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Archive for the tag “Missions”

Commander of Tens

Deuteronomy 1:15 – “So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes.

I was recently given an opportunity to spend time with a couple people I love.

Paige and Stalin Solis came from Peru, where they lead ministries and missions, to the states to get some much needed rest and fundraise. When they came to visit Maryland, where my family and I live, they were at 34% of their monthly giving need. When they left they were at 53%!!!

I would ask that you all support them.

While they were in town we ate some great food (American and Peruvian), went sightseeing in Washington D.C. and spent a lot of time discussing and contemplating the Word of God and sharing life stories.

During their time here, we found out that Free Wheelchair Mission, the primary mission ministry that Paige & Stalin work with, was sharing a documentary on the distribution of their ONE MILLIONTH WHEELCHAIR! This documentary was filmed in Peru, with the church people and the church that Paige and Stalin belong. Paige, as a matter of fact, was one of the people in the video!!!

As we were watching the video my eyes filled with tears. I saw many people I know: Clever and Lisa Sobrino, leaders of a ministry that works with developmentally and mentally disabled people, Robert Barriger, the Senior Pastor of the church that sponsors the wheelchair mission in Peru, Miguel Chiang, one of the leaders of the wheelchair mission on the Peru side, and Nick Balcombe, leader of the missions groups that come to Peru to distribute the wheelchairs.

I’ve been to Peru 5 times in with my church, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. Every year we take down a very small team to Peru to do service projects, including building and distributing wheelchairs. As I was watching the Free Wheelchair Mission video, I was thinking to myself that we have done so little in Peru.

Then I started adding up the numbers.

Exodus 18:19-22 – Listen to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.

In 5 years, our church has distributed 441 wheelchairs.

That is .05% of Free Wheelchair Mission’s worldwide total! That is also 2.1% of all of the wheelchairs distributed in Peru during that time frame!!!

I started thinking about the Old Testament Bible verses about the commanders of the armies of Israel. They were broken in several different command groups. There were those who led the armies of thousands, those who led the armies of hundreds, those who led the armies of fifties, and those who led the armies of tens.

In the Old Testament times the armies were physical armies that fought physical battles with enemies of the kingdom. Today Christians fight an invisible enemy, one who has attacked every fabric of life in the world. In this fight, the command structure is still the same.

Our enemy is fighting us in a physical way. He is attacking our friends, our families, and people we don’t know with sicknesses and ailments. It is up to the church to lead the charge to provide support for those who have been injured during the battle.

In this segment of the battle, Free Wheelchair Mission is the “commander of thousands.” They mobilize teams and people internationally to take wheelchairs where they are needed most.

Then there are the churches and organizations like Camino de Vida, where Paige and Stalin serve. These are the “commanders of hundreds.” They mobilize teams inside of Peru. Paige leads 30 missions teams from all around the world every year. Each team has about 10+ people in them and distribute thousands of wheelchairs a year.

Then there are the sending churches, like Chesapeake Christian Fellowship, my home church. They are the “commander of fifties.” Over the past 5 years we have sent about 40 people to Peru, close to 100 people to Haiti, and close to 75 people to Navajo Nation.

Finally, God showed me that I am a “commander of tens.” Each year I lead a team of up to 10 people to Peru.

I have always wanted to lead God’s church. I’ve wanted to be a pastor. I’ve wanted to call my “job” pastor. I desire to wake up and drive to church and call that my place of employment.

But when I realized that God has made me a “commander of tens” for doing a mission to Peru I came to the conclusion that if God never uses me for another thing in this life that I have been used to make a difference for Him. God could never call me to full-time ministry and I would be content in knowing that God’s glory has been seen through my leadership.

I don’t say that to boast.

I say that knowing full well that this opportunity can go away at any moment and it is only by the grace of God that I was given this opportunity. I pray I never take that lightly. And I pray that the commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, and commanders of tens never take their position lightly. God granted it, God can take it away if we don’t treat it as He would desire.

But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy my time as a “commander of tens” and lead as God would have me lead.

I may never lead thousands.

I may never lead hundreds.

I may not even lead fifties.

But I am leading tens. And that is enough.

If it were the last day of your life

This week has reminded me about how fragile this life is. On Easter morning my passed into eternity. Each holiday, my mom would make would make an amazing spread of food.

This year the job fell to me.

In the past years, my kids, wife and my wife’s kids would travel to PA the weekend before Thanksgiving to have an amazing meal prepared by her. She would make ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, cherry cheesecake, and many other things.

So this year I started planning the dinner the week before and I baked everything off Saturday and cooked everything after church on Sunday.

But it wasn’t the same.

We were missing someone.

Afterward I thought about what it would be like if I knew it were the last day of my life.

