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Thursday, February 28, 2008

True Followers

This has been an interesting week. We have been studying the persecuted church. We had 2 days of sessions on what God is doing in countries where following Jesus is hazardous to your health. The things that believers go through in some of those places is unbelievable.

In the US, we worship in freedom so it is hard for us to picture anything different. However, persecution is the norm for a large part of the world. I get a little irritated when I hear people in US churches talking about how hard it is to be a Christian, or how much persecution they experience at their job or school. In the states, it is illegal to do to people what is being done to believers around the world. In some countries, when a family member decides to follow Jesus his/her father (or another relative) is obligated to kill them. This usually occurs within the first 72 hours after their conversion. Others are tortured until they deny Jesus. Others have bones broken, houses burned, or property stolen. The locals will no longer sell them food in the markets.

My God is the God who brings life out of death and He is showing himself faithful among those under persecution. Church planting movements are springing up in some of the darkest places. Their church looks different than what we are used to and it has to. Many of them meet under the cover of darkness. Most of them meet in houses. They baptize new believers in bathtubs. In the midst of danger, they boldly tell people about Jesus Christ. That is very humbling to me.

This Sunday as we sit in our comfy chairs/pews let us remember our bruised and scarred brothers and sisters who are literally in dark, rat-infested, confinement cells singing heart-songs to Jesus.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Drama and Stuff

Well, we are in the swing of things here in VA. We have kind of settled into somewhat of a normal routine. The Lord has been faithful to us as we have gone through some testing of our faith. We were without any way of calling home to family for a couple of weeks and everything we tried just seemed to fail. That is a long story and I don't want to bore myself with it so just trust me on this one, OK? Then we had car trouble and almost got stranded (without a cell phone) in the middle of who knows where. Eventually, we had the car towed and I had the opportunity to share a little bit with the tow truck driver about what we were doing out in the middle of nowhere in a "compound" that looks like it was designed by David Koresh (sp?). In the end, I prayed for him and his mother who had just broken her back after falling off her horse (insert joke here). Ask the Lord to use our conversation and prayer to stir his heart to know more about the Savior.

The focus on this week's sessions is being a cross-cultural witness. Today, we studied a lot of anthropology. It was interesting if you like that kind of stuff. We are also studying the book of Acts from the point of view of a church-planter. Basically, we are studying the patterns that Paul and the disciples used as they planted the early churches. It has been good to really get into the Word through a book study. It has been a little while since I have done that. Our final month before moving out here was so hectic, I let my quiet time dwindle down to next to nothing. Thankfully, God has been teaching us a lot from His Word since we've been here. It's amazing how you can be spiritually revitalized when there is no TV around to distract you. Do TVs still exist? I was just curious because we've been a little out of touch with reality lately.

Thanks for the prayers and everything.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

In the Beginning

We have reached our destination in VA and have started our training. Everything is going well and the boys are having a lot of fun meeting new friends and playing sports everyday.

Here is our typical schedule (in my opinion):

  1. Get up way too early (and you still miss breakfast)
  2. Go to morning seminars
  3. Go to lunch
  4. Go to afternoon seminars
  5. Play with the kids for an hour or so
  6. Go to dinner between 5-6pm only (that's just crazy)
  7. Play basketball for an hour or so (not nearly long enough)
  8. Campus turns into a ghost town at 8pm sharp (weird, huh?)

That's basically our life for the next 7 weeks. The seminars are very informative and usually very challenging spiritually. I have already felt hugely inadequate to carry out the task set before us. I have said this over and over but I'll say it again: I am just a regular, common, ordinary person just like you. There is not one ounce of 'super-spirituality' in my whole being. I simply said, "I'll go where you send me Lord." Imagine if the Lord sent you half way around the world to make his name known to a people who have never heard. Think of how dwarfed you would feel from such an awesome responsibility. Now you are beginning to get a glimpse of what is going through our hearts and minds.

Here are a few things that we would ask you to pray for:

  • That we would fall deeper in love with the Lord Jesus than we ever have before.
  • That we would seek His face in earnest prayer everyday.
  • That we would weep over the lost like Jesus did.
  • That we would boldly share the message of the cross.

Thanks for caring.

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