Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 28

Well, I knew we would start to adjust to this place just as soon as it was time to leave. Week 3 was the toughest, and now that we're coming to the end of week 4, we're finally getting use to everything. I had a hunch that would happen. lol.

Sindy spent over six hours with her disciples today treating them to coffee, lunch and shopping. It was a great time to bond for them. These girls are very humble, and they were excited to see Sindy put her love into action. Who wouldn't enjoy a few gifts and a free lunch? Something like this could be considered standard procedure in America, but is just not possible on the salaries people make down here. So, it was a big deal to them. Two of the girls are already telling Sindy that they're considering attending the seminary after high school!

We visited Lighthouse baptist church again tonight, and I'm overwhelmed at the love they have for us. I really feel like the love would be the same even if our church hadn't sent the money to help with the new building. As a member of OHBC, it's true that we are more blessed to give them the gift, than they are to recieve it. Lighthouse is a welcoming church with lots of love, and the Word is taught passionately there. Juan bought us up on stage again, and had us tell everyone the things God is doing with us, and they presented us with gifts of gratitude for partnering with them on the church building. It is very refreshing to see how another body of believers worship. Tonight was filled with lots of prayer sandwiched in between a great message. I thought it was unique how pastor Juan called on specific members to pray for a specific missionary they support. We are grateful for the opportunity God gave OHBC to help build their church, and I can clearly see that there will be tons of heavenly treasures because of our investment.

Check out this link for those interested in seeing photos of the church:
This is from Chris Gardner's blog. He pastored Lighthouse for years, discipled and trained Juan, and turned it over to him, I guess 6-7 years ago.

Lastly, I failed to mention something cool on Tuesday. Sindy and I attended the weekly service here at the seminary, and it was one of those situations where it felt like the message was prepared just for us. The speaker spoke in great length about the cost of being a missionary (an appropriate topic for seminary students, right), and was teaching out of Acts. He said don't be surprised if your house gets broke into (that actually happened to us last Thursday), then he said you should expect some friends to speak evil against you (that also happened last week, and unfortunately appears to be ongoing). Sindy asked me several times if I spoke with the pastor to help him prepare the message, and I reminded her that I had never met the guy. I love how God speaks to us exactly what we need to hear.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 27

The visit to Lighthouse Baptist Church was really good. Everyone was very nice and welcoming. Even before people knew we were from OHBC, everyone went out of their way to make sure we were welcomed. After we were introduced people continued to show their gratitude. A gentleman they are sending out to plant a church in Tacna spoke for a few minutes, then Juan delivered a great message. I was surprised at the end of service as Juan called me on stage to say a word, and dismiss in prayer (with Sindy translating). I was sure to let them know that, on behalf of OHBC, we are privileged to partner with a church that is doing great things. The church invited us back for their Thursday service because they have some gifts for the church they would like to send back with us.

Monday was another pastor's conference, and another opportunity to make more contacts. I'm invited to share my testimony at a youth meeting at Omega this Saturday. Some of Sindy's disciples will be in attendance, and I'm pumped about sharing my personal story in Christ. A gentleman named Luis Alberto is the youth leader, and is planning to plant a church in Paraguay. Sindy and I are hoping to meet with him to hear about the plans God has in store for him. He's a great guy, and it may be another opportunity for us to support him.

Sindy is doing a great job building a relationship with her disciples. We're praying that she'll still have influence over them even after we're gone. They have great Bible studies, and today even concluded with one of the girls' mom getting saved. Tomorrow she'll treat the three of them to a ladies day out. I'm encouraged about all the evangelism Sindy has done. Her taxi driver received salvation today too. He asked her about some material he received from some Jehovah's Witness, and told her he didn't think it was truth. Sindy proceeded to tell him the real TRUTH, and he was thrilled to accept Jesus as his saviour. He even mentioned that he would like to take his family to church! Also, we've met with a couple in the park four different times. They sell handmade jewelery, so, they're always there. They are very friendly, and have informed us that they are atheist. However, they said many great things about our testimony. Even asked us to pray for them! They've had many religious people be rude to them when they tell that they are atheist. They are intrigued to listen to us talk about the Bible, and our relationship with Christ. We purchased a Spanish copy of the book "The Case for Christ," by Lee Stobel, and gave it to them as a gift. They are very gracious and told us they like to read books. So, please pray for Fernando and Paula. We're going to try to see them one more time before we leave, and we've got their email. I'll try to line up some of the Omega members to follow up with them.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 22

Thursday was one of those days where a lot of things seem to go wrong, and you wish the day would end sooner rather than later. Sindy had a near-miss incident with a taxi driver. Her disciple lives towards the outskirts of town, and when Sindy instructed the driver to turn, he went the other way. He failed to fulfill Sindy's request to turn around. He said he knew another way, and things weren't looking good. Thankfully, Sindy talked the driver into asking a person on the street for directions, and as soon as he stopped Sindy got out, paid him the money, and took a bus back home.

