A Tale of Two Tempests, Irma & Alia

A Tale of Two Tempests, Irma & Alia

It was supposed to be an uneventful road trip to Virginia and New York, concluding with a pleasant family wedding in Baltimore. After the mayhem of August, we sorely needed a stretch of sanity in our schedule. Most have read already of our momentary housing crisis that began August 5th, when we returned from Mexico and were informed that our month to month lease would not be extended, the house was sold, and we had 21 days maximum to pack, find a home, and relocate. God did the miracle, as He has so many times before. Our new home in Tarpon Springs is a perfect and peaceful provision from the Lord. We spent a mere 4 nights there before heading north for some previously planned preaching. Everything within me wanted to cancel, to stay home and unpack, unwind, and unravel my overly cluttered brain; but duty calls, and so we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps with some effort, then happily boarded our plane with full assurance that the days would pass quickly and we could return to do what normal people do when they relocate. Unfortunately, we have never been accused of being normal.

And then came Irma. She was a mere nuisance far out in the Atlantic when our trip started. Midway through our New York ministry, she had become a monster who sent everyone in her path fleeing for their lives. All the family had planned to be in Baltimore anyway for the wedding, so getting out was not a problem. Flights had been booked, thankfully, as there was not an empty airplane seat out of Florida to be found. As the hours ticked by, Irma turned directly toward Tampa. A Category 3 impact was now the best case scenario. Tampa has not been hit head on in 90 years, so unlike other parts of Florida, preparing for and dealing with hurricanes is not the specialty of our locale. The population descended into sheer panic and chaos. Our oldest son stayed home alone, watching over our new residence and watching over our dog Max. We began to regret that we had not insisted on his evacuation, as the forecasts grew more dire with each passing report.

And then came Alia, crashing with hurricane force into the uneven cobblestones of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Less than 24 hours after flying out of Irma and into Baltimore, my mother Alia was lying in agony in the Emergency Room. The diagnosis was grim: a broken knee cap, the patella split cleanly in half with a half inch separation between the two halves. The Rehearsal Dinner was set for that evening. Seven hours after admittance, Alia was summarily sent out of the hospital, doped up on morphine to cope with the pain, and informed that no surgery or even appointment was possible for at least a week. Here is your bill and “thank you very much….a taxi can pick you up at the door where you came in”.

I got the call mid way through the dinner that Mom was being brought by my niece to the hotel and help was needed to get her out and up to her room. A borrowed wheel chair from the hotel, a bit of screaming when we lost hold of her braced leg, some pathetic attempts to maneuver into and out of the tiny elevators of our ancient building, and somehow 30 minutes later we managed to get her into her room and into bed for some desperately needed rest. Before drifting off to sleep she informed me that she would not be missing the wedding: “You can push me the four blocks to the church in this wheelchair”.

Saturday, while Irma roared ashore in Florida, Alia rolled onto the floor of America’s first Cathedral in Baltimore. Unfortunately the four blocks to the church were ALL uphill…so my suit was drenched in sweat upon arrival….while Alia was resplendent in all her Grandmother of the Bride glory. While vows were exchanged, minds were racing as to the “what’s next” following the big day. Alia was refusing to wait in Baltimore for surgery, understandably desperate to get home for a recovery in familiar surroundings, and to know, as we all wanted to know, whether we would even have homes to return to. All return flights were cancelled. We had no means of transporting my badly injured mother. Lenora and I prayed and asked God to make a way where there was no way, and show us what to do.

I had one impulse on Sunday morning, and that was to drive the 30 minutes to the Baltimore Airport Enterprise Car Rental counter, where my small vehicle was due that morning, believing that God would grant us extraordinary favor. It is what He does, and it is what He did. After listening to our plight, the manager handed me the keys to a Ford Expedition Extended Luxury SUV – an 8 passenger monster with extra luggage capacity that would make 600 miles on its mega tank of gas. There would be no fee for the extra days, no mileage charges, no drop off fee for taking the vehicle to Tampa. Essentially they waved off over $1,500 in costs and told us to “get your mom safely home to Florida”. Now all we needed to do was drive 900 miles south and trust God to bring all of us safely through the storm.

Along with my older brother David, my Aunt Hannie, and Lenora, we loaded mom gingerly into the back of the SUV, put a seat down to hold up her leg, loaded every remaining square inch of the vehicle with bodies and luggage, and off we headed, barely giving Irma enough time to get out of our way. Stopping for nature’s necessities was an adventure our family will be laughing about for year’s to come. The four of us carried mom on chairs into restaurants and gas stations, and even rolled her on a luggage cart into one hotel. Once we had packed the wheelchair in we dared not start an avalanche of luggage by unpacking it at each stop…and so we improvised. When we hit mid South Carolina we found our last station with gasoline that we would find for the next 450 miles. The Army and National Guard were out in full force. Thousands roamed every exit and closed gas station looking for fuel. We hit Irma’s fierce outer bands in Georgia but kept on driving. Our 600 mile fuel capacity was a miracle gift from God. After 18 hours we drove into the eerily darkened landscape of a city without power. Thousands of trees were down along the highways. The mass and panicked return had begun and we had just gotten ahead of the bulk of returning evacuees. Most were sensible enough to wait until Irma was fully out of the way, but we needed to get Alia to the hospital, pronto!