My mom taught me one thing, live life to the fullest!

She enjoyed life and she enjoyed the people that came her way. She wasn’t one that would be seen out in the mission field but she would be seen out in the community. She cared about people and everyone knew that.

I got to thinking, though. What would my life look like if it were the last day of my life?

Would people look back on it the same way I look back on my mom’s?

God has called us to live this life. We aren’t to live a past life, our past has been redeemed. We aren’t to live a future life because we are never promised anything beyond today.

My life changed drastically about 6-7 years ago and since then I have done everything possible to live in the present.

But what about you?

One thing Americans do well is hide away from life.

We wake up early to get in our cars and drive an average of 30 minutes to work (if you live the DC area where I do, that time is increased to 52 minutes average). At work, we hide ourselves away in our cubicles or offices as we focus on a computer screen that only has work stuff and Facebook on the screen. When work is done, we get back in our cars and drive home only to have dinner in a disjointed way. The kids have to get to work or sports, so they ate early. Your spouse may or may not be home because, if you are in the 69% of American families, you are a dual-income household. After eating, you turn on your laptop to get on Facebook or turn on the TV and watch the Big Bang Theory until it is bedtime and then you start the whole thing all over.

If you are one of the people who enjoy exercise, you go to the gym and spend time in your zone exercising and not really in community with others.

But we have been designed for so much more!

We have been made in God’s image!

Just what does that mean?

It means we should not…we cannot…go on living our lives for ourselves!

There is a God who sustains us. He owns us. He defines us. He rules us. One day He will judge us.

To that end, God has given us some guidelines to living a life that is given over to Him, enabling us to live a satisfied and content life without the drama of the world system.

I wish I could say that I came up with these five ideas, but I have to give David Platt a lot of props here. He came up with 5 principles for living a life that will be lived to fullest for our purpose, to worship an eternal God.

  • Work diligently

In the beginning of Genesis, God created man to work the garden. God gave man the duty to work even before sin entered the camp. That means work is a gift of God’s grace! But we don’t see it that way. We see it as something we haaaave to do, not something we are ordained to do.

Genesis 2:15 – The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

We, including myself (especially myself), do everything we can to lessen our amount of work so that we can do other things. Do you believe that going to Bible study at church is more important than the job God has ordained you to do? If you see it that way, then you might be legalistic and pharisaical in your thinking.

I’m not saying Bible study isn’t important. It is. But so is the work we have been called to do.

  • Live Simply

Money is not evil. Money in the hands of a sinful people (which is everyone last time I checked) is.  Most people, including most Christians, believe that money is a blessing from God. The Bible tells us that money can be both a blessing from and a barrier to God.

Money is like the water in the ocean. If you get thirsty while in the ocean, you might think that the water around you will sustain you. Since it is high in salt, it won’t. The more you drink, the more thirsty you become. Eventually you dehydrate, which leads to severe headaches, dry mouth, and low blood pressure. Your heart rate begins to rise. You become delirious, go unconscious and die. In drinking what you thought would bring life, you find death.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Where do we draw the line in our lives that says, “I have too much ‘stuff.’ I need to stop saying ‘I need’ when in actuality it is really that ‘I want.’”

Stop letting your “wants” drive your purchases. Look only to what you need.

  • Give sacrificially

2 Corinthians 8:15 – as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

The Corinthian church would give sacrificially of themselves to see everyone had what they needed. Imagine what it would look like if all Christians around the world, all the Christian communities, would do the same! We shouldn’t give from our comfort, we should give from our discomfort. Unfortunately, most Christians do not know what it means to give sacrificially. They, and I include myself in this, give after they have already paid the bills or after they have factored in how many triple shot skinny half-caf mochas with no whip they can purchase. Around the world there are many without clean water or food. Even here in our own communities there are people who are losing their homes, children who are going to school hungry, and elderly who are finding they cannot afford their medications. We should give sacrificially to others, like the Corinthian church. If the most corrupt church in the New Testament can be graciously giving sacrificially, then today’s church, and Christians, certainly can!

  • Help Constructively

We cannot neglect those in need, but we also cannot subsidize them to stay in need. We cannot simply help people get through their day without teaching them how to get through the rest of their lives. Paul explains that we need to take care of the widows, for example, but goes on to say that not every widow in truly in need. We are not called to simply give a hand out. Commitment to helping get someone out of need is to share life, not just a meal. We also need to look at diversity as we understand why people are in need. Poverty and need cross all racial, ethnic, religious, and other boundaries. Yes, people can say that one group is more prone than another to being in need, but the truth of the matter is that there are people all around us in need and those are the people we are called to help, regardless of color, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc…

  • Invest Eternally

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus gives us a choice. We can spend our money on this earth’s pleasures that will not last or we sacrifice our resources for a long term treasure that we store up in heaven. Think of the story in Mark 10 of the rich young ruler. Many people think Jesus is calling him to simply sacrifice everything he owns. Truth is that Jesus is calling the man to satisfaction. Jesus isn’t calling this man away from treasure, He is calling him to eternal treasure.

