God & Everyday People

My name is Sarah and I am writing on behalf of myself and my good friend Ceilidh (Kaylee) who have been led on a crazy adventure that only shows God’s goodness and faithfulness and AMAZING plan.

I have always loved Bread We Break and have been going for the past 3 years (since I became a Christian) and it was put on my heart a little while ago to reach out to you guys and share this testimony with you.

After I first became a Christian, the only thing I wanted was for God to use me in a unique and clear way. I had visions of rescuing orphans, feeding the hungry and sharing the love of Christ with people in Latin America. God heard my prayers, and called me to Guatemala where I have been living on and off for the past two years.

This last September when I was back in Canada, I began to feel this urge to make websites for ‘the poor’ in Guatemala, and help local businesses develop online stores. I believed that if they had an online store they would be able to make more income and support themselves.

So this last November I went back to Guatemala with no exact plan, a little fear, but faith that we serve a good God, who promises to go before us and protect us. About two weeks after arriving in the country settling down in my Guatemalan ‘hometown’, San Pedro La Laguna, I went back to meet with some women in a cooperative I had known from my previous time in Guatemala. In Guatemala, many groups of women start weaving cooperatives as a way to support their families and send their children to school. The cooperative is comprised of a group of backstrap weavers (people who make textiles and turn them into scarves, purses, backpacks etc.) and sell them in one physical store location. The people in a cooperative (usually marginalized indigenous women) can not afford to start their own business so they pool their resources together and share a place where they can sell their products.

When I arrived at the cooperative I asked the leader Clementina (who I had previously met) how their cooperative’s business was going, and she began to tell me about the problems that the cooperative was having. She explained how they were unable to have a sustainable source of revenue and things were hard. She continued to tell me how when rainy season came (May –November) the women in the cooperatives often couldn’t make any sales due to decreased tourism levels. This makes it difficult for these women to send their children to school as they need to pay for the tuition.

Clementina continued to tell me the cooperative needed two things: a website and an online store . I couldn’t believe it, and I immediately told her I would work with her and would develop a website and online store for the cooperative. At this point, I still did not know how to make websites or online stores. But this was no barrier for God, a few days later I met a professional who has an digital marketing agency. He offered to help me for free. I thanked the Lord.

Now that I had a techy guy to help me but, I needed content for the online store. I continued to take photos of each individual product that I would use for the online store. At this point I had found a white wall and a nail and began to hang the products on this nail. But the products didn’t look very pretty. For weeks, I would go down to the cooperative, trying various methods to improve the photos and aesthetic appeal of the products. Additionally, I knew the customers would want to hear the stories of these women and would want to know how their purchase was making an impact in the community. So Clementina arranged for site visits and I began to go to the various different houses of the women weavers (there are 35 women who work in the cooperative and who can send their children to school as a result of the cooperative). I began going into the homes of these women. The poverty was incredible, I saw 12 people to one stove, no running water and homes without electricity. I realized that my little DSLR camera wasn’t good enough to capture the strength and tenacity of these women weavers – and I really wanted to display their powerful stories on the website. However, this struggle was soon overcome when I was one day introduce me to a Canadian photographer who had a studio in the town where I lived (I had no idea that his little studio existed!). He was interested in what I was trying to do and agreed to help me by taking professional photos of the women and said he would use his professional flash and even bring his Guatemalan assistant (who was also a photographer).

I had schedule a site visit when my friend Ceilidh was coming to visit me in Guatemala during her reading week which was a week later. Ceilidh had been attending Alpha at The Meeting Place during this time, as she was exploring Christianity and what a relationship with Jesus meant. She arrived in Guatemala and instantly became interested in what I was doing and was excited to do a site visit to see into the lives of the women weavers. We met with the photographers and together we went to visit the artisans homes. Ceilidh was really moved by the experience and a huge desire was placed in her heart to work on this project with me. She even planned to return back to Guatemala in a few weeks to continue working on the project. I found out later that during this time Ceilidh accepted Jesus into her heart. Suddenly I realized God was continuing to provide and use this little project.

