear has been my obstacle. Although there were times in which I would try to commit myself to Him, I couldn’t endure and rapidly burned out.

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This past June was a changing point in my life. I was still struggling with the same problems and it was so tiring physically, mentally, and spiritually in a way that nothing in my life looked to be working out. When suddenly, thanks to Natalia, I met Austin and Shannon Hiatt. That afternoon I had the opportunity to share some words with Austin and open a little bit of my heart to him. Not even knowing what was coming, Austin invited me to be part of IGNITE Class 13. I felt like all my prayers were answered. In spite of being afraid and doubtful, I left my school and family and accepted the invitation.

Since then it has been an eye-opening time. At the introductory lesson with Pastor Michael, I knew that for the first time in my life I was in the right place at the right moment with the correct people. Watching the potter demonstration, a movie of all my life was playing through my mind. I saw every moment of love, hardship, suffering, joy, and sadness. God told me that every day of life was required and assigned in His plan so that I could be there that day in Antigua. It didn’t matter my condition or sin; He had my life in His hands.

It is amazing how big the ministry is, and I would have never imagined there could be something like this here in Guatemala. It is a blessing what Potter’s Field is doing here with us; a blessing for my life and definitely for other Guatemalans too. God has used every classmate, lesson, staff, and pastor to speak to my life in a way I would have never known.

 

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It is amazing the growth of my relationship with God in this process, I have shared the gospel more in the last eleven weeks than I ever did in all my life. In outreaches, hospital visits, or Kids Club, He is working in me. Before I wanted a god for my life, now my life is for God. The revelation of His sacrifice has set me free from my anxieties and fear, and I am walking in His freedom! It is a constant surrender of myself to the Lord, in my will or desires, because my love for Him has grown to a level in which I want to please Him. My heart now is breaking for the souls out here in my country. I want to be a vessel in His hands that He can use to reach people and share His love. I know that God is in my country and that He loves us. I know this first for having all of you with Potter’s Field, and because of testimony after testimony in the outreaches. We have been able to witness God´s faithfulness.

 

I thank you very much for all your incredible support. Your help has been used to build His kingdom in this amazing country. Your seeds have planted more seeds of salvation and joy in kids, young adults, and older people. I ask that our Lord bless each one of you by name and that He would give you back all you have planted with increase.

With much love,

Julio Castillo

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A Letter of Thanks

Dear Sponsor of Potters Field Ministries,

  My name is Micah Clark. I am a nineteen-year-old New Jersey native who is currently living in Uganda, Africa with the Potters Field IGNITE program. I would like to formally thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could tell you face to face, but as of now, I will just have to do so over a letter. So thank you so much. I am unsure if you know all that your donations go to, but I have been a part of first-hand seeing and receiving the blessing that you have been and are. Here in Uganda, every Saturday we have a Kids Club. At Kids Club the children receive a Bible lesson and lunch. The children are nourished both physically and also spiritually. Some of these kids don’t get to eat every day, so this free lunch on Saturday is a guaranteed meal for at least one day. Your donation means something. And the children here have to pay fees for their education and with large families, even some single families, money is tight, so your donations go to help put Ugandan children into school so they can receive a better future.

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Your donation goes to help sendthe interns to different parts of Africa too. Three other interns and I just went to a country named Burundi. Burundi is two countries away from Uganda and the second most impoverished nation in the world. With your donation, we not only assisted in a Pastor’s conference but also put on a Kids Club and Sunday school for the children. You also had the opportunity to provide food for the group of fifty pastors at this conference as well as a group of hungry, Burundian kids.

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If you are at all curious if your donation actually makes a difference, it does. I have seen this first-hand. My time here on the field has been life changing. I entered IGNITE immature and just a boy, but I feel as my time wraps up I am maturing more and more every day and turning into a Christ-centered man. I certainly still have a way to go, but just the growth that has come out of this short season is more than I could ever imagine without it.

I wish you had the chance to see on your own what your donation does, just the impact it makes in the lives of the children here. The Ugandan kids are beautiful, energetic, playful, and just such bundles of joy. It breaks my heart to know they don’t get food, shoes, clothes, or basic life necessities sometimes, but your donation goes towards that. So I am so thankful for that.