Think of it this way: If you have $10,000 and put it in the bank, in about 20 years you will have about $100,000. But now, if you took that same $10,000 and gave it to a church planter or missionary in Peru (hint hint, Paige and Stalin Solis: https://www.modernday.org/field-workers/solis-paige-solis/) you could see hundreds or even thousands of lives changed! That is truly the investment we need to be making!

So if it were the last day of your life, would your treasures simply fade away or would you leave a lasting legacy of Jesus that would continue to receive compound interest long after you are gone?

Peru 2017 – Key Learnings and a Call to Action

I’ve been thinking over the past week in Peru as I have been sharing the journey with you that I haven’t been posting a lot of Scripture. It can easily make one think that I wanted to show off what we were doing and not draw it back to God.

That isn’t the case at all.

I’ve wanted to share Scripture with you but, honestly, I simply haven’t had the time to research it a lot and when I share the Word I want to make sure it is done in the proper context.

Now that I am on a flight home, I have a lot more time to think about the past week and how God moved throughout it.

And that is the first thing I realized, time is rare. In the States, we don’t have enough time because we tend to fill it all with stuff that isn’t Jesus focused. Not that any of it is necessarily bad, but as a missionary, you are at the whim of the country’s or city’s needs. You could get a call at any moment that a flood has destroyed a large section of the city or a fire is raging through the downtown of the city and won’t be put out in over a week.

Most of our days were 14-15 hours. When we got home, we had very little left to give to anything else but sleep.

I understand why full-time missionaries have a tough time communicating with their sponsors or family back home.

The next thing I noticed this year is how much God has grown me as a leader and as a Christian. I remember my first year going to Peru and we were building a house for someone and I looked down and saw an area and told our host, pastor Nick from Camino de Vida, that someone should plant a church there. He said that sounds like a great idea, simply trying to placate the mission tourist. But I wouldn’t let it go. I continued. I was saying it over and over, trying to get anyone to listen to me and finally Nick told me to calm down. I felt a little dejected. But after seeing the church in action that week and in others, I now realize that he was simply trying to help me to look honestly at the situation and focus on bringing God to the moment we were in, not to the potential future. The time I wasted trying to be heard could have been spent doing actual evangelizing that would have more of a lasting kingdom effect.

Since then, I have started looking through the eyes of our hosts, Camino de Vida. I still have my “gringo eyes” and until I immerse myself into the culture those won’t go away, but I can honestly say that God is showing me much of what the team at Camino de Vida is seeing and giving me a burden for the people of Peru.

I know I am not called to Peru, as much as I would love to be. But I have a serious burden for the people of Peru. I now know more about more people in Peru than I do people in America. My job is to bring people to Peru and let them get a taste (of the food) of the people of Peru and the highly developed third world country that really has a large part of my heart.

There are so many people that when I think of them, I start to smile.

People like Stalin and Paige Solis. She is from Arkansas and he is from Peru. She met him on mission and they fell in love and started serving at Camino de Vida. Now Paige leads the groups at the church and he teaches Spanish lessons to the church interns.

I met Paige and Stalin a couple years ago when I was in Peru and they have become good international friends, people I trust implicitly who I can talk to from time to time. They don’t take a salary from the church in Peru at all other than the money Stalin makes from teaching the interns Spanish (which he makes $10/hour to do it).

They are without healthcare insurance and are missing some things to help them do ministry better. I hope to help them get funded for at least their healthcare insurance. They need $300/month for insurance, $3,600/year.

I am going to ask my followers to support Paige and Stalin. When I think of the people in Peru whom I truly love, Paige and Stalin are at the top of the list. They have been amazing with the groups I have brought down there and have taught us all a lot about missions in Peru.

They go through an organization called Modern Day for their funding. Modern Day is an organization that connects missionaries to those who are supporting them.

From their website:

Our Vision is to help thousands of people, young and old, pursue their dreams of reaching the world for Jesus; one person, one city and one nation at a time. Our desire is to form partnerships that pave the way for people to serve in another country for both short and long term periods. We are currently working with over 250 missionaries. Since the summer of 2008, Modern Day has facilitated endeavors in 50 countries and new ones are being added on a regular basis.

I am looking for 36 people to offer up a ONE-TIME commitment of $100 to Paige and Stalin. With that money, they can afford healthcare insurance, something I think is very important in this world. If you would like to support them more than that, please do.

