Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Rumor has it that a lot of relief agencies and volunteers are packing it in and heading out of North Alabama. I hope that is not true. The EFCA TouchGlobal Crisis Response is staying for awhile. There is still much to do here. I am proud of my pastor and of my church and the EFCA and their continued resolve to carry on the relief efforts. My hope is that God will continue to raise up volunteers from all over to come and help with the clean up and rebuilding of our community. Our church building has become an outpost for mission relief to our neighbors. If you are still hoping to volunteer when you aren’t working your job please come out to Hope or give us a call. 256-830-5544. We have jobs to do and people to help.
Speaking of Rebuilding check out this effort some friends of mine are putting togetherREBUILD +he South
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Some thoughts and observations regarding today:
Steve covered Counseling Unbelievers this morning. There were many "Amen!'s" from our brother Eddie. An interesting thing Steve shared with me this week has been that when Hope started teaching in Nicaragua, Eddie was very adverse and contentious with the theology being taught. This week, which may be our last teaching time here, Eddie has been our "Amen! guy." He shouts "Amen!" after nearly every scripture verse. He shouts "Amen!" in the afternoon, sometimes to just wake people up from the lunch and heat induced drowsiness. But today was special, especially for Steve. Eddie informed us that he would be unable to attend Friday's last session. He must return to his home about two and a half hours outside of Esteli. He had received a phone call that he needed to return home. He thanked us for coming and teaching and then he said, "I will pray that Hope Church will return to Nicaragua." For Steve, it was a very monumental moment. We had won over a brother. Eddie, in the beginning of Hope's involvement here had publicly argued with the teachers. And now, he was hoping that we would return again one day. That is Jesus stuff.
<----Eddie is the man sitting in the corner of this picture.
Today was also The Marriage Counseling portion of the teaching. We were able to put in their hands a notebook of one hundred and seven pages of Marriage Counseling material in Spanish. Steve and I will only be able to cover two sections of the material, a total of about eighteen pages. However, the students were so grateful for the material and were eager to follow along as they have everyday. There was a buzz in the room when I began my session on marriage. It seemed they were eager to hear how to have stronger biblical marriages.
A Side Note: I have struggled to keep my portion to just teaching the material. I have slipped into "preacher" mode on several occasions, however. There is just something about articulating the gospel of Jesus that I have to "throw down" and exhort and not just calmly go through the material. Today was no exception. In fact I think it happened more so today than any of the other days. End Side Note
Our translators had shared how marriage has been eroding in Nicaraguan culture and how the church here has similar problems even with the pastors (we aren't that different after all). So, I exhorted the men, especially the pastors to love their wives, to honor them, to cherish them and to care for them as Christ loved the church. I could not help but riff a little Mark Driscoll and call out the men to stop abusing the women. I challenged the young singles to grow up and take responsibility for themselves if they wanted a wife. It was a really great session. Chico shares his thoughts on it in "Back of the Truck Report" so, make sure you check that out.
When I taught the section on sexual purity in marriage, we had several questions during the break. One that we were unable to answer in mixed company. Some of the young men gathered a translator and myself for a private pow wow on the subject matter and soon Steve joined us for the little informal Q&A. It was good that the men were thinking the matter through and we offered the best biblical answers we could. At dinner tonight Steve remarked that this was a first time in all the years he has been teaching on marriage hat he got a question with a particular phrase that he had never been asked regarding sex. This is a family blog so you'll have ask him personally.
I got so worked up preaching, er I mean teaching that I was over heated at lunch time and couldn't eat my lunch. However, I was really feeling full from the encouraging "Amen's" that I was receiving. So I drank my water and prepared for my next session with prayer and thanksgiving. Chico, one of the translators, said that the students enjoyed my passion and intensity. Glory to God.
Most of the students are women and the sisters are encouraging with their attentiveness and laughter at my jokes about myself. However, there are a handful of younger men (twenty somethings) that have really encouraged me this week. To see them eager to understand Biblical Counseling and to have a better understanding of God's word has been awesome. To see young men nod and smile in agreement with God's Word has been uplifting. They are the future of the church in Nicaragua and that is exciting.
Jesus is in Nicaragua and His bride is radiant here.
I flew through the rest of my material in under an hour after lunch so that Steve could get into the Conflict Resolution session that he will finish in the morning. We then held a graduation ceremony for last year's students and it was a blessing to shake the students hands and see the joy on their faces as they received their certificates. Each certificate has a picture of the student (this is often the only picture they get taken and printed each year), their name and the teacher's names. I was glad Cairo was calling the names. Most of them were a mouth full. But each person who cam forward was smiling with gratitude and what seemed like an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
My time here in Nicaragua has been brief but it has been rewarding. The people here are friendly and pleasant. The believers are filled with joy and radiate Christ. The translating team has been fascinating. I am wore out at the end of the day and I am only speaking and thinking in one language.
