The fourth-born sibling among the famous mega-family starring in TLC's TV series "19 Kids and Counting," Jill Duggar Dillard, is in Central America with her husband, Derick Dillard, and son Israel, doing missionary work through the organization Seekers of Souls (S.O.S.).
Derick blogged about the work he believes the Lord is doing in the Latin American world, as well as the ways it's affecting his family. "We have been stretched in ways that we could not have imagined in recent days, but we have confidence and trust in the Lord's faithfulness in that which He has called us," he penned.
Jill, Derick and Israel joined a large, short-term missionary team in December. Now, the Dillards indicate they have focused on the unpredictable daily life for them in Central America
"Flexibility is a necessary term to keep in mind when considering the nature of life on the foreign mission field," said Derick.
He said they aim to not separate the apparent physical need of humanitarian aid from the spiritual need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. "These two needs are neither mutually exclusive nor conditional. And, I would submit one is not providing the fullest scope of humanitarian aid if they neglect to share that which will give people life beyond this present world," observed Derick.
"The cruelest thing I can imagine would be for anyone who has specific life-saving knowledge to then neglect to share that information with the one who would die without it."
For the past month, the Dillards have worked alongside the Seekers of Souls (S.O.S.) leaders of the existing church where they are serving, as well as begun the groundwork for an additional Bible-centered fellowship in another village that has been plagued with violence.
The patriarch and matriarch of the Duggar family, Jim Bob and Michelle, surprised the Dillards with an impromptu visit this month. Derick said it was great to have them, and get to show them the work the Lord is doing there. He said Israel, 10 months old, definitely enjoyed the attention he received from his grandparents during the visit.
The Dillards are staying in one of the hospitality houses owned by the S.O.S. ministries. "When we first moved in, we had a house full of team members for a couple weeks, including some of Jill's family. We've had several families over as well as groups of youth after our weekly soccer games at the newly constructed sports complex," said Derick.
At least once a week, Derick said he preaches in a nearby village or in the church closer to their house. "We have started going into town before the midweek service and building relationships with the guys in the square who regularly come to play basketball. We then invite people to come to the service following our time in town. We have also started visiting a new village on Sundays to pick up new visitors. Please pray these folks will continue coming and that they would have a personal relationship with Jesus," he asks.
A couple times a week, the Dillards make home visits to people in the community who may or may not be Christians.
"During our home visits, we usually take along one of the local Christians. Sometimes we visit someone who is ill, or someone who has just lost a family member, or a family who wants to know more about the church, or simply those who we may want to get to know better. We've also been able to bless some of these people with food and personal hygiene items," Derick said.
He said they really are getting used to the different wildlife found there, compared to that found in Arkansas. "We weren't used to seeing scorpions, tarantulas and cougars back home, but we've seen them all and the first two multiple times! Jill opened her makeup bag to find a tarantula on top of her toothbrush. One afternoon, while we were getting ready to leave our house, Jill heard the neighbors' chickens making noise and looked over to see a gray cougar making its way from their place. We later heard it is common for people to lose their chickens to the "gatos montañas." One friend even said that a wild cat had killed all 33 of her chickens!"
He said giant snakes frequently are seen in yards there, too.
"Our hope and prayer is that the existing church would be encouraged, strengthened, and exhorted to persevere in good works in Christ," said Derick, who invites everyone to pray that the light of the Gospel would pierce the darkest areas of Central America, places griped by poverty and hunger, places lacking educational opportunity, places where life is held in the lowest regard and places where the present spiritual forces of evil have been at work for far too long.