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January 2018
 
 
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing
.

— John 15:5 —
This month marks the 20 year anniversary of the founding of Only a Servant Ministries. We are blessed and honored to continue serving Jesus Christ in Mexico and Haiti! Along with God giving us the vision of ministry for OSM, He has used each of you to pray for, encourage and to finance the projects He has brought our way. We are very grateful for your backing and support over these years!
We wanted to take the opportunity this month to reminisce a little. Many of you may know our story, however others have joined us in later years and may not be as familiar with how God brought us to where we are. A few years ago we shared in our newsletter that it had marked 20 years of our family being in ministry, this however is different as it is 20 years of serving through Only a Servant Ministries.
The end of 1997, after having served in Haiti for a few years, our time and ministry there came to a close. It was a difficult time for us as we had grown attached to the island and people of Haiti. Many of you who have been to Haiti know that it can be intense and after living there for a few years we felt we were finished with ministry for the time being. After returning to FL from Haiti our dear friend John Leininger called us continuously asking that we come to Texas to begin a ministry in the border towns of Mexico. Having just finished serving in Haiti this was not something that we were interested in at all, however God quickly closed the door to every other opportunity we pursued. Feeling broken and with heavy hearts we packed up for Texas. In January of 1998 we joined John Leininger, Richard Schutz (both OSM board members) and a few friends traveling to Mexico to build a simple home for a family in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. We stayed at an orphanage in the area. By the end of the week it was clear to all of us that this was God’s plan and purpose in bringing us out of Haiti. We spent much of the rest of the month seeking God’s vision for our family and by the end of January OSM was founded. The example Jesus gave us of serving was always very important to our family, and with 13 children in one home everyone must serve! Because of this and a special book we had all read together repeatedly we decided on the name Only A Servant Ministries. OSM was birthed on the heels of pain and difficulty as we struggled to find God’s place for us. We could write a book on the things we experienced and learned from the few months after leaving Haiti the end of 1997 to OSM beginning in January of 1998. With the change of direction, and moving 13 children who were mostly teenagers from Haiti to Florida and then to Texas and working in Mexico we felt like we were hanging on by just a thread. But, as we’ve learned, it is those times when God has our full attention and He is always there for us, He becomes our everything, our all!
It’s hard to fathom 20 years have gone by so quickly! God was not finished with our family in ministry. He took a group of broken vessels and used us for His glory. We were excited to be given a new vision so that we could continue ministering together. We also prayed that the Lord would allow us to find a godly pastor and church to support and work through in Mexico. God is faithful and brought to us Pastor Isidro and his precious family and a few years later, Pastor Santos and Sister Fini whom we still work with in Nava, Mexico. With the support of these local pastors and with many churches and mission groups involved through the years OSM hosted team after team, building over 100 homes, a few churches, an agriculture ministry on the Ranch of Faith, an educational sewing shop, and a medical clinic, all in various parts of Mexico.
By October of 2004, many of our children were grown and leaving home. We learned that our firstborn daughter Shelby had cancer. This put a halt to our building projects as we shifted our focus to pouring our all into Shelby. It was a huge blow to the whole family when God took Shelby home on May 31st of 2005. It knocked the breath out of us and temporarily out of the ministry as well. As usual however God continued tugging us along showing us new ways to serve His kingdom. During the time we had spent caring for Shelby many drug wars had begun in the Mexico border towns. It was no longer safe for us to bring teams from the U.S. over the border for house building projects. Our family continued visiting and facilitating work through Pastor Santos the church and the carpenter and sewing shops.
God also had our family continue work in Haiti through these years although it was very minor in comparison to the monthly trips in and out of Mexico we were taking. After the devastation of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti however our gears shifted again back to Haiti. Our sons took medical trips to help with relief work and Kenny began working with John Leininger building homes for families. God had brought us full circle back to working full time in Haiti! John & Richard have been wonderful friends, board members and most importantly brothers in Christ to our family over all of our years in ministry! Their partnership and input have been invaluable! John invited us when we took our first trips to Haiti, him and Richard both were with us when we built our first homes in Mexico and began OSM and have partnered with us again as we returned to Haiti to serve after the earthquake.
Now on the 20th anniversary of OSM our son Kenny is living full time in Haiti hosting teams and serving the people there. Debbi and I find ourselves caught up with the administrative side of ministry more that we would like, however we are grateful for the work God has provided. The churches and sewing classes OSM facilitates through Pastor Santos and Sister Fini in Mexico are still going strong. The schools and feeding programs in Haiti are doing well. Debbi and I are looking forward to spending a few months in Haiti with Kenny and his wife Laissa as we distribute holiday gifts. We are planning on spending time in prayer together as we seek God’s vision for OSM, and continue making ministry plans with Kenny & Laissa.
What a mighty God we serve, angels bow before Him, Heaven and earth adore Him! We know that it is only because of God’s deep love for us that we have had this amazing journey of ministry in Haiti and Mexico that we have enjoyed. There have been exciting and fun times and there have been discouragements along the way. But always, our Father has walked with us, holding our hands and sometimes carrying us when we felt we could no longer walk. He has patiently brought us from one place to another and shower us things we would never have seen had it been our plans. Thank you so much for your love and encouragement to our family throughout this journey in which God brought us! Without your love and support, this would not have happened. We are very grateful to each of you and to our loving Father for His faithfulness to OSM and our family.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need
.
Hebrews 4:16
Because of Christ,