Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lost in a Dying World

    It seems like Guatemala has become more violent in the last few weeks, or at least my awareness of it has increased. As we approach Holy week it seems like the devil and his forces are on overtime. In the last week, I have heard of three events that really drove this home. A Canadian team was working in the Antigua area last week. They were not one of our teams and so I have little information but some of the team had gone to play soccer with some of the local people and a gang robbed them at gunpoint, taking their shoes, money, phones and other valuables. They were not harmed, only robbed.
     Another incident happened in the city. Some friends there minister to a group of people, sharing the love of Jesus with them on a regular basis. They get to know these people and develop relationships with them. For most, my friends are the only light that Jesus is able to shine into their deception. Earlier this week. One of the women that they have been ministering to for many years was murdered.
     Finally, I went out to pick up supper last Friday night to a little restaurant down the street. I ordered and waited at the pick up window for my food. The guy that walked in behind me had a gun and robbed the place. (Not me. I am completely fine). He had 2 accomplices that stayed outside, one was a lookout and the other was a the getaway rider. Right across the street is a crowded park where there was a basketball game going on with probably 50 people watching.  All three left on a 125cc motorcycle. After they left, I spent the next several minutes reassuring the women that was the only other customer in there. She was shaken and was sure that she was going to die.
     As I walked home, I pondered all that had just happened. I was not nervous of fearful or even angry. I did take some time to pray though and God spoke something right to me. The world needs the light. The darkest places need it the most. Where there is violence, crime, prostitution, murder, those are the place that the Church needs to be running to not fleeing from. We cannot have the luxury of looking for the safe places to go minister. The safe places already have hundreds of sources of light but in the darkness, there is very little. If we do not go to those places, all of the people there will be lost for eternity and we will have to answer for why we did not step in.
    Guatemala is a country steeped in religion. There are 13 million people. Many would claim to be Christian but they have held on to Mayan beliefs blended with Catholicism. They do not understand that the Gospel is about transformation. Their understanding is that if they are good enough and perform the right rituals at the right time, they will probably be okay. We need to show the light and the love of Jesus to them. There are many local Churches that are working on that but the job is big. We need to be the encourager that come alongside and support them. It is not our job to take over the evangelism efforts but support our brothers and sisters that are already doing the work of the Gospel where they are. My role is to be here in active support. Yours may be that or something different but the world needs us to find and fulfill our roles.
     Out of my incident came a great story. The Church that I attend here had a planned evangelism day set for the next day. After people going door to door for several hours, there was an outreach event in that same park where the guys had been playing basketball the night before. There was worship, a powerful skit portraying the freedom and life that comes only from relationship to Jesus and a short Gospel message. The woman that was in the restaurant with me came. She talked for several minutes with one of the Church woman and then again at the end of the presentation they were talking. She was sharing the story of the previous night as I left to go home. I pray that events of Friday helped draw her to new life in Jesus Saturday.
     I have read a quote that says "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." It is by Nelson Henderson. When we leave our comfort zone to share the Gospel we are bringing light to darkness but we are also doing something bigger. While we are changing the world, we are planting trees for future generations to rest under. We are leaving an inheritance of a better world for the next generation. If people understand that the true nature of the Gospel is lives transformed by love, the world will become a much friendlier place. Everybody wants to be loved but few have experienced it in the depths God meant for it to be experienced. When we tell somebody, they may not hear us but when we go out of our way to demonstrate the love of Jesus, it will make a lasting impact.
     Are you changing your world?  Have you thought about running into dark places? Are you ready to see how much of a difference you can make? Now is the day. Take a risk. Grab your sword and run at the devil. Jesus has won the victory so we cannot loose.

I was standing near the counter of Pollo Granjero when it was robbed.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What are you giving?

This has been a tiring few weeks. We have had teams, moved countless wheelbarrows of dirt down a hill only to he to walk back up and shovel more, had  a concert with Peter Furler, and poured a Church floor in Membrillal only to have the portion over the cistern collapse and have to be re-poured. I am not complaining. As a matter of fact, I have enjoyed most of it. I especially enjoy every day that I get to go to one of the schools and spend time interacting with the kids. I get to do that often. I am just saying that I am tired.

I wanted to share a revelation this morning that I received while listening to a message by my pastor back in the States, Jon Nebbeling. He was talking about the feeding of the 5,000 men plus all that were with them. I was struck by Andrew as he shared the story. We have all heard it countless times but it impacted me this morning as a new way. Andrew brought a boy that have 5 small loaves and 2 fish to feed thousands. I am sure the disciples laughed but not Jesus. For Him, it was the launching point. He said, "Tell them to sit down".

This story got me thinking about the need around me and what I have to offer, or more correctly do not offer because it seems so small. How many times have I held back because what I had seemed barely enough to meet my need let alone that of anyone else. Whether I am in Illinois or Guatemala, I am surrounded by people with such large needs that I feel completely inadequate. I let that feeling keep me from offering to God what I do have. I am stopped by what my senses dictate.

Do you ever do that? Do you ever hold back because you know that there is no way you have what is needed for the task? What should our response be?

As I was thinking about this, I came to a conclusion. The things God is calling us to will always leave us feeling inadequate. We will never have enough to accomplish it. Our gifts, talents and resources will never be enough. You might ask why that is. If I can do it without God, I can take the glory for it. He wants to do things that we cannot do in our own strength. But, He also wants us to participate in what He is doing. The way that we do that is to bring whatever we have and offer it to Him completely. When we offer the little we have, He tells the people to sit down and then begins to multiply our little to meet their need. God is the one who multiplies. We are only called to offer Him what we do have. He knows our limits but those are the very things that He uses to bring Himself glory.

What area are you feeling drawn to today? What frightens you about going into it? Step out. Offer God what you do have, knowing that it is completely insufficient to meet the need and then watch Him multiply your offering.