Updates from the Field: CVM Vet Professionals serving Long-term in Bolivia

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72 DSC01588By: Dr. Brad Frye, CVM Program Director & Latin America Director

One of the great privileges I have working with CVM is being able to visit and support CVM missionaries that serve in countries around the world. This past October I was in Bolivia.

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Thankfulness in All Circumstances

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By Dr. Melissa Cheeks

We all have daily struggles. thanksgivingWe all have “real life” stuff that gets in the way of us feeling thankful. I know it’s hard to feel thankful when you are dealing with the stress of work, the stress of unexpected family issues, or the stress of strained relationships. These little things can become big things, and they wear on us, even as we try to paste on our smiles and get through the day. So how can we actively be thankful, in the midst of it all?

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“Capital S” Sovereignty

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skyI am standing in awe of God today. There are moments in our lives as believers when we will just stand in the presence of the Lord, and keep standing, for lack of knowing what else to do.

I recently had a friend experience what can only be described as God’s Sovereignty. For the past few years, he has been in a place of uncertainty, and a place where he hadn’t felt the presence of God in a tangible way in a long time. He was frustrated and emotionally beaten down. This past week, God revealed to him people and places that reflected all the work He has been doing in this quiet time. My normally quiet friend spoke for 45 minutes straight, and his face lit up in a way that can only be described by God’s fire. I’m not quick to cry, but I was tearing up, just watching my friend, filled with the light of the Lord. It gave me chills. My friend closed by saying, “It’s exciting now to look in the rearview mirror, and see all the things God has done up to this point, but it’s also exciting to look forward and to find out what’s next.”

I wish I could summarize his story for you, but I’d never do it justice. I wish I could impart on you the feeling of God’s presence that injected all of us last night, but I can hardly contain it in words. I thanked God for allowing Himself to live in each of us, so that we have the joy of seeing pieces of His reflection in the people around us. It’s the most beautiful thing we can experience here on earth.

As I was driving away, a message came on the radio about (I kid you not) God’s Sovereignty. Max Lucado was talking about a nurse that felt called to her profession. Max reminded his listeners to take the time to hear God, and don’t forget to obey. The second part hit me- while I have followed God’s call to become a domestic missionary, is there anything I’m forgetting to obey? Likewise, what are you forgetting?

So what is this Sovereignty I keep talking about? I liked a description on the Theopedia site: “The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. God works not just some things but all things according to the counsel of His own will (see Eph. 1:11). His purposes are all-inclusive and never thwarted (see Isa. 46:11); nothing takes Him by surprise. The sovereignty of God is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things, but that He does so, always and without exception. In other words, God is not merely sovereign de jure (in principle), but sovereign de facto (in practice).”

Shared with me today (I still kid you not) was an email devotional from a CVM friend. You might guess that he also wrote about God’s Sovereignty, and he shared this quote:

“Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left.” (Loraine Boettner, theologian)

Or as a member of my small group that listened to our friend’s story said, “Skeptics could look at the things that have been orchestrated in your life, and say, “It’s a small world.” And then some of us are looking at it and saying, “God is Sovereign. Capital S Sovereign.” Amen.

Dr. Cheeks is raising deputation as the North Central Regional Representative for CVM. She is based out of Madison, Wisconsin but works in 9 states, including 9 vet schools. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, running, hiking with her dog, tending her garden, cooking, and knitting. Find out how you can support her ministry here: www.cvmusa.org/cheeks

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How Tropical Storms, Canceled flights, and unplanned circumstances are used for God’s glory

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0PFFQVasUxQ_sULOHsNx1AS9aju-pit7pdoJKJTcHB9axstdLgvTjlv1iUbv6dl8O-tuqrSYLQRFFX7005fntr7l0BQ=w1043-h578By: Malia Drennan

Can you imagine spending months preparing for a short-term trip, raising funds for said trip, and filling your bags with all the items you will need for this trip, only to have a tropical storm and mechanical issues keep you from arriving at your final destination?