The thing that has stood out the most to me is the way the city has been full of life. There are always people walking from somewhere to get somewhere. The cars and trucks and buses, while fast and always beeping seem to have a system in what feels and looks like utter chaos. There is constant merging and vehicles are always moving here. Motorcycles and buses share skinny one way streets and Cairo seems to know his city like the back of his hand. I have been impressed with our translators, especially Cairo. He loves his country and he loves Jesus. He seems to love serving the gringos through translation and handling the ins and outs of us being here.
The Coca-Cola tastes the same, btw.
The pastor of the church where the onference is held has an unusual pet:
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Today I taught for the first time. On Monday, my teammate, Steve took the load of teaching and it lasted for all of the sessions as he taught on the introduction to Biblical Counseling. Today I carried much of the load as I taught on Secular Psychology and it's influence in the church. It was a very difficult morning. The history and views of Secular Psychology were more of information transfer and it was difficult to tell if I was engaging the students. However, there were parts of the teaching that were more Bible centric as we began to contrast the views of Freud, Skinner, Adler, etc. with the model of Biblical Counseling supported by God's word. It was excellent to be able to share about how secular worldviews have crept into common life and everyday thinking of the church. We are teaching that God's word is sufficient to solve man's problems and that God's people, especially pastors are called to use the word to treat man's problem - sin. Tomorrow, I teach on Understanding the Heart. It will be a full day again, I am sure.
My church family back home has begun to have electricity again!
Someone posted this Google Map of the path of the tornado... Tornado Map
The F5 tornado that ripped through my community was about 2 miles at it's closest point to my house. I have reflected several times since being here in Nicaragua, that my house and my family could have been one of the ones devastated by the violent winds. It is a sobering thought. Even as we were huddled in our closet we could not imagine the devastation that was taking place so near to us. After seeing the images and driving around last week - I was humbled by the destruction. I keep thinking, for all our advancements in modern science and technology, we cannot control the weather. Specifically, we cannot control an F5 tornado. However, for those of us left in the wake of it's destruction we have to be shaken and comforted that there is one who controls the winds. When He speaks the wind obeys. So, even though lives have been lost, there have been many more lives spared. And those of us who have been spared from the wrath of the tornado, need to adjust our thinking and praise the One who was gracious that not all of our community was destroyed. Those of us that are left have hope to rebuild and we should be thankful that even in the midst of this tragedy, God is working all things together for our good and His glory. I have seen and heard of the good that is coming out of the recovery efforts. Churches and communities working together to serve and love their neighbors. That is a good thing. To those who have lost all of your worldly possessions - do not be anxious for God knows what has happened and He will take care of you. Humble yourselves, therefore under God's loving provision. He has spared your life perhaps this is a new start for you to truly live for His glory. For those who have lost family members and friends - there is still hope for you to know Jesus - you are still alive.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Awoke with Alabama still on my mind.
I am trying to focus on where I am and what I am doing. However my thoughts and prayers continue to linger on my friends and family back in Bama. Please pray and help where you can.
So back to our regularly scheduled program.
I am in Nicaragua. I keep having to tell myself that. Today I got the honor and the privilege to preach to Christ's body here in Esteli. Melvin, a very humorous member of our translating team, translated as I preached this morning. I loved it. It was a bit unnerving at the beginning trying to establish a point of contact with a culture I am so foreign to. So, as I usually do back home, I used sports. Dennis Martinez was a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1994-1997, he also has a stadium named after him here in Nicaragua. So, I explained that we have common ground in that we both have cheered for this famous Nicaraguan.I told them of my life before Christ and then told them that I repented of my unbelief and trusted Jesus when I was a senior in High School. I told them that I did not come all the way to Nicaragua to talk about me or Dennis Martinez. I came to talk about Jesus. So, I then preached six of Jesus' "I am" statements from the gospel of John. It was fun and I hope that God was glorified. I only spoke for twenty minutes. They had allotted us one hour. There were no worries though, as the pastor cam and filled up the remaining time, as pastor's are known to do. Pastor Miguel preached for 15 minutes from Genesis 12. I have no idea what he preached on other than he said "familia" a bunch of times.
We found out last night that some churches in a nearby village were told that the conference wasn't taken place this week and Cairo had to do some damage control as he called pastors and informed them that we were indeed a go this week. Sunday was fun and full.
I got to call home from an internet/communications cafe. I was never so grateful to spend 5 cords or 25 cents.
At dinner, Melvin said, "I am as full as a tick." He has spent some time in the Southern most United States. :)
Although he has also been to my birth state, OH-IO!
We traveled over to the church where we will hold the conference and set up the new screen that we will use to project our teaching slides. I will have to take a picture and post it for Vern stork. There is some Alabama/Nicaragua engineering going on with the screen.
The food has been delicioso! We do eat a lot of Gallo Pinto (beans and rice).
We learned of Osama Bin Laden's death on Facebook of all places.