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As I have only a month and a half left in Uganda, I will be leaving soon, but my heart will continue to be here. So I thank you for your donations, and I thank you for your prayers, and I thank you for being a part of something bigger than you, even if you don’t get to see it first-hand.  I ask you that you would continue to donate for these kids. I am so thankful to know that every Saturday thanks to you as a Sponsor they will receive at least one meal for the day or even the week. I can’t express it enough of how thankful I am for you.

With much love and appreciation,

Micah Clark

 

Meet Sofia!

Valerie (of Calvary Chapel Boston) spent the past five months serving in Guatemala with the Potter’s Field IGNITE Program. Over that course of time, she has gotten to closely know many of the children who attend Kids Club in Antigua. One of these girls is sweet, eight-year-old Sofia. 

“To those who pray for her all over the world, Sofia wanted to say thank you. She truly has a heart of gratitude for what you may be sacrificing, whether that is your time in prayer or helping financially. From the bottom of her heart, she wants to thank you for your prayers, for helping her learn more about Jesus, and for the wonderful opportunity to be able to come to a place to partake in fellowship with other Christians.”

Sofia Armas is the kind of girl you just can’t miss at Kids Club. She is beautiful both inside and out and the passion in her heart for her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, beams from her face. Although she is quiet, her personality cannot be missed. Every week Sofia attends Kids Club with her mother and grandmother. She is always one of the first to volunteer to pray or to help with other activities. She can always be found dancing in the front row with her whole heart. Her mother and grandmother enjoy dancing with her from the back of the room. The joy of the Lord fills not only her life but her family’s life as well. All three of them attend church at Calvary Chapel Antigua which allows for the incredible opportunity and privilege to see them on Sundays.

 

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Through growing in a relationship with not only Sofia but also her family over the past eight months, I have learned more about what love is. Every time I see them, Sofia, her mother, and grandmother go out of their way to see how I am doing because they genuinely care. Early in my field time I fell and ended up in a cast. The love that they showed me at that time was in abundance. All of them continue to check up on me every week to see how the healing process is going. Their love encourages me to go deeper with the people around me. I am more on the quiet, reserved side and I tend to avoid conversation; but because of their love and their willingness to always talk I am encouraged to step more out of my comfort zone.

Outside of Kids Club, Sofia is a very busy eight-year-old. Just to name a few of her hobbies, she has a love for art, hip-hop dancing, and learning the piano. Despite being busy with all of her extra activities she also keeps her grades in school very high; she even loves to study in her free time.

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Sofia at Potter’s Field Kids Guatemala

 

Sofia has a passion for the Lord and doesn’t know exactly when the Lord came into her heart, but she knows that He is dwelling within her. God is her Father, and she realizes her deep need for Him in her life. Genesis is her favorite Bible book. She loves to read and continuously learn what the Lord has for her in His word. Learning about how the Lord is the Creator of all is something that fascinates her and strengthens her walk with Him.

Two years ago, Sofia’s mother heard of Kids Club through a few of her friends. Since then she has been coming almost every Wednesday. Sofia’s life has been impacted by the works of the Lord through Kids Club. She has been changed by the relationship with the Lord that she has learned to have at Kids Club with the help of the God-driven teachers of the Word. Learning how to speak the Word is also an amazing thing that she is learning how to do more of.

 

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IGNITE Class 12 intern, Valerie (of CC Boston), with Sofia!

 

Loved by God

This is the story of seven-year-old Natalia of PFK Costa Rica, as told by our IGNITE Class 12 intern, Kenadie (of Crossroads Community Church). Kenadie has been serving in Costa Rica for the past four months through the Potter’s Field IGNITE program and has been able to get to know and love little Natalia through serving at the local Kids Clubs both in Llanito and in Villarreal (alongside Calvary Chapel Villarreal). Please be praying for Natalia and all of the children who attend Kids Club in Costa Rica.

Like most of the kids in Llanito, Costa Rica, Natalia was born in Nicaragua. She moved to Costa Rica when she was five years old to live with her extended family. She faithfully attends Kids Club every Monday in Llanito, Costa Rica with two of her older cousins. Kids Club has only been in Llanito for about a year, so she hasn’t been attending for very long, but she is part of the original group of children. Natalia knew nothing about Jesus when she first started coming to Kids Club but is now hearing about Him every week through the songs and Bible stories.