Please, people, prayerfully consider supporting them. Because of the work they are doing in Peru, hundreds are coming to know Christ! For a Christian, you can’t ask for a better return on your investment.

Here is the link to support Stalin and Paige:

http://stalinandpaigesolis.squarespace.com/

If you do decide to send them a gift, please drop me a line at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com. I would love to send them a note about the people who supported them.

Thanks everyone.

Peru 2017 Day 6 – The Final Ministry

We woke up REALLLY early today, 4:30 AM. Our job was to go downstairs at the Dream Center and make 2,000 sandwiches so that we could make 1,000 bags of food (2 sandwiches per bag) for the people of the hospital we went to last night. We were also making them cups of oatmeal to have with their sandwiches.

The bread came around 5:15 and we started in by breaking into 4 groups of people. The first group would cut the bread. Group two would butter the bread. Group three put on the jelly. And group 4, my group, would package the sandwiches and place them in the containers for shipping.

It took us until about 8:30 to get all the sandwiches made and packaged.

After that we loaded everything into the bus and truck and headed to the hospital.

We set up in 3 different areas. The hospital was definitely much more busy than it was last night! In my area, we gave away about 425 sandwiches and cups of oatmeal.

After we were done, we had an opportunity to pray with people.

Now this next story I simply need to share. Last night, one of our group went off on his own and ended up in a hospital room that had about 50 beds in it. In one of the beds was a 17 year old girl and her dad was sitting next to her. The man, trying to get his daughter to smile, was telling her about the “white angel” who came from America to see her and pray with her.

The girl was brought in and hadn’t eaten in almost 2 weeks. She had severe stomach issues and was simply sick. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She has been bedridden for much of that two weeks!

Fast forward to this morning. I went with our group member who prayed with her last night. We were going to try and give her some of the breakfast we made with hopes she would eat it. When we got there, she was sitting in her chair. She was smiling and joking around and told us that she was better and was going home soon!

Yesterday she was unable to eat and was confined to bed and today she is scheduled to go home!

I know that my agnostic and atheist friends will look at this differently, but that was all God!

Our God heals!

We prayed with her and started to leave.

But then Mimi happened.

I had forgotten that my wife had brought a suitcase filled with toys and games for the kids in the pediatric unit. I followed her over there and watched my beautiful wife in action. She was so happy making children happy!

I love watching her with that big smile across her face and seeing children flock to her, hugging her, and loving her.

After this was done we went back to the Dream Center to relax, eat lunch, and get ready to leave tomorrow. Tonight we head to church one more time before heading out and then we leave for America at 3 in the morning.

In my next post I want to share a little of my heart about the people I have met over the past 5 trips here and what I would like to see happen for my friends. I’ll also share a little about how I’ve grown and how I hope to grow in the future.

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Peru 2017 Day 5 – Wheelchairs and hospitals

This morning we were able to spend the morning doing the wheelchair ministry. This was the first ministry I did when I came to Peru in 2012 and I fell in love with Peru at that moment. Last year  we didn’t get a chance to do a large wheelchair ministry, but we did house to house.

When we learned our schedule for this week, we were told we would be doing house to house wheelchair ministry. When we arrived, we were told we would be doing a mini distribution at a central site. That’s the best of both worlds! We get to hand out a lot of wheelchairs but not so many that we lose sight of the personal touch.

We transported the boxes of wheelchairs from the Dream Center to the build/distribution site and we started building.

As the morning progressed, we met the people and started handing out chairs. It started with a man named Clever, he is part of the wheelchair ministry in Peru and was leading this outreach today. Clever spent about 15 minutes explaining the chair they would receive.

After that, I had an opportunity to get up and, through an amazing translator, was able to present the gospel message to them. I saw quite a few people raise their hand for accepting the gospel, but as I went around the room later, almost everyone told me that they knew Christ already.

Then we handed out their chairs and modified them for their specific needs.

Once that was done, everyone wanted pictures. The people who received their chair would get their phone out and ask someone to take our picture. We spent the next 30-45 minutes just getting our pictures taken by everyone (and, of course, taking their picture with us as well).

Afterward, we helped people get into their tuk-tuk or taxi, loaded the bus and headed back to the Dream Center for lunch.

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One of the amazing things I heard Clever explain to the people is that the wheelchair is a gift from God. As I was talking to people later, I heard one person explain that the wheelchair is a physical explanation of God. God gave His gift to us in the form of His Son. Unfortunately, we can’t see the physical form of God right now, but we can provide a glimpse of Him through the work that we do.

To many people, God is seen in the form of a wheelchair when we go to them.