Later in the evening we learned our home had been broke into. Only an old laptop was taken, and we learned today the thieves have been apprehended. Just an overall challenging day.

The good news is we had many supporters encourage us to press on. We had the fellowship of the church that was encouraging (Omega has their midweek meeting on Thursday night). Yesterday we went back to the park for more evangelism, and had a handful of great conversations, including another salvation!

Tomorrow night we'll be visiting Faro (Spanish for lighthouse) Baptist Church. This is Juan Pacheco's church. My home church, OHBC, took on a special project to help them expand their building. The church has experienced healthy growth under Juan's leadership, and we're anxious to taste the ministry in which we've invested in! At the end of the month a group from my church will be visiting as well. Here's a photo of Juan and I.

This week a group from LaGrange, GA has been here working to build wheel chair ramps around town. I've enjoyed chatting with those guys as they come and go. They're flying back home today.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 17

Got a lot of info to catch up on. Haven't blogged for several reasons: some days the kids are watching Netflix on the computer, other days I'm too busy, and some days I just don't feel like writing after studying many hours. So, here we go....

Recall, our goals for this trip is to further develop us for Spanish ministry. First, to further our vision for the ministry God would have for us at OHBC. Second, for us to get an extended look at a thriving church-planting movement. Lastly, to help me learn the language. In a mere two weeks, we are making great progress in realizing these goals. First, God is using this ministry in Peru to reinforce the things concerning ministering that has been taught to us at OHBC. Ministry is so much more than a Sunday School lesson. It's about building relationship that will lead to training faithful men that will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). Secondly, we've been able to make a handful of meaningful connections that has allowed us to listen and ponder how God has used these people to build His Kingdom here in Arequipa, and to the world. This ministry is producing churches and sending out missionaries at a much more frequent rate than what I've witnessed in the States. Lastly, I've been able to log many hours worth of studying Spanish that would have otherwise taken months to accomplish. I'm building confidence, and things are starting to make sense. I'm currently at that stage where my mind processes the language, but very slowly. I'm no longer relying on memory only, but actually thinking through the various rules as they apply.

One thing that was heavy on my heart was to not be a burden to the ministry. In other words, it was my desire to have as little interruption as possible on our hosts. Chris Gardner had told me that it's impossible for a trip like this to occur without causing extra work on the hosts. Chris further explained that helping others is a part of this ministry here. It's a great feeling to know that others are willing to pour into our lives, and that we in turn will pour into others. This week at Omega Church was the annual Missions Banquet, and the message was about just that, pouring my life into others and letting God fill me. I was reminded of many awesome principles concerning giving. The text for the message was our of 2 Kings 4: 1-7, and Luke 6:38. One principle that really stuck out was the instruction to give is unconditional. We shouldn't wait for God to do something in our lives before we commit to give.

Last paragraph for this blog. When I state that we want to observe the field here, I do mean observe while serving. Thankfully, we've been able to minister while observing. Last Thursday we went with a couple brothers from the Bible college to evangelise a park close to the church. With Sindy doing all the speaking, we saw six people come to faith in Christ. Unfortunately, we did not take down their information to follow up with them. We did give them fliers to invite them to church, and I do pray they receive the necessary means for growth: the gentleness as a nursing mother, and the comfort and challenge as a father loves his children (1 Thessalonians 2: 7,11). Also, Sindy will continue to meet with some girls for discipleship. Pray God will allow her to establish a relationship strong enough to influence them, even after we return home.
Here is a pic of the post service, missions banquet at Omega Baptist Church

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 7

One week in the books. Getting settled in, and finally got acquainted with our neighbors, the Henry family. They've had visitors this week, and haven't been around much. They are on a one year mission to prepare themselves to plant a church in the midtown area of Atlanta. They are being sent out of Victory Baptist Church in Loganville, and are friends with the Gardner family. It's a pleasure to see others responding to the burden God has given them, and to share a kitchen with them too. lol.