We went straight to the E.R. in Clearwater only to by stymied again. Over 100 people had been admitted into the Emergency Room during the height of the storm. It would be a minimum wait of 8-12 hours, after which she would NOT be admitted. “You may as well take her home and wait until an orthopedist can see her”.

Gloomily we loaded my exhausted mother back into the vehicle. I lost my balance getting her out of the wheelchair and crashed back onto the floor of the SUV, with Mom landing on top of me. Even in her pain she has a hilarious sense of humor. After what we had all been through, laugher was still some of the best medicine. Arriving to our home at 6:00 AM, we rejoiced to see the lights on. We were one of the only homes in the county to still have power. Daylight revealed further miracles. Nothing had fallen or been damaged at our home. No branch thicker than my finger had broken. A dozen trees are on our property – all of them stood intact. No windows were broken, not a roof shingle was out of place. At my brother’s condominium complex in Indian Shores, every single unit was damaged….except his. At my mother’s home, one tree will have to come down; aside from a bent garage door, her home was untouched. At my Aunt’s home, the back yard fence fell, but the house was intact. At the home of our children, Derek & Melissa Cladek, there was no damage at all.

And at the home on Newbury Court where we lived just 5 weeks ago and had been utterly disappointed to leave behind?…….as of yesterday, it was one of only 8 homes remaining in Palm Harbor still without power. The neighbor’s giant oak had crashed to the ground, taking the power pole with it. It will take some time to clean up the debris. But we don’t live there anymore; we live in a place hand picked for us by our very gracious God; a home perfectly suited for the care and recovery of my mother. One month ago we fretted over potentially moving temporarily in with Alia. Today Alia has moved in with us. She will be here for the next 6-8 weeks, following surgery this Wednesday. It is another long story, but God opened a marvelous door for her to be cared for by an excellent Christian Orthopedic surgeon.

Last January I was so distraught over the repeated insistence in my spirit that God was telling me to cancel our planned outreaches to Romania and Bulgaria that were set for September of 2017. A lot of folks were looking forward to our coming. But no peace was there. Without understanding, we nevertheless obeyed. “Surely”, we thought, “there has to be some good reason why God would have us cancel so far in advance.”
Everything is crystal clear now. We are here for the immediate weeks following Alia’s surgery to provide her with the 24 hour help she will need. When I leave for South Africa October 8th, Lenora will be home to continue to serve. When we leave together for Alaska October 19th, my brother David and his wife Nancy will move in to take over.

God thinks ahead….even into eternity. God sees everything, planning and arranging for the maximum best of those who call upon His name. Living this life with Jesus is the securest way to navigate life’s journey. “As for God, His way is perfect”!

Trenton, New Jersey

Trenton, New Jersey

As General George Washington pondered the 1,500 Hessian troops quartered in Trenton, New Jersey across the Delaware River, he knew it was an all or nothing moment in the Revolutionary War for Independence from Britain. Morale among his men was at an all time low, desertion was increasing, and his small band of 2,000 soldiers was battered from a string of defeats, brutal Winter weather, and for many of them, even the absence of boots or shoes.

It was Christmas Eve, 1776, and as the General prepared his men for the crossing of the Delaware, he wrote out his thoughts on a slip of paper: “Victory or Death”. In the dead of night they slipped across, 9 miles north of Trenton, then marched in their bare, frozen, and bleeding feet toward an uncertain destiny. But Washington was anything but uncertain. When a courier from General Sullivan rode up to report to him that the snow and wet had spoiled their soldiers’ gunpowder, Washington declared sturdily, “tell General Sullivan to use the bayonet….I am resolved to win Trenton.”

Trenton, New Jersey was a turning point for the Colonial Army. Morale surged when they surprised and totally defeated the Hessian troops, and momentum gradually began to shift in America’s favor.

It took a leader who was unafraid to put everything, both his life and that of his men, on the line for the cause of freedom.

Eighty Five years later another great leader, President Elect Abraham Lincoln, determined that before arriving to take office in Washington D.C., he had to first stop in Trenton, to persuade an adamant New Jersey Legislature that the Union could not win the war without them. New Jersey was determined to stay out of the fray, but once again, Trenton came under the power of a man who was unafraid to put everything, both his life and that of his people, on the line for the cause of freedom.

There are two portraits hanging in the New Jersey Legislature today, one of Lincoln, and the other of Washington. Men who count the cost, and proceed fearlessly, will surely make their mark on history.

We live today in the Western world in the greatest period of uninterrupted comfort that nations have ever known. It is not a crime to be comfortable. But oh how tragic if our comforts delude us into no longer counting the potential cost of giving our all for Christ. Would we sacrifice our own comfort, or even or own breath, for the privilege of advancing His cause? We have mastered those messages that promise emotional euphoria, but in so doing, have we lost our ability to be challenged by His Cross? Do we still believe that there is even something left to “take up” as we purport to be those who follow?

As we prayed this June 6th at New Jersey’s Capitol, we have cried out for the church to be willing once again to give her all for Jesus. We pray for God’s people to be an uncompromising light in a dark world, determined to uphold His word whatever the cost. Not one of us is perfect, and our gunpowder indeed may be dampened by the cold and cares of this storm around us…but we cannot and we must not lose the city. We are resolved to advance and to win.

Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland

Of the congressmen, dignitaries, and military officers present that day, not one could refrain from weeping openly. One of the greatest men in world history stood before them in the Annapolis, Maryland Capitol building, and commenced to do what no General had ever before done. The monarchs in Europe held their breath from afar, as the world waited and watched for the next step by the man whose army, against all odds, had just vanquished England’s mighty military machine.

General George Washington could easily have assumed a throne, and none would have been able to stop him. Many in fact believed he would become a King or Dictator, for such had been the path of great generals before him.   There was no historical precedent for a man wielding so much political power and influence to willingly step aside.

Yet this is exactly what Washington had come to Annapolis to do: to place the military back under civilian rule. His hands trembled while holding his notes, his voice catching, as he thanked his fellow officers and announced his intent to return to private life, abdicating all privilege, rank, and authority that may have accumulated during his eight years as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. After eight long years away from his family, he was determined to go home.

Witness testimony was uniform: the atmosphere was heavy with the weight of such profound humility. The man of steel during eight years of battle was overcome by emotion, his voice sinking to almost inaudible as he struggled to fight back tears. Everyone present knew they were witnessing an earthly rarity, and the power of it broke even the toughest among them.

Have we missed something in our 21st century Christian expression? Have we forgotten where true power lies, attained only by the pattern laid down centuries ago, and to which we are admonished in Philippians 2 to be of “that same mind, which though having the full privilege of Divinity, did not consider that something to be grasped onto tightly, but He, Jesus, emptied Himself of all rank and privilege, and took on something so much less, the image and likeness of common man…even lowering Himself to the status of servant…and even to that of a Cross.”

Today in Annapolis, God’s heart for His Church was emotionally difficult to ponder. He who abdicated, watches from above as His precious children jockey for title, ecclesiastical privilege, salaried security, authority over others, and even self enrichment through His sacred anointing.

We rail against our national government, but we have forgotten that it is our own religious structures and priorities that have grieved the Spirit, not simply the policies of secular men. We are part of an eternal Kingdom where the principle modeled by Washington, abdication for the elevation of others, is both the norm and command of Christ. But consumed by our own personal legacies, we justify clenching tightly, we zealously guard what we’ve attained, and we dread the day when one more anointed diminishes some of our shine. And in so doing we push away the very revival we crave.

Our heart cry in Maryland today is for a revival of humility, brotherhood, and servanthood to sweep across this new generation of believers. May God deliver us from a preoccupation with our mantles and titles, and restore us again to the freedom of a childlike faith. “If My people, which are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, seek My face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land!”

II Chronicles 7:14

Springfield, Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln is rightly praised as one of the greatest presidents in American history. When he left Springfield, Illinois after a 25 year residency, headed for the White House, he delivered a powerful speech to the public, bidding them farewell, and declaring these words: “I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon General Washington. Unless the great God who assisted him, shall be with and aid me, I cannot succeed. With His assistance, I cannot fail.”

His words have been echoing in my spirit all day as we have prayed for the state of Illinois here in the capitol city of Springfield. Illinois loves it’s association with Lincoln, and indeed in this city that historic relationship is milked to the maximum. The problem however is that Illinois’ current reputation does not match the historical assessment of their hero. Here in Springfield, “Honest Abe’s” political descendants have not always been examples of financial or political integrity.

It is a common human frailty to salvage a reputation by hitching our destiny to the rising star of a nobler name. Have you ever chatted with an incessant name dropper? It is like a torture session, as their inferiority spills out in a transparent effort to impress. And sadly, you both realize that the association is a fantasy at best. They are nothing at all like the one whose name they wear as their calling card.

I pray today, for myself and for all of God’s people, that we will not hijack the name of Jesus by simply coasting on His reputation, without emulating His character. I don’t want to celebrate the perks of our association, but then simultaneously trivialize those things that drove Him to the Cross. I don’t want the church world to become a tourist town, boasting of our relationship with a historical hero, but forgetting that hero’s profession of absolute dependence on Divine assistance, for it was Jesus who said “I can do nothing of my own will”, and Lincoln who said, “without the assistance of God, I cannot succeed”.

If we desire to bear His name, then let us wear it honorably.   And YES, let us wear it…it is our blood purchased right, and no one can revoke that privilege. But again, let us conduct ourselves in a manner that is befitting such a privilege. Illinois declares itself to be “The Land of Lincoln”. We the Church declare ourselves to be “The Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ”.   We pray today for the people of Illinois and the people of God, for both to do justice to that noblest of names.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

History buffs love the fact that there are always a thousand new things to learn about history. For example, I totally did not know that Utah, the Beehive State, was nicknamed thus because their first choice for a state name, “Deseret” (a religious word meaning “beehive”), was nixed by the Feds in Washington in favor of a name representative of one of the Native American tribes here, the Utes.

I did not know that there was a Utah War, in 1857-58, between the Utah Territorial Militia and the United States Army. Few were killed, but there was an infamous massacre of 120 innocent men, women, and children pioneers who unhappily chose that time period to cross Deseret on route to California. The war was finally resolved when the much revered Governor of the territory agreed to step down at President Buchanan’s insistence.

