Dec 25, 2012

Feliz Navidad

We wish you Merry Christmas as we celebrate the fulfillment of these words from Isaiah.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18–19 ESV)

You might look at this and ask, "If these words are fulfilled in Jesus, then why are there still the poor or the blind or captives or the oppressed?" Or perhaps, "Why is there still so much evil in this world, if Jesus came to bring such good news?" If you are asking that, I think Jesus anticipated your question and had to push the people of Nazareth to realize it. The people that heard him quote this and tell them it was fulfilled in their ears that day gushed with praise at his gracious words...until he got to his point...then they were filled with rage and tried to kill him. But why? What made them so angry?  I hope to have an answer soon since I will be preaching on this passage this Sunday night. Pray for me. I'll just say it has a lot to do with the message of the prophecy of Isaiah, especially the last several chapters after this quote. It also makes the meaning of Christmas and why Jesus is so special all so much more powerful. 

     This is the beginning of a group of sermons I am working on for a missions conference.  I think Luke 4 may be the first passage and then possibly Isaiah 66 to show the new heavens and new earth including those who hear His word and tremble at it coming from all nations to worship Him. This wonderfully leads into Paul's explanation of the implications of this fulfillment in Christ and the Church in Ephesians. Perhaps the next two parts will be the plan and purpose of God to unite heaven and earth in Christ (from Ephesians 1-3) and then the centrality of the Church as it flows out from and through family to the world around (from Ephesians 4-6).  The biggest problem is that it will be impossible to cover all this in only four sermons. I am looking forward to learning from this.  I pray that this will teach, guide and prepare me as much as it will be a help for the congregation that will hear it.  

My prayer is that I will listen to God speaking to me as I study these things before I seek to figure out how to speak to others. It is as my seminary profesor, Dr. Elias Medeiros, said that we should not be like pizza makers who are making pizza all day long but starving because we don't eat.  I pray that I will be a well nourished baker or perhaps I should say a well furnished carpenter.  My point is along the lines of Ephesians 3:19 of Paul's prayer that we would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. As He fills us up, we overflow with grace to spread to the world around us.  May we be full and may we not be able to contain it.

Dec 4, 2012

Blessings, Community & Support Raising

Dear praying friends and family,

       It is a wonderful blessing to get to experience the joys of living in community. We have been blessed to come back to my home town, Zachary, LA for a season while we prepare to return to Peru for long-term service.  We are wonderfully blessed by friends and family who have bent over backwards to help us and love on us. First Baptist church in Zachary has blessed us with their mission house for the year. We have been blessed by a dear friend and family doctor, a local pharmacy, the Plains Presbyterian Church, friends, and family who have helped us through giving us gifts and food, to coming over, helping with dishes and watching the kids. We are very happy to be here in the Zachary community and are indebted to many in the Greater Baton Rouge area. I pray that we will be able to pay all of these blessings forward to others who need such loving service.

     Our return has been somewhat of a whirlwind. Shortly after arriving, I had the opportunity of going through ordination trials and then a week after completing all the exams, our son Ezra was born. The Lord blessed us amazingly in all of these things; Meg was able to deliver Ezra naturally after two C-sections, I passed all ordination exams to free us up to focus on support raising, and to top it off we were blessed to be able to reschedule our return flight to Peru next August without having to buy new tickets!

     Now after settling down a bit and getting used to three children, it is time to get busy working on support raising. I have been spending my time trying to catch up on correspondence, studying for future ministry development and preparing for sermons for missions conferences. I still have much studying and letter writing to do but it is also past time to start finding new churches and contacts with whom to share about the work in Peru. We hope that God will be leading them to us to join with us in partnership to help further His Kingdom in Peru.

     We need to raise more support to return to Peru next August, 2013.  We are about 30% of where we need to be with monthly supporters. Our goal is to raise $96,000 per year. We are amazed at God's grace and the love of those who are continuing to support us. We have been receiving about 30% in monthly and 70% in one-time gifts. This ratio of financial support gave us more than enough support that carried us through our first two years and then another eight months. This was a wonderful blessing but we will need to find more monthly supporters to be able to stay in Peru long-term. I am also praying for supporters to help with the Parish Woodshop project and even more a Christian entrepreneur who would run marketing and sales in the States.  In order to further expand our project, we want to succeed in exporting. However in order to accomplish this, we need someone in the States who would run a business  promoting the work of the Peruvian craftsmen.

    As the year draws to a close, and some of you may be considering what to do with your extra blessings to avoid paying too much on taxes. Please consider the work we are doing in Peru. You may also want to look at Peru Mission's Marketplace and buy items for Christmas gifts and all the proceeds will go back to Peru Mission to help us further the gospel work we are doing.  I realize many of you are worried about the future of our economy and are not able to contribute financially. For that I thank those of you who are giving and those who will for your faithful sacrifice. I know it is difficult and I pray the Lord will enable me to faithfully serve Him and bring fruitful return on all of these contributions by His working through the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who will hear His Word through our efforts.