Costa Rica is the melting pot of central America, and it is common for Nicaraguans to move to Costa Rica because of how much safer it is. Unfortunately, they are not always welcomed with open arms. Nicaraguans are looked down on by the majority of native Costa Ricans. Even if they’re good citizens, they are viewed as dirty and considered outsiders. Children like Natalia who move here are going to stand out for their entire lives. At the school in Llanito, most of the students are from Nicaragua, but anywhere outside of that, biases are going to follow them. Natalia is part of this group of people seen as slightly “less than” simply because of where she was born.

Natalia lives with her aunt and cousins while her mom lives in Nicaragua. Her mom didn’t do this out of a heart to protect her but because she didn’t want her daughter to be with her. Although she lives in a safer country, the heartache of not being wanted by her mother has deeply hurt Natalia. Seven years old is old enough to know that she isn’t wanted by the woman who should love her more than anyone else. Through Kids Club, Natalia is learning about the God who loves her enough to die for her. She is learning that she is valued and wanted by the King of kings. For the first time in her life, she is being shown the love that she has always needed. She is being told that our God is near to the broken hearted.

 

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Natalia (right) at Potter’s Field Kids Club Costa Rica

 

This reality of being unwanted is one that is not uncommon in Costa Rica. It is normal to start having children by the age of 15 or 16, almost always outside of marriage and usually with multiple men. be committed to raising a family together and even more rare that they get married. Because the family unit isn’t prioritized, children are not seen as precious blessings from the Lord. Without the Lord breaking into Natalia’s life, this is all she would ever know. She would never see that there is any other way of life. We know that the Lord can do anything, but watching Him break the cycle of brokenness never ceases to amaze me.

Please pray for Natalia to have a heart that loves the Lord from a very young age. Pray that she would find healing and comfort in the fact that Jesus loves her and died for her sins. As the Lord begins to change her life, please pray that she would be an example to her family and friends of what it means to love the Lord with your whole heart.

 

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Natalia (center) with IGNITE Class 12 intern, Kenadie, of Crossroads Community Church (right)

 

 

Impacting Guatemala

A young adult from Guatemala, IGNITE Class 12 intern, Izabella, shares how being in the program has brought her out of her comfort zone and widened her worldview. She has a word of thanks for those who faithfully pray for and support Potter’s Field Ministries.

Dear sponsors,

Hi, my name is Izabella, and I’m from Guatemala City. A lot of interns came here very excited because they knew the necessity the country has and they wanted to help. I am embarrassed to say that even though I knew it too, I ignored it. It wasn’t until God called me to IGNITE that I saw the parts of Guatemala I have never seen before and their desperate need for Jesus.

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Iza praying over a local woman during an outreach

 

While being here, I have been able to grow in my relationship with Christ in a place excluded from worldly distractions. It is incredible to me how much I have been able to learn about the Bible and Jesus’ love. My heart is extremely thankful for the help and prayer you have provided. It is beautiful to me how you were able to be part of my journey. It completely changed my life, and I will never forget it.

Love,
Izabella

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IGNITE interns (left to right) Julie, Jess, and Izabella during an outreach in Xela, Guatemala

 

 

Hearts on Fire

“The work that Potter’s Field is doing in Antigua is changing lives…”

The following was written by IGNITE Class 12 interns Nick and Julie Borghi of Calvary Chapel Chattanooga. Our interns have already spent over a month serving on the field and getting to know the children who attend our various Kids Clubs around the world! One little girl, in particular, caught Nick and Julie’s attention.

Since our first Kids Club in Guatemala, five-year-old Marianny has grabbed our attention.  This sweet five-year-old is full of energy and always on the move.  Her mom, Sylvia, summed her up in one word – “active.”  Usually, Marianny can be found on the trampoline near the tent.  She loves to jump and climb.  Besides play time, Marianny’s favorite part of Kids Club is the songs that we sing under the tent.  Her favorite song is “Tu Me Renuevas” (You Renew Me).  She even sings and dances the moves to that song at her home.

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Julie and Marianny at Potter’s Field Kids Antigua

Also at home, Marianny loves to pray.  She always volunteers to pray for meals for her family and before going to bed.  Her older sister, Natalie, and baby brother, Alejandro, are watching her pray every chance she gets at home, and I believe that Marianny is showing them the light of Jesus that lives inside her.  Her heart is so big that not only does she want to pray for other people, but she also wants to be a veterinarian and help save the lives of animals.  Her dog and turtle must be very lucky to have her as an owner!  She also has chickens that she takes care of with her parents’ help.  Sometimes her cousin likes to help her, too.

