If a picture is worth a thousand words, could a thousand pictures express my gratitude to God for bringing baby Hannah out of her mother’s womb and safely into the world in the wee hours of this morning? I don’t think so.
Nevertheless, I’ll try to capture these moment and my heart that is heavy with gratitude:
This is our entry in the Family book for Hannah’s birthday.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Keep us in your prayers as we add Hannah to our family life.
Grace and Peace to you all.
The last weeks have been a rich outpouring of love, goodbyes, encouragement, blessing, and gifts. We know that the church universal and through them, almighty God, loves us. Thank you for the letters, donations, carbon-composite violin, blessings, prayers, hugs, and tears.
I know that many of you have been praying for us today, thank you. Please continue to pray for us as we keep you posted.
The morning was interesting. We set off to the Nashville airport with all of our children and luggage, ready to depart for Honduras. In the airport we found ourselves surrounded by family, friends, and our pastor. But at the ticketing counter we encountered an obstacle.
“A travel embargo is currently in effect for all luggage going to Honduras,” The lady behind the ticketing counter said, with no small amount of concern as she looked at our luggage.
But we had already read about the embargo in the fine print and having reviewed the criteria with our travel agent we confidently explained, “We understand, but we only have two checked bags per person, all less than 50 pounds, all less than 62 linear inches.” Knowing the embargo was in effect for the duration holiday travel, we had planned to only move with our family’s essential luggage in this first trip. With great care, my wife had packed every square inch of 7 action-packer totes and each one weighed approximately 49.5 pounds (literally, and that requires a lot of repacking and weighing).
But apparently, the awesome rugged totes into which we packed our most essential earthly possessions, fell in the category of box rather than typical luggage, and the ticketing agent as well as her co-workers and supervisor could not allow us to check our totes. We called Samaritan’s Purse and our travel agent and began working our options:
No fee or fine could be paid to wave the restriction. No other luggage, of even half the size, could be purchased for us to transfer and repack. We had friends and family check in every direction: No at every other airline desks, no at the gift shop, no at the unclaimed luggage area downstairs, and finally our pastor even made a Walmart run to see if he could get to and from Walmart with enough luggage and spare time for us to repack and board. (Apparently a group of about 20 short term missionaries had bought out all the luggage they could purchase in the airport to get around the same problem.)
In this scramble, the peace of God transcended our group, and we began to step back and realize that we were not going to make our flights with our luggage, and that was okay. With a baby on the way, a 1 year old, 3 year old, and 5 year old – going without our luggage was not an option (there are no quick or straight-forward shipping options to Honduras either).
In that moment I quietly quoted Jeremiah 29:11 aloud to my Father-in-law and children, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Its odd, is it not? The paradox of our faith. Moments like today are polarizing, they force you to either lean in and trust God, or pull away and distrust God. We chose trust. Over and over God has shown me that he does have a plan, and a much more comprehensive planning and purposing strategy than I could ever imagine. I do not understand why I’m writing from Tennessee instead of Honduras tonight, but I trust that He has His reasons.
So we wait. We came home to Mimi and Poppy’s and we are resting and beginning another round of logistical considerations to determine when we will take our next steps of faith, be it tomorrow or next week. We’ll keep you posted.
As we were leaving the airport Lydia said, “I don’t want to go back, I want to go to Honduras.”
The Peace of Jesus Christ be with you.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are not the views of Samaritan’s Purse or World Medical Mission.
Advent is upon us. The first season of the Christian year. A season of preparation to make ourselves ready for the dawning of a light in our darkness – the birth of Jesus celebrated at Christmas. The call of preparation for my family this season is to pack up our things, say our good byes, and board a plane for Honduras in about thirty days.
Thank you for equipping us and helping us get set. With your donations we have been able to fully pay for our first flights and all of our travel vaccines – that’s around $6,000. To all of you who gave cash gifts, paid far too much for a t-shirt, or went online to give- May the Lord bless you (and if you’ll read this blog to the bottom – Elizabeth will bless you too!)
Lately I have been reading and studying Isaiah 58. It is a prophecy of rebuke with a promise of blessing. I hope you will hear the context and then receive its blessing. In this section Isaiah is prophesying to Israel’s uppermost class. They had been carefully doing all the religious motions of sacrifice and fasting while at the same time neglecting and abusing pretty much everyone else. Yet they were confused by the way God seemed distant, even angry. They thought doing all the right worship ceremonies, prayers, and fasts was supposed to automatically equal God blessing them – no matter how they acted toward their neighbor. So God rebukes them through the prophet:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday…
This Advent and always, may we spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and the oppressed, may we loose the chains of injustice, and may the Lord Almighty bless us with a light dawning in this darkness to heal us.
