Monthly Archives: August 2015

Greg’s Few Thoughts – Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good Morning!

Again, I want to thank you for the many prayers and words of encouragement you have shared with us these recent weeks.  Thank you!  I will head out tonight on a red eye for Miami and then out to the Virgin Islands for my brother’s memorial service this weekend.  There are still few answers to what might have gone wrong on the dive.  Perhaps, upon my arrival, I will learn more.  Following the service, we will have an “at sea” burial.  I appreciate your prayers as we continue moving on.  I will return late Sunday night, August 30.  The family here in California has decided to wait until late October to travel to St. Croix and meet together for our time of closure and remembrance.  So, the plan will be to schedule a few days where we will all travel together to meet up with the family in St. Croix for a special gathering.

Life continues to keep me busy, and hopping from place to place.  As I travel around the district, I am so encouraged at all I see.  There is so much to give thanks to the Lord for!  The church boards I have been working with have been more than ENCOURAGING to me.  The Los Angeles District truly has some of the finest people around.  It wasn’t long into my new ministry that I discovered that I’d soon be doing lots of travel.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been shopping around for the new “District Car”.  I finally settled in on the Hyundai Sonata.  It is really a nice car.  And I want to thank you for allowing me the privilege of riding in comfort.  In six days I have put 1009 miles on it.  I trust that this will NOT be the norm.  I really don’t think so, but there have been a couple of long distant trips that had already been on the calendar.  So… here is a picture of your new car:

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ENCOURAGEMENTGod is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.  (Psalm 46:1-5)  Growing up in the jungle as a young boy, I loved to travel on the river.  In fact, my greatest and only desire years ago was to drive boats up and down the Marañon River.  There was a thrill that came to me as I sat in the back of a long dugout canoe with a 40 horsepower outboard motor maneuvering it upstream carrying cargo to its new destination.  I loved the gentle breeze cooling my sun burned face as I stared up ahead meandering my way along the river bends.  The current swiftly rushing by as I’d dodge a whirlpool here and there.  I recall looking out over the thick jungle canopy and seeing the construction of a new chakra (jungle garden).  Passing village after village and seeing an occasional fisherman holding a line from the back of his canoe… These images are engrained in the forefront of my mind.  I can still picture each one as if I’m there right now… smack in the middle of the jungle making my way up the river. 

The river may change its course, especially following years with heavy raining and flooding.  Underwater sandbars will shift from one side of the river to the other.  Logs and fallen trees deeply immersed in the shallower areas can cause great damage to a propeller… and one must learn just how to read the river and its conditions before traveling its waters.  But… even after 50 years of river travel… and as I return to the same Marañon River… there’s one thing constant.  One thing that has not changed… moved… or shifted.  And that is… large boulders.  Huge rocks in the middle, or along the sides of the river.  Before leaving home, the boat driver needs to know the exact point of where these rocks are situated.  Especially when traveling downstream, with a boat load of materials, these rocks remained constant.  Immovable.  Strong.  Firm.  It did not matter how strong the rains were… or how high the floods rose… these rocks remained constant. 

My God has been a constant presence in my life these recent weeks.  In my weakness He is strong.  And as I travel this lonely river of grief and sorrow, He is my steady Rock.  My refuge.  My present help in my time of need.  And the beautiful part is that he uses His church to also provide comfort and care.  May the Lord continue to show us His presence!  He is there.  He is standing firm.  And to Him I will lift up my eyes.  

DISTRICT NEWSAllow me a moment to give you a few updates from around the district.  

  • Paso Robles:  I had the privilege of worshipping with the Paso Naz Church this past Sunday.  Pastor Brent Wylie and his staff are leading an excellent ministry up on the northern part of the district.  They do not have a place of “their own” so they have to set up and tear down each and every Sunday.  What a joy it was for me to spend a few moments with them last Sunday.27-227-3 
  • Granite Ridge:  You all know that we have a camp up in the north part of the district… not far from Paso Robles.  I was there for meetings with the camps board last Friday and Saturday.  Please be in prayer, along with me and the leadership teams, as we continue casting vision for Granite Ridge. 27-527-6
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  •  Pastors’ and Spouses Retreat:  I can hardly wait for this three day retreat we are to have in Pismo Beach from September 21-23.  We have more than 75 already registered to come.  Dr. David Busic is our special speaker.  Our theme is “Re-Kindle”.  Have you registered yet?  Remember, this is just one more way to become connected with the team.  I hope to see you there.   
  • District Office Building:  We are still in need of filling the second floor of this building.  Currently, we are about ¾ full.  Would you pray with us that we might find another group to lease the other half of the second floor?
  • Glendora Community Church: has an office folding machine for sale at a reduced price of $150 (or best offer).  It is an older machine, but works well with standard paper or heavier weight paper.  Does not fold card stock.  If interested, please contact the church at 626-963-7637.

As I get ready for September, and look over my calendar… there are several conventions and conferences that I am headed off for.  All of which are needed as I enter this new focal point in my ministry.  Leslie and I will be leaving for Chicago and Milwaukee next weekend… and then the following week to the Global Ministry Center in Lenexa.  We would appreciate your prayers as we travel. 

I love you all… and I do look forward to seeing you down the road…

Greg Garman

Greg’s Few Thoughts – Thursday, August 20, 2015

Good Morning!