In August, Aaron and Tiffany Lavinder, a vet student from Ross University, boarded a plan and departed the island of St. Kitts and were destined, eventually, for Haiti.  They had planned to spend a week in Haiti serving alongside Dr. Kelly Crowdis and six others. However, as I’m sure you can guess, they never made it to Haiti.

Here is their story told from both perspectives.

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Shattering Indifference

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caringBy Dr. Melissa Cheeks

Last week, we talked about comfort, and I listed a few books that were sitting on my coffee table. This weekend, I started reading the book I mentioned called Finding Calcutta, on the recommendation of one of my Minnesota students. It’s an amazing book so far. I had a completely different topic in mind for the post this morning, but there were a few passages in the introduction of this book that captivated me in such a way that I felt compelled to share them with you.

The book is written by a woman named Mary that went to India to volunteer alongside Mother Teresa. When Mary decided to go to India, she was not a Christian. She found it odd that Mother Teresa always described her work “not as social work, but as religious work.” Before going to India, she opened her life to Christ, at the age of 41. After the author explained her journey to Christianity, she writes, “I tell you this before I begin the story about Mother Teresa and the Missionaries because I believe I am not alone in my struggles to understand the truth of her life and work- struggles born of living in a secular age. I can see now that even the church in which I grew up taught me more about being a “good humanist” than about living with and for Christ.”

Wow, Amen and Amen. We can be so easily disillusioned, and led astray by even our own religious institutions. It’s crucial for us to all find churches that live on a solid foundation of scripture.

The author also talks about her struggles to write this book. She says, “For the first few years after my return from India, I attempted to write this book in a way I thought would appeal to everyone. Even though I did not personally seek a secular interpretation, I felt that only such a description of her would resonate with our culture and time. After repeatedly starting to write and then laying it aside for long periods, I finally realized: one cannot understand or explain Mother Teresa in secular terms. Indeed that is precisely what she meant when she said, “Our work is not social work; it is religious work.”

What would it look like if we all lived this way? Mother Teresa felt she was called by God to serve the poorest of the poor. She did so because she was following God’s urging in her heart, and she was faithful to this calling. Likewise, many veterinarians feel that being in this profession is part of their calling. Yet, too often, we box Christ out of our work lives, instead of realizing that God put us in the veterinary setting for a reason- to show His love in everything we do. As Christ’s followers, we should live for him, and love him by loving others.

Abraham Heschel once wrote that true prophets of God “ceaselessly shatter indifference.” He believed they reveal the heart of God, imploring us to return to him “in a world that is not so much devoid of meaning as deaf to meaning.” The author also writes about Mother Teresa, “To see her and the Missionaries serving the poor and living among them simultaneously shatters our indifference to God and humanity, critiques our privilege and disturbs our comfort.”

We should be so lucky to be that uncomfortable- to break our own world view in order to see the world from another set of eyes. I am continually impacted by stories that our overseas missionaries tell about people receiving bibles in their language for the first time. They are tearing out passages to share with their neighbors, and reading from the minute the sun goes up to the minute the sun goes down. They are so hungry to learn about Jesus! We are blessed to have so many bibles in America that churches will give them away for free. Why is it so hard for us to have that same burning desire to read God’s Word? Or to serve Him as we are called to do?

I find it inspiring to read stories about people like Mother Teresa. Her life was not compartmentalized. Her daily work and the lasting impact she has made were only possible through her devotion to serving our Lord. Most inspiring is the fact that she was no different than you or I. She is just a human being, trying to serve the Lord and live out the teachings of Jesus as she cared for others. Imagine if every one of our veterinary clinics operated the same way- to love and pour ourselves out into our communities. Imagine what God can do through each of us.

Verse of the week: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Song of the week: “We Will Run”, by Jesus Culture

Dr. Cheeks is raising deputation as the North Central Regional Representative for CVM. She is based out of Madison, Wisconsin but works in 9 states, including 9 vet schools. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, running, hiking with her dog, tending her garden, cooking, and knitting. Find out how you can support her ministry here: www.cvmusa.org/cheeks

 

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