El Salvador – 2 Weeks Away

Hello everyone!  We are only 2 weeks away from leaving for EL Salvador!

It has been an exciting time preparing and trusting in God while we prepare for this trip.  We are pulling the final pieces together now.  All of the documents have been signed, flights are booked, and passports are ready to be stamped.

There are a few last things that we need to accomplish before we go:

  • Packing. Besides the usual stuff (clothes, toiletries, etc) we will also be getting and bringing supplies for the various activities that we will be helping with.
  • Only about $800 left to raise! Thank you to everyone who has given so far.
  • One more team meeting next weekend.  This will be the final meeting before we meet the team at the airport.
  • We also will be coming up with the lesson and activity plans to do with the kiddos for the two afternoons we will be spending with them!
  • And don’t stop praying! This is the most important step that we will be doing and hope you will be doing along side us.

If you would like to receive a letter from us about the trip once we get back, please reach out to us and share your address.  This will go out to those who we know are supporting us, but we do not want to miss someone who has been a silent supporter!

Thank you for all of your continued love, support, and encouragement! We are getting very excited, and we hope that you are getting excited too!

If God is leading you to support us financially, you can give at citylightphilly.com/give and mark your donation as for the Buckley’s El Salvador.

If you have any questions or comments about El Salvador or our trip, feel free to leave them on this website or email us at buckleyfamily14@gmail.com.  We would love to hear your words of encouragements, know that you are praying for us, and be able to connect further.


1 Thessalonians 2

I often do not share the Gospel for fear that it will start bickering among those that I am sharing it with.

As I read in 1 Thessalonians, I came along this passage in chapter 2:2.

1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

The thessalonians were able to speak boldly because they were filled with Christ.  I don’t know about you, but for me, that is the easy part.  It’s like “one day, God will just move me and he know how to avoid conflict so he will make it easy and miraculous.”

While it may be miraculous, it won’t necessarily be easy; even the thessalonians faced many conflicts, yet still they professed their faith boldly.

What is it that is holding you back from sharing the Gospel?  Fear of conflict? Doubting your aptitude or your skills?   Worshipping something other than God?

I implore you to pray into these areas; with Christ, nothing can stand in your way.

Christianity is a Crutch

What is faith good for?  When  you ask people, you are likely to get a variety of different answers.  One thing that might be common among those answers may be something like “I  can lean on my God when I, otherwise, wouldn’t make it through.”

I think that any Christian can recall a time when that was true for them.  I had a professor in college that, when talking about her marriage has said that leaning on God is the only reason that their marriage is still together.  Without Him, marriage would be to hard.

A friend of mine when I was younger was very upset, feeling depressed, and I remember talking to him while he seemed to be at his end.  Simply talking about our faith in God gave him the strength to carry on and look past the struggles of the moment.

I often need to rely on God when I feel anxious or afraid, remembering that He is in control.

Being able to reply on God is great, but when you ask someone that is not a Christian why they do not want to have this faith, they may respond that faith is a crutch.  That we only lean on our faith because we cannot do it alone.

Though I have thought about this at length, the only good reply I have to the notion that faith is a crutch is: yes, it is.

I may lean on God when I feel anxious or afraid, but that is because without him, I would remain anxious and afraid.  Without Faith, my friend would remain upset and depressed and my professor would likely struggle in marriage.  Yes, Christianity is a crutch.  It helps us sinfully crippled people move forward; “for a crippled person there is one thing worse than a crutch, after all – no crutch.” (Philip Yancy, Reaching for the Invisible God)

Original Content posted by Dan Buckley on Oct 5, 2015

El Salvador September Update

We had another meeting this week and we have even more information about our trip! From this point on we are hoping to have an El Salvador-related post every week until we leave for the trip so that you can be prayerfully preparing for this trip with us.

We are very excited because we now have a better understanding of what, exactly, we will be doing with the ministries that we are partnering with.

This trip is going to be unique in that each member of the team will have different roles and participate in different activities so that nobodies experience will be the same.   We will be dividing into groups to split and cover a variety of tasks while we are there.  We likely will not personally be doing everything that follows (isn’t it humbling and encouraging to know that God uses the diversity of the body to accomplish His work!).

We will arrive Friday afternoon and spend time getting to know the Envision Team (this is the organization that we are going with), get settled into our home base for the week, and have an orientation to the area, the culture, and some of the tasks that we will be doing. The next day, we will be getting a historical tour of the area.  Because much of the present turmoil is so deeply rooted in their history, it is important for us to understand their past if we are going to help them in the present. Then, there is a family outreach day on Saturday afternoon that we will participate in with Envision. On Sunday, we will be visiting local churches!