Of course God is not a wheelchair, but that is a physical example, something they can touch and feel, that will remind them of the gift that is God.

Once the wheelchair distribution was complete, we headed back to the Dream Center to prepare for tonight’s ministry. Our plan was to prepare over 300 dinners to take to the hospital here. The first thing we needed to do was sift through the quinoa and make sure there were no stones or stalks in it.

After that, we had time before the food was cooked to do some work around the Dream Center. In order to keep us busy, we went through all the toys for the children’s ministry and separated them by gender and age.

Once the food was cooked, we placed it into take-out containers and then into large transporting bins. We got into the bus about 7pm and headed to the pediatric hospital.

Let me explain this. Hospitals here are nothing like hospitals in the states. The sanitary conditions are significantly worse and there is no desire to make the person, or their family, comfortable as they wait. Some people come and wait outside in the courtyards waiting for their family member to be healed or to die. Many have come from far away and have no source of income. Since Peru is a “pay to heal” environment, those family members either need to go home and continue to work or they need to find work in Lima during the time they are there.

It is all very heartbreaking.

We provided meals and took time to spend with the people there.

As it is almost 10 pm here in Peru right now, I am heading to bed as we are going back to children’s hospital tomorrow to serve over 1,000 breakfasts and have to be up at 4 AM.

Peru 2017 Day 4 – More Relationships

Today brought about a lot of amazing things. Yesterday we went to many places I have been before. Today we went to places I have never been before. And on top of that, we ended with a party that turned into church.

We started our day going to a refuge that takes care of mothers and children with HIV. We made 20 gift bags for the mothers and had a lot of care packages for the kids. As soon as we got there, we were able to hand one out but then found out the house mother was understaffed. We started right in doing the day to day tasks that need to get done. We cleaned rooms, swept the hallways, prepared lunch, checked in the produce order, and whatever else needed to happen.

It was great. The relationships we made were not with the moms and kids as much as it was the team at the refuge. We were able to connect with Carol, the house mother, and some of the seminary students she had with her.

 

We were there for a long time and realized we were on a time schedule. The Peru/Colombia game was tonight and we had to be back before dinner or we would be stuck on the streets for hours. Lima is a city of almost 10 million people, so having a game like a World Cup Qualifier round 2 blocks from where we are staying means that the roads will get congested.

We went back to the Dream Center, picked up lunch, and headed to our next destination. This would be a short stop before moving to our final destination, but it was well worth it. We stopped by a church that Camino de Vida, the church we support in Peru, is getting ready to open in December. It was an old theatre where plays and musicals would happen. They are leasing the property and totally renovating it to fit their needs. It will seat about 900 people. We met up with Nick Balcombe, one of the pastors, and he gave us the tour. They need $250,000 more to get the place renovated and opened. If you are interested in supporting the vision God has given Camino de Vida for the new church, please check out their website at www.caminodevida.com

After the tour, we went to a place that was extremely special. When we were coming down, we were asked to bring down some feeding tubes. I laughed when I said “some” because I was expecting maybe a small case of them. No, we received 6 cases which turned into 2.5 suitcases of feeding tubes. We went in and got a short orientation and then went to visit the kids. Those kids are beautiful! If no other reason, the purpose for those children on this earth was to show us gringos just how to love. They have so much love in their hearts!

I really enjoyed spending time with Augusto. He is blind and has several developmental disabilities. The way to interact with him is to rub his back. Every time I did and said his name he would smile and laugh. A few times he would reach out and hold my arm as best as he could.

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Nate, on our team, fell in love with this one kid. He is musically inclined and that gave Nate an opportunity to love this kid with the gift of music.

We left there in order to get back before the traffic got too bad. When we arrived, we starting making blankets our project on Thursday. We grabbed two very large bolts of fabric and cut the blankets. Altogether I would say we made about 60 blankets. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to make more.

Then the night really started. Tonight was the Peru/Colombia World Cup qualifier match. Peru needed to win or tie. They tied.

A few of the women who live in the house we are staying and their friends came over and we watched the game together and afterward we partied.

Then after we were all partied out, we ended the night in worship.

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This day couldn’t be any better.

The goal of missions is relationships. We may never be able to end all the hunger or homelessness in the world. But we can feed people the Word and end the homelessness in their hearts. We might never be able to provide clean water to everyone but we can provide people with the new wine of the Spirit.

We built long lasting relationships with people today and I love that!

Tomorrow we will be doing one of my favorite projects here in Peru, a wheelchair distribution.

Peru 2017 Day 3 – Relationships

We got a late start to the day today.

Praise Jesus!

After yesterday’s 15 hour day, it was nice to start a little later in the morning.