I did not know that Utah’s statehood was long delayed until 1896, for it was not until then that the Federal demand for the renunciation of polygamy was written into the State Constitution.

The name “Deseret” is still in print all over Salt Lake City. Deseret News, Deseret Books, Deseret Apartments. Utah may be on the flag but I suspect something else is still in the hearts of the majority. Beehives are also everywhere, on highway signs, on shops, and even in giant bronze sculptures on the Capitol steps. Even the historic home of the original Governor was named the Beehive, and it is there that he lived with his 55 wives….Yikes!

Here in Salt Lake City, Utah’s Capitol, I’ve had to dig deep in prayer to discern the heart of God for a place and it’s people. I’ve had to mentally disconnect myself from my natural prejudicial inclination to simply ignore or write off an entire segment of society. But God dismisses no people group, religion, race, or nation, with a wave of His hand. God has no pleasure in someone being lost, but rather finds pleasure in devising a strategy and means by which they might live. (II Samuel 14:14)

And thus is the point of traveling all the way here, for it is a fact that God has a plan and purpose for reaching people of every stripe and in every place. We prayed much at the Capitol today, that many Sauls in Salt Lake would have Damascus Road encounters and become Pauls. The Beehive represents “industry” (see the state seal), or “hard work”. Men throughout history have tried to please God with their “works”, developing systems that define spirituality, grant access into spiritual community, and control their own carnality. All of these systems eventually fail. Only a personal encounter with Jesus can deliver us from the dead systems of every world religion, and free us into the liberty that delivers permanent spiritual stability, unrestricted access to God, and absolute approval through the righteousness of His Son. The Apostle Paul experienced that wonderful encounter and was forever freed from the chains of systematic religion. We believe, and declare, that a multitude in Utah will likewise profit from the fresh wind of mercy and revelation that is beginning to blow across this land.

Stories From The Dominican Republic

Stories From The Dominican Republic

Twenty one years ago I visited the Dominican Republic, and upon departure vowed to never return.  It remained for all these years as the only nation where I had made such a rash pledge, provoked by my frustration with warring churches & competitive leaders.

I have never been so glad to have been wrong.

I sat one week ago in the office of Colonel Candelario, the Commandant of the National Police for the city to which we were assigned, Moca, the capitol of Espaillat Province.  Tears filled his eyes as he shared the burden of his responsibility, as his predecessor had lasted only 15 days in the same position over what had become in the past 3 months the most violent region of the country.  Colonel Candelario shared his desire for the help of God, stating that “we have heard, from a General in the Honduran Police, that only God can reverse the course of human violence.  It is impossible for our policemen to change people’s hearts.  This is the work of heaven”.  I asked the Colonel if I could pray for him, to which he readily agreed.  We prayed for strength and protection for his men, and called upon God to blanket the city with the peace of Christ’s Kingdom.  He then asked us to return the next morning to speak to and pray over the entire city police force.  What a privilege to stand before all of those men early the next morning, most of them armed to the max for the challenges of the day ahead.  I encouraged them as men under authority to know that they were authorized by God (Romans 13) to “keep the peace”, and therefore had the right to seek God for their own protection.  They were intensely tuned into every word.  When we finished and pronounced God’s peace and protection over their city, they filed out into the streets, where one of the younger recruits suddenly burst out singing at the top of his lungs in heavily accented English:  “Good morning USA!!, I have a feeling that it’s gonna be a wonderful day”!

I love the Kingdom of God, where the sobriety of eternal things runs smack dab into the hilarity of the human personality.  I’m sure that God as well was smiling over that one!

Later that day, several of those policemen sent to escort us were bowing their heads in prayer during one of the many outreaches we conducted, inviting Jesus Christ to be the Lord of their lives.

Everywhere we went, we were given a royal reception by the authorities and local population.  The mayor of the city invited us into his office, and there we prayed and spoke the word of the Lord over his life.  All over the nation was an intense excitement for the 20 simultaneous stadium events that would define One Nation One Day.  2,100 people divided into 20 teams conducted over 1,000 separate outreach events.  Hundreds of thousands of people came to faith in Jesus Christ.  Homes and clean water filtration systems were built, shoes were distributed to children in need, and 6 medical brigades treated many thousands of people more.

While the teams went out into the streets, Lenora and I spent a great deal of time in front of radio microphones and TV cameras, inviting the people of Moca to the great celebration event at the stadium.  Even the many secular programs and interviewers were so gracious, as everyone agreed that “peace” was what the D.R. desperately needed.

Contrary to the belief of the cynical, there ARE some nations that are moving in the right direction morally.  Sometimes we are blinded by the sad recent events in the USA.  But God is on the move.  The United Nations asked the Dominican Republic last week to adopt their “world policy statement” on same sex marriage equality and multiple gender endorsement.  Thousands of church leaders converged on the capitol in Santo Domingo, and the Dominican Congress roundly defeated the legislation!  Glory to God!

They have a deep consciousness of Biblical morality, as the only nation in the world that has the Bible on their national flag, and a deep conviction that they must stay true to those roots.

