Jesus came off the Mount of Transfiguration to a mess. The disciples left in the valley had tried to heal a boy to no good end. The father dropped to his knees in front of Jesus asking favor for his son. Dad went to the source of the Fountain. Jesus rebuking His disciples healed the child. Children play an important role in many of Jesus’ teachings in chs. 17-19 in Matthew’s Gospel. Later in this chapter Jesus points out the special privilege of the children of the king to not pay tribute.
The disciples likely arguing of their self-importance were rebuked by our LORD when He simple pulled a child into their midst and said, “.. except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little chil, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My NAME receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believ in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (18:3b-6)
Then being slow learners, like me, the disciples tried to chase the mothers and their children away in ch. 19. Once again they garnered a rebuke from the Master. 19:14-15 ‘But Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid hands on them, and departed thence’.
In Guatemala a family is burying an 11 month old today, latest tomorrow. The child died in its mother’s lap while in a waiting room of a medical facility, no meds, no…
We come to the source of the Fountain = 0ur Father in Heaven, and Jesus help us change these stories for Your glory and honor, amen.
With tears, that is all I can say.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy
Our Vine staff of four does have a huge upside. It’s productive, efficient, and we have a lot of experience under our belts. But there is also a downside we are having to embrace. We’re all getting older. For many reasons, we are convinced that this God-built model needs to develop and increase, which means we have to begin considering how to pass on the torch to younger, long term help. So do we have your attention? Good!
Vine International started in 1993 in Knoxville. Woody thought they had saturated medical missions in Guatemala the year they helped 30 ministries. Dennis and Doris Rice ran this ministry from 2004 to June 2009. During that time the work more than doubled. They turned it over to us in 2009 and helped smooth the transition. It has once again almost doubled under our seven years of care. Vine International has gone from helping a few medical ministries – to ministries (that’s safe to say) depend on the shipping service and supply that Vine International brings to Guatemala. We are at a rate of 20 containers per year. Woody Woodson our founder, Bruce White manager of the US collection center, and the McCutcheon’s here in Guatemala are being stretched.
I am now 63 y/o (Cindy is much younger) and the physical work of unloading 40 ft. containers and moving the boxes multiple times is getting to be more than we can do. So we are asking – first in the community that has supported and befriended us over the years – to prayerfully consider whether working with Vine here in Guatemala could be a calling for you and your family. Of course, that “match” will ultimately be the decision of Woody and Vine’s Board of Directors.
Some important points:
I believe that Vine International Guatemala will continue to grow. The need for our service exists in a major way. The national healthcare system may improve under this administration, but will not be able to meet the need.
We serve over 100 medical missions currently. Some of the old ministries are expanding. There are new ministries bringing exciting projects to fulfillment. All of these are increasingly dependent on the donated medical supplies and medicines that Vine International ships to Guatemala. The need for Vine’s services will expand. Two families here would be necessary within a year or two.
Just as Cindy and I have done, this work means raising your own support. It is a mission. It is a mission where not all churches see the value of logistics and distribution… making it difficult to raise funds. But I assure you Christ is glorified in this work. I assure you He provides. We know first hand.
Over the next few years, Cindy and I will continue to be here managing the overall Guatemalan operation, but we will be ‘aging out’. However, by addressing this now, our helper(s) would have time to do language school and slowly transition into the work of the ministry. Parts of it are easy, incredibly gratifying, and will make you smile. Parts of it (working with government agencies) can be frustrating and take a bit of a bulldog personality. It is our goal to reduce our physical labor in Vine by June 2017 and to continue after that in a support role and administration – which means Cindy and I could help cover for the new folks when they’re away for family issues or vacation.
As a humorous aside, after the Rice’s left, in that first 6 – 8 months every office that we dealt with, (that Dennis Rice gave directions and drove with me, went in and introduced me to the people I would deal with) MOVED. One of those offices moved twice!… smile… I was shouted at for going wrong ways on one way streets. An interesting time that was.
We will be in the USA/Asheville area and WV the last two weeks of April if you are interested in talking about the opportunity to serve Christ in this unique ministry. Those weeks will be busy but this is important and we will make ourselves available to answer all your questions.