We started with our devotional that focused on God’s purpose for our lives and that we don’t need to be in Peru to be in mission. It is important to understand that fact because God blessed us with being in a great country with decent incomes and a lack of persecution for our faith. You don’t have to feel guilty for living in America. God is sovereign. He has a purpose for placing you where you are.

After making sandwiches for lunch we headed off for the hour and half journey to Grace House, a home for women who are broken and have addictions or disorders.

This is a very safe, walled house that is lush and green. It is a partnership between Camino de Vida and Hillsong. It is a home that holds 20 women and they are mentored to find their identity in Christ. As they find that, they realize their hang-ups and their brokenness become their testimony and they have the power to overcome what they are struggling with.

In the pictures below you can see several of the testimonies and the motivational words that are used for healing in these women.

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After spending the morning at Grace House, we got in the bus and headed almost 2 hours to Hogar de Ninos, a children’s home. Now the children here are not very young. They range in age of up to 20 years old. Once they reach 18 they have the option to go into the leadership program or they can leave.

As we got there, we got the tour and the chance to meet the kids. Then the guys started up a soccer (football) game. Let’s just say that even with the kids going easy on us gringos we were outmatched. I was sweating and breathing heavily and the kids were just moving from one side of the ball to the next with no effort.

We then played several other games and just decided to hang out with the kids until the tutors walked in with a cake for one of the kids named Milargo, whose birthday it was today. We enjoyed cake and singing Happy Birthday and then got on the bus to head back to La Victoria.

When we returned, the place was quiet. Our dinners had been made by the team there and left for us to eat. Lomo Saltado, one of our team’s favorites! Then, in one of the back rooms, there were a whole bunch of materials for us to put together gift bags of food and personal hygiene items for women at the HIV refuge.

Tomorrow we leave early in the morning to head to the HIV refuge and then to an orphanage for children with special needs and developmental disabilities.

Since it is only 7:30 at night right now, I am going to take this opportunity to finish this post and head to bed early. Tomorrow night is the qualifying round for Peru in the World Cup. The stadium, which seats 60,000 people, is 2 blocks from our sleeping area. If Peru wins, Peruvians will be partying in the streets for 24 hours straight, so that will mean no sleep for any of us.

So good night and pray for us to get some sleep.

Peru 2017 Day 2 – The Tourist

Every time we come to Peru, and this is my fifth time here, we spend one day as a tourist. It is always on Sunday because that is the easiest day to do it.

Last night was rough. The city was awake and extremely loud last night. I slept perhaps 3 hours the entire night. At one point I got up and stared out the windows and watched a drug deal happening. I also watched what looked like some prostitution going on.

But I didn’t sleep.

It was a rough night.  And I am sitting here at the table in the living area at midnight writing this.

The morning came and we got together and started our day at La Victoria. We ate breakfast, did our devotional and then talked among our group. This group has been amazing because we have had a lot more deep discussions about faith, hope, theology, and our purpose.

We sat around in our group this morning and discussed, for about a 30 minutes death, dying, and the purpose of spirituality. Then a couple of the interns came in to talk to our team about the internship program. We have a couple young 20-somethings and I wanted them to get an idea of what it would be to take a 6 month long-term ministry in Peru.

IMG_20171008_113144

After that, we went downstairs for church at the chapel. This place has 350 attending regularly. We enjoyed listening to a visiting pastor from Chile who was up for a conference.

From there, we went to the city to be tourists for the day. We went to a hamburger place and were there for a quite a while. One reason is that we were simply enjoying each other’s company. But secondly, it was Stalin’s birthday.

We then went to the market to get some souvenirs to take home to friends and family.

After that we went to church and enjoyed an amazing service at their main campus. This church is on fire!

I wish that my own church, and honestly all the churches in America, would take a lesson from Camino de Vida in Peru. They have locked down the way to reach young adults. In the videos and pictures I will share below, I hope you see the amount of young adults.

Camino de Vida video 1

Camino de Vida video 2

Camino de Vida video 3

After church, at 9 pm, we headed to dinner to get crepes and then off to the Dream Center to head to bed (or blog, in my case).

Tomorrow will be a great day. We will be visiting the Grace House (a home for women battling addictions and brokenness) and Hogar de Ninos, the children’s home, where we will be sharing dinner together.

Peru Mission 2017 Day 1 – Fluid

So Mimi and I are taking another team to Peru this year. We left on Friday morning and arrived late Friday night.

We had our schedules and itinerary in hand and we headed out the door.

The first flight to our layover in Miami was bumpy but uneventful. I sat in the back of the plane while the rest of our group sat in the middle and front. In the back with me were 13 women heading from Baltimore to Miami to have girls weekend away. They all had really flashy shirts and were very loud, but fun. I also had about a 4 or 5 year old child sitting behind me, kicking my seat much of the flight.