In the week that we are there, we will be spending two days helping with painting and construction at a new church.  One of the churches that we are partnering with in San Salvador has outgrown their current location and needs their new location completed quickly before they can grow the church.  This is an awesome reminder that God is already working there!  He is a good God at work in the world, and he is using us to do some of His work!

We will also be spending two afternoons working with the after school program called La Fuente.  As we have mentioned in previous posts and letters, the gangs in El Salvador recruit kids when they are quite young.  Because these kids (probably middle and high school) get done with school around noon and their parents are not out of work until later in the evening, there is a large window of time where they can be sucked into the gang culture.  This after school program gives the kids a place to be that is supportive, educational, and fun where they can thrive apart from the gangs. The kids get lunch when they first arrive, and then have an hour long devotional time with music and hearing the Word. We have the exciting opportunity to share the message with the kids both days that we will be there! We will also be involved with teaching the kids English and maybe Math, providing team sports and games, offering cooking lessons, doing crafts with them, and a few other activities that we pray will be fruitful for these kids.

There are a variety of other ministries that our team will be helping with while we are in El Salvador.  There is a ministry called Diaspora that meets deportees at the airport as they land back in El Salvador and connects them with many resources, including the Church.  It might seem most heartbreaking to hear about the 11 year old sucked into gang life, but every individual, especially those who have nowhere to turn like the deportees, needs an escape from gang life.  Our hope to provide that escape through the local churches and ministries.

We will also be partnering with their American Football ministry.  This ministry serves a similar purpose to the after-school program in that its goal is to keep adults out of the gangs and to build meaningful relationships with them.  They have specifically asked for people to come and play and coach their team: the Jaguars.  For those of you who know the Buckley’s well, you can probably guess that we will not be the football coaches, but we are still excited for the opportunity to partner with this ministry! It is a unique way for individuals to be connected with a community and have a regular opportunity to hear the Word.

Several of the members of our team are medical professionals, and so they will be checking out an eye/vision clinic ministry.  One major purpose of this trip is to see what is needed and what would be feasible if our sending church, Citylight, would be able to host a pop-up clinic in the area. Other individuals, especially our church leaders, will have many opportunities to connect with church leaders in the area and hear their stories and needs.

Our team is developing a way to send updates while we are on the trip (either a facebook group or email list). Once it has been determined and created, we will share information about how to stay connected and get updates about the group while we are on the ground directly from the leaders of our group.

Praying for us, specifically, we ask for prayers of humility, patience, and peace.  We would love if you could pray that we can find joy and rest in the Lord during the time leading up to this trip.  Pray that we can seek God’s will for our lives fervently (specifically as to what he has in store for long-term missions for us) and that we would have the boldness to follow His will when we can discern it. Lastly, please pray that as the trip date quickly approaches that we do not fall into the temptations of anxiety, and that instead, we go to the Lord with our worries and take on an attitude of peace.

Thank you all for your prayers for us and for our efforts to raise the support that we need for this trip.  As you probably know by now, we need a total of $4000 for the two of us. As of the middle of September, we have about $1000 that has already come in. We have applied for a grant that should come in for another $1000, which will put us half way there.  We also have about another $1000 that we have been told is on its way in!   Which means that we only have about $1000 left to raise!  Please thank God for providing all these funds thus far, and pray that God will provide this last portion of the funds for this trip.

If God is leading you to support us financially, you can give at citylightphilly.com/give and mark your donation as for the Buckley’s El Salvador.

If you have any questions or comments about El Salvador or our trip, feel free to leave them on this website or email us at buckleyfamily14@gmail.com.  We would love to hear your words of encouragements, know that you are praying for us, and be able to connect further.

Entrusted with the Gospel

I love the idea that is presented in verse 4 of 1 Thessalonians 2  that we are entrusted with the Gospel.  This seems to be a very different perspective than we normally take.  Typically, I think we treat the Gospel more like a chore.  We feel pressured to read our bibles and pray so that if an opportunity comes up where it is useful, we will be ready.  This is not a picture of being entrusted with the Gospel but instead being allowed to use its tool bag.

Being entrusted with the Gospel looks more like the movie “the book of Eli.” WE may not need to carry a machete but we should be daily in the word as if it is very precious truth provided to the world by God, and we were the people that were able to and get to share it with those we meet, even if it costs us our lives.

We are specifically called to share the Gospel and our live (v8).  Are we doing that?  I have a feeling the answer is “ah…no.”

