Monday, April 27, 2009

Tag team...

I met Fabían on a taxi ride home. I had just been with a bunch of my friends at a graduation party and they didn’t like that I was going to catch a taxi alone, so they sent Fabían with me. We started chatting on the ride home and I quickly found out that Fabían spoke English and wanted to practice. We talked about what I was doing here and where he learned English. As we rounded the corner to my house he said, “I really respect what you guys are doing here and I’m really interested in a relationship with God.” The words no sooner crossed his lips as we pulled up to my house. I quickly told him to please come by El Sendero so we could chat more. He promised to come to Faith Night the following night and I said goodbye.
The next night was Faith Night, which I never go to… but I was planning on going just to talk to Fabían. Well, as it happens, I was sick that next day, but my parents were in Loja and my mom decided to go to Faith Night. Here’s the funny part of the story. I THOUGHT Fabían’s name was Javier, so I described him to my mom and told her to look for a guy named Javier. Oops. Even with those hiccups, she found him and had an amazing, but short 10 minute conversation with him.

Here was the email I received a week later from Fabían:
The main thing that encourages me to write this is that I have heard that your mum has returned to the US, and it makes me sad the fact that I was not able to say her farewell, you might found a little odd what I am going to say but I got the feeling I would never forget what your mum has told me in on a, say, ten minutes length single conversation we were having a couple weeks ago, she told me about the Good News and helps me like only few people have done in the past to understand what God has done and what is He is keeping doing for everyone of us, I strongly think that the conversation I had with your mum will lead me in every single step and decision I would make in future regarding my life, because what she told me kind of opened my eyes, mind and spirit for a new whole adventure under God's eyes and care, that made me happy and I also got the feeling that God has a good plan for me, in the past I would never expect something like that but now that my soul has been alerted I am willing to hear every single word He will tell me and also to obey him with no doubts.

I set up a meeting time with him the next week and as we talked, it was as if the Lord was stirring his brain. I could see him thinking about the things I was saying and Jesus and a relationship with God. He told me that he was Catholic and that he thought he always would consider himself as such because of his family and his culture. I shared with him that Jesus cares very little about the titles we put on ourselves but more on what we believe and our relationship with him. I was able to give him a book that Colin recently bought in Quito called, “Tu Fe” (called Choosing Your Faith by Mark Mittelberg in English). The next day he came to the shop to meet up with Steven and he told me that it was a perfect book for him in discovering his Faith. He was already on page 87!
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” – 1 Cor 3: 6-7 The conversation started with me to my mom to a book to Steven. Don’t ever forget that YOU have a part in the salvation of the people you love. You never know if you will be the one who will START the conversation or end it.
Love the tag team...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

True Religion?

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." When I read this verse the other day in James, it disturbed me. I thought to myself, am I not showing true religion because I don’t HAVE any orphans or widows in my life?
The other day as I was walking home from buying a bunch of stuff for the café, I came across a little old woman. (“Viejitos” – old people – like this man in this picture seem much older here than they do in the States). This woman particularly looked like she was having a rough time of it; she was so bent over due to osteoporosis, she might as well have been bent in half. In one hand she had a small bag of bread and in the other a little walking stick that was holding the majority of her weight. I, myself was carrying two large bags, but knew that this was the time. I stopped and asked her if she needed help. She gratefully took my hand and put all her weight on my arm. As we walked she talked about her family and many other things that I couldn’t understand due to a lack of teeth and a mutter.
My heart was broken that I couldn’t communicate with this woman, but I knew that for this day at this time, she was my true religion.
Walking home I thanked the Lord for giving me the opportunity to minister to someone in real need and then he reminded me: Orphans and widows don’t have to be physical, it could be emotional, spiritual or mental. This woman was a widow because she had no one to care for her. Others have family but no one who will truly care for them. Some orphans still have parents but have no one to show them the truth.
THIS is true religion: to take care of orphans and widows in their distress. Do not discount the orphans and widows in your life.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blessing in the midst of heart ache...

There have been many difficult things that have happened in the last couple weeks, but along with those things the Lord has brought many blessings. I would like to share one of those blessings with you today... may God receive all the glory for gift he has given me this past couple of weeks.
I'd like to tell you about Margoth. She is one of the girls who has been in my Bible study for almost a year. She comes from a very devout Catholic family and, when asked will quickly say she is a Catholic through and through. This past week as we were sitting down for Bible study she told me about a spiritual life class that she and the other girl in our group, Gabi have to take to graduate from the Catholic University they both attend. She was very flustered at the teacher because she used the terms "Catholic" and "Christian" interchangeably. So I asked her what were the differences that she saw between Catholic and Christian. Her explanation was very interesting...
Catholics pray to the saints, but she was quick to say that she didn't. She also said that Catholics believe that you can get to God through Mary, but she doesn't. She believes that you can only get to God through Jesus. "When everyone prays to Mary during Mass, I pray to Jesus because he's the real way to get to God."
I just smiled at these statements. I believe my little friend understands the gospel more than she thinks she does. Gabi and I explained to her that it is less about the title you give yourself and more about what you believe about Jesus, salvation and the Bible. We all know "Catholics" who don't practice their faith and know very little about what they believe AND we all know "Christians" who don't believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven and having a relationship with God. So give yourself whatever title you want, but who do you place your faith in is the real question.
Margoth is still thinking and processing, but I am convinced that many people are discipled BEFORE they come to Jesus as Savior.
There are many more blessing and people who are coming closer and closer to knowing Jesus, but I'll save those stories for another day. Please be praying for Margoth that she would truly understand the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Up a creek without a paddle

This past weekend ended with tears and frustration for me. As the weekend came to the end, I was hit with new information that I would be short a full time worker during a month that all the missionaries that I depend on are out of town. That day I also got sick with a nasty cold, but because I was short a person, I had no choice but to work. I laid in bed on Monday night crying out to the Lord... I'm sick, I'm short staffed and I don't know what I'm doing. I am up a creek without a paddle and I feel like I am drowning!
It was as if the Lord wrapped his arms around me and said, "This is the time that my strength is being made perfect in your weakness." I have not felt this weak for a long time and I don't like it. But the Lord continued and said, "Am I all powerful? Do you trust me?" Through the tears all I could manage was a whispered "yes."
Tuesday morning, the Lord spoke to me, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask god who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
I am still up a creek without a paddle... not a single trial has changed. But I am choosing to trust the One who knows made the creek.