November 23, 2008

How can I forgive?

Saturday, I prayed for a long while and asked God to show me the story from scripture that he wanted me to share. When I looked through the gospels I saw the one He wanted me to tell. I smiled and Loaise looked at me and said "What?" I told her that God had given me a specific story to tell today.

We went first to visit the new Christians with a drug history. Only the man and his children were there. We went into the home and the children said "Mommy left again yesterday." I asked what had happened, and he said. "Well, she had been fine since Tuesday, but she got paid yesterday. She couldn't resist the temptation. I thought she'd changed, but she did it again. How can I forgive her now? How many times can I forgive her?"

I knew my story was divinely chosen.

Peter asked Jesus "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus replied, "No, you should not forgive seven times, but rather seventy times seven. Because, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. . . (Matthew18:21-35)

After I told and then talked through the story with the man, he bowed his head. "I will forgive her. I have to forgive her. Can we pray for her now?"

Redemption is a wonderful thing. May God do his work of restoration and reconciliation in this family and in their bodies.

November 21, 2008

New starts and non-starts

Sunday, we began to meet in a new neighborhood in the big city. This is another poor neighborhood and we are meeting on the rooftop of a small general store and bakery. The family is wanting to establish a church in their neighborhood.

We had our first meeting which was just OK. 8 Christians 2 non-Christians and 3 kids. I would have preferred maybe 4 Christians and 8 non-Christians, but we'll make do. I told stories of Jesus from the book of Mark. Next week we should have more guests. We will meet Sunday afternoons until the end of the year, then launch on a weeknight in January.

Thursday, I also returned to the small town and met with the families on the hill. We told and talked about two stories. I am going to begin training Lu, in the wheel-chair to tell stories and assist me when I tell them. We talked about this and he is very interested in the possibility.

In all, I've been a little disappointed with how the meetings with the families on the hill have turned out. Unless we can get away to a retreat setting or something, I am not seeing how this group is going to transform into a church. They have come to faith in Jesus, and have put away their idols, but they are trusting in their infant baptism and don't see a reason to make a firm break with the cultural catholic religion of the small town.

November 20, 2008

Now I believe.

The woman in the picture below came to church with her three children on Wednesday night. I told the story of Daniel 1. Daniel chose not to make himself impure by eating the king's food and had a few challenges to overcome to be able to do that, but the result was that he was healthier, wiser, smarter and as a result was given opportunities he would not have otherwise had.

When the service was over I asked her if she was able to hear the story I told. (She had been doing her best, and unsuccessfully, to keep her son from misbehaving.) She looked up and smiled and said, "Yes I heard the story. We need to stop putting things in our body that make us unable to serve God. I've been using crack for years, but since yesterday, I have no more desire for it.

I asked her if she listed to the recorded stories I gave her. She said yes. So I asked her another question "Do you believe now? Is Jesus your savior?" She replied "Now I believe. Yes. I believe, I know I do."

November 18, 2008

Who is he, that I may believe in Him?

Saturday we returned to the same neighborhood I've mentioned in some previous posts. What's amazing to me about these families is that it is often easy to get a group of people together to hear God's Word. The family from the video, upon our arrival sent their children out to the neighbors and within 5 minutes the kitchen was full of people. There I told the story of Jesus at Levi's house from Mark and then from John, Jesus calling himself the light of the world, and the healing of the blind man in chapter 9.

One woman who has a son and a niece in prison for selling drugs and a daughter who is involved in drug use, told us that since we began meeting in her home that she is finally starting to believe that there is hope. She said that she wants to hear a little more about Jesus, but she is already decided that she wants to be baptized. (She reminds me of the blind man in the story I told. Jesus asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. He replied "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?")

Both the homes we visited have received us well, and want to bring more people to their homes to hear the good news. They have also come to our church to learn more and to worship. Our goal is to form a new church in their neighborhood which will meet in homes as we are and spread the Word of God orally, through telling the stories and teaching them one to another.

November 14, 2008

Stories have a way of poking at your heart.

I made a trip to the small town yesterday. Falling out of rhythm is never a good thing, but the rain storms make it difficult. I was able to meet with the family by the bus station and tell the story of first man and woman and the garden in Eden.