Ceilidh returned to Guatemala a month later. Shortly after she returned to Guatemala, we both felt a nudge to go and speak with another cooperative. We wanted to be able to help more groups of women, and we were looking for leather products. I knew a woman from church named Anita who had started a small cooperative not long ago and Ceilidh and I both felt we needed to see her. We arrived at this woman’s cooperative and spoke with Anita. She told us the story about how she spent all the money she had to buy products from women who came to her and ask for her help. These women were extremely poor backstrap weavers (they made scarves and other products) and did not have any other form of work. They needed to sell their purses and scarves so they could send their children to school, for food, to buy their medicine and to meet their basic needs. At this time, Anita had a job as a tour guide and would bring the products to her tour groups. The people loved the products she brought to them and Anita realized she could help a lot of women by selling their products. She believed God was calling her to do this, and she began using every last cent she had to buy the womens products and sell them. She later got financial assistance from a friend and opened the cooperative that is now helping 26 women have a form of income and experience the love of Christ. Anita explained how the slogan of the cooperative is “Blessed to Bless”. Anita’s incredibly story of struggle and triumph and her heart for God captured us. We knew we had to help and work with this cooperative. Her story really inspired us, and we believe that is will inspire others too.

God is good, and he works in miraculous ways that are greater than anything that we could ever hope or imagine. I have come to see how the Lord loves his children and takes such good care of them. He provides for us in ways that seem impossible… in ways we could have never imagined ourselves. Ceilidh and I are just everyday people. Anita and Clementina are just ordinary women. We haven’t done anything different than anyone else, we just have had the amazing opportunity to serve God and want to continue to serve Him. We believe God uses his children in incredible ways and that there are young adults in Winnipeg who need to the hear the message that God wants to use them and WILL use them.

We are going back to Guatemala to serve God by continuing this project in October. We also thank you for the ministry of BWB, for serving the young adults in Winnipeg and abroad.

Pursue God's Love

You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.” Psalms‬ ‭119:68‬ ‭NASB‬

One of the hardest things to do is believe that God loves us as much as He says He does. This struggle has been a reality in my life. It’s easy to generalize God’s love and goodness to the masses instead of realizing that He loves you and I as if there were only one of us. This year, I made a decision to pursue His love and trust Him in spite of whatever I may encounter. Like most New Years “resolutions”, this one was no different. It stayed behind with the first few days of January as my life moved forward. However, when I attended Bread We Break, I was awakened as we proclaimed God’s goodness in “King of My Heart”. I had been basing God’s love and goodness on the good things in my life, which isn’t necessarily wrong but l soon realized that it’s short lived when things stop looking pretty.

That night, my focus shifted from circumstances defining God’s goodness to seeing His goodness in all circumstances even if it may not look that way. The more I focus on God, the more this becomes true. I’ve learnt that He is Good because He says He is and I strive to live life through those lenses. Until you see the puzzle, you’ll never appreciate the importance of each piece. He is A Good Good Father.

Praying About Anxiety

My name is Jen. I'm 19 years old and I have been a Christian for as long as I remember. I made the decision to follow Jesus for myself when I was 15. Right after I graduated from high school, I was diagnosed with Panic Anxiety Disorder. Looking back, it's easy to recognize moments of sheer panic, days or even weeks of anxiety, and specific panic attacks. However I did not know what I was going through at the time, so I thought it was normal - a byproduct of the stress I was feeling about leaving home for the first time to take a year off school at Torchbearers in Germany. Upon my diagnosis I felt a mild amount of comfort that what I had been experiencing was in fact not normal, but a result of my anxiety disorder. I also struggled a lot with feeling weak and like if I had just been a stronger person, this wouldn't have happened to me. My parents bought me a book written by a Christian psychologist called "The Anxiety Cure". In this book the author stressed that anxiety was not a result of weakness, but rather strength. Anxiety happens to strong people as one of the ways Satan tries to destroy us. I was determined not to let that happen to me. While at bible school I experienced an incredible amount of general anxiety as well as panic attacks. The living conditions were some of the worst for an introvert with anxiety - roommates, no alone time, forced to meet new people for two straight weeks until you know everyone. But even after those two weeks it felt like I only knew people on a surface level - no one I could really talk to about serious things. This left God as my only option, and now I am incredibly grateful for it. I cried out to Jesus everyday, asking him to help me and to give me strength to get through the day, sometimes just the hour. He continually provided for me.

