The President's Letter
Note:In our March Newsletter Bruce wrote about Passion. This letter is a follow-up to that message.
As winter has ended and spring is quickly moving past, it is with awe that I observe the fields of South
Georgia and the yards around the Atlanta area. I see how passionate the farmers and the homeowners are in preparing the ground for the new planting season and the tending of the crops and flower beds--the tilling of t
he soil and placement of fertilizer and then the planting.
Sometimes I watch the farmer walking in the fields to see how the new plants are progressing or the homeowner fussing over the flowerbed, excited and waiting for the first shoots or blooms. When you speak to them, their enthusiasm is evident. Someone who rarely says more than hello is willing to talk at length on the merits of this crop or that seed or which fertilizer and how much water is too much. Yes, that's passion.
It reminds me of the story in Matthew 13, the Parable of the Sower:
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Good soil! The passion of the farmer--or the home gardener--is not for the rocky or thorny places, but for the GOOD SOIL! Any experienced farmer will be more than happy to tell you that a great crop of a "hundred times" what was planted, is only achieved through the process of preparing the soil for the new season.
This is also the season for Tres Dias weekends. If your community is looking for a great harvest this year--and the next and the next--then direct your passion to making ready the weekend soil. Truly take those seeds (your new pescadores) and cultivate a place for them to be nourished in a manner they have never experienced before.
The hundredfold harvest is their testimonies of God's Grace, revealed to them on their weekends. They yield the seeds for an even greater harvest next year and the next.
So what is our job as leaders in this great ministry? To be the sowers, those who plant seeds of truth and grace in other people's lives. We prepare the soil, provide the fertilizer, and then gather the harvest. This is difficult work that takes firm commitment. But the beauty of fields that are ripe unto harvest is worth every effort.
Become men and women of PASSION!
Another Way to Explain Tres Dias
The next time you're explaining what Tres Dias is all about to a potential candidate, consider sending them a link to the video Tres Dias Presents. After an enticing overview of the Tres Dias basics, the last screen takes the reader to the "Frequently Asked Questions about Tres Dias" section of the Tres Dias International Website.
The video is posted on the Tres Dias Facebook page. (Search Facebook for @TresDiasPage.) To send the video to a friend, use the "share" icon in Facebook, or forward a copy of this issue of the newsletter.
An invitation from Mid-Hudson Tres Dias to
The Tres Dias International Annual Assembly and Secretariat Meeting
July 15-17, Montgomery, NY
In 1979 the groundwork was laid for establishing a national secretariat, and the first meeting of that secretariat was held later that year at a Methodist church, just across the river in Poughkeepsie, NY. God has kept His Hand on this ministry all these years and has used this movement to bless countless people across the country and around the world! So as the ministry approaches its 45th anniversary, we at Mid- Hudson Tres Dias are pleased to invite you to come to where it all began, and join us as we host the annual Assembly July 15-17, 2016.
Events begin on Friday, July 15, with informal meetings in the afternoon and Essentials training in the evening. The Saturday session opens with a worship service and the traditional parade of banners representing Tres Dias communities around the world. Workshops follow, as well as a session devoted to reports of God's grace for overseas communities. The day culminates with a dinner followed by a secuela. Members of the International Secretariat meet Sunday morning from 8:00 to 11:00.
Additional details, including information on hotel accommodations, are on the registration form. Register today by using this link.
Worship, praise, learn, and share as you participate with pescadores from around the world.
Montego Bay Tres Dias--
In memoriam, Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols
"The Montego Bay Tres Dias community is growing and expanding in a powerful way," reports Northeast Georgia pescador Bill Shoemaker on his return to the States after serving as rector for Montego Bay #10.
His optimism comes with full awareness of the seamy side of Jamaican culture, where a complicated mixture of ideologies and religious beliefs has created what he calls a "morass of darkness." What is truly remarkable, however, is that his vision of the Montego Bay community was not dimmed by the sudden
tragic loss of two colleagues.
Bill recently returned to the island to attend the memorial service for Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols, missionaries who were slain last month in Kingston. The two men and their families served with Teams for Medical Missions, an organization dedicated to helping strengthen Jamaican churches for effective ministry. News accounts state the men "greatly loved the people of Jamaica and were loved in return." Bill adds that both men were pescadores and loved Tres Dias. "They were sold on the movement. They were very, very active and a tremendous help in sponsoring and helping us train team members from the island."
Police have no suspects and no explanation for the motive behind the murder.
To understand why Bill's faith in God's guidance for Montego Bay is so firm in the face of unexpected violence, consider how Montego Bay #10 sowed the seeds for future growth.
