Theological Famine, Hardship and Hope

Greetings: I pray this finds you in sweet fellowship with Christ. As of today I am a stay at home Dad with Sophia and Nevaeh for a time. Please pray that they would have patience with me. My two best friends and best helpers have gone to language school today in Queztaltenango (Xela in Mam). Kennedy has really fallen in love with the language and hopes to be a translator someday. Becky does not know enough to have fallen in love with the language - she just wants to learn it. Gotta love her.

A lot has been going on lately. We continue to have quite a few people over to share meals with. At least 2-3 days a week. It is strange to have such a big language barrier but to have such ministry opportunities all at the same time. It is quite the experience in learning to trust God. The other day we had the house filled with about 15 neighbor kids as well as a few different families that stopped over. Somehow it seemed like God multiplied our food or something because we were not planning for this but had enough to feed everyone.

The other day we had to travel to the coast and then cross over into Mexico and then cross back over, so that we could renew our Visas. A person is only allowed to stay in Guatemala for 90 days and then has to get their passport re-stamped. Well, anyway – it was quite the trip. It ended well, we experienced God in the midst of it, but it was quite the trip. As soon as we got through the border and into Mexico, our vehicle broke down. And I am telling you, down by the coast, it is hot – it is a new kind of never before experienced hot. What broke was the fan on the radiator and finding parts here is not like going down to your local parts store. We never did find the parts, so we decided to try and make it back. The truck kept overheating about every 30 miles and when we started climbing up the steep winding mountains, we had to stop about every 15 miles because of overheating and then started raining like it only rains in Guatemala. In the gigantic mountains of Guatemala, in the blackness of night, in torrential rain that makes the mountain roads look like rivers and a vehicle that will not work right and it hit us, we need to pray. And afterwards, we realized how much of God thing this was. before that Before all the troubles came, we were all casually thinking about Him but as the troubles came, we all pressed into Him with all we had. Maybe it was a way for us to remember how much we really need Him. What a blessing it is when God uses whatever circumstances to incline our hearts towards Him and "everything is going to be alright..." becomes not just a saying but a reality - for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28a) I have started going to a private hospital called Hospital Privado Jireh every Thursday. I have been blessed with being able to share some gospel literature, as well as pray with some of the patients. We have a weekly men’s meeting there. We also do language studies. Virigilio has been trying to teach me Mam. Healthcare is very rare here, so it is very neat that Dr. Douglas and Dr. Deisy have set up this clinic. Edy, a student in my Bible class lost his 3 month old only son on Saturday night. We spent quite a bit of time with him and his wife Marleny for a few days. They are going through a lot. Marleny is a Catholic and believes her son went to Hell because they never baptized him. Edy became a Christian after they got married. He really loves the Lord and the things of God and does not know what to do. It is hard for him because he even believes he is called to the ministry.

I tried my best to counsel with him and his wife. Catholicism is very strong here and has a tight hold. A few days before his son died, his house was broken into and his sister was attacked. He defended her and got the perpetrator to leave. The community has been shunning him ever since he became a Christian but now they really are. They say to him, “you call yourself a Christian and you punch someone - that is not how a Christian acts…” Doesn’t matter someone was trying to rape his sister. I got a call from him yesterday and he told me he is in Guatemala City and does not know what to do because even his family does not want anything to do with him now. They think he is too much trouble. He wants to keep doing Bible studies over the phone. I offered that he is more than welcome to stay with us. Please pray!

There is quite a big theological famine here. Like I said the Catholic influence is huge, as well as not being many resources or opportunities for learning of any kind, whether it is secular or biblical.

With the big difference being, for the most part, people here really want and appreciate any opportunity to get resources or training. I gave a bunch of books away to a group of teengers called: God's Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts this past Sunday. The teenage boys got to talking to my wife and she told them that they better get reading because there is an exam that goes with the book. Their eyes lit up with excitement and they said, “how long do we have”. She gave them a month. And somehow now it has gotten made into a contest for prizes. I had my eyes opened the other day after giving an exam. The exam was on the first two chapters of Galatians, which we had spent about a 18 hrs of teaching time going through. Yet, by all accounts – everyone flunked. And it is not because they do not want to be there. Most of them travel many miles. And it is not that what is lacking is so much heady Bible trivia type knowledge, like, ‘who is the oldest person in the Bible?’ or ‘list the kings of Israel in order’ type stuff but real, life transforming, Spirit working, gospel centered teaching and apprehension that make up what it means to be a Christian.

For instance, most of them answered the first question that the gospel is only meant as a way to be saved. The other option said that the gospel was the message by which we are saved as well as the message that God uses to grow us and guide us in our Christian life.

Another question I asked is: How does salvation happen? Most answered, “by following the teaching of Jesus.” Now I can kind of see that, if what we are saying is, Jesus taught us to believe, so if we are following his teaching to gain salvation, we will simply believe. But the other option I had was; salvation happens because Jesus died for our sins. So yes, this is the better option, especially as I had Galatians 1:4 as the reference. And please know, that I am not saying any of this to put anybody down. I absolutely love these people here. But we are in deep need. There is a famine going on in the world and it is not just for lack of food.

Sometimes I think it looks good and North Americans are wanting big success and numbers look so good, that many Bible schools in 3rd world countries pump out Pastor after Pastor and many of them have sat in a class for a couple hrs. a week for a year or two but now they got a certificate, so now they are Pastors and yet we wonder why we have the trouble we have and either who knows the bizarre stuff they teach or within a year or two, they are nowhere to be found anyway.

We are in deep need. For the most part Latin America is considered ‘reached’ and the Church, at least the minority that is even concerned about reaching the world has shifted most of its focus to the 10/40 window (East and Middle East) and for good reason but there is still much, much work to be done here. In many ways I would say, even need to be re-evangelized. The thing is, everybody has heard of Jesus here and everybody thinks they are a Christian but most could not explain to you how they became a Christian or even explain to you what the gospel is. So I do not know if that means they are not Christians or if it is just of lack of training and discipleship because we all know, it is not good doctrine that saves – it is Jesus that saves but nevertheless, there is much ground yet to be gained. And just think with the amount of immigrants heading to the States. If we could equip and arm these immigrants with the gospel, it would be like a missionary army like never seen before. Just think the impact that would have. It just might be the way to penetrate the culture of the inward focused man centered American Christianity. It is strange the way that God in His providence does things sometimes but it could happen. Let’s dream big, work hard and trust God.

He says He will build His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it - so that is end we will work towards, trusting and praying all the way. (Matt. 16:18)


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