I remember one specific instant when I was on outreach with my music team. We were in an unfamiliar town with people who spoke limited English, and we were about go to on stage to perform our set when I felt a panic attack coming on. I told our staff leader who immediately comforted me and told me about a quiet place in the basement where I could go to be by myself. He asked me if I needed anything and then assured me that the team would be okay without me. I spent the next hour or two in that little room, which had couches and darkness and quiet. Later on I came up back upstairs to find the others worried about me, but they didn't know I'd had a panic attack. Our staff leader had told them that I simply did not feel well. This was a huge relief to me because having panic attacks was never something I enjoyed sharing. I found them embarrassing and thought that others would see me as weak if they knew how often I got them. The night went on and I enjoyed myself fully. It ended with a dance party with the youth of the town! God provided so much more than I needed that evening.

The anxiety continued, but I continued to rely on Jesus. There were many times that I cried out to God in both anger and pain, questioning his motives behind it all. "Jesus I trust you" became a continual mantra, even though it wasn't always true. I often had to say it multiple times out loud before I believed it myself.

In August of 2015, just over a year after my diagnosis, the anxiety got really bad. So bad that while I was working at camp I had to switch from counselling to the kitchen, and even then I had to take days off to just lie in bed. There was one day I only left my room twice. The physical pain was unbearable. I talked to a good friend about how difficult it had been recently, then she shared an interesting perspective: that it was so difficult now because something really, really good was going to happen in the future. I liked her outlook and wished it could be true, but I never thought it possible. Over the course of my anxiety, I had many people praying for me and had seen no improvements. This caused me to think that God wouldn't heal me but instead would give me the ability to handle my anxiety. But on August 29, 2015, I went to morning staff meeting like any other morning. We had our cabin debriefs and went to meet with our prayer partners, just like any other day. God used this ordinary day to do something amazing. While I was praying with my prayer partner, she felt like God wanted to heal me. She prayed, and as she did I felt this anxious knot tighten in my stomach for a few moments and then loosen. The empty space was immediately filled with a sense of peace and warmth - the presence of God. The joy in my heart and in my prayer partner's heart were both indescribable. We sang to the Lord and praised him with our whole beings. Many tears of joy were cried, and hugging was abundant. Jesus had done a miracle. He healed me from my crippling anxiety! This is a day I will never forget.

One of my favourite moments in that day was walking up to two of my closest friends, my prayer warriors, and telling them that I had been healed. There were more joyful tears and grins and lots of hugs. Each person I told was filled with joy and I got to experience that joy many times that day. Jesus is good.

I have had absolutely no issues with anxiety since then. God told me that it would be gone forever, a concept I still can't comprehend. I occasionally catch myself expecting it to come back in one way or another, but it still hasn't. I think I will be surprised by this for a long time. God is so good to have healed me, but I still have questions. Why did he choose that exact moment? Why heal me when he could have healed others with more serious problems? I have no answer to these other than to say that God is good and his plans are perfect. He uses everything for his glory, no matter how terrible the circumstance may seem. God is SO good! I am still so thankful for the work he has done in my life, short as it may be (so far). He taught me many things during this trial, the biggest one being that I can hold on to him and he will keep me standing when everything feels like it's falling apart. He will hold me together when I feel like I'm losing it all.

God Does Forgive

I went to Bread We Break's prayer and worship event in the later spring, and felt ashamed from my past. I thought God wouldn't forgive me after being involved with gangs and even drugs, but as we sang I felt like I should lift my arms and worship God.

When I did, He spoke to me, and the words in my ears were so soft and gentle, yet powerful that it brought me to my knees in tears, simply "you are free". Ever since that moment I knew God was real and forgives even the broken!

I've been telling that in my testimony to people in reserves and at camp, I even preach now! Thanks guys, you're doing a great job!