The Bible states in Chronicles that “The eyes of the Lord go back and forth across the earth, looking for a people to whom He can show Himself strong, whose hearts are loyal to Him”.  We realized last week that we were standing among such a people.  And the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the night of the 20 stadium events proved it to be so.  In our own stadium, we had a great breakthrough, despite some spiritual opposition and many distractions.  In the end, a multitude flooded the field for prayer.  All of the stadium seats were filled to at least 90% capacity.  The mayor of the city came and spoke, declaring that the city of Moca was dedicated to Jesus Christ.  I preached a simple message from Jeremiah 29:11, of the “God who knows you, the God who thinks peaceful thoughts about you (Jesus coming to save), and the God who plans marvelously for your future”.  The Holy Spirit made the connect, and God gave the increase.

God asked through the prophet Isaiah, “Can a nation be born in a day?”  We have seen the answer to that question.  Which nation will be next?  We are in that time of world history where the last great harvest of souls has begun.  A magnificent net has been lowered, and though the media and methods available to us in the 21st century, we are able to participate in an era of mass evangelism unlike any the world has ever seen.

May His Kingdom come, and may His will be done, on earth, even as it is in heaven!

Kelly & Lenora Brake

Brake Ministries International

July, 2015

Peruvian Amazon Testimony 2015

Peruvian Amazon Testimony 2015

Dear Praying Friends,

God has given us yet another extraordinary time in Peru, our eighth time ministering in this nation since first coming in 1999.  This time, our target group was the Candoshi tribe, a distant people group of around 2,500 persons, who live far up into the Amazon toward Ecuador, primarily along the Chapuri River, which is off of the Pastaza River, which is off of the Maranon River…….each of which is of interest only to those who are cartographically obsessed as I have been since childhood.

God gave us great breakthrough with these people.  They are extremely poor, neglected, and were almost decimated in 2009 by a Hepatits outbreak.  They are largely ignored by the government, with their children lacking even the most basic medical care.  Many had severely distended bellies and suffered malnutrition.  But Jesus has not forgotten the Candoshi people, and He had a special outpouring of His Spirit reserved for our time of outreach with them.

Twenty three different chiefs came to the gathering, along with 450 people.  It seemed that every woman there over 12 years old was pregnant, and in fact one lady gave birth our first night camping among them.  We never heard a sound.  It is amazing how 450 Amazon Indians and 6 North American gringos can sleep in absolute silence, with only the sounds of jungle frogs, insects, and owls.  It was surreal and the presence of God hovering over these people was palpable.

One chief stood up to announce:  “I have come with 30 members of my village.  We all want you to explain to us clearly what it means to follow Jesus, because we have decided to believe in Him”.  Wow – such community conversion does not exist in our North American context.  It was thrilling to see the hunger of these people for God.

Another chief interrupted one session with tears in his eyes, and shared these words:  “No one in my village has ever accepted Jesus….but last night I decided to follow Jesus.  Now today I will be baptized, and I want to go home and teach my people to also follow Jesus.  Can you tell me how to become a Pastor?  Can someone come and build a church so we can worship”.  Two hours later we baptized this man, along with 40 others who had purposed to pursue Jesus as Savior of their souls.  The night before, when they accepted Jesus,  I had taught them that “Jesus came to this world, and He wants to cut through the “jungle of sin” that hides your heart.  His love is like a sharp machete, (Hebrews 4 – the Word of God is like a two edged sword) and no “trees” (or sin) can resist Him.  He wants to find you and save you with His Words of life”.

We are not smart enough to come up with such analogies.  The Holy Spirit inspires such in the moment.  This is the way with tribal missions.  You really can’t go in with pre-prepared 3 point messages.  Only the Spirit of God knows the language of a man’s heart.

In another service, we taught the people on how to walk with God, and the importance of the person of the Holy Spirit communicating with them and filling them with joy.  We taught on the importance of speaking in all their conversation the Words of God, which are Words of life.  Then we challenged them to come forward and pray for Holy Spirit infilling.  It was an extraordinary moment, where all present could feel the tangible reality of God as He descended in comfort and love upon these neglected people.  They knew when all was said and done that God loved them, and this in fact was our goal – to awaken them to the reality of a living and present Savior.

The success of this trip was not without some obstacles.  We experienced our first ever vehicle accident while traveling between two cities.  Thankfully no one was injured.  We navigated around damaged highways where mudslides had poured down after heavy rains.  We pleaded and argued with the small aircraft company that had been contracted with to fly us into a small jungle city where we would catch our hired speedboat – – the flight outfitter told us:  “your reservation is only good if the plane is here….the plane is not here….it is across the jungle!  If you want to fly out, you have to pay to bring it here!  There are a lot of things that must be done with gritted teeth if one is purposed to preach the gospel in the remotest corners of the earth.  And along with human hindrances, we fought the usual complement of mosquitoes, chiggers, jungle rats scurrying outside our tents, and stomach maladies from questionable cuisine.  BUT in all these things, we were more than conquerors, and our mission was accomplished by God’s good and mighty hand!

As always, the prayers of faith filled people made the difference from beginning to end.

