January 31, 2009

"I don't trust them to tell me what it means"

Back in the small town last week, I spoke to a couple who have frequently been interested in being part of a new church, but have never committed to it. We began talking about what it means to follow Jesus. As I listened, I didn't hear any aversion to Jesus, but rather a genuine interest and affection for his teachings. This couple has never joined a church, because they have been put off by priests and pastors who speak for 30 or 40 minutes to explain 5 verses of the Bible and by the time they are done, no one understands what those 5 verses were about.

When I began telling them stories and encouraging them to learn God's word for themselves... not what someone says it means, but what it actually says, they showed great interest. We may have a new group starting in the next week or two. Be in prayer for this couple. "E" and "S."

In the High City, only one helper could go on the visits today. She is from a coastal island of Africa and will go back in 3 years after she finishes her studies here. She is the only one in her family that is a Christian and the rest are Spiritists. She came to Christ from the work of a pastor that went from his island to her island and shared the Good News. She has been helping for the past two weeks, but today I learned why. She wants to know how to evangelize her family and start a church among them. Her name is Linda.

January 18, 2009

Tracing back over some mis-steps

Thursday I returned again to the small town. I stopped by the retreat center to schedule a day-long pastor's meeting for next Thursday. I ended up talking with the people there for an hour and arrived late into the small town. One of the families I was going to visit gave up waiting, so I missed a chance there.

I'd been listening to a podcast called Story4All as I drove, and heard a missionary tell his stories of work in Africa. One of the things he told was about how he'd gone a pretty good distance away to tell someone about Jesus, and then his neighbor asked him "Why did you drive past me to get to them?"

That made me think of "R" and "F," who were my employers when I worked at the English school in the next town up the road. I decided to pay them a visit. When I arrived I was readily received in their home. I told them that I'd come to see them, because I'd told them many times I was a missionary, but never sat down and told them the Gospel the same way I did for others.

They ordered a pizza for us to eat and I began telling the story of Jesus. The time passed, the pizza was eaten, and I needed to go, but the story wasn't finished. They asked me to spend the night. So, I called Loaise and she told me that it would be fine, as long as I left early enough in the morning to get back home before 8:00.

We stayed up until 1:00 AM talking about Jesus and all he did. I need to go back and do some follow up, but as I was leaving at 6:00 AM, "R" said to me: "Your message you came to share is important.... it's already having an effect on us. Thank you"

January 11, 2009

It never happens the way you expect.

Thursday I returned to the small town and Saturday we did home visits in the high city.

We went to the home of the woman who takes care of so many children. We'd planned on beginning a short evangelistic story set, but when we arrived we saw that she was not well. She'd been sick and wasn't able to receive us in her home. She came out to the street and asked us to pray for she and her mother and the children. We prayed and then left, a little disappointed that we weren't able to start evangelizing.

Sunday morning she brought the children to our church and sent them up stairs, where Loaise was leading the children's service. She came up to me after the service and said. "I know that you are right, I want to be baptized. Come again to my house on Saturday and you can tell the Bible stories to my family."

In the other home we visited on Saturday, I pleaded with a young man to give up his drunkeness and drug use so that he could follow God. He smiled and was polite, listening to the stories from scripture we told, but as we finished, he made it to the crack-house before we got back to the church. The next day, two women from the home came to our service and said. "You are telling the truth, we want to hear more."

May God give the harvest.

January 5, 2009

A neighborhood that needs Jesus

Saturday we returned to the same area of the high city. We made a number of visits, and I was able to tell stories in two of them.

One interesting visit. A father was having trouble controlling his six-year old son so he picked him up and held him. It looked like they were playing for a minute, until the father screamed and dropped his son on the ground and swatted him in the face twice making his nose bleed. He then lifted up his own shirt to reveal a pretty serious looking bite mark.
Wow. We stood there for a minute, not sure exactly what to say.

In another home there was a woman who takes care of her children, her sister's children, and her neighbor's children. All together there are 9 or 10 of them. They live in extremely humble conditions.

In another visit, I was able to tell the story of Christ's death and resurrection. I'd been telling through a number of stories at this house. As always, more first time visitors came. The most interesting was a man in his 50's, drunk on cachaça (a brazilian moon-shine). He interrupted the story 3 times asking us to pray for Jesus, so he wouldn't get too hurt in the crucifixion.

In all of these families (broken families and blended families) there is poverty, there is illiteracy, there are relatives in jail, there are addictions to drugs and alcohol, there is violence, and there is sexual sin. There is also a yearning to escape and an attraction to Jesus.

Pray for us as we continue to bring the message of Jesus into the homes of these families.