Those who are faithful to pray with us, please join us in this issue. We love the work of Vine and want to see it continue into the next generations, until He comes.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Cindy and I are blessed to have company these past two weeks. Woody and Dianna Woodson the founder of Vine International plus Cindy and I left the Barcelo with Katie Pace, Kathryn Hearns from MAP (Medical Assistance Program) to do site surveys here in Guatemala. MAP is our supplier of medicines. They are generous to us and need to see the fruit of their labors in Guatemala. It is easy to show the warehouse/bodega. It is cool, inanimate, containers come in and stuff goes out — it would be drab if you did not know what happens to ‘the stuff’ in the hands of doctors, nurses and others at the end of the pipeline. The simple analogy of ‘pipeline’ defines Vine International.
One of the Vine Family’s great frustrations is that the work of Vine is easy to ignore. Take a chair and watch a pipeline. Sort of boring – all you see is pipe. No motion. It doesn’t change color. The visible work occurs on the ends and inside. Collection – in our case occurs in ministry partners like Joni and Friends, Samaritan’s Purse, Wheels of Hope, MAP, and our collection center in Knoxville TN area. The materials pour into the open end of the Vine Pipeline, strangely looks like a container instead of round pipe. Shipped by tractor trailer to port, often Mobile AL, placed on container ship then offed in a port in Guatemala, trucked to the warehouse and off loaded (wash rinse and REPEAT). We help a lot of ministries and most in their newsletters never mention the issue of shipping – we are that boring.
On these trips, I so wish you could hear all the expressions of gratitude, the stories of how the medicines, materials, equipment have helped so many. Cindy and I get tired moving boxes and pallets. We recognize the fruit is NOT in the bodega. MAP is a larger organization and has staff to analyze their service. They work at identifying the process and seeing the fruit of their collection and distribution. Their pharmacists on staff estimate a single container provides medicines for greater than 62,000 patients. The joy in this work is seeing the fruit. So off to see some of those 62,000 patients and their care givers.
Cindy and I discussed a cross section of our ministry partners in Guatemala, choosing rural/urban, national/expat supported works, and off we go. We saw about a dozen works this trip. The MAP crew always had their notebooks in hand and Katie had her camera (which she would not trade for mine). Because of the failure of the national health system, expat missionaries, local churches, those with a humanitarian heart see a void that needs filling. Doctors, nurses and pastors step into the lives of the wounded and hurting and offer aid. There are many Guatemalans with hearts the size of Texas who help their fellow citizens. Some ministries are better funded than others, some with skilled personnel, some that do basic low level clinic care, and volunteer EMT/firemen called Bomberos here in Guatemala. We saw a cross section. There were similarities. The common chronic issues, diabetes, hypertension is seen as on the rise with change in diet (soda, hamburgers), the dependence on corn tortillas, beans and rice as the large percentage of diet. There were differences. Rural ministries see hernias and machete injuries. Ministries close to roadways see increase in automobile wrecks, pick-up and bus wrecks often with multiple catastrophic/multiple trauma.
On this road trip we heard the gratitude for the assistance that Vine International provides. Some state they could function except that Vine is here to help, all have expanded their ability to serve because you our supporters keep us here. Lives have been saved, sick bodies healed, souls brought into the kingdom of Christ because of the work here. Without the multiple supporters, financial, material and prayer partners on the USA end we would have no success. Equally without those who coast to coast and from sea marsh to mountain top in Guatemala with a desire in their heart to serve the poor and under served we also would have no success. Servants, all of you we thank you.
A rather extensive photo album is linked here on our Smug-Mug blog site. Enjoy.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Angelita, a jewel to all who held her, smiled and I got to see it. That memory will be a lifelong treasure.
Hope for Home is a ministry of the Fulp family… they would tell you it is a ministry of the LORD’s. Both statements are true.
“Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”
You see the Fulp family is a work of art of the very hand of God, in Christ for a purpose on this earth, from the mind and heart of God from eternity past. They do the thing that is on the heart of God and this week it was to attend a precious special needs child as she left all deformity, all pain, all sorrow behind her on this earth and got to see Jesus in all His Glory. What a blessing this family is to the children in Guatemala…
Angelita died last night Monday 25 January 2016. As is normal in Guatemala her funeral is today. I go back to a recent blog post about weeping and rejoicing in such proximity of place and time. While knowing life was hard for this child, I cannot address Angelita’s history well. I only knew her a few months. The Vine family saw an expressed need and put Hope for Home in touch with friends at Esperanza Contra Esperanza. A high pressure shunt was placed and Angelita woke up literally smiling… soon though she seemed to return to her prior state. We did not see the prolonged recovery everyone desired. Feeding tube was necessary and recently a decision for a PEG tube was done. Her little body tired of the fight and she went home Monday night.
We do not know what will come. But, Angelita has left a desire in those who were touched by her life, a strong desire to serve challenged children in a real and lasting way. Guatemala is a beautiful country and has a beautiful people, but ironically it is a country hard on women and children. God has given us a command in Scripture to care for widows and orphans… The Fulp’s with a few others, already shine in this category. May the LORD light a fire under the rest of us.
Please pray for the Daryl Fulp family in this time…
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Many of us know Romans 12:1-2 by heart. You that are churched know Temple sacrifice required DEATH, and in this passage we read ‘LIVING sacrifice.’ Sacrifice = Death, yet Paul juxtaposes LIVING with SACRIFICE… To quote my brother William Mayhew, “What’s up with that?”
I confess I find what follows hard today. Here is the closing of Romans Ch. 12 – please read and read again, let these words from God sink into the mind.
Rom 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Rom 12:10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;
Rom 12:11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rom 12:12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer;
Rom 12:13 communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.
Rom 12:14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.
Rom 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Rom 12:17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men.
Rom 12:18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.
Rom 12:19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord.
Rom 12:20 But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.
Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (quote from ASV, emphasis is mine)
The word of God is ever more important than my thoughts on the word of God. Intellectually I grasp the principle of obeying each word. Do you see the proximity of Rejoice, Weep in verse 15?
Sunday morning came the news a brother in the LORD was murdered the night before. Within two hours we took a young lady to visit Potter’s Field Ministry/Calvary Chapel for worship on Sunday morning and to explore their youth program. By the end of the day the young lady’s parents had tears of joy, pride, and praising Jesus for a clear opportunity for spiritual growth for their child; while another mother was dealing with a hole in her heart. LORD do You know how hard it is to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice and to do so in the same breath? It is no accident that Paul put rejoice and weep together. It is not fate these verses follow “living sacrifice.” Our fleshly desires must be dead to obey this passage. Abel’s blood cried out from the soil as does my brother’s blood. The fleshly heart desires vengeance and questions where God is in this. Yes, the LORD does know the magnitude of what He asks. He lives verse 15 in every moment!
Only a ‘living sacrifice’ can obey v. 15. Only a ‘living sacrifice’ can obey v. 16 and 17. My flesh says conceitedly I know how best to handle this thing; nothing wrong with revenge. And Paul dares write what God gave him to write, ‘render to no man evil for evil.’ Flesh does not wait on the LORD. Or flesh will even rejoice in the knowledge that GOD will revenge in v. 19. Flesh must be mortified. Then the Holy Spirit rises and works. Oh LORD forgive me my Jonah spirit. Knowing You desire to forgive, I would flee Nineveh.
I rejoice with Natalia and her family, Father that is easy. I also thank You for the timing as my spirit needed to see something good from Your hand. Forgive my shallowness. I know my brother is in the presence of his LORD, for that I am thankful. LORD he was little more than a child. I ask that You convict the heart of the one guilty of this crime and Your will be done. Paul the apostle to the Gentiles may have been such a person. So be it LORD. I will wait for Your RECOMPENSE. I weep with my brother’s mother; You do remember how proud she was at his graduation?
Finally Father how do I overcome evil with good? Show me what that looks like LORD GOD! Amen.
WELL SON, DON’T YOU THINK THE CROSS IS A PICTURE OF OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD?
While thinking last night as many of us do about the events of last year, these numbers and thoughts occurred in no particular order.