Please continue to pray for the Candoshi people if God ever brings them to mind, that the seeds planted will produce much fruit, and that the follow up teams that go in over the coming months and years will be able to build upon the foundations that have been laid.  Even now there are 2 teams of North Americans constructing church buildings in 7 Candoshi villages!  To Jesus be all the glory, for “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end!”

2015 Brake Ministries Vision

2015 Brake Ministries Vision

This past year has been extraordinary, but the year we have just begun will be even greater. This is not a daydream or crossed fingers. The Bible tells us that God takes people of faith from “glory to glory”. We have believed this and lived by it, and now, in 2015, our 35th year of cross cultural ministry, we have a great joy in expecting that God will continue proving His word.

Our plan is the same as it has always been: to be obedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit in taking the messages of His choosing to those places He sends. We have learned that when in the place of the Father’s appointing, there is no shortage of the Spirit’s anointing. In this way Jesus gains the maximum glory that He is worthy to receive, and which we desire to give Him.

We want to be faithful to communicate with those who pray for our ministry, and there are several ways you can check up on us.

    • Following us on Facebook is one of the best means, particularly through Brake Ministries International, or through our personal pages, Lenora K. Brake or R.k.Brake. Either “like” our BMI Facebook page in order to get updates, or send a friend request to us personally. But if you are not on Facebook, don’t fret.
    • Our website, www.brakeministries.com, has a regular newsfeed on the home page where all our posts to the BMI Facebook page appear. You can scroll along and see what we have been up to, what pictures or videos we have been posting.
  • Additionally, we do still send out by email mission field reports after each trip to all of those who we know pray for our ministry. These are sent from the email address rkbrake (@) gmail (dot) com. Please make sure to add that to your address book if you want the newsletter updates. We don’t post those on Facebook, as we are at times in countries hostile to public ministry, working in ways that aren’t officially sanctioned.

Please pray for us as we apply our faith and energy to the following in the year ahead:

JANUARY:  PERUVIAN AMAZON: Training church believers and leaders of the Kondozi tribe

FEBRUARY:  MEXICO: Two weeks of training leaders in Mexico City & Chiapas state

MARCH:  INDIA: Working with Dr. K.R.Singh to encourage & assist tribal evangelists

MAY:  SOUTH AFRICA: Revival meetings in Pietermaritzburg.

JUNE:  ALASKA: Preaching in Wasilla, Palmer, Talkeetna

JULY:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: 1Nation1Day Stadium crusade targeting 50,000+ people

AUGUST:  BULGARIA: Youth workers training & youth events

SEPTEMBER:  ARMENIA & ROMANIA: Evangelism, church meetings, and leadership training

OCTOBER:  TURKEY: Church leader training

NOVEMBER:  MIDDLE EAST & ISRAEL: Equipping & encouraging believers & leaders

We need much, much prayer to release a free flow of God’s grace to fulfill with excellence every assignment He has given. We need, as always, God’s supernatural provision of finances, courage, and the gift of faith to run with His vision. For the stadium event alone in July we are trusting to receive $65,000. Each month and each outreach requires its own miracles. We are so glad we serve a miracle working God!

May each one who reads this also have a 2015 year filled with vision, faith, courage, answers to prayer, and God’s miraculous grace! We will all celebrate together when we cross the finish line triumphant, victorious, and with an unquenchable fire burning for the next glory ahead!

KELLY & LENORA BRAKE

Brake Ministries International  

2341 Mangrum Drive
Dunedin, FL 34698

God And Guns

God And Guns

ON THE GLORY OF GOD AND GUNS

I do not have a phobia about weapons.  My earliest memory of a firearm was during a visit to my grandparents hillbilly home in Hodgesville, West Virigina.  A large muskrat was minding his own business walking next to a stream across the road, and my Uncle Gene came out with a rifle and summarily executed the hapless creature.  I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever seen in my 6 years of life experience.  This probably stirred within me some sort of instinctual need to kill wildlife.  Assassinating a bullfrog in New Mexico by covering him with giant black ants was particularly memorable, though no weapon was involved.  According to Dr. Phil, I should have grown up to be a serial killer, especially after test firing my first BB Gun on my younger brother from close range.  Of course I did not shoot him with a BB, but rather filled the weapon with grit and coarse sand then promptly blasted him in the face to test the accuracy of my marksmanship.  He retaliated with a baseball bat.  That is a battle of family lore.  But it was not until I was 13 that I scored my first major kill:  I was excitedly exploring the woods with the bow and arrow set I’d received for Christmas, when I spied an evil possum sitting up in a tree.  Yes, we all know that possum are by nature evil, and must be exterminated when opportunity arises.  My first arrow pierced his side, and with a snarl he scurried down the tree and into a hole in the tree trunk near the ground.  He was in full retreat, but when I bent down to observe his death throes, he had the audacity to bare his teeth in most menacing fashion.  For that impropriety I dispatched him with an arrow down the throat.  I must rescue my reputation and report that this did not provide me with the satisfaction I had anticipated.  I went home somewhat depressed, and cannot recall shooting anything since that time.  I imagine that the disturbance I felt had something to do with God not appreciating me slaughtering one of His creatures without cause or purpose.  At the least I could have hauled the possum home for Ma to toss into a stew…though more likely she would have tossed me out the back door as a stewed rabbit was as wild as it got around our Ohio home of my teenage years.