The team of 39 consisted of 18 brothers from Jamaica and 21 from the States. Of the twenty candidates--ages ranging from 20 to 73--five were pastors. Several men attend Bible Training Center Jamaica (BTC), a subsidiary of International Bible Training for Pastors and Leaders. One of the team members is the leader of that school, another a missionary leader for Teams for Medical Missions. And one of the spiritual directors was a new pescador from the previous weekend.
The weekend was filled with "sacred moments." The tables came together to do the Decurias, everyone demanding to participate. The premier high point of the weekend came Saturday night at the forgiveness chapel, when two men accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.
"When I introduced our upcoming rector," Bill notes, "three-quarters of the candidates stood and accepted the invitation to come back and serve. You have to understand the culture of the men in Jamaica to appreciate that. Everyone tends to be very laid back and noncommittal. Yes, God's Spirit is on the move in Jamaica."
The weekend was also special for the team, as these comments attest:
"Needless to say, we had a very powerful weekend, not that they all aren't... but to observe what the Holy Spirit is doing, little by little in this country is so very awesome, especially within the ranks of the young men."
"To say it was a pleasure to serve at Mo Bay Tres Dias #10 would definitely be an understatement. This for me was a most memorable experience. I never thought I had it in me to truly serve from my heart, but with God's help I was able to do so successfully."
"As a team member I was even more blessed than I was as a candidate and that can only be as a result of God's intervention. I look forward to serving next year and will make every effort to recruit candidates for #11."
Yes, Jamaica has its dark side, a culture with pervasive superstition, gang violence, and an active drug trade. Still, Bill highly encourages his Tres Dias brothers and sisters from all over the United States to consider serving in a third-world country to see God's hand at work in the lives of other cultures. "As we trust our Faithful Lord to lead, guide and protect us, this effort will explode the gospel in Jamaica and eventually change the spiritual climate of the men there."
To drive home his point, he adds one more comment: "I believe in my heart that we will be holding two weekends a year in the not too distance future."
The Old Schoolhouse
Facing demolition, an old building gets new life
Restoring an old school was no quick and easy task for Tres Dias of Southeast Tennessee, but the project brought the community together in an awe-inspiring way that demonstrated God's grace.
"We needed a facility closer for us and one where we had flexibility in deciding what dates to hold weekends," says Ray Newby, TDSETN Chairman. After searching for several years for a facility they could renovate and make their Tres Dias home, the community became aware of the old Apison school on the outskirts of Chattanooga. The Circa-1922 school had been declared surplus by the county, which planned to tear the building down if no new use could be found.
The TDSETN community jumped at the chance to lease the old school and revamp it for Tres Dias weekends. The county agreed to waive a $1,000 per month rental in lieu of improvements, and the community went to work. They also took an option to purchase the property for the appraised value, less costs to demolish the "functionally obsolete" building.
Over 150 volunteers from the community worked more than 8,000 hours doing everything--cleaning, painting, framing walls, converting classrooms to dorm spaces, and bringing the facility up to code."We got the idea to have a 'Mission Week' to muster up some labor in a short period of time," Ray said. "People take off a week to go on mission trips to help with construction, so why not do it locally?" About a dozen men and women stayed the entire week, while others came and went. "The community stepped up to provide meals and many came during the day and night to take on tasks." During the seven days, more than 50 pescadores worked over 1,000 hours.
Many companies furnished materials and performed their work for cost when they caught the vision of what the group was doing. "God truly supplied our needs," Ray said. "It seemed as if we would spend thousands of dollars in a month, and the balance in the account would go up by more than that amount." (Isn't that often the way in God's economy?)
The money kept trickling in. Over $400,000 was raised through individual donations from members. "We made sure that everyone knew that this was not to take money from their church offerings," Newby stated. And they never had to borrow a penny for the renovation or eventual purchase.
It's been 14 years since the project first began, and the Apison Retreat Center, or ARC as they refer to it, is not only home to Tres Dias weekends, but the community offers it to Christian organizations for overnight retreat functions. The county uses it as a voting precinct, as well. The facility has hosted two TDI Secretariat meetings (2007 and 2015).
"In 2011," Ray adds, "after the devastating killer tornados a half-mile away, the facility became a command center for the recovery effort. We also opened our dining room and prepared and served over 300 meals three times a day for residents and volunteers. We also helped distribute donated supplies to those affected."
The Southeast Tennessee community experienced the truth of 2 Corinthians 9:10, that Tres Dias can become a way that God "will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness."