Mimi sat on her own in the middle of the flight and, since she doesn’t travel well, fell right to sleep and woke up in Miami.

We get to Miami and were to meet up with a woman I had met a few years earlier at a church planting conference. While we had a few glitches there, it was pretty easy to get together and we headed off for some lunch and our first devotion of the journey.

When we got to Lima, we located Paige and Stalin, our guides, and they took us to La Victoria, the area of the place we would be staying.

La Victoria is a very different area than where we have stayed in years past. It is the inner city. Smells of marijuana and prostitution are done in the open here. There are gangs in this area and random packs of dogs roam the streets.

This section of the city is up almost 24 hours a day.

As I sit here right now typing this, I hear about 5 different songs playing throughout the city, someone is shooting off fireworks, and car alarms go off quite frequently.

The place we are staying is a chapel. It is 5 stories and in the middle of the city. The outside is black and white and all of the windows have bars. There is a man who sits just inside the door and opens it for people who are allowed in. Every Sunday, this chapel, the smallest of the 5 campuses of Camino de Vida, has 350 regular attenders.

The first level of the chapel is the church. It is really just a big black box style. They can transform the room into whatever they want it to be for the day. It can be church on Sunday and then on Monday turn into a wheelchair build site.

The second level of the chapel is a kitchen and offices. The missions offices are housed on the second level of the place. There is also an occupational therapy facility on this level.

The third level has a sewing ministry where they make all the shirts for their missions program. They also have a meeting room and a place where people can come and get clothes for free.

The fourth level is where short-term missions teams like ours stay. There are bedrooms for the women and bedrooms for the men. They also have a “living room” where short-term teams can hang out and unwind.

The fifth level is storage. All of the maintenance equipment and paints are kept up here. They also have a small outside living room that overlooks the city. I am hoping to get to use that a lot more later this week.

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We arrived about 1 AM and went straight to bed. I couldn’t sleep and spent the majority of the cold night laying there in prayer, thought, and yawning.

The next morning came and we ate breakfast and had a quick devotion before we gathered together for orientation. We learned that a few days ago someone had come and sprayed graffiti on much of the building.

I have to say that my heart sank a little when I saw it. 2 years ago my team painted the building, the sidewalk and the bricks. It was a long couple of days, but we did a really nice job. Seeing it tagged with graffiti was a little upsetting.

We were told that we would be spending the day painting the building again.

We gathered all the materials and started in at painting at about 11 AM.

We finished the outside of the building by 12:30 and sat down to eat lunch.

It was a little late to do our original plan of evangelism, so we decided to help Paige get the chapel ready for church tomorrow. This meant a lot more painting. She wanted a few levels of the steps painted as well as one of the offices so that they could move furniture out of another larger office to use for kids ministry in the morning.

We broke up our group and started going to town on the painting.

We finished about 5:30, got cleaned up and headed off to dinner.

It is now 10:30.

The city is alive and very, very loud. Many people are sleeping with ear plugs or ear buds in to drown out the noise. While I am exhausted, I want to take in the sounds of the city. I might not sleep, but I want to experience what the people of La Victoria experience daily.

Tomorrow we will be tourists. We are going to start our day at the chapel and attending church and then heading off to enjoy the touristy side of Lima.

More on that tomorrow.

Immigration Policy and the Effect on Missions Worldwide, part 3: The Parallels

Mark 13:10 – And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.

There isn’t a lot of data when it comes to missionaries from America in the early stages of our country. The majority of Christian missions occurred internally before moving overseas. The majority of “missions” work came from denominations such as Methodists and Baptists scrambling to find enough pastors and leaders to go west. In 1790, there were only 13 states in America. The west was largely unknown.

The primary task was to build a nation while, at the same time, evangelizing the culture. Methodist circuit riders were very successful in this as they could cover large areas quickly and “plant churches” in areas that others couldn’t.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, much of the missionary work had been done by the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. After the war, the Anglican church pulled out of America and we were left to our own leaders. Francis Asbury, for example, was a missionary to America and he traveled and preached across the country until his death in 1816.

What started in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of our country, was the first big move into missions for many evangelical Protestants. For a few hundred years already, Protestants were on mission to the Native Americans.

Many Christians believed they were in the last times after the Revolutionary War. Many believed it was important to convert as many people as possible before the coming of Christ. Missionary work fit well with this new dynamic in the young country.

