Monday, July 20, 2015

Don't Worry Granny, I Ain't a Hells Angel: Antony has a Moto!

The Sheps mission has expanded further into university student internships and we've added a team member to our family. Antony De Leon has been with us as a tenant for the past year, and he just came on board as our Field Manager.

Along with translation, travel, and technology, Antony will handle daily business for our family and I felt led to promise him transportation. His family lives about 40 minutes away and we also wanted him to have the ability to visit them so he could love on his mom. 

After wrestling with God about how to possibly pay for a motorcycle (moto) for the past three days, last night in an act of frustration I posted a quick Facebook plea:

Ok all you Bikers... all you hog riding, red-blooded, leather wearing, gang-banging, steel-horse riders, the Shep family needs your help. We're bringing on our first Guatemalan staff member, and I need to provide him with a motorcycle. $1,400.00 will get us a brand new 150cc motorcycle. So... if you're part of a group, maybe a rally, a raffle, or a ride, here's you cause!

Within seconds of the post... I had a response.

Several years ago I worked for the Kroger Company as a Meat & Seafood Field Specialist. Part of my job was identifying employees who had innate leadership skills and were teachable. Beckey was a seafood clerk who met all the criteria. I was impressed with her positive attitude, work ethic, and ability to lead others.

She worked hard and within a few months received her new badge, "Seafood Manager." Over the past few years, Beckey has been promoted several times, first to Assistant Meat Manager, then to Meat Manager. Her promotions have taken her from small volume stores, to larger assignments. It has been a real joy to watch her progression and to know that I played a small part.

After I posted the bit about needing help with a moto, Beckey answered and said three short words, "I got you!"

At the same time she was responding, my mission director and friend, Fontaine, sent me a captionless picture of a vintage Yamaha 125cc. 

He told me that it was owned by a mutual friend and CRI associate, Pablo. The asking price was $500. I was musing as to whether Pablo might take $400, because I had exactly that in my desk, saving it for next month's rent. 

I messaged Beckey and told her that I had a lead on a bike, and I would like to offer $400. She immediately replied that she had exactly that amount, and if I could purchase the moto for that amount, she'd drop a check in the mail on Monday.

I messaged Pablo and after an exchange he agreed to the purchase price of $400. Sight unseen, the Shepherd family had gained the possession of a 1969 Yamaha 125cc moto. 

I continued to instant message Beckey and soon both of our minds were blown. Here's how it went down (me in blue):

It has been and continues to be an amazing confirmation of faith. Your response tonight is yet another affirmation from God.

And my reasoning for why I couldn't sleep and decided to get out of bed grab my phone and sit on the porch. All things happen for a reason

I never would have seen your post in the morning.
That's epic. You know... I've thought about writing that post for two days. I was going to write a blog but what I wrote was crap. So... I just fired out that Facebook post.

And I haven't really been on facebook the last few days haha

I was just laying in bed and shot straight up realized I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon and started Facebook up, you were the first post in my feed.

There was something significant that happened here. The moment that I simply yielded to obedience and made an honest admission that we needed help, God reached out to a young lady I had worked with in the past, shook her from her sleep, and allowed her to open Facebook just at the moment I pressed enter to send.

At this same time, Fontaine, Antony, and Pablo were active on Facebook, and a perfect exchange happened between 5 people that met everyone's needs.

This is the God I serve. This is how He works. This is the testimony of my life over the past two years... again and again and again. I never know how we're going to make it happen, I just feel the tug of God on my heart, and I take steps of blind obedience. 

God blesses our efforts when we're obedient to His voice. It's really just that simple. 

He didn't provide the $1,400.00 moto that I was dreaming of, but He did provide the $400.00 moto that I needed. 

Antony went and picked up the moto today, riding it back in the pouring Guatemalan rain. It's sitting under our awning tonight,and I am absolutely thrilled to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was provided by God. 

I do still have  few unknowns though... maybe you are the next provision that He has in store. 

The moto needs:
the clutch adjusted
some tail-lights replaced
the engine tuned up ($100 for tune up and repairs)
some body work and fresh paint ($100)

a new seat ($100)

And... to keep us legal:

Guatemala requires that every
moto rider wears a vest.
The cost is about $20.00

And there's this...
Antony needs a helmet.
About $100 will get him a very nice one.

Who's ready to jump in and be a part of this incredible story? We need you to get this classic moto operating legally and reliably. 

2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year. We have an official Guatemalan staff member that we love and trust, and he has a moto!

Be a part of this mission. Contact me today at, or comment on this blog, and let me know how you want to help.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Brother Mitchell: The Hands of a Saint

Reverend Mitchell
I was an awkward thirteen-year old boy standing in the vestibule of Towne Boulevard Church of God. His slender and knobby-knuckled hands came from behind, resting on each of my shoulders. 

Brother Mitchell was a revival preacher and pastor emeritus of our church, and when he prayed it was like all of creation paused to listen. His words were laced with wisdom and experience. Every breath and movement of this man seemed to carry weight and purpose. I knew as we stood there that he was praying for me.

