2011 finished with a myriad of activities, enjoyment of family time with both John and Judah home for vacation, and countless big bangs as the tradition of fireworks in Nicaragua allows everyone to fire at will. As we prepare for the great things God has for us in 2012, the verses from the familiar Christmas story come to mind:
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:18-19
There is the instant wonder and admiration at the moment of a remarkable event, an amazing experience which creates thankfulness and a lingering sense of awe; there is also the deeper and deliberate reflecting, considering, and meditating on understanding the significance of the happening, contemplating its impact on one's present life and the far-reaching future. We pray God will renew in you a sense of wonder as you purposefully reflect on the treasures of His goodness, His salvation, His completed promises, and His faithfulness to complete that which He has begun in you, through you, and around you.
Thank you to all who have supported us through your prayers and financial gifts this past year. We are grateful and encouraged by your faithfulness to God and to us.
We continue to enlarge the kingdom of God by bringing His healing touch to broken lives, teaching, discipling, training, mentoring, and equipping the saints to then minister to others. We have been praying for God to expand our territory, and in 2011 we reached the goal of ministering in 4 of our 5 long-term targeted departments. Our church in Matagalpa is doing well under the leadership of Nicaraguan pastor, Raul Castro. In Jinotega we have new believers, maturing members, and a widening circle of influence to other ministries in the area. This year we added Estel�and Somoto to our travel itineraries. Bev organized an event that blessed the pastor's wives in Estel�, the city where Cheree and Vicente live. We are praying for a huge harvest in Estel� in March when we will be involved in a city-wide Festival of Life. In Somoto, our connection has been through the Verbo church there and it allowed us to be a conduit of blessing to the city by promoting a city-wide crusade and gifting of bicycles for the pastors, and also in preaching at the Day of the Bible celebration. We hope to develop a pending contact in Ocotal, our 5th department, this year.
With our expanding territory, it should be no surprise that we have been asked to move. Our landlady in Jinotega informed us that she would be starting a remodeling project to convert
OUR LANDLADY CHANGED HER MIND AND WE DO NOT HAVE TO MOVE.
WE ARE SO HAPPY!!!
our present dwelling into a small hotel. We are seeking God's direction for where we are to live come February. There are some good properties for sale; if someone feels led to sow into a property purchase please contact us.
We are in the midst of our own construction project on our house in Matagalpa so that it can be used in a new phase of ministry, the Supernatural Lifestyle School. In June we started meeting with a group of 12 pastors and leaders representing 5 churches in Matagalpa to form a leadership base and staff for the school. The school's objective is to transform poverty mindsets to an attitude of victory in Christ and to truly activate world-changers, people bold enough to demonstrate God's redeeming love, grace, and goodness through practical actions, impacting the people they come into contact with in their daily lives.
As we began using our Matagalpa house for the school, we saw the need for finishing the second floor as a family-sized apartment to help house teams as well as give us a permanent place in Matagalpa even when the houses are committed for ministry activities, loaned or rented. Work started with pouring a cement floor that doubled the size of the upstairs, allowing for 2 small bedrooms and bathrooms. A HUGE THANK YOU to Earl's brother Lloyd and the men from Sojourn Church in Carrollton, TX for coming and putting walls up and wiring the electricity. Many thanks as well to the Hutton family from Gilmer, TX, who also helped on this work team.
The project is far from complete, awaiting the finishing of the bathrooms, floor tile to be laid and a ceiling placed in, plumbing to be fitted, the kitchen sink, counters, and cabinets installed. If you would like to donate to this project, gifts may be sent to our World Outreach Fellowship address. Thank you for your giving.
The family's new favorite activity that has been added to our schedule has been the opening of our home for game nights twice a month; an average of 35 people show up on Friday nights to play a variety of board games, eat snacks and enjoy a time of fellowship. People that would normally never attend a church or Bible study come, as well as youth from the orphanage and some from Young Life. New people have returned to attend one of our services or to receive prayer or counseling, and it has also greatly enriched our friendships. Seeing the effectiveness of this, Cheree and Vicente have started game nights in their home too, reaching out to some of Vicente's students in the university in Esteli.
Other family updates:
John is in his third year at John Brown University and is doing well in his international business studies. Judah finished his term with YWAM and mission trip to Cambodia and is a freshman in mechanical engineering at LeTourneau University in Longview, TX. Both boys are honor students and are thankful for scholarships to help defray their education costs. Lance is a senior this year in our home school and praying for direction for his future. Luke turned 15 a few days ago and Kelsy will soon be turning 12; Esperanza is an active 6 year old. All continue classes here at home; they are good students and voracious readers. Any donation of used wholesome books would be greatly appreciated.
We anticipate an awesome year, and wish you all a 2012 filled with an increase in awareness of God's presence, protection, and provision.
Blessings, grace, and peace,
Earl and Bev Rutledge and family
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
World Outreach Fellowship
2011 W. Marshall Ave.
Longview, TX 75604
Make checks payable to World Outreach Fellowship
Include a separate note - for Nicaragua