Her cousin is her best friend and comes to Kids Club with Marianny every Wednesday.  When the two are not at Kids Club, they enjoy drawing and painting and coloring and playing princesses.  Marianny is always Elsa, but dresses up in pink because it is her favorite color.  Marianny has a big heart for others and a personality that draws people.  She loves Jesus, and we believe God has great plans to use her as a light in this world.  When we asked who Jesus was to her, the answer was, “everything.”  Out of the mouth of babes… (Matthew 21:16).

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Julie and her son with Marianny and her family

For two years now, Marianny has been coming to Potter’s Field Kids Club, and we are so happy to have her.  She found out about Kids Club from a pamphlet she received while an IGNITE class was doing an outreach.  The reason that Marianny’s mom keeps bringing her back is because our Kids Club teaches children how to pray to God.  Marianny was once ashamed to pray but now loves to pray every chance she gets.  This child’s biggest prayer has greatly impacted her Mom and Dad.  She prays every day for her Dad to get a job.

The change of heart in her prayer life happened during a medical clinic at Calvary Chapel Antigua when someone with Potter’s Field prayed over her.  Since that day, Marianny’s attitude has changed, and she has grown a love for the Bible stories.  The work that Potter’s Field is doing in Antigua is changing lives.  What we may see on the front end is just seeds being planted, but other classes of IGNITE get to see the fruit that comes from it.  Marriany is a little girl who not only has been transformed by the Holy Spirit that lives in her, but she has also been a light to her family and ours as well.

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Unless the Lord Builds the House…

It was in October of 2014 when I was last in Uganda before my wife, Michelle, and I traveled there on April 24th -May 1st of this year. We were blessed to be able to spend time with Potter’s Field Ministries’ recently deployed IGNITE interns serving there, minister with and to the Calvary Chapel Entebbe (CCE) staff and church members, and to simply fellowship with our brothers and sisters there in Uganda who are so dear to us and all who serve with Potter’s Field Ministries (PFM). In addition to those reasons for going, there was also another purpose for our time there – to be a part of a building dedication that had been years in the making!

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Final preparations on the two-story educational building and courtyard

Potter’s Field Ministries has been involved in the private Christian school at CCE, Calvary Chapel Christian School, since it’s very beginnings. Over the years assisting in the building of needed educational buildings, providing funding for the administration for the school and, especially dear to us as a ministry, providing scholarships to hundreds of kids yearly to attend the school and get needed education, PFM has been blessed to be an intricate partner in all the school has grown into. As is always the case, school growth has led to the need for added facilities and, at the time of my last trip to Uganda, there were plans drawn up for a two-story educational facility, though the actual building of it was still just a dream. That dream came to reality over the past two and a half years, and it was our privilege on Friday, April 28th, to be a part of the dedication of this new building, along with our IGNITE interns and overseers.

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The Mayor of Entebbe cutting the ceremonial dedication ribbon

It has surely been a long haul for Pastor Craig Linquist, founding pastor of Calvary Chapel Entebbe (CCE), and the staff of CCE, in seeing this building come to fruition and dedication day was truly a celebration of perseverance but, even more so, a special day to acknowledge the provision of the Lord. What started in July 2015 with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by the mayor, local dignitaries, and CCE staff and church members, was culminated on that Friday with many of the same people in attendance along with many others, including individuals from the local school board and even a member of their parliament. There were speeches, performances by the kids in the school and also some from our Potter’s Field Kids programs, and the unveiling of dedication plaques. I was blessed to be able to unveil the “Donor Plaque” acknowledging the many partners who the Lord worked through to build the new facility, which not only includes six new classrooms but also a computer lab and a library! We were privileged to get to know Ed and Germaine La Guardia, who provided the funds specifically for the library, dedicated in honor of Germaine’s father.

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Pastor Craig Linquist of CC Entebbe (left) with Ed and Germaine La Guardia

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Children reading in the new library!

All in all, it was an incredible time being involved in the final preparations of the building, including the planting of plants and setting up the library, and we will long remember the smiling faces of the kids and their parents as they marveled at what the Lord had provided for them. I can’t say thank you enough to Pastor Mike and Pam Rozell, along with the staff of Potter’s Field Ministries, for the privilege of representing all of them at the dedication, as well as for all the special times of fellowship we had with our IGNITE interns and those who call Calvary Chapel Entebbe their home church and school.

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Performance by some of the children enrolled in Potter’s Field Kids Uganda

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The planting of the “Donor Tree”