   Please also consider committing to pray for us. Money will only get us to Peru and enable us to take care of material needs while there. What we need much more than money is prayer. We need prayer warriors who will plead with our loving Father to open the door for us and for the Holy Spirit to apply The Word of Jesus Christ in the lives of those who will be hearing it.  Please consider being partners with us to help us get back to Peru.

Ephesians 6:18-20. "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Nov 4, 2012

Baby Boy Ezra

We are proud to announce the birth of our son Ezra! It was an amazing miracle that he was born naturally after his mom had two C-sections. Supposedly it wasn't possible for her body and size to deliver but it all happened before the Doctor arrived. God granted us a miracle and he was born without a section. Praise to The Lord! We are thankful.

Oct 31, 2012

Home Assignment / Furlough / Support Raising / Itineration

I just sent out a newsletter update. You can read it online here.  There were two things that I wanted to write more about in the newsletter but decided to refrain and keep the letter short. I will write about them here on this blog.  They are two of our goals for returning to Peru.

1. Support Raising. We need to raise support to be able to return to Peru.

      I have always been uncomfortable coming out and asking folks for money. It is especially difficult these days when most people are in an economic crisis. The funny thing is that my friends in Peru say they have always been in an economic crisis their whole lives. Some people tell me that you have to be direct and ask. I have read about others, such as Hudson Taylor, who never mentioned their requests out loud to anyone but God. I think there is a balance somewhere in the middle.  First, I think the most important thing to remember is that money is only one small part of support raising.  Yes, we need money to do missions work.  Money is necessary to get us there and to keep us there. But money will only do that. It will not make us more fruitful in our work.
     We need prayer to be able to work effectively. Paul says in Colossians 4:2-4, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison - that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak."  Not only do missionaries need this kind of support but all servants for the Kingdom of God need this kind of support, especially your pastors.  If we had all the money in the world and were not backed by fervent prayer warriors, I think we would produce very unhealthy fruit if any at all. The Holy Spirit is the one who changes hearts and produces fruit in changing lives. Our goal is glorify God by bringing life-changing renewal to the people we work with. Money will not produce that. The Holy Spirit will produce that in answer to our prayers, both yours and ours.
      Another thought about this process is that God is sovereign and He is the one that lays it on peoples hearts to commit themselves to serve in donating money or time.  In my short experience I have seen the Lord do amazing things in providing for our financial support.  Many of the folks I sent letters to responding graciously. But, I must say that a majority of the financial support that came in to us did not come from our direct pursuit. Actually much of our financial support came as a surprise from folks that we did not even expect. I will continue to trust that God will provide for our needs as we need them.  I understand that God often chooses to use our responsibility and that we need to work. I will continue to do the responsible thing and make phone calls and send letters and make visits but I will also continue to seek the face of the Lord and plead with Him to provide through His people. My prayer is that He will bless and provide people with more than they need who will be able to join us in financial support and also pray that He will raise up prayer support from people who walk with Him daily and will lift us daily before the throne.

2. Recruiting.  We hope to recruit help for Parish. We want to find a Stateside Entrepreneur who wants to develop a market for the work that our carpenters can do in Peru and sell it.  Please join me in prayer for the right person to come along and join our team by helping to get the wonderful products of our carpenters into the hands of buyers around the world. We also want to find people to join our team in helping us develop this project to make it more fruitful and guide us into the right direction to make the work of discipleship in the workplace successful. Please pray with us for this. More about this to come in the future...

Oct 16, 2012

New Chapters

I can't seem to stay consistent on writing posts here but I will continue nevertheless.
We are about to start several new chapters in our lives. We are at home for "furlough" raising support to return to Peru next August, Lord willing. We are anticipating our third child to be born any day now. I am also going through ordination examinations to return to Peru as an ordained pastor.

We are excited to be back in Louisiana. It has been good catching up with friends and family. We have enjoyed visiting several of our supporting churches in the area and are scheduled to visit several more. We are also extremely blessed to get to live in the First Baptist Church in Zachary's mission house.

We are also getting things ready for another addition to our family. Baby Ezra is due November 3 but with the building up of contractions we are doubtful he will wait that long.

I am taking a break right now from reviewing for presbytery ordination exams. I am going before the candidates committee today. I should be studying more but need this short break to defragment my brain.

We look forward to catching up with more friends and family and also connecting with new churches in the area and wherever we need to go. Our main prayer request is for God's blessing on broadening our support base as well as for the baby and ordination.

