February 28, 2012

Some Mistakes, but God Moves

My deafness has been a challenge. I find it harder and harder to do the things I need to do. Simple things like calling someone on the phone are not possible for me right now. My hearing is getting better daily, but in the meantime, this is a challenge.

One mistake I’ve been making is in modeling for Mr S how to lead participatory Bible studies. He is managing the Bible study time, but I am still facilitating the discussion. This is not ideal, because, it creates an expectation that a highly trained outsider needs to direct Bible learning.

Worse, with my deafness creating communication barriers, group participation in the Bible studies is weakening, as I’ve found it easier to talk than ask questions . So, I am not only creating the wrong expectation, I am giving the wrong model. Two mistakes.

That being said, God has been at work. Five of the eight regular participants are now baptized and two more plan to soon. Mr S has also shared with a work colleague about what God has done in his life. This will lead to a new home meeting in a new neighborhood.

Sorry that I haven’t written about the last couple of storying sessions. Maybe I’ll get to that soon.

February 12, 2012

Crutches and Hospitality

A little over a week ago, my wife slipped and fell while picking mangos from the tree in our back yard. The tree is on a slope of about 40 degrees. So, landing wrong is always a big possibility, when jumping. She rolled her foot and tore, or at least severely sprained a ligament. She’s been on crutches since.

She had a cast for 3 days, and now she is keeping the foot immobilized  and icing it down several times a day. Once the foot is well enough, she can begin physical therapy.

So, this time, I went to Mr S’s house alone. The hill is too steep and there are too many deep holes in the dirt road for her to even have a chance to climb. I am still deaf, so going alone was a challenge, but like I mentioned in the last post, we don’t want to lose rhythm.

I asked Mr S to manage the Bible study time as best as he could remember. So he asked everyone to share something they were thankful to God for. Then He asked them to tell about what was frustrating in their lives or what needed God’s help. He asked someone to pray. We talked about last week’s passage and who we shared it with.

I then told the passage of Acts where Luke records Paul and Silas’s journey to Philippi. The family recalled the story together, making sure to get each detail right (this takes a bit of time, but is always worth it.) We then observed several elements of the story.

  • Lydia and her family being baptized right away.
  • Lydia receiving Paul and his companions in her home for an extended time.
  • The slave girl and her situation.
  • Her healing and the reaction of the city.
  • Paul and Silas’s reaction to being stripped, beaten and thrown in jail.
  • God’s response to prayer.
  • The jailor and his family being believing and being baptized right away.
  • Paul’s insistence on a correct resolution to his jailing.
  • The reunion at Lydia’s house with the other Christians.

The family began to make applications on two observations.

First, the way the gospel was spreading. People were being baptized right away based on believing in Jesus and not after being approved or passing a test. They talked about the importance of being baptized. They mentioned that one of their sons is being baptized in a local neighborhood evangelical church (today), and that they want to as well, but the church has a number of requirements for which they don’t qualify yet. They are considering if they should wait or just be baptized and start meeting as a church in their home.

Second, was how hospitable the new believers were. Lydia received a group in her home, provided for them, and held meetings in her home. The Jailer received prisoners in his home and took care of them. The family talked about how God brings people together. The family has been receiving a good number of people over for the Bible studies, friends and extended family, and even opening space for others to live with them. (This from a family of seven in a one bedroom house.)

Keep praying.

February 3, 2012

Cousins and Neighbors

We returned to Mr S’s house last night. No rain, so the walk was easier. His daughter is recovering quite well and will have her stitches out in another week.

We spent an hour or so just visiting and enjoying company before beginning the Bible storying. We have purposed to be friends and family. We want to set the DNA of the relationship as one of equals under God, and not any other thing. In the past, we’ve inadvertently set ourselves up as one who is above. This is the wrong way to start churches and make disciples. (Please read “We Ministered to Them” in my Beyond Outreach Blog)

Our start was the same as always, each person sharing something they are grateful to God for, and then each person sharing a need in their life. This is how we set the place for prayer at the beginning of home Bible studies.

After we finished this, I asked Mr S to pray, putting him on the spot. He stood up with all of us, trembling and frightened, and prayed. This was a major breakthrough for he and his family. It is the first time he led his family in prayer and prayed in front of  his family. It was a big deal for everyone.

A cousin has come to live with the family. She has been participating for the last 3 weeks in this home Bible study. She is growing very close to God as well. The whole family is transforming. In addition, neighbors who are members of a local evangelical church have been observing what is happening in this family and are working hard to call them to join.  We will see what happens there. God is at work.

The Bible passage was John 9. I told the story in my own words, but 100% faithful to the scripture, not adding or taking away anything. We stepped through the story together, meaning the whole family recreated the passage, talking through the details until they got them all right. We then observed parts of the passage and found applications. We agreed together on how each of our families and each of us individually would put this scripture in to practice in our lives, and made plans to meet again next week.

(My current deafness is making this a little more difficult for me, but has been used of God in this whole process. He knows what he is doing. You can read about my deafness at http://smy2ci.blogspot.com )