Vine International improved it’s serve last year compared to 2014. New board members ‘jumped in with both feet’ and served. The “La
viejecita” (The Little Old Lady, the pet name for the old forklift) was hauled off and replaced with a newer
version that is a blessing. It starts everytime. It is quiet, has mirrors, back up alarm, the lift works and goes side to side for when the drivers aim is a little off (ahem!). Bumper stickers for TN Volunteers and WVU Mountaineers now reside on her backside. There is space for other college stickers. Consider sending donation with said college sticker – grin!
Yesterday, El Barios Para Cristo was our last ministry served in 2015. Pastor Nacho took Bibles to a street ministry, prison ministry, and some medicines that will be used to gain an ear with bus drivers and women in prison. Materials from Equipping the Saints Weyer’s Cave VA and MAP Bristol GA filled that car. There were tears in the pastors eye when he held those Bibles. I had called him the day before to ask him if he could use Bibles – he got quiet (unusual for Nacho – smile) and all he could say initially is, “God is always good.” Just that morning, he had a request from a man he disciples for Bibles to give out on the street. Great ending to a year don’t you think?
Vine shipped 20 containers in 2015. We have received 18 of those containers. Two containers remain in port. There are some good things happening in Guatemala. There is a major attempt to clean up corruption in government. Nonprofit organizations were abused by corrupt politicians to launder their ill gotten monies and materials. Several officials have been arrested. The downside is it is taking more time. The container unloaded late the afternoon of 30 December had been…. (momentary speechlessness, searching for words a Christian missionary can use)…. gone through thoroughly. The new custom’s director perhaps is a retired proctologist let’s say. We are blessed with a family in the shipping business who works hard for us. With these containers the last six months ‘doing battle’ may be a better word than ‘work’.
We have had 239 visits from ministries that use our services (up from 93 in 2014). This year saw many services from the government run health system shut their doors or reduce services. The materials given because of your support of Vine International has been a blessing, even life saving in cases. As the government system failed, Christian medical ministries see an open door. Churches have added clinic services in their communities using your donations. We are grateful.
It is exciting to see the growth of medical ministries. It is my impression that the Christian hospitals we serve are all growing in ability to serve the communities in which they are planted… Hospital El Buen Samaritano in Chichicastenango; Hospital Shalom in San Benito Peten; Hospital Santa Fe in Chocola in the midst of remodel and growth; and adding a clinic/hospital in time through Adonai International Ministries and DOCS of Hope from NE Iowa and some awesome supporters; Exodo Foundation is prepping land and working with architects to build a surgical center to serve rural poor and Maya communities; Esperanza Contra Esperanza is moving rapidly from vision to reality of building a pediatric complex for medical and dental health issues primarily to serve the children’s homes of Guatemala. There are other new works in progress Cristo es el Camino (Christ is the Way) has started a new clinic to serve inner city poor and have opened in this past year. We look forward to helping them grow this work as they use it actively to share the need for Jesus. Dr. Saul Enriquez is building a rural clinic to expand the work he and his family do. AND I am sure I have forgotten some. Keep up the good work.
I preach once a month and teach a Bible study once a week. We are in Matthew in both those studies. We finished Ezekiel a couple of months ago in the Bible study. I am glad for these opportunities as it enforces the discipline of Bible study for me personally. I always learn more than I am able to teach.
We will start this year off with a madhouse rush. The bodega is full. Due to timing, ministries with designated product are taking a Christmas break so we will have groups picking up designated stuff along with the large number of folks gearing up for medical campaigns and schools have a rush at this time too. Will wait until after the Cactus Bowl to announce these containers so I can cheer on the Mountaineers (WVU) without being interrupted. We also have those two containers coming. We put off a break for us – wanted to visit Rio Dulce and the Rhea’s, now probably late January.
With changes in government we have been encouraged to review our official documents. Advisers here believe that every non-profit is will be investigated in the next few months. Laws have changed. We need to become compliant. I hate paper work, but it must be done. We have a new lawyer and legal assistant ( she ain’t a legal-beagle, more like a pit bull when it comes to dealing with some of the bureaucracy). Some of this is almost humorous. One document was turned down because there was not 25 lines of text on page one. We had a friend recently that had a one page document turned down because “1/1” was not in the upper corner. That means one page of a one page document! He literally took a pen and wrote “1/1” in front of them and they approved. We are grateful the friends that God has brought into our fold in recent years, to help with things like this.