May you know the ultimate joy of loving God and neighbor: of being with and for the wanderers and outcasts among us, so when the glory of the Lord comes among them (even as He came forth many years ago – an infant that was naked, bloody, and crying – God almighty saying, “Here am I”) may you be in the right place at the right time to behold His glory, bow before Him and say, “My Lord and my God.”
We pray and believe that God will make us an instrument of his light and healing as we go. As you give and have given, you are spending yourselves on behalf of the poor, injured, and hungry – to bring light and healing through Jesus Christ.
To the elderly couple nearing the end of their sojourn, giving 100 dollars a month out of their modest retirement- thank you for spending yourself on behalf of the hungry.
To the young doctors still under the weight of massive educational debt giving regularly – thank you for spending yourself on behalf of the hurting.
To the children who gave up half of their hard earned lawn mowing wages – thank you for spending yourselves on behalf of the less fortunate children.
May the Lord bless you, draw near to you, and may the light of his face shine upon you.
If want an opportunity to receive this blessing – good news! We still have opportunities for partnership. The majority of what we have been given so far has been one-time gifts. Thank you for getting us off the launch pad, now we need regular gifts. We estimate we’ll need about $3,000 dollars a month and we have about $1,000 dollars committed (If you’d like more details click here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Giving online is easy – you should go ahead and do it right now by following the instructions below (if you prefer to give by phone or mail learn how by going here).
5) Click “Checkout” then follow the instructions to designate where the funds come from (bank account, credit card, debit card, etc)
These are two video clips that I hope will bless you. They are of my eldest two daughters acting and reciting relevant scriptures in the last few years.
May you love God and your neighbor:
May you be found among the outcast when and where God shows up:
Nathan, Bethany, Elizabeth, Lydia, & Ruth
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are not the views of Samaritan’s Purse or World Medical Mission.
Well friends, the countdown has begun. The flights are booked and we have an official departure date less than 50 days from now!
We’re all getting extra vaccines to make sure we’re protected from any diseases that we can minimize the risk of getting.
Our moving bins have been purchased and we are deciding what makes the cut to come with us as airline luggage.
We’re compiling a newsletter / Christmas card list to keep people up to date on our status.
God is good. He continues to show Himself faithful to us. This season is a hard season of letting go and goodbyes, but God has been present and is comforting our hearts.
We are trusting in His provision for our needs which seem to loom so large right now.
If you would like to be a part of God’s financial provision for our family you can give at
Find the ‘Support a Missionary Doctor’ and type ‘Gilley’ in the blank. Choose one time or monthly gift.
We are so grateful for those of you who are already supporting us.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- When are you leaving?
We are leaving in early January. For security reasons we’re not posting the specific date publicly online, but if you’d like to know so you can better pray for us or make plans just send us an email or text and we’d be happy to give you specifics as needed.
Email: email@example.com, Cell: 423-785-7626
- Are you ready?
Physically: Not yet, we are just moving into the actual packing stage. Nathan is moving to a more part-time schedule of urgent care shifts. And we are finishing up our fundraising visits. And the holidays are upon us with our departure immediately thereafter. Pray for us to make time for the important things and work quickly and wisely with the time we have left.
Mentally: Our family is struggling with the process of simplifying and the upheaval of our rhythms and norms in this time of transition. But we are looking forward to creating a new more simple rhythm in language school and beyond.
- How are you feeling?
Mostly excited and a little scared! A little overwhelmed with all the details to be juggled and remembered.
- How are you doing with the fundraising?
We only get updates once a month to tell us how many people have given one time donations or started/continued monthly giving to the Samaritan’s Purse Project Account. And as of last month we had about 1/5 of our monthly goal ($3,000/m) coming in to the fund as recurring gifts. With our recent vaccines and paying for our family’s 2-way flight we have used up all the money in the fund and most of the one-time gifts that we have been given. So that’s a little scary. But since receiving that statement we’ve had several fundraising pushes and many pledges, so we hope and pray that we are a lot closer to our goal. We know that God is faithful, and we have been encouraging our children to pray for his provision.
- Where are you going again?
Central America, The country of Honduras. Ultimately to a rural area on the northern coast, the closest large city is La Ceiba. The Hospital we will live near and serve at is called Hospital Loma de Luz. But for the first 6 months we will be in language school in the middle of Honduras.
- What kind of medical practice will you have?
As a family medicine doctor Nathan will be doing full-time clinic work, inpatient hospital work, emergency visits (for all ages), and limited obstetrics (I’m not ready to do C-sections independently). At Loma de Luz we will see everything from acute trauma to chronic conditions, and newborns through end-of-life care. Bethany is not committed to doing clinical work as a Physician Assistant at this time. For now she feels called to first oversee our home and the girls’s upbringing and formation. Once we have had our next baby, completed language school, and settled in to life at Loma de Luz, we will be praying for God’s direction in how to be faithful ministers in our home, in our hospital, and beyond.
