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Sharing the Gospel and Our Lives: November 2023

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Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico

Hola Famigos!

At the end of November, nearly all of America, regardless of religion or background, seems to talk about gratitude. What makes Christian gratitude different from that of the culture at large or is it, in essence, the same? Let us share some of the things for which we are grateful and some personal reflections.

We are grateful that the Lord provided this family with a home, but we are even more grateful that He used the construction of a home to bring them the truth of the Gospel.This month, a group arrived from Phoenix and Canada to help build a home for José Luis and his family. We are so grateful that this family will now have a place to call their own, protected from the elements with a locking door.

And yet our joy would be incomplete and lacking if this was all that was accomplished that weekend. The greatest joy was knowing that this family from the youngest to the oldest heard the good news that Jesus Christ lived the perfect life, died the death we deserve, but was then resurrected on the third day, defeating sin and death and ascending to the right hand of the Father until He returns again. The family saw the love of Christ in His provision for their physical needs, even as they heard their spiritual need boldly declared.Sue and Sarah, two consistent volunteers with i6eight, came down for the house build. They stayed in our upstairs apartment and accompanied us on Sunday to hear Taylor preach. We missed breakfast with the group, so a local bakery was a must.The Sunday morning of the house build, Taylor was asked to preach a second time at a newly established Sunday gathering at an ex-pat condominium complex. Scott, the director of i6eight, agreed to provide one of the men from the organization every week to preach for this small group of American believers.

This provides preaching experience for the missionary men of i6eight while meeting a need within the community, even though in a subsection of Peñasco we rarely visit.

As we stepped into their clubhouse where the service would be held, the ocean view was astounding. We could not help but be grateful to our Creator.

But after hearing Taylor further expound John 6 and the assurance of salvation for those in Christ, the beauty of our God as Savior and Redeemer far eclipsed the beach scene below.The more we learn about God, about Christ, and about our salvation, the more our hearts are inclined to worship. The beauty of creation reveals to us the characteristics of God as Creator, but only His Word can reveal Him to the fullness He desires to be known.A few months back, you may remember reading that two women from the community graduated from the first discipleship book. Shortly afterward, both women stopped attending Bible study and only occasionally eat with us at Pan de Vida. Even in this, we gave thanks knowing that the Lord calls us to be grateful in all circumstances, trusting in His sovereign plan.

Due to the drop in attendance, we have put one of our two weekly Bible studies on hold, replacing it with a simple time of fellowship. We invite 2-3 guests to stay with us after breakfast to share some soda, chips, and a time to get to know one another.During a recent time of fellowship, Milagros and her partner, Filemón, shared the anger and sadness they still harbor from trials of the past. They are struggling to see the goodness of God in the history of their lives.Manuel is shaking the hand of our ministry partner, Kevin, after a month of not using drugs. Kevin was brought to tears at the news, having known Manuel for years.During our first time of fellowship with a few of our guests, we spent time with Manuel.

Manuel has been eating at Pan de Vida for years and was one of the first men who invested time to talk to us as a couple. During our time of fellowship, though, we learned about his battle with drugs. He began using drugs after being offered some by his brother with whom he shares a house. The two of them were then together trapped in the chains of addiction. Manuel shared with us his desire to stop using drugs, and we offered our prayers and support in the process.

We are so grateful to announce that Manuel now has over a month since he last used drugs. He is committed to staying clean and says he'll never go back. When he came to us after 4 days of not using drugs to share with us his first victory, we embraced him with true love and joy.

And yet, there is some part of us that is still waiting to rejoice fully with Manuel. He has cast off his shackles of addiction to drugs but has yet to cast the weight of his sin on Christ who alone can free from him the wages and power of sin.

We see Manuel's openness to the Word. We see the beginnings of a change in his lifestyle. And so we hope and pray expectantly that the Lord will do the impossible in bringing a dead man to life. We cannot wait to rejoice with the angels when one who was lost is now found.We are grateful for the donation of extra tables that are now allowing all of our guests to eat with dignity, sitting at a table across from their Pan de Vida family.So how does Christian gratitude differ from the of the world? Here are some of our conclusions:

1. Christian gratitude gives thanks not only for things that are seen but for things that are unseen, because our perspective is eternal.

2. Christian gratitude gives thanks not only in spite of the difficulties of life but also because of the difficulties of life, recognizing that this momentary light affliction is producing a weight of glory beyond comparison.

3. Christian gratitude is directed toward a God who can be intimately known in His Word. It is not a vague attitude of gratitude but a personal expression of affection and worship according to the revelation He has given us.

Reflection Question: Has your gratitude been transformed by fixing your eyes on your Savior?We are grateful for the other cross-cultural servants at i6eight with whom we celebrated Thanksgiving this year, fixing our mind's attention and heart's affection on the Savior.

Prayer Needs: 1. On December 16, we'll be holding a special Christmas celebration at Pan de Vida. Lord willing we will share a meal together, watch Charlie Brown Christmas, enjoy a piñata, and share in a special kid's performance. Please pray that the Gospel would be front and center of every moment, that Christ would be glorified, and that new individuals would engage with our ministry. 2. We would also really appreciate if you would pray for each of the couples/marriages in our ministry (Scott/Shannon, Kevin/Lisa, Ryan/Ashley, Taylor/Fahren). Ministry can be difficult and discouraging along with hearing lies from our flesh and the enemy. Please pray that we would renew our minds with the truth of Scripture, that we would encourage one another, that we would bear one another burdens, and that we would all love our Savior more everyday. Prayer Updates:

1. October 2023: Our dog, Kira, has contracted a tick-borne bacterial illness. We are treating her with a pair of antibiotics as well as some supportive medicine to help her regain her strength. Prior to her illness we walked her through the neighborhood nightly and have new friendships as a direct consequence of her. Please pray for rapid recovery (if it is the Lord's will) and patient peace in the process. Kira still has about a week left of antibiotics, but her platelets and hemoglobin have already returned to normal. We are grateful for her healing and understand better the seriousness of the tick problem in Peñasco which has taken the lives of children and not just dogs. 2. October 2023: Taylor, along with Scott Swartzentruber (the director of i6eight) and Ryan Wisler (the American missionary leading the bakery) have been invited to preach at a newly founded church for ex-pats living in Puerto Peñasco. Please pray that they will have wisdom in the preparation of their sermons. The attendees have been attentive and anxious to discuss their questions. Scott has offered to meet with some of the individuals outside of Sunday mornings. Taylor will have the opportunity to preach again on December 10. Sharing the Gospel and our lives,

Entregándoles no solo el evangelio de Dios sino también nuestra propia vida,

Taylor and Fahren Sterrett

i6eight is a gospel proclaiming, disciple making, compassion ministry that lives for the glory of God and the good of others. We exist to invest in the physical, relational, and spiritual lives of the people we serve. Our programs cover a wide range of needs, including education, housing, clothing, health care, nutrition, and community. We accomplish this by training, serving, and discipling together. The ultimate goal of each program is to see the people we serve fall in love with and worship Jesus Christ.

Pan de Vida is one such program which strives to satisfy spiritual needs as well as physical hunger for the glory of Jesus. Taylor and Fahren will join Pan de Vida in the hopes of seeing God transform hearts through Biblical training and life-on-life discipleship.

If this newsletter has been a blessing to you, we encourage you to follow us on social media. The buttons at the bottom of the page will take you to our Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, as well as the i6eight website and our email address.

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