Fast forward 37 years, and I still find firearms a fascinating subject, particularly since they have vaulted to the top tier of American dinner table debate and conversation.  No debate however down here in Guatemala, from where I am currently writing this memo.  In Guatemala in fact, I am in love with guns, particularly the machine guns being carried by the policemen who have been guarding my wife and I and our team for the past 12 days.  Seems my friend recently had a pistol stuck in his face and was relieved of his passports and cash.  This was followed by death threats and kidnapping warnings.  Thus the guards, insisted upon by the local police commander, who piled into the back of our pick up en route to church the other evening, with the barrel of one machine gun pointing directly into my colleague’s thigh.  I politely noted this “irregularity” to the guard, and he obligingly pointed the weapon out the tail gate of the vehicle.  My friend thanked me for saving his right leg, and I then informed both guards that should there be an incident, they were morally obligated to save me first before any Guatemalans, as I was the “Gringo”, and naturally their commander would be far more upset about my death than he would for one of the locals.  They found this to be quite humorous, and it is always good to win over an underpaid, angry Central American policeman to your side by lightening his burden with laughter.  We had only one incident during the past week, and that was while driving a dirt, country road at night, when we came upon an overturned load blocking our forward progress.  When we stopped, another pickup with bright headlights immediately came up behind us – classic road set up for robbery of unsuspecting missionaries.  You never have seen a machine gun armed policeman jump out of the back of a truck so fast, pointing directly at the lights of the pickup behind us.  My buddy yelled, “shoot first and ask questions later….we’ll back you up as witnesses that you were defending us”!  Wow, I knew at the moment that I was definitely “not in Kansas anymore”.   Thankfully, our guard exercised wisdom and restraint, ascertaining who was in the vehicle first – – which is really good otherwise I would have had the death of a farmer, two kids, and a large pig on my conscience.

Back to the dinner table conversations raging across America.  I live in Alaska now, where gun ownership is a particularly passionate hobby and hunting is a means of provision for the majority.  Being previously a New Yorker for 25 years, and a Long Islander at that, most of the gun culture of my childhood was gradually chipped away, not by political opinion, but simply by lack of necessity.  We don’t kill animals on Long Island, unless we are being attacked by a rabid squirrel or raccoon, or we mow down one of the far too many deer in Suffolk county.  But in Alaska now, the debate rages around us.  It is clear that no one will ever be able to disarm Alaska.  It would be tantamount to a civil war.  The 2nd Amendment is safe and sound in our midst.  And I for one do fully appreciate that freedom to hunt, own a firearm, protect life and property, and resist tyranny.  Even though I presently own no weapons (please do not inform any of your potentially thieving distant cousins), I can appreciate the passion of my neighbors and church friends who do.

But I’ve said above that I find the current debate fascinating, and I explain this by highlighting my dilemma as a missionary and evangelist.  I am driven by a passion to see God’s grace invade the lives and families of the multitudes around the world who are lost, impoverished, and without hope in this broken world.  Confronted monthly by astounding poverty in multiple nations, looking into the eyes of hopeless multitudes, I am moved again and again and this passion of God instilled into my soul keeps me returning to these scenes of horror repeatedly, not only because I am called to this, but also because I know and carry a solution.  I try not to impose the weight of this particular calling on others, as I know all men are assigned to each their own sphere; yet I am at the same time required to convey God’s heart on the matter to thousands of men across North America so that many might feel the passion God feels and desires, that we who are so enlarged in our prosperity might find it within us to be moved on behalf of the needs of others.  And herein lies my dilemma, for as one who has labored 30 years to “see men moved” by the heart of God, I am suddenly seeing men moved with a passion beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed.

Men who have silently in churches for years now suddenly arise to declare that “they’ve had just about enough and they will die to defend their Constitutional right to bear arms”.  Men who are shy, the last ones into the sanctuary and the first one out, are newly emboldened in the “FaceBook Wars” to denounce, proclaim, and profess their allegiance to this most holiest of privileges, the 2nd Amendment, more sacred than life itself!

I am passionate for our Constitution, but astonished at this newly discovered fire in the bellies of men who have long sat cold under the preaching of the Word.  I am desperate to harness this newly discovered fire, channeling it into something eternal, into someone worth saving.  If we could take a tenth of the passion released in these past months by Christian men on behalf of 2nd Amendment issues, and channel that into the mission of the church of Jesus Christ, I believe we might just make some significant progress in reforming our wonderful United States of America.

Perhaps a sleeping giant has been awakened, and indeed we can truly hope that “all things will work together for good”.  Perhaps an awakened passion for something temporal might alert us to the ground we have lost on far more sacred issues, such as the sanctity of human life, moral purity, and personal integrity.  Perhaps men whom we have deemed immovable, have shown us that they are willing to stand up and be counted after all.

But if we are to be counted, let us be counted for those things that identify us most clearly with the one Who made quite clear by His own sacrifice that people are worth both living and dying for, and a man whose passions are reserved for only those things that concern his own life and well being is a man who has lost his compass and missed the greatest pleasures that this journey offers:  the pleasure of living in defense of the defenseless; for indeed, “he who would save his own life will lose it, but he who loses his life for Christ’s sake will find it”.