By 1810, small group of men attending Andover Seminary banded together to follow the path that English Baptists were doing since 1792, evangelizing Asia. Men like Adoniram Judson and Samuel Mills created the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, supported by the Congregationalist denomination. They began raising money and creating resources and, by 1812, Judson and his wife left for India with a few other families. Eventually they reached Burma where they ministered for 38 years. Judson’s group was the first

Throughout the early 1800s, there were only a few hundred American missionaries throughout the world. By the turn of the century, there would still be very few missionaries worldwide. If you totaled all of the missionaries from both Europe and America throughout the 1800s, they would total no more than 15,000 and many of those died within their first 2 years in the field.

The main issue with missions throughout the 1800s was twofold:

  • With much of the young America in need of both evangelizing and social missions, many of the churches focused their missions efforts at home.
  • The War of 1812 caused Americans to lose their international spirit. This time of isolationism would last until just after the Civil War.

In 1800 only 1% of all Protestant Christians lived in Asia, Africa or Central/South America. Today that number totals 67% of all Protestants live there.

But this brings up a very interesting point. With regard to immigration reform, the problems with England caused an isolationist view, not just for missionaries, but for all of America. The isolationist views caused denominations and religious leaders to withhold much of their international missions activity.

The majority of missions happened at home.

But when the century changed from the 1800s to 1900, there was a large missions conference in New York City called the Ecumenical Missionary Conference. Over 162 different mission organizations were represented.  Much of the reason mission organizations became interested in overseas missions again is that after the Civil War, the United States was experiencing a labor shortage and opened up immigration to allow people to come in to offset that shortage. The influx of new cultures into America gave churches a taste of what else was outside of America.

All the major denominations formed their own missionary societies.

But the 1900s would not be without their share of problems, much of it tied to both immigration reform and the American dream. For much of the early 1900s we had significantly restrictive immigration policies against those of Asian descent. This led to many missionary agencies in Asia and eastern countries shutting down.

World War 1 ended in in 1918 and a few short years afterward America realized that we needed to protect our borders.

While American Protestants worked their way into Central and South America at the turn of the 20th century, the majority of cultural understanding didn’t start until soon after the signing of Bracero Agreement in 1942.

With many of the special allowances for Mexico and other countries, especially those from Europe, Asian countries started to remove American missionaries. Many missionaries in the 1950s were removed from China. This was partially due to Marxist ideology taking hold in China at the time, but the lack of deference for Asian, and primarily Chinese, immigrants led to China closing much of their opportunities for American missionaries during the 50s.

Another interesting parallel happened in the late 1960s. We passed preference system which replaced the quota system in 1965. Over the next few years, there would be an increase in missionary attacks and countries, like Guinea, for example, who would close their borders to all missionaries. Thousands of churches internationally would be destroyed. Coincidentally, the preference system that America adopted to help with immigration would prefer European countries and skilled workers but place a cap on the countries those countries that eventually expelled missionaries or started persecuting them.

Then in 1980, the Refugee Act opened up emergency immigration relief to those who were persecuted and then in 1986, the Simpson-Mazolli Act gave amnesty to over 2.7 million illegal immigrants. Also at the same time, there was a significant increase in the number of missions organizations throughout America. There were also some very large conferences on missions throughout the world. As a matter of fact, Time Magazine ran a cover article on missionaries in 1982.

These are just a few of the parallels that can be derived from the information. Honestly, I wish I had taken much more time in the research of this.

I wish I had taken this beyond just parallels.

There is no research out there at all about this topic. And it is something that perplexes me. With all of the missions organizations out there who make their livelihoods from ensuring the safety and growth of their missional communities, why would there not be any research done about this topic?

In all honesty, the research would be somewhat easy, although very time-consuming:

  • Contact every missions organization in the world (and there are thousands) and get their missionary information since their inception. Find out how many missionaries they had each year since they started, find out their low and high points on their organizational life cycle, and incorporate the number of missionaries that were commissioned and the number of churches that were planted versus the number of missionaries that either died or came out of the field as well as the number of churches that were closed/destroyed.
  • Consolidate the information from those organizations on a chart by year.
  • Overlay the highlights in American immigration reform.
  • That alone would be enough to give better data than simple parallels.
  • If you want to take it further, then reach out to the State Department for their take on the question.
  • Then reach out to countries that have traditionally been for and been against having missionaries in their countries. Speak to someone at the leadership level in those countries and get whatever information possible. This could be done through a simple questionnaire that would be standard for all countries contacted.
  • Plot their information on the combined yearly missionary chart to get key points along the timeline.

While that would get us enough for a published book on the topic, it would definitely not be enough to provide scientific evidence.

I would love to speak further with missions experts about this topic. I am sure that there is something there, I just can’t officially put my finger on it. If anyone would like to work together on a project like this, please reach out to me at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com.

Isaiah 6:8 – And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

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