Please share our blog posts. Send us your comments and prayer concerns.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Cindy and I were blessed to be able to home school our youngest child Peggy. Not only did she learn but we learned to value learning. It is a life long privilege. I learned a couple of weeks ago to use heavy cream to replace lard or shortening and mayonnaise (my former secret ingredient) in the biscuit recipe used for the last several generations in my family makes a better biscuit. Who knew?!? 3 cups of all purpose flour (self rising not available in Guatemala) pinch of salt (remember I have big fingers) and a couple tbsp of baking powder plus enough cream to make a dough – cut ’em out and place on a greased sheet in a preheated oven at 425 F for 20 -22 minutes. Look at them if no tan color on the tops leave ’em in for another three minutes.
Give it a try.
Always learning something new… is the point. Vine International is a support for Christian and humanitarian medical missions in Guatemala. Language skill has not come easy for Cindy and I so that limits the ability to actively witness, preach and church plant. But the philosophy behind Vine has always been the support of active medical works in Guatemala. Medical ministry done well, is a great medium to share Jesus and the Gospel. Medical ministry done well is expensive and Vine reduces expenses for our friends here substantially allowing expansion of the numbers of patients served. The official medical system in Guatemala is a government based social program. And it is for the most part a failure. The rich have developed a private system that has some jewels of service, but unavailable to much of the masses. In the last several months many hospitals have closed or severely restricted services, pharmacies are empty, no masks and gloves for surgeons, infection rates in those settings approaches 100% so families are sent on a treasure hunt for antibiotics and on and on it goes.
In this mud pit Vine sloshes around trying our best to help. Always learning something new – does not necessarily mean a good thing. I have held a child in a national home clearly hydrocephalic and had the care givers tell me she is normal and they have a doctors report proving it. The truth is the home is at twice capacity, the forms get filled out in order to comply with legal documentation but they cannot find a staff doctor to keep up with the almost 1,000 children there… so check normal on the d**n form. No money for propane so beans and rice are half cooked going through the child instead of providing nourishment. Instead of changing diapers when appropriate you can only change them three times a day or less, the money to buy more is in some corrupt politician’s account. Always learning something new…
It is Christmas. I held 50 kids on my lap last night and laughed. Tomorrow Cindy and I will help a wonderful team of Guatemalan’s to feed about 650 kids. I will make most of them smile because I will be in a Santa suit. The contrast between the healthy 50 last night and the ones tomorrow will be heart wrenching. But the beans, rice will be done and full of flavor, as the guards say, “cooked with LOVE.” while these kids smile, I will be crying.
Esperanza Contra Esperanza (ECE) is in planning stages to start a very good work to serve children’s homes and their health needs. In the research for this project is where I am learning literally almost every day. Deaf, blind, disabled children and adults are woefully underserved in the developing world. ECE is going to dedicate a significant amount of resources to developing services and education to tackle this issue in Guatemala, but can I tell you something I have learned CHURCH… the disabled may be one of the largest ‘unreached’ groups in the midst of us in the USA… for now I will leave it there… I encourage you to read available as a Kindle Book, The Church and Disability by Jeff McNair Ph.D. I have not finished this book myself but stand convicted by recent events and by Dr. McNair’s writings that we the church are not to ignore this community.
Learning a new way to make biscuits is a simple metaphor that doesn’t hold a candle to learning about health issues in the children of Guatemala or the dire needs of the special needs community here. So, you can’t participate directly in Guatemala, let me challenge you in Asheville NC, Knoxville, TN, SC, TX, WV, Ohio, PA wherever our supporters are to pray about and to start looking into their family and friends to see is there someone who avoids our churches because they believe we would not accept them – let’s bring them in and watch God honor His outreached Hand through you.
What have you learned new recently? – let us hear from you. And feel free to share our blog.
Merry Christmas – Feliz Navidad
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon