Portraits of Grace – Hannah Owens

“It is of the LORD’s Mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every MORNING; great is thy faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I’ve always loved this part of scripture and the verses leading up to it as well. As someone who was saved at the young age of seven and have come from a Christian family, my dad being a pastor then missionary in Mexico City, it’s so important to remember that it’s only by HIS grace that we are serving where we are, have the family that we have and are able to enjoy His faithful to us.

My husband, David and I are serving in Argentina with our beautiful little girls. ( Ingrid Giselle & Zoey Lucina) We have almost been here two years (that went by fast) and, by the Lord’s grace, have started New Hope Baptist Church a little over six months ago. As Ingrid says (she’s three), “the baby church” and it’s true, we have a church of brand new Christians and it’s such a joy to watch them grow in Christ.

Though we have not been on the field for that long we have had many trials. I’ve experienced a twin pregnancy that became quite uncomfortable toward the end (having no A/C and reaching 106) to a dramatic birth experience on the field. I felt as if I had been stretched and tested in ways I did not think were possible, but God was not done. A month later the Lord took our little perfect Dominic home to be with Him. The hardest day of our lives.

One month later David’s Mom was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two months later. I can honestly say we felt like Paul when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.“

It’s a very dark time while in the middle of a trial but clinging to the hope that “His mercies are new every morning” and that it is truly “only His GRACE that is keeping us” helps to ease some of the pain.

Maybe you are going through a time of grief, sadness loneliness or maybe you’ve just had a rough day parenting. The Lord gives us a beautiful promise in Psalms 30:5b “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” That night might be a literal rough night of motherhood or it might be a tough season we will have to go through, but we know that this is true, He will bring JOY. The Lord, through it all, will show Himself strong through blessing and trials. Our simple prayer should be to continue to be faithful.

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Portraits of Grace – Sheila Velez

      It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today! Thank you, Mrs. Bettina, for this opportunity. My name is Sheila  Velez. My husband and I have been in the same church, which he now pastors, for the last 28 years. The Lord has blessed us with 3 children, and although we have failed him, He has never failed us!

      Today I would like to share a little of my testimony in hopes that it will be of help to some of you out there. My husband and I were married in 1994, and in 2003 we found out that we were expecting our third child. What excitement! The first three months, all went well. Our little one was growing and weaving herself into our hearts. At four months, tragedy stuck my life. My grandfather passed away. He was one of my favorite people, and I didn’t want to miss his funeral, so I quickly made an appointment the next day with the doctor to get the okay to make the trip. The technician did her routine ultrasound, and then called the PA. After a few minutes, they called the doctor. I was frustrated and confused. Didn’t they know that I was in a hurry to get on the road! As the doctor reviewed the ultrasound, she looked at me and says, “We’re going to hospitalize you. There is no fluid in your sac, and everything is in tact. Something isn’t right, so I need to run some tests.” My frustration level soared! My thoughts were… “Just give me an IV of fluids and send me on my way!

      Needless to say, I didn’t make the trip. Little did I know that I was in for a God sent life lesson. Three days after I was admitted, the doctor came in and let us know our baby had cystic kidneys. We were told that more than likely we would miscarry. I was devastated! “How God?! How can this happen to me?! You know that I want to raise this baby for You! How is it that children are born every day to parents who have no intention of raising them for the You, yet You take mine?” These are the conversations that I had with God. I am not proud of this, but I want to be honest. This was my attitude until one day during a message, the preacher read this verse – “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Honestly, I don’t know what the message was about that night, but God used this verse to give me an attitude adjustment. As I read, God seemed to speak in my ear with a firm voice as a father would as he corrects his child. He said, “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do with my own creation? Your baby is mine and was created by me and for me. Her life will be for my glory!” Right there…God gave me peace! A peace I hadn’t had. He didn’t whisper in my ear, “Your baby will be healed.”…but…He did tell me, “I’m in control, and everything is going to be ok.” That night I slept like a baby…finally resting in Him!

      Needless to say, I didn’t have a miscarriage. At 8 months, my doctor induced labor, and on February 23, 2004, a very light skinned, red-headed little girl named Grace was born. After giving her a kiss, she was rushed to the NICU. Our church heard the news and all rushed to the hospital. We told the NICU that we had a very large family, and they allowed them in two by two. As our Brothers and Sisters in Christ patiently waited, they shared God’s love with others in the waiting room, and 5 precious souls were saved! Although our precious Grace visited us for only 16 hours, the lives she touched is eternal! Through this, I learned His ways are perfect! She will never know the pain of this sinful world, for she was raised in a Heavenly world by her Heavenly Father. She cannot come to us, but by God’s grace, we shall see her again! I encourage you today, to stop questioning His sovereignty and Trust Him! May you have a blessed day!