I also visited the singer and his family. He is anxious to try to make some songs out of Bible stories, but we have not set a time to begin yet. I told the same story I've been telling on Sundays. The story of Josiah and his reform. As I told about how the idols were broken and smashed into pieces and burned and spread over graveyards, they couldn't help but look to the left and right at the many little statues in their home. The woman got up and left before the end of the story. The singer thanked me for telling it.

The families on the hill weren't at home. Neither were the usual men who collect on the street to talk on the street. I am not sure what was going on, but the neighborhood was nearly empty.

November 10, 2008

Media page

I am experimenting with video. Below should be a link to the last visit we made on Saturday. I made a small video.

An example of evangelism through storying

Rain ... and showers of blessing

Usually is does not rain much here in November. It has been raining every day. I was even kept from going to the small town this week due to a storm.

Saturday, however, even in between the rain storms, we were able to go to the high city and visit the man who received Christ last week. This time his girlfriend was there. As we entered the house she began to cry and say, "We need God in this house." I asked her if she knew Jesus and she said, "No, I don't think I do." She cried again and said that she needed God's help, because she can't beat the drugs on her own.

I remembered the story from Luke 7:36-50 of Jesus in Simon the Pharisee's house. I told that story of how the sinful woman went in and bowed down behind Jesus and cried at his feet. Her tears wet his feet and she kept drying them with her hair and pouring out expensive perfume on them. I told her that her tears reminded me of the tears of that woman who cried, because she discovered that Jesus was the one who could free her and forgive her.

She wanted to know about this Jesus. I told her other stories of Jesus and his teachings. I told stories of Jesus for about 45 minutes. I asked her if she wanted to believe in him and receive his forgiveness. She said she wanted to, but needed God's help to believe. We prayed for the family. and went to another visit. The youngest boy didn't want us to go. He threw a rock and hit one of our team members in the neck.

Here is a picture of the man and woman.The next day, unexpectedly, they came to our church and sat in my Sunday school class. I told the stories of creation and the fall. The woman looked at me when a sign up sheet was passed around and said, "I can't read or write, would you put my name on the list?" She'd never heard these stories before. She asked us to pray for her to have the strength to believe in Jesus.

I can't be sure, but I think that between the sunday school hour and the worship service, when she went out, she got high. During the worship, she didn't seem "there." Pray that this whole family can come to Christ.

November 2, 2008

Preaching the Good news to the poor

Bro Larry reminded me while he was here, how it can be essential in some cases to share the gospel and give and invitation in one meeting with a person. It may be the only chance you've got.

The storying through the scriptures is a great way to prepare people who have no frame of reference (as they would in the Bible belt, for example) to believe on and receive Christ Jesus. It also aids discipleship so that oral learners can be discipled to the core and not just follow the forms of religion divorced from the truth of God and his word. By storying, we help new Christians avoid syncretism.

Yesterday, I led a team of 4 to go to one of the poorest of neighborhoods in the big city. The first home we visited was a man and his 3 children. He is an ex drug user who stopped only because he discovered he has the HIV virus. He looks like he might already be somewhat symptomatic with AIDS, but it could just be malnutrition. I don't know. His girlfriend, with whom he has 3 kids, was gone. He said she still gets high and may come home next week, or maybe not.

As we entered into the home we saw how the children (5, 7 and 8) were starved for attention and emotionally underdeveloped. They immediately sat on our laps. As we began talking with this man, I sensed that he needed to really hear the message of Christ. I prayed that the Lord would put the message on my lips.

I started telling the story of creation and told through to the story of Adam and Eve's disobedience. As I told about the curse and expulsion from Eden, I highlighted the promise of God that one of Eve's descendants would smash the head of the serpent. I then began telling about the birth of Jesus, I told through his baptism and some teachings and miracles and told the story of his death and resurrection. I told about how he showed himself to his disciples and how he ascended into heaven. This narrative, which I just sort of wove together from smaller stories, took about 25 minutes to tell.

The man received Christ and wants to be baptized next Sunday. He told us that if his girlfriend ever comes home, he will catch her when she is sober and tell her the same story. He wants us to return next week and gather people on his street to hear this story.

I will write about some of the other visits in another post.