What is holding us back?

What should hold us back if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and charged with sharing the Gospel we have been entrusted with? Correct answer: nothing.

Rejoice – Dustin Kensrue

We have been doing this song at church for a while now, and the more that we do it, the more that I am finding truth in the lyrics.

Most recently, I have resonated with the final verse:

Rejoice, when you cry to Him He hears
Your voice, He will wipe away your tears
Rejoice, in the midst of suffering
He will help you sing

The beauty in this is that even when we are hurting and suffering, God will still be there for us, so much that we can rejoice in the midst of and even because of our suffering.  Not only that, but we are not on our own to find the strength to rejoice, but that God will help us to rejoice.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

– Romans 15:13


Come and stand before your Maker
Full of wonder, full of fear
Come behold His power and glory
Yet with confidence draw near

For the one who holds the heavens
And commands the stars above
Is the God who bends to bless us
With an unrelenting love

Rejoice, come and lift your hands and
Raise your voice, He is worthy of our praise
Rejoice, sing of mercies of your King
And with trembling, rejoice

We are children of the promise
The beloved of the Lord
Won with everlasting kindness
Bought with sacrificial blood

Bringing reconciliation
To a world that longs to know
The affections of a Father
Who will never let them go

Rejoice, come and lift your hands and
Raise your voice, He is worthy of our praise
Rejoice, sing of mercies of your King
And with trembling, rejoice

All our sickness, all our sorrows
Jesus carried up the hill
He has walked this path before us
He is walking with us still

Turning tragedy to triumph
Turning agony to praise
There is blessing in the battle
So take heart and stand amazed

Rejoice, when you cry to Him He hears
Your voice, He will wipe away your tears
Rejoice, in the midst of suffering
He will help you sing

Rejoice, come and lift your hands and
Raise your voice, He is worthy of our praise
Rejoice, sing of mercies of your King
And with trembling rejoice

Who is Playing for You?

The gospel comes with power and the holy spirit, and not just the word alone.  It is that power that can change lives.  It is not a collection of facts, but the changing power of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-8

While I am not a big gamer, I did spend some time playing League of Legends.  When I first started, I was pretty awful.  Actually, I was horrendous, and even the computers on their easiest setting would kill me over and over again.  Phil, who is a friend and an avid League of Legends player, taught me a lot of things about the game.  He told me about the champions (characters), about the strategy, and about the game mechanics.  With all of this information in my tool belt, I went from being a horrendous player to a down right awful player.  With a lot of practice, I went from being really bad to, well, still really bad.  Knowing the information helped, but it didn’t change the end-result of the game very much.  Even playing more often and practicing only helped miniscule amounts, leaving my gameplay pretty pitiable.

One day, Phil stepped in and played a game on my account for me.  According to my league of legends account, that was the best game that I have ever played.  By far.  No comparison.

Similarly, having information about God along won’t, on its own, change my life.  But, the power of the holy spirit acting through  and in me that accompanies the information can make a world of difference.

Because of this power, the young Thessalonian church was able to have joy among (and even in spite of) their afflictions (v6).  They were, in turn, able to spread the love of Christ as examples of followers of Him (V7-8).

El Salvador Update

Hey everyone,

Last Sunday (well it was last Sunday when I started writing this but by the time you are reading this, its probably been about three weeks)  we had a team meeting and got a little more information about the trip, and wanted to share some updates with you on the trip, the team, and on our thoughts and hearts for the trip.

The Apology

Firstly, I want to apologize for neither of us posting many updates about the trip thus far.  We have not really received much more information than what we had started with.  Hopefully, we will have a little more regularity moving forward with the updates as we move closer to the trip date.

The Purpose 

So, the general purpose of trip is as we had expected.   Our primary activities will be working with the after-school program and the football ministry that focuses on Salvadoran deportees from America. We will also be determining if Citylight can begin a long-term partnership with Envision, focusing on a pop-up medical clinic.

Our trip will, God willing, be followed by, and probably preceded by, trips from a variety of other churches across the globe that are coming to help with several of these mission fields.  This is important because a one-week program will not keep kids out of the gangs or deportees from falling back into the gangs.  Our trip is a piece of God’s bigger plan for El Salvador.

The Prayers

For those of you praying for us, there are a few key ways that you can be praying for the trip.