For a tour of the Apison Retreat Center, Use this Link:
Palanca--The Levers of Love
By Paul Markowitz
I challenge you to recall your original three-day weekend. My original weekend was Tres Dias of Northern New Jersey Men's # 41 in 1988. I am a Jewish man living with epilepsy. I had been a Christian for only a few years. I received Jesus as my Savior on July 6, 1984.
A friend of mine mentioned that Tres Dias was an ecumenical nondenominational, three-day Christian renewal experience. "A short course in Christianity," she said, and her husband would be praying that I would say "yes." I did say yes.
My sponsors told me I would be seated in a room with other Christian men. What followed was a strange and totally new experience: sitting at a table and creating a "family," listening to the Rollos, playing with crayons as we made posters. Later, as a table, we would have "small chapel" or "we" prayers with our table family. We shared about burdens, joys, and struggles. I personally had never had that kind of experience in my life before. I was very shy and only trusted my parents and sister. I was mad at God for the epilepsy, but God opened my mind and heart to a new word. That word was love.
I thought I knew who loved me--my parents, my family. A break was scheduled and the candidates went to their rooms to relax. I entered my room and found a bunch of letters on my bed. I sat in a large corner chair and read the "love" letters, called Palanca. Palanca was described as a lever, and my spirit was definitely lifted up. I began to cry as I read a note from my sponsors' three-year-old daughter." Have fun Paul, God loves you, and me too!" I sat and cried as I read letters from strangers and wondered, "How do they know I am here this weekend?"
Later on my sponsors explained how people from Tres Dias of Northern New Jersey have a secretariat, and they make sure that the candidates receive Palanca from their sponsors. Also someone would send community letters to other three-day communities such as Cursillo, Walk to Emmaus, Kairos Prison Ministry and Tres Dias. I have a note from a man who lives in Florida.
I am currently Palanca Chairperson for Tres Dias of Northern New Jersey. Here are some of the things I've learned from being in that position and helping others experience the kind of love I felt.
We can pray over a team list, especially the candidates on an upcoming weekend in their community. We can pray that the candidates chosen by God will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that they will become involved in their church. (The people are the church, not the building.) We can also pray they become disciples and followers of Jesus and share his love with others.
Ask yourself, "What can I do, as a pescador, to support the candidates and team?"
- Pray for the candidates and team
- Write Palanca letters
- Offer table/bed Palanca if this is a tradition in your community.
- Address your Palanca as "Dear Brother or Dear Sister in Christ." Someone on the team will put names with the Palanca letter.
- Help with set up and break down. Offer to serve at mealtime if your community guidelines and policies encourage this.Some communities refer to their weekend auxiliaries as CHAs, Christ's Hands in Action. Extra hands are always needed. You can be these hands, even if you aren't serving on the weekend.
Check out http://www.3dayol.org, which is a Christian prayer site. Many of the different three-day communities use this for a 72-hour prayer vigil. Usually they ask for a person to pray for 30 minutes. Go to the site, find a community and sign up to pray. This may be a tool of prayer that your community can use also to promote weekends. God loves you and so do I.
Paul Markowitz, Tres Dias of Northern New Jersey, Men's #41 (1988)
|A Note From the Editor
When we launched this newsletter several years ago, we invited readers to send us stories about those extraordinary moments during a weekend when the Lord's presence was felt in a special way. We titled the series "miracles from the weekend," using the term "miracle" to refer to those coincidences that could not be considered coincidental, but rather as the work of a loving Lord.
Many of those stories have been pulled from their hiding places in the newsletter archives and given new life as blog postings on the Tres Dias Website, tresdias.org.
We invite you to spend some time reading the stories, as they speak clearly, directly, and honestly about how God sometimes steps directly into someone's life.
We would like to revive the series. If you have a story to tell about something that happened on your Tres Dias weekend--or during team meetings, or in your reunion group--prayerfully consider sharing that story with our readers. Send a draft to email@example.com
and our editors will help you develop and shape the story for publication.
After reading the blog postings, spend some time browsing other parts of the new Website. There's much to discover. For example, go to "Find a Community" and click the drop pins on the world map to see where the approximately 100 chartered and emerging Tres Dias communities are located. As you read the name of each community, say a short prayer for the pescadores in that location.
Don Bohl, Editor
Thanks to Jan Coleman for putting together most of the content for this issue.
Future Meetings of the International Secretariat
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|July 15-17, 2016: Assembly & Secretariat|| Mid-Hudson TD, Poughkeepsie-Newburg area, New York |
|October 21-23, 2016|
|Coastal Georgia TD,|
|March 10, 2017|
|Orange County TD,|
Samta Ana, California