Jul 31, 2012

July Update

Finally put out an update about what we have been doing over the last few months. 
See it here.

May 31, 2012

Prayer for Meg

I am still behind on getting out an update. In the meantime I want to ask for prayer for Meg as she is flying to the States to visit her sister and celebrate graduation from Rhode Island School of Design. Her father is also flying in from Japan. Please pray for travelling mercies and for a good visit with her father and sister.  Also pray for her health and the baby as she is 4 months pregnant. Please also pray for me and the two little bitties as we enjoy Daddy time for the week. She get's back on the 8th of June.

May 10, 2012

Peruvian Labor Day

Peru celebrated labor day on May 1st. Since this is a national holiday our cell group got together at our house.

We had a great turn out this day. We ate a meal and played a good game of futbol (soccer).  It is neat to see how the Lord is developing our community.  Many of the regular members of the cell group brought their relatives and neighbors. We actually had close to 30 people show up.  
I am excited to see the way God is working in our lives.  There have been many different struggles as well as wonderful blessings over the last few months. From broken arms, hernia surgeries to two births and two more expecting babies.  Through it all, I see God working in the lives of the men who are leaders of these families through His Word. As we study the Bible and apply it in conversation and in our work, I see God changing perspectives and improving relationships. There are often times when I don't see change as fast as I would like but when I step back and look at the long-term difference and look at where they are coming from, I am amazed at what God is doing in the lives of this community through His Church.  There are times when I don't know what to say for updates because this is a slow going work. We keep working our way through the Scriptures and we keep plugging away at work and keep having conversations to drive the gospel deeper into our lives and little by little God is causing the growth.  

1 Corinthians 3:7, " neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

Apr 4, 2012

Custom orders

The guys with Las Ponas just finished a custom order for furniture. They hired a woodcarver to add a little detail to the bookcase.

Mar 25, 2012

Short term team visit

Last week we had a visit from a team from University Fellowship Church in Norman, OK. We are very thankful for their visit. They were a very hard working crew. They helped dig out the foundation for the first phase of the new church in Parque Industrial. This was not easy work among rocks and boulders in the sand. This is a new church plant next to a new clinic in a growing yet impoverished area on the edge of Trujillo.

Mar 23, 2012

Meg's 1st baking class

Meg has had so much fun (and done such a good job) making cakes or cupcakes for various activities lately several people have suggested she start a cake store or a baking school. Here she is getting a taste at her first class helping our friend Lucia make a cake for her daughter's birthday party.
They stayed up way too late finishing it :)  I took this after I got home from a Macho Movie Night with several men watching the new movie, Courageous.

Mar 20, 2012

Wedding, baby shower and new members

This past weekend was extremely busy.   It started out with Alleen & Hermes' wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and a great example of the Grand wedding feast we anticipate at Christ's return. We all had a great time celebrating this new union. It was especially nice with all of the children dancing and enjoying the beautiful reception afterwards.
Sunday morning the downtown church plant, Christ the King, received two new members who also happen to be two men who are connected with the Parish woodshop. Kevin and Javier. Kevin got connected with us last year through the English conversation courses and is working part time for Javier and Norvil. Javier is one of the original carpenters with Parish who is running his own business here in Trujillo along with Norvil.  They are both members of the cell group that meets connected with the woodshop.

Norvil and his wife, Flor, are expecting a baby next month. Sunday afternoon there was a baby shower for them at our house. 

Mar 7, 2012

Prayer requests and update

I am always encouraged when I get a request from supporting churches for prayer requests. It reminds me how much we depend on the intervention of the Almighty in the work He calls us to do. It also reminds me to communicate to others to join with me in praying for the things that I am battling.
Here is a short list of prayer requests

Please mostly pray for the men involved in various bible studies that the Holy Spirit will apply the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives and transform them into faithful servants and leaders

Two men that I am discipling have recently gone through difficult health problems that affected their income. Pray for healing and renewed zeal to fight to provide for their families.

There are several pregnant mothers in our churches please pray for their health and financial providence for extra costs in already tight budgets.

Lastly, pray for four couples involved in a study on marriage and that God would transform the next generation by creating a culture where men are Godly leaders in their homes.

Here is a link to our latest update. If you are not on our mailing list and want to receive it you can find a sign up link in the newsletter.

Jan 12, 2012

Recent photos

This week a team is visiting from RUF at Virginia Tech. They are doing a construction project at a local church plant.

Also Sam is being silly trying to learn how to make a face he learned from his Uncle Andy.

And a few shots from the Woodshop.

Itineration plans for the summer of 2018

This week we are enjoying the activities of VBS both at Plains in Zachary, LA and also at South Baton Rough Pres. I had the privilege of spe...