  1. Safety.  El Salvador is incredibly violent country, riddled with gang activity.  Because of that, it is not the safest of place to be.  We did find out that as Americans we will be a thousand times safer than the people we are reaching out to.  The gangs can control or at least get past the Salvadoran government, but the US government would be much harder for them to thwart.
  2. Finances.  The trip is not free.  I have a longer note below about the specifics.  Pray that the team can raise the needed finances to go on this trip.
  3. Discernment.  One of the primary reasons that this trip exists is to discern if this particular church in San Salvador is a place that we (Citylight) could establish a long-term relationship with.  Pray that we can have supernatural discernment in knowing if and how to continue with this partnership.
  4. Growth.  My hope is that we will ultimately be doing and discerning God’s will on this trip.  Amanda and I hope, one day, to live long-term as international missionaries.  We are praying that God can use this trip to grow and prepare us for the ministry opportunities that he has for us in the future.
  5. Jesus. This is the most important one.  If you can only pray for only one thing, pray for Jesus.  We desire to have Jesus be present on this trip, changing lives and making miracles.  We want to share the truth about the true Jesus and support those that are already on the ground there doing just that.

The Finances

I went back and forth about how much to share here about our finances and fundraising.   Ultimately, I decided that if you cared about us and the trip enough to read this far into the email, you probably would like to know how things are going and how you can be praying for us.  This is one major area where we need prayer.  So far (as of August 20th) we have a little less than $500.  For this trip we will need another $3,500.

I may not have a degree in math, but we are not where we need to be financially.  We had hoped that we would have a larger portion by now, but, as you can see, we don’t.  If you would pray for the financial aspect of this trip and pray that we will be able to raise the remainder of the money needed, that would be greatly appreciated.

If you are feeling like the Lord is calling you to support us on this trip, you can donate online at http://citylightphilly.com/give/ and desiganate the give to: El Salvador – The Buckley’s.

Stay Connected

As always, we would love to stay connected with you!  You can stay connected with us by 1) subscribing to this blog and reading, commenting, and sharing feedback on our posts, or 2) by emailing us at buckleyfamily14@gmail.com.


Does It Apply? Observational Learning

You know that time when you are reading in the Bible and you just want to skip a section that doesn’t seem like it applies?  I had that moment this morning.  I was reading in Titus 1, and the majority of the chapter is talking to the Elders of the Church.  I am not an elder, so does this chapter have anything to do with me?

It reads:

Qualified Elders

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

The Elders’ Task

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. 15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Honestly, if you skipped the text and just read the headings, that is exactly what I did at first.  Why read something if it isn’t talking to me?

The Sunday school answer: it’s in the Bible

The real, true, and good reason that I shouldn’t skip it and should try to get a better understanding of this passage: it’s in the Bible

When I finally stopped complaining to myself and put aside my preconceived notion about what I would expect in these sections, I spent my morning sitting in just these passages.

While I got a couple things from this passage, my encouragement to you is this: even if it does not seem to apply to you, reading the word of God will have something valuable to teach you.

When the section is titled blah blah blah for Women, I should probably read that.  When the section says blah blah blah for Elders, I should probably read that.  When the passage starts blah blah blah for the scribe who once had his toe dipped in some quicksand and bit off by a snake, I should probably read that.  Okay you caught me, that last one isn’t in the bible.  Every word from God is important, and divinely inspired.  It may not be as relevant as the next or previous section, but it is still God’s word to me.

If you are not regularly in God’s Word, don’t spend a lot of time trying to analyze these sections, but instead get in and read what the Bible is saying to God’s people.  Then, once you are reading more regularly, circle back and see what His words to others can say to you.

A note to you, yes you.  If you are like me, you probably say you read your bible more than you actually do.  Especially when someone asks you on Sunday morning.  Stop.  Fix this problem in two ways:

1) Actually read your bible more.  I may have said that I had a deep personal relationship with Christ before I was regularly in my Bible, but I was fooling myself.  Do you think that you could have a deep personal relationship with anyone else if you never stopped to listen to what they had to say to you?

2) Don’t lie about it to puff yourself up.  This is exactly the type of thing that Jesus preached against when talking to the pharisees.  Not only is it sinful to lie, but it also isn’t safe to lie to the body of Christ about how your spiritual health is.  If I stuck my hand into a fire and my hand decided to tell my brain “all’s well and good,”  I would be mightly surprised to find my hand crispier than burnt pizza.  Not only is it sinful to lie and dangerous to lie to those who can help, but it also pushed you away from God when you put anything higher than him, and that includes how you think others perceive your relationship with God or how you think other perceive your discipline in reading your bible.  Don’t do it.  Be honest.  I promise that honesty won’t kill you.

I apologize that my note was just as long as the post.  Oh well.