In closing, I tip my hat to all who strive to protect the purposes and privileges of the 2nd Amendment, and I for one will always be quick to defend my home and family with whatever weapon is at hand.  But in the meanwhile, I strive to keep sight of my greatest weapon, my most sure defense, and my unwavering security that can never be taken away:  a life lived in submission to and for the glory of our Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ.

R.K. Brake
San Jose Del Golfo, Guatemala

40 Week Marriage Devotional

40 Week Marriage Devotional

WEEK #12 – KATHMANDU’S ROYAL KUMARI, THE LIVING GODDESS

Peeking out the airplane window at the summit of Everest while flying out of Nepal, my mind is filled with thoughts of Kathmandu’s Kumari.  I had seen flashes of her on television as she was carried through the streets of the city in her throne like carriage.  Later I learned that her feet never touch the ground outside of her palace, for the duration of her supposed incarnation.  Yes, incarnation, as it is tragically believed; for the majority of residents of the capital city hail her as the living embodiment of the Hindu goddess Teleju.  She is chosen as a young child following a rigorous selection process.  She must be unblemished, have jet black hair and eyes, long eyelashes like a cow, and the “soft voice of a duck”!  She is about 5 or 6 years of age at selection, and passes the most severe of tests and examinations, including the necessity of spending a night alone in a room filled with the severed heads of 100 sacrificed goats and cows, without showing any trace of fear.  Yikes!  Pity the poor girl, who once approved is then presented to the spirit for inhabitation.

And thus her reign begins, continuing until the time where she passes into puberty.  For those 10 years or so, her word is absolute.  Other carefully selected children are allowed to play with her in her palace, but only after understanding fully that whatever the Kumari commands is their sacred duty and obligation.  She may seize their toys, demand her own rules in games, and in general have whatever she wants.  Adults come to her for blessings, and her every expression is interpreted for good or evil.  If she laughs or cries, you are likely doomed in the near future.

If she shivers, get ready for a trip to prison!  If she is perfectly still, only then is your petition assured of success.

How tragic is the fate of this sad child.  Poisoned from the earliest age with thoughts of her own divinity;  spoiled hopelessly with the scepter of absolute authority, believing that it is her divine right to have her want and way in every situation of life; sending adults into a trembling panic if her disapproval is aroused.  Hmmm…..I’ve seen such a child a few places before:  in the aisles of grocery stores screaming for the treats to which they believe they are entitled;  holding their parents hostage in restaurants by running amok and daring them to risk public discipline; or incapable when playing with other kids of handling loss, disadvantage, or domination.  These have been, like the Kumari, deceived into believing that they are the center of the universe and the rightful focus of every adult’s admiration.

And herein lies the challenge for the married couple, for such children, unrestrained or untrained, will inevitably seek to conquer and divide their parents.  The brat unbridled leads to blame and embarrassment – – who is responsible for the emotional mayhem of this maniacal miniaturization of domestic authority?  Which of us failed to steer and direct their path?  Who pampered them in private, or placated them with privilege, while the other alone wielded the rod and thus became unwillingly the object of their infantile resentment?

No, dear parents to be, you dare not bring another Kumari upon an innocent and unsuspecting world.  A few points of advance agreement will work wondrously toward reigning in your blessing’s baser instincts.  Wisdom and knowledge, provided by the Scriptures, will save a world of frustration and conflict both in the home, and out in society.  Here are a few tips for vanquishing any Kumari who would attempt to turn your peaceful home into his or her own personal palace:

  1. Be honest with yourself, and agree with God that your kids have not been born perfect.  They have in fact inherited Adam’s nature, as have mom and dad, and will inevitably push the boundaries as far as possible if not restrained, trained, and programmed in their brain!
  2. Children can be lavished with love and blessings, yet still learn early the meaning of the word “NO”.  Many adults cannot manage both sides of the formula.  They either are too heavy handed, fearing to be overly gracious, or they are too pampering, fearing to damage their child through denial.  God’s wisdom balances both.
  3. Let your darling learn early on that they will never come between mom and dad.  The two of you together form an impenetrable wall of agreement.  Once they’ve faced this wall repeatedly and discovered that it has no cracks, they will ultimately tire of attempting to breach it.
  4. Teach them early the joy and empowerment of honoring and exalting others.  Let them see humility working in the home as their parents refuse entitlement, and use their earthly position and resource for the uplifting of people.  The sooner their little feet touch ground in a place of commonality and service among their own peers, the more whole they will become as adults.
  5. Never find your own fulfillment through the visibility of your child.  Many a mom or dad has sat basking in the limelight as their little one proceeded to hijack the public atmosphere of a church service or restaurant.  Find your identity in God – – not through the attention your child can command through unbridled commotion.

 

Little darlings indeed, but not goddesses or gods.  Glorious gifts from God, but not granted immunity to parade with impunity.  The greatest natural joys you can have in this life…..but be sure that others are not secretly denouncing your treasure as their torment.   And in so doing, your children will be jewels in your crown….and in the eyes of all around you.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.  And He said to her, “What do you wish?”  She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”…..; But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant……; Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve……     Matthew 20:20, 25, 27