He always began his prayers in a way that even today echoes in my own words, "Eternal God, our Heavenly Father..." His grip was firm on my shoulders and I felt my body began to shake. I was overcome with a presence.

Brother Mitchell slowly pulled in a deep breath and I looked up into the eyes of my mother, who was standing just in front of me, as his words filled the space between us. “I feel something in your boy. I feel something powerful here. I feel something from the LORD. This young man belongs to Him. He is going to be used by God.” 

These words seemed to vibrate throughout my entire body. I could feel the words tingling on my skin and I could feel them fill my heart. Tears fell from my eyes. The moment seemed beyond that red-carpeted hallway. It was bigger than three people huddled in a quiet conversation. It somehow felt Holy. I was frightened.

This moment has stayed with me over the past twenty-seven years. At times I’ve rejected those words, ran from them, and even tried to negate them.  I didn’t want that path. But I remember the moment I yielded to it, and that was the moment I begin to see my life in the context of the God spoken of in the prayers of Brother Mitchell.

I think of him often as our family walks this path in Guatemala. God seems to be opening up a way in front of us that shocks us with opportunity to serve the Kingdom. As we begin taking even greater steps of faith, I somehow know that brother Mitchell was given a glimpse on that day so long ago. 

I am humbled, and thankful to have this memory from that great prayer warrior who touched the face of God.

It is remarkable how this man was influential for generations with my family and walks with me in memory and spirit still today. My grandfather Mathis was a pastor and Brother Mitchell would preach revivals in his church at Poasttown Church of God. My mother would give up her room and sleep on the couch so that he could have a place to sleep.

While I was a teenager growing up at Towne Boulevard Church of God near Middletown, Ohio, Brother Mitchell could be seen daily walking around the perimeter of the multi-acre property, praying for the church and worshipping his creator.

Surely this mans prayers blanketed me on those days.

I give thanks to God for Brother Mitchell, and I am sure that God smiles when He knows that the spirit that guided his steps walks with me today.

The pastors during my time at Towne Boulevard:
Brother Mitchell, Clifford Hutchinson, Henry Howard,
Dr. Charles Tarr, Dr. Randall Montgomery, Jim Hill

Pastors Emeritus: Henry Howard (top),
George Mitchell (left), Clifford Hutchinson (right)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's Illegal to Poach in Indiana: A Forgiveness Story

In 1996 I had just earned my undergraduate degree in Psychology and I was working at a mental health center. I remember being tasked with organizing an incentive program for positive behavior in a residential facility. I had purchased a crystal globe that would be passed each week to the winning wing of the house. 

I was trying to explain my grand plan as Wilbur kept getting up and pacing around the room. After unsuccessfully calming him down, I stepped in from of Wilbur as he tried to exit the room and I said, “Wilbur, I need you to sit down.” He shuffled his feet and averted his gaze as he said, “but I need...” It was at that point that I interrupted Wilbur and said, “I don’t care what you need, sit down.” 

I saw the immediate reaction of my words as they slapped him like a physical blow. How we react to others is such a strong indication of the condition of our own reconciliation to a God who can extend forgiveness to us. 

I had to stop that meeting and humble myself in a sincere, desperate effort to let Wilbur know that I valued him, and that my words had been selfish and foolish. I was in need of his forgiveness.  In that moment, Wilbur showed us all how to act, when he took me by the arm, looked into my eyes, and said, “thank you. I forgive you.” I will never forget the power of that moment, when I was restored. 

Yes, our words matter. The words we speak are reflective of our hearts. Our words are evidence of our beliefs. We can’t just go around quoting even the greatest of scriptures if we aren’t living out the meaning of those words. We must be sincere. God knows our hearts. 

Wilbur and I worked together for about 18 months, and he always made my life rich. Our relationship was deeper after that day, and I am so thankful we had the chance for another exchange while cooking dinner one day.

Wilbur had meal prep and I was there to assist him. He kept muttering a phrase under his breath as he walked in a circle in the small kitchen. I stood near the door and said, "Wilbur, what is wrong?" 

His immediate and pressured reply was, "I can't cook this menu!" I said, "What?" He replied, "I can't cook this menu, it's illegal to poach in Indiana!"

I look at the counter and read the printed menu that called for "Poached Eggs."

We enjoyed a great meal of scrambled eggs that night.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The God of a Swaddled Embrace

Pastor Tim Kufeldt of Dayspring Church of God
addresses our congregation in Tecpan.

The wooden bench was hard and I had to shift my weight. Sunlight filtered through the open door at the back of the room. I could see dust bunnies drifting away from the steady rocking of the ceiling fans about. I was holding my four-year old daughter, Sterling as she slept a deep drool-dripping collapse on my shoulder. My eyes were heavy as the pastor struck a rhythm with his Spanish baritone preach. 

I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open. They’d shut no matter how hard I concentrated. Sterling and I slept in the service. What a fine example I was, a visiting pastor at a prominent Guatemalan church, dozing in the pew. I woke up with a guilty glance of shame to the right and to the left, hoping the pastor hadn’t noticed me from the raised podium.

Even so, it remained a struggle. With concentration I could focus on the meaning of his phrases, but the effort continually yielded to the lazy turn of the fans, the heat, the snuggle of Sterling, and the pacing of that richly spoken voice. 