Today we hosted Sindy's disciples for lunch, Daysi and Estefani. The first impression is that they are very humble. We look forward to worshipping alongside them tomrrow at church. Sindy will meet with them throughout the week for that very important life-on-life Bible study. I'm excited to see what God can do in such a short time. Maybe, via technology, God will continue to use Sindy to help them grow. Discipleship is a process that takes years, then continues for the remainder of life (see example of Jesus). I can't help but think of how God used Paul in Thessanolica. Paul was only there for three weeks before getting kicked out. Check out the story in Acts 17: 1-12, then go read the letters to the Thessalonians. Pretty amazing how God used Paul to establish those people in just a short period of time!
That's Daysi sitting next to Sindy, and Estefani sitting next to Rebekah Hall, wife of Jeremy Hall, and missionaries we support, er actually their doing a lot to support us right now......

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 5

As Sindy had her first discipleship meeting, the wheels in my head began to turn... These are newly born Christians. As a baby they require the 'milk of the Word' (1 Peter 2:2, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2). As with physical babies, we don't have to teach them how to drink the milk. It should be a natural tendency. I remember when my kids were born, God gave them the innate knowledge that they needed to drink milk, and they already knew how to drink. Sending them to a how-to milk-drinking conference wasn't necessary. Seeing this trait in a newborn Christian is evidence that their newly found faith is genuine. As is the case with Sindy's disciples, they're hungry, and looking for some milk. Wouldn't it be odd for a physical baby to be born, and not have a desire to drink milk? God's plan for a newborn Christian is to grow, hence the analogy to a physical baby. How will they grow if nobody gives them milk. I recall my own salvation. I remember that desire for the milk. For someone to teach me something that would facilitate my spiritual growth. I didn't want to be a baby. I wanted to be spiritually mature like some of the leaders around me: Clip Suddeth, Van Ferguson, Al and Tom Goss. It was there, at Mile Straight Baptist Church, that I received the milk necessary to grow. Albeit, as a result of my own disobedience, the growth was slow for the first 7 years.

So, that leads me to ponder a surreal question: What about Christians that have been saved for many years, but are still babies? Let me be clear, the question isn't meant to judge the sincerity of their faith. That is between them and the Lord. The many answers to the question is a solemn assesement of how we, as the church, are doing in the area of discipleship. Think about the current condition, and what you (I) can do about it.....

Update on Spanish classes: the light has been turned on. Four hours of class time, and four hours of homework each day is paying off. I'll try to keep my language updates infrequent and brief, so not to bore you. lol.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 4

Today was a day we won't soon forget. Sindy went to meet her potential disciple, and was met with open arms. Additionally, she had a friend with her that was saved last month. Praise the Lord that these two girls are eager to learn God's Word, and praise the Lord Sindy will get to spend the next 3.5 weeks with them. After meeting and greeting for 45 minutes they informed Sindy of another friend that lived close by. They had invited her to meet Sindy, but she declined. So, Sindy left their house and payed this girl a visit. After discussing God's Word, and sharing the gospel, this girl made a decision to be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen! We're hoping she'll join the other two girls for bible study, but we're not sure about that yet. The girls are between 15-16 years old, named Daysi, Stefani, and Cynthia. The first two have already made a commitment not only to meet with Sindy each day, but to get involved with Omega Baptist Church. Inspired by the girls' responses, on the way home Sindy proceeded to share the gospel with another man in the street. He was in a hurry to get to work, but the seed was planted.

I'm telling y'all Sindy is great at evangelism. Most notably, this is her spiritual gift (Ephesians 4:11), and it's something she enjoys putting to use (Romans 12: 6-8). If you ever need a pick-me-up, then just ask her to go soul-winning with you. I often think, or over think, my role in evangelism. I don't share the same gift as Sindy, but that's no excuse NOT to evangelize. It's just fun to watch her. I have to think about responses, and memorize what verse to use in each situation. The preparation is a lot of work for me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it too. However, it's exciting to see someone do it with such ease and natural ability.

Next, we met Juan Pacheco as he arrived at the Bible College to teach a class. He is the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, here in Arequipa. For anyone reading this not affiliated with Oakland Heights Baptist, our church took a special offering to help Juan's church with a new building. Under Juan's leadership the church in growing, and having an impact on the world. He's such a nice and humble guy. I was anxious to meet him just to tell him how excited we are to partner with him in his ministry. He's a cool guy, and most definitley someone I want for my family as a hero.