- What will you be doing for the girl’s schooling?
Bethany and I are excited to home school our girls. If other opportunities arise or we feel God calling us to supplement or change that plan, we will do our best to obey.
- You’re having another baby??? Is it a boy or a girl? When? Wait, where will you give birth?
-Yes we are excited that God has chosen to bless and entrust us with a fourth baby.
-Ultrasound indicates she is another little girl.
-We are due in Late March. (Yes, that is after our departure date)
-Provided the pregnancy continues to goes well and God does not direct us otherwise, we will plan to leave language school a few weeks before baby is due and go to Loma de Luz where Bethany can be delivered. On that carefully made decision and final note, I’d like to leave you with this quote, “There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”―
Do you have unanswered questions? Leave us a comment or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grace & Peace,
Nathan & Bethany Gilley
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are not the views of Samaritan’s Purse or World Medical Mission.
You hear the command, “Runners to your mark.” Your heart rate increases, and you try to relax as you step in front of the blocks, staying behind the line, while try to keep limbering up as all the other runners make their way to their positions. You focus your being on the run to come, carefully place your thumbs and index fingers just behind the starting line, you take deep calming breaths.
You immediately shift your weight forward towards your fingers, loading your leg muscles for an explosive push out of the blocks and remain there, poised and completely still. With disciplined focus you push out the cheering and distractions to focus all of your being, ready for action, awaiting the signal. Wait… adrenaline flooding your system, wait… an eternity – a second, wait… for the gun blast.
Bethany and I are getting into the starting blocks. We are selling and giving away our things, packing and storing what we must. Our family is being vaccinated for tropical diseases, travel plans are being finalized, plane itineraries weighed, my 90 day notice has been submitted. We are on track to go to Honduras this January and then serve the dire medical needs of Honduras in a mission hospital. But honestly, we do not have the funds necessary – we are obediently getting into the blocks – but it feels like our shoes are not tied and the blocks are set up wrong (its a terrible feeling in case you’ve never run track). We are set to take the next step of faith – to run the race set before us – but we need your help to start and run well – financially.
Right now we have $770 in our Samaritan’s Purse account, we have received a total of about $1700 dollar in one time gifts including what was raised with the t-shirts. But we only have one couple that has started giving us monthly gifts, they are giving $30 a month. Bethany and I have not been idle, we are working hard, stewarding our money, and seeking to faithfully present our calling and work to the body of Christ. With lean living, extra shifts, and the support of our family we have paid off school loans and are debt free – praise be to God. We similarly commit to stewarding your money well. We need you to commit to supporting us on a monthly basis. At a minimum, we need a total of $3,000 each month in support to meet our family expenses for this first year. (See detailed expenses break down)
If you can give $5 a month – please do so, we will treasure it. If your children want to donate some portion of their allowance or earned money – awesome. Our first commitment for ongoing support came from two boys who are pooling their lawn work earnings to give us 5 dollars a month for the first year.*
If you can give $50 or $100 a month – Wow, Thank you.
Many of you have committed to giving us support, and are just waiting for the appropriate time to start giving. The time is now. We need to be paying for our vaccines, plane tickets, and paper work out of our Samaritan’s Purse Project account rather than our personal emergency fund.
Please give now by click on the giving icon below, typing in “Gilley,” and marking your donation type monthly.
For more information on our needs and different ways to give, go to our Support>Give page.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Grace and Peace,
*For those of you who are detail oriented, this sum is not included in our to-date-total because these two are waiting till the end of mowing season before they calculate and give a portion of their total earnings.
Lydia was crying again, it was 3 o’clock in the morning and her crying broke through the heavy silence of our home rousing me from sleep. I slowly woke up, even as I made my way to her bed, where I knelt tiredly and spoke to my still crying child, “Lydia… Lydia…”
I paused to allow her time to respond but her crying did not calm. So I reached out to pat her back and called out quietly (her sister slept in the upper bunk), “Aravis.”
Aravis is Lydia’s favorite imaginary character to pretend to be (the heroine from The Horse and His Boy, one of the Chronicles of Narnia) and she is almost always motivated to listen and cooperate if we engage her as Aravis.
Suddenly she broke off crying, and began taking a deep calming breath before looking up at me – her lips quirking into a smile – spent tears still on her face.
“What’s going on?” I asked
“I had a bad dream and I was afraid,” she answered in a pitiful little voice.
I stroked her gently as I thought about how to encourage her. I had a similar period in early childhood, lasting about a year where I had regular terrifying nightmares as a child. This came very soon after I felt called to be a missionary (see previous post), and through it my mother taught me, with steadfast love and patience, to pray; in the darkest and most scary places – she taught me that prayer is how we cling to and know God’s presence – even when we feel alone.
As I tried to decide how to respond, I reminded myself that I want my own child to look back and remember the same steadfast love, patience, and power of prayer that I learned from my mother (but I also want to sleep and need to leave for work in 3 hours). We have tried Bible memory (Joshua 1:9), singing songs (Jesus Love Me), saying prayers, and all of those seem are hit-or-miss regarding whether or not she’s able to sleep well thereafter. Reflecting on a conversation Bethany and I recently had about anxiety being misplaced fear, and that our fear should be directed to God, I turned to my daughter and asked, “Aravis who is worthy of your fear?”
I elaborated, “Who should you fear most of all? Dragons, or Jackals, or bad men, or Aslan?”
“Aslan,” she said hesitantly.
“That’s right, Aslan is fearsome, he has sharp claws and a terrible roar, you have heard his roar and even felt his claws before, haven’t you Aravis?”
Lydia’s Wide-eyed little face, remembers, and slowly shakes her head to signal yes.
“Remember, ‘he is not safe – but he is good.’ So what should you fear: scary dreams, loneliness, darkness, or Aslan?”
“Aslan!” she said with fierce excitement.
“And in this world, when you are Lydia, and you awake from a scary dream, who is worthy of your fear here?”
A contempative pause then, in a solemn whisper, “God.”
“That’s right. Now lets pray to Him, because he worthy of our fear but he is also good and loves us…”
Guard us in your will – in fear.
Keep us in your will – in love.
Till our love is your love,
and every fear abolished.
As my family prepares to abandon our positions of financial and physical security – and follow God’s calling on our lives to move to Honduras in a few short months. I have found myself reflecting on my own question, “Who is worthy of our fear?”
Luke 12:4-5 tell us what Jesus told his disciples – in regards to the danger and death they might face for proclaiming the gospel, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Jesus goes on to assure his friends that though God should be feared- He is a good and caring God who values and watches over them.
When a perfect, holy, all powerful God chooses to love and redeem insignificant sinners like you and me – the right response is both love and fear. The love part is palatable, but our culture rejects fear and its Biblical relationship to love (and so do we if we are not careful).
‘Fear of God’ expresses the depth of caution, respect, responsibility and carefulness for which our relationship with Almighty God calls. God’s forgiveness and intimacy should not abolish fear, it should enhance both love of the forgiver and fear of the forgiver – a holy God whose nature demands and extends such a costly grace.
Remember Jesus’s parable of the debtor who was forgiven so much by the King, and afterward went out and fearlessly ordered another man who owed him a small sum to be thrown into prison (Luke 7:36-50). It did not, and will not, end well for any man who is not moved to awe, loyalty, worship, and a desire to never disappoint the King. The German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed a similar fatal disconnect, in The Cost of Discipleship:
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
So, fear has a good and appropriate place, it is a place holder in the seeker or maturing believer, it takes the place of displacing all other fears and reminding us of the cost of God’s love (for God and ourselves). In view of our fearsome God our earthly fears become weightless. When we fear and love God rightly our lives should beg these questions for others: ‘Towards what are they living? Where is their fear? Why do they love so vulnerably and recklessly?’ Christian hopes and fears are outside of the watching world’s purview, so they cannot quiet make sense of why we do what we do.
As an example, Samaritan’s Purse is one of only 2 organizations in the world that will respond to the Ebola pandemics. Franklin Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse, says, “We run to the fire.” Who but a follower of Jesus would volunteer, go to an epidemic hot zone – to work on quarantining an evil with unmatched virulence and a 50% mortality rate? To be Christ ministering to children and adults facing horrific death and disease? The movie trailer below previews the story of another Post-Resident Medical Missionary, Dr. Brantly who responded to God’s call on his life and contracted Ebola while ministering in Africa.
We call ourselves followers of Jesus. Jesus, who did not hold onto power or security, rather he gave it up and became a weak and vulnerable human – the incarnation of God (Philippians 2:6-8). When we follow Christ we may look like fools to the world, but the Bible tells us the proper placement of fear results not only in the displacement of earthly fears, but also in wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Incorrectly placed fear is paralyzing and stupefying. But when our earthly fears are displaced by the awe and fear we have for almighty God, and that fear is balanced with the knowledge that God is good and loves us, we will have the ability to gain true wisdom. Wisdom can flourish when we are equipped to face trials with discernment and peace – making decisions that draw from the precepts of God’s word, are guided by his Spirit, and rooted in the security of his providence.
As our fear of God displaces earthly fears, our obedience and love for God can grow, this allows development of our wisdom and maturity until the love of God grows perfect in us, in perfect love we know perfect peace and every fear is abolished (1 John 4:18).
Displace our fears
By filling us with fear of You,
Conquer our loves
By binding us with love for You,
Disrupt our peace
By giving us peace with You,
Overwhelm us Lord,
By making us holy to you,