Most of you have heard by now… last Saturday, August 15, I lost my older brother Dr. Guy Russell “Rusty” Garman in a scuba diving accident off the Virgin Islands coast.  Much of his adult life he was known as Guy.  We knew him as Rusty.  As I type these few thoughts out, I know that many of you have lost loved ones who have been very close to you.  How many times have we prayed for someone… cried with someone… embraced one another… and other times just sat there in quietness.  A few days ago, after learning of my brother’s death, I decided to begin a personal journey, once again, through the Book of Job.  It doesn’t take long in the story that we learn of Job’s loss of everything.  Possessions… family… and health.  One of the things I’m amazed at, in the story, is the order of destruction and loss.

Satan first went after all of Job’s possessions.  Then he attacked Job’s children.  THEN he went after Job’s health.  Most of us who have journeyed through grief and sorrow know of the pain and heartache death brings.  I do not want to, in any way, minimize the pain of boils… all over one’s body… but Satan blew it by thinking that the worst for Job would be for him to experience boils.  I believe that Job’s greatest loss happened when word came to him that his children had all perished when the house crumbled upon them.  That was the worst news of all.  That hurt.  And he immediately went in to grief.

My brother was a great doctor.  He was an ENT doctor living in St. Croix, Virgin Islands where he had a great practice established.  His specialty was skull base surgery where he performed numerous operations on people from all over.  I am told that more than 50% of his patients were Spanish speaking families.  He was gracious and compassionate to them and enjoyed conversing in their native language.  Perhaps it brought back memories of the many procedures he had performed in the Amazon jungle on some of his mission’s trips to the Aguarunas and Mestizos there at New Horizons.

He was part of a ministry group called Church on the Sands there in St. Croix where he enjoyed reading the scripture and leading in prayer.  Rusty loved the Lord as he looked for ways to live out that love through his work and life.  One of his close friends, and a fellow minister, informed me the other day that Rusty was always searching for ways to deepen his relationship with Jesus Christ.  Each time he visited my brother on the island they would have deep theological discussions on scriptural matters.

As I dig deeper and deeper into this very private man’s life I am discovering that he is much like a tree… a giant sequoia… with roots spreading themselves around rocks and other trees.  Things I never knew about him.  Things that make me so proud.  Things that remind me that his hope was in the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whom I serve.  How grateful I am for the words and promise that came from the One who is our eternal hope, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”  One day I will see my brother and we will be reunited.  Praise be to Jesus!

Rusty has always been a driven, highly motivated man… one with great confidence.  I’ve always known this in him.  Many people watch me run, and I do, still, enjoy running competitively… but I never was able to run like him.  My best times never come close to what he was running.  The only good news for me was that several years ago he encountered some knee issues, and had to stop competing.  So… I managed to stay close to him after that.

When he moved to the Virgin Islands he happened upon the sport of scuba diving.  The more he went into the Caribbean waters… the more he enjoyed it.  The more he enjoyed it the deeper he immersed himself in the sport.  He soon discovered he could travel deep into the waters… very deep.  Before long, he was breaking local records, and diving further than 300 feet below the surface.  Last  year a partner and him decided to break the Virgin Islands record by diving, together, to a depth of 650 feet, a record that had previous been set at 550.  And then earlier in the spring of this year he went solo to a Caribbean breaking record and best in the western hemisphere of 810 feet below sea level.  Thus… he was named “Doc Deep”.

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People from all across the scuba world were seeking his counsel and advice as he continued to study more and more on going deep.  2 ½ years ago, his plan was to someday break the world record which was set at 1090 feet.  His goal this past Saturday was to dive to 1200 feet below the surface.  Together, with his son, Kip, and another diver, they went to 260 feet, sharing oxygen on the way down so to conserve his tanks and use as little of energy as possible.  Upon arriving at that mark, Kip said his goodbyes to his father, as Rusty continued his descent.  The 28 member team, with 3 boats, a full medical staff, and more were all in place.

It was estimated that Rusty would take 38 minutes to descend to the 1200 foot mark, tie the ribbon on the tether, and ascend back to 360 feet to meet up with his first team member.  Unfortunately, he never showed up.  A dive that was supposed to take 10 hours and 25 minutes did not occur.   It would take several days before the Coast Guard and the Police Department would be able to work alongside the team and recover the body.  Today, we are still awaiting the report from the medical examiner.  But, all of that does not really matter.  I lost my brother on Saturday and will miss him very much.

But, I am so thankful for the several phone conversations we had leading up to the dive.  We spoke on the phone, laughed about certain past events in our lives… as I asked all sorts of questions about his dive.  He knew the dangers of what he was about to do.  He reminded us (me) and my folks of his love for the Lord and his passion for this sport.  He was determined to go.

So, I have had to let him go.  I will miss him.  He has always been such a great brother to me.   Throughout boarding schools… he was there for me.  Through life… he was one I looked up to.  Rusty Garman was a great friend to many.  St. Croix has lost a special doctor.  We have lost a wonderful member of our family.  But… only for a while.

I love and appreciate all of the members of the Los Angeles District during these days.  Your emails, i-messages and more have been so encouraging.  In fact, the Christian community all over the world has been so kind to our family.  You can’t imagine the many encouraging responses we are receiving from the U.S., Peru, Ecuador, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and more.

I am glad to be a Christian.  I am glad to believe in the ONE who is my hope.  Jesus Christ is alive and he is preparing a place for all of us who believe in His name.  I love you and I look forward to seeing you… hopefully soon.

Pastors… please don’t forget to register for the retreat in just a few weeks.  (September 21-23) at Pismo Beach.

Greg Garman