I battled with a nodding head all the way to the conclusion, waking several times in startled defeat. Suddenly there was a shift to his tone that indicated a close to the sermon. It’s the same in any language. You see the relaxed posture of the speaker and you hear the resolved tone. The message has been delivered, and the burden has been shifted to the hearer.

Directly in front of me sat a young lady with long dark hair that was tied back with a piece of Mayan jewelry. The darkness and radiance of her hair was contrasted with the deep jade stone in the center of the clasp. She wore black-framed eyeglasses that blended with her hair. Her skin was a warm, flawless caramel. Rich reds, greens, and purples wove together to form a blouse that required weeks of skill to perfectly complete. 

She was holding a tiny infant, no more than a few months old. The girl had been quiet the entire time and her wide, dark eyes scanned the room as her mother handed her over to her grandmother, who was also stunning in her traditional clothing.

The mother stood expectantly but gracefully as she raised up a long hand-woven cloth that she began to wrap around her waist, across her front, and around her shoulders. She created a pouch that would nestle her small child. The grandmother stood the baby girl up, supporting her under the shoulders as her slippered feet just touched the rough-hewn wooden bench.

The mother reached out her arms down to the baby while the small child looked up to meet her gaze with a smile that would rival any painted masterpiece. I expected the mother to pick up her baby, but she waited. While looking at her little infant girl, she again gestured with open arms… and this time the tiny baby reached her arms up towards her mother, and she was instantly lifted, swaddled, and carried.

Maybe it was the heat, or simply my exhaustion? No, I think it was the power of the moment that snapped me wide-awake. I was overcome with emotion. So many times I just want to be picked up and comforted by my heavenly Father, and I think I fail to reach.

There was something so significant in that moment that the infant reached up for her mother’s outstretched arms. The mother’s arms were there all along, but it wasn’t until the baby reached up to receive the embrace that she felt her entire body being swaddled and comforted in her mother’s arms.

How often do we long for the embrace of our Father while we fail to reach up? I’m not sure what the sermon was about that evening, but I thank God that He spoke deeply to my weary soul in that moment.

Are you wondering why God isn’t embracing you? He may simply be waiting for you to reach for Him. Reach now. The cloth is ready to wrap you in His love.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Internships Available NOW: Change Your Life, Change the World!

Just in case you haven't heard, the Shepherds are hosting interns for Catalyst Resources International! 

Meet 3 young ladies who have spent a month each with us. Yes, we returned them all home safely!

Caden Miller
June 2015
From Facebook
It's been a wonderful month in this wonderful country. Whether building a chicken coop, making new little friends in a village without needing to speak the same language, climbing a volcano, or holding precious orphaned babies, God is absolutely apparent in this beautiful place. I don't have to be sad to leave, because I know I'll be back. I trust that God will put me where he wants me and will continue the work he has started. Guatemala, God be with you 'til we meet again! Adiós!

Leah Allread

May 2015

 Kellie wrote on Facebook: Intern #1 of the summer just left us. This is Leah, and we miss her already! Fun, adventurous, flexible, and hardworking, she chased toddlers, taught fourth graders, counted meds, and aything else that needed doing. Her loving and laid-back (read low maintenance) nature is truly unique and a testament to her family and church family. Thanks for everything and keep in touch with the Sheps! 

Leah responded: That was too kind thank you both for having me stay and follow you guys around, I loved every second smile emoticon It was such an amazing experience and I appreciate everything you did to make that happen! I hope to see you all soon.

Samantha Renner
June 2014

From Instagram
Friendship is a single soul embodied in three people!
I love these two and how close I got to be with them!
#growingfamily #chtchtteam #wheredidTriciago
— with Samantha Bone, Briana Bolser and Tricia Mathis Bolser.

Check out Samantha's blog to see 
our internship from the eyes of an intern!

Ok, so we've caught your interest! 
Spots are open for this summer and fall. 

Activities offered are: 
Orphan care with local partners, 
Medical Clinics, Dental Clinics, Eye Clinics, 
Teach English with Christian American School
Worship with Journey Church
Serve with Big Student Ministries
Sustainable organic farming,
World Class Historical Ruins
Volcanoes, Jungles, Beaches

You can choose your focus and also experience the daily life of a missionary family. It is a life-changing experience. It is a time to discover your purpose, discover how far you can be stretched, be taught by others, and encounter God.

This year we are also offering an exclusive CHRISTMAS Intern Experience during the month of December/January. Guatemala celebrates Christmas with all night fireworks, gifts, and Ponche! 

Candidates are considered that 
meet the following qualifications:
  • Complete Application Process
  • Purchase of Traveler's Insurance Policy
  • High School Diploma
  • At least ONE year of university or equivalent life experience
  • Follows Jesus Christ in testimony and action
  • Displays flexibility, patience, and love at all times
  • Payment must be received 2 weeks prior to arrival, deposited in U.S. account via 5/3 Bank
Contact Chad or Kellie Shepherd 
to begin your experience!
Email Chad:
Email Kellie:

We are available via Skype at