As a member of Sapulpa Church of the Nazarene on the Northeast Oklahoma District for over 25 years, I had some real life changing experiences. I moved through many areas of the church as my commitment to the Lord grew. My wife was a long time member with her first husband who died of cystic fibrosis. So I found it unusually easy to be accepted into the churches loving arms. This led to working out God's plan in my life around one central theme that I have learned to establish in my work here as well, holiness unto the Lord. Not a shallow walk, or half committed walk but giving all areas of your life to the Lord.

As my wife's cancer became more serious, God was calling us into a deeper walk where we had never gone before. Many godly men and women in the church surrounded us during those uncertain days, Bob and Naomi Hemphill, Thelma Hall, Sue Street, Stephen Manly, Nathan Covington, Howard Culbertson. These were all important people who provided Spirit-led support. As our heart grew for the Lord so did our desire to become involved in mission work. During that time we read every book on missions we could, books by Harmon Schmelzenbach's,Africa o Africa by Louise Chapman and so many others confirmed what we knew in our heart. I started two jobs at the time, one as an apprentice in a fine oak furniture shop with Steve and Dave Davis, and the other was at KXOJ Christian radio station from six to twelve midnight.

A real change spiritually happened while meeting the grandson of Harmon Schmelzenbach. He invited me to go with him on a work and witness trip to his work in Africa. I began telling him all the things I was good at doing. He seemed unimpressed. So I tried to impress him more. When I stopped reciting my list and let him talk, he told me it is not what I could do, but what I would allow the Lord to do through me. Those words have carried me through many, many difficult times here in Guatemala.

We decided to set our hearts to know God and let him express Himself through us. We worked with the youth, became Sunday School teachers, and were on the missions board. The missions board knew my heart for missions and paid for my way to go into Mexico. The trip was sponsored by Southern Nazarene University during Christmas. This was the first of many trips I would take with them. The following year I took three other men with me. The next year. I took 17 to Venezuela on a work and witness trip.

When we did not hear back from Kansas City after requesting information concerning becoming missionaries, I inquired as to why and learned that because of our age, my wife's medical condition, and lack of formal education, we were not qualified. The wind was knocked out of our sails. Not that it was a real possibility to begin with because the list of things we were not seemed so long. But one thing we determined was to walk through the doors as God opened them. That summer my father, who had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's, asked if I wanted to join him on a trip to Guatemala that he was taking with his church. I jumped at the chance to spend some quality time with him. In 1993 I went with my father to help build a clinic at a children's home not far from where I have now lived for the last 15 years.

Through many events the doors opened and we set the date of November 7th 1997, to move to Guatemala permanently. This included free garage sales, letting my business go to my partner, and handing off my responsibilities in the church to others. We were seen off at the airport by the mission board at our church with love offerings and commitments of support from various members of the church (some are active to this day), but we knew from talking to the pastor that we could not receive support from the church because we were not a Nazarene missionary and did not qualify for 10% giving.

After being here two months the people that we came to work with left to go back to the States permanently. They left us with two autos that did not work, four children in our house we could not talk to, and a school to run that we did not know the laws to operate. That was 15 years ago. The school has grown from twenty-eight children to close to two-hundred, and I have conquered Spanish. My wife passed away in 2005 with a long list of accomplishments and miracles that have encouraged so many children and adults.

I have remarried, and through the years when we do go back to visit in Sapulpa I always make it a point to visit the church on Elm Street. On one trip to the States, I asked my long time friend Steve Davis (now pastor) if he would consider sending a work and witness team to the property and people in Balcones de Palin Escuintla. He reluctantly told me he could not because of the church not receiving 10% giving. I offered to pay the 10% giving but it was not possible for them. I still teach the school children during chapel using material from the Sunday school booklets we used at Sapulpa Church of the Nazarene. Every time I visit Oklahoma, I visit the church that has so many memories.

There is not a Nazarene Church here in the town where I live in Guatemala, but that does not keep me from proclaiming at the top of my voice the lessons I learned and honor the people who taught them to me. Without holiness no one will see God. If the door would open for me to be introduced to other missionaries and pastors with the Nazarene Church home and abroad I would welcome the opportunity, and would love to preach to the friends and family who encouraged me to do what I am now doing. I would certainly welcome working with the Nazarenes in the Mexico and Central America region if the door were to be open to me and my family. Thank you for taking time to read this!

Blessings

Jon Hutton
Director of Camino al Cielo