While talking with Mike this morning he mentioned that recent studies say that culture shock actually comes and goes in waves through the entirety of one’s life as opposed to the previous opinion that it came for a time and eventually went away. Over time as you develop some center the waves become less and less strong. A wave recently passed, and still my “center” is becoming more defined and steady.
Recently Dani and I have discovered that we need to be in more structured community and will begin looking for a home church to spend at least half our time in.
It would appear that past missionaries came to Chile, planted churches, and left never to be heard from again. It seems some have kept in better contact than others. It would appear that the past missionaries left some pastors in charge with inadequate formation (preparation), because—in Chile—some Restoration Movement Churches teach Calvinism, others speak in tongues, others perform miraculous healings regularly. In some the men sit separately from the women and in others strange legalistic traditions altering many parts of the service have emerged. Some take communion every Sunday. Most don’t. Some believe baptism is essential for salvation. Some don’t. Certain pastors warn us not to work with other pastors for varying reasons, most of which include warnings that a pastor will take advantage of us. Orthodoxy is David in the Chilean Christian Church and factionalism is Galiath.
So, we have begun to reach out to past missionaries to get a better understanding of the history, so that we can serve the Chilean Church better in the present and future, because if you’re going to climb a proverbial rock wall, it is best to ask the person at the top where tricky situations might be and how they maneuvered through them than to try to do it on your own. If you are reading this and you have been a missionary in Chile, please help us serve better by reaching out to us with your experiences. There are always many sides to the same story and we want to learn from you in humility. BUT WE DO NEED YOUR HELP to be better servants to the Iglesia de Cristo in Chile. firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a great conviction that part of the work we do in Chile is to communicate everything well to our community in the United States as well as with locals in our neck of the woods/field. Over this past year we have started from scratch for developing CCM as “Plan A” obviously didn’t work out. The elders of Cornerstone Christian Church and other mentors and ministry contacts have helped us to find ministry opportunities and now god is blessing much trial and error experience with fruit. We’ve gone back to the Bible and talked about what it says—and does not say—about missions, and have created a solid foundation from which we are now able to work more productively.
I have tried to communicate where we are and where we think we’re going as the ministry was (and is) forming. It seems good to me to share obstacles that we have had, have now, and will have in the future… even when we don’t have the answers. Now Daniela and I are married and growing stronger and closer together everyday because of God’s blessing on our life. We are getting very busy with ministry opportunities. We want to share where we are with you consistently so that you have a better idea of the mission you are supporting and praying for, even if we can’t tell you what’s next. Although we are excited about God’s plans for our future.
What does that mean? How do we know where God is leading and what his plans our for our life. My first thought is, “We don’t.” How could mere men know the entirety of God’s plan for us when His ways and thoughts are higher than our own? Well then, how do we follow God’s will for our life? How do we know which direction we should go?
Here’s what Dani and I are doing to follow His lead: We’re making contacts and pursuing ministry partnerships with anyone who seems to be of a genuine and humble heart; and yes, even if we have some minor doctrinal differences (I promise you won’t find two Restoration Movement churches in Chile that are the same). We’ve been getting to know the nation as a whole, the capital of the country where we reside (Santiago), and more specifically the southern half although we have begun to branch out to the north a little more as well. We are also specifically concerned with the community of La Cisterna that is our local community. We’re working with a lot of people in a lot of different ways with our eyes pealed for any ministry opportunity to pray about.
You’ve probably read that an excellent ministry opportunity in Osorno has presented itself. Yes, the time with Edio and Emma was very VERY good and yet we will still continue to pursue the ministry that God has blessed us with in Santiago. No matter what happens, the time spent with Edio and Ema and the churches of Osorno was a blessing. There church and ministry is so active, Edio and Ema and others do an amazing job of pastoring the community and promoting deep relationships not just with Christ, but with one another as well.
So how do we follow God’s leading or plan for our live? By using our minds to think logically, plan ahead, give ourselves time to pray about and evaluate options way ahead of time, and give God time to open and close doors as He wills. Talking it out with people also helps (wise counsel). No big changes coming soon, but we are planning ahead.
Tonight at 8pm before the prayer meeting I have a meeting with the pastor of Iglesia de Cristo on Capitán Thompson in La Cisterna. We have been working with their congregation more and more over the past year, but definitely have some doctrinal differences. Most of the consistent members of the congregation seem to be aware of this as well, though we never teach on the subject and consciously avoid the topic so as not to hinder ministry or create factionalism. Though when directly asked, we cannot lie. For example: Dani and I don’t completely deny that people speak in tongues today, but we both agree that if people speak in tongues, there must be an interpreter. I have never seen anyone speak in tongues as the Bible seems to describe it (with an interpreter) and am largely skeptical of the practice. However, I haven’t studied the topic enough to say with absolute certainty that it does not occur anywhere in the world today. I have seen one lead member of the church on Capitán Thompson speak in tongues without an interpreter and that certainly seems unbiblical to both Dani and I. And there are other differences as well.
All that to say that there are some discrepencies and trust has been difficult to build. But tonight I am going to ask this pastor to trust me. I am going to make my case for him to trust me to help him feed his flock, because of Daniela and I’s faithfulness over the past year. He and his family work full-time during the day in the street market and I imagine it must be hard for him to do that and lead the church with 5 meetings a week. It doesn’t seem like there’s much time for anything, let alone sermon prep. Just because we have some different beliefs, doesn’t mean that we can’t work together. So tonight I am going to ask this pastor to trust me more to help him with pastoring his flock.
He might tell me know. He’s a tough cookie. But the fact is that Daniela and I have been faithful to his church and the youth group—and he has permitted us to serve more and more—even though we both have known that we have doctrinal differences since the beginning. He is an intelligent man. So tonight I am going to ask him that he let me do Bible study a different way than the congregation is used to. I’m going to ask him that he warn the congregation that it will be different, and I am going to ask him that he participate in the study to encourage the congregation to participate as well. Honestly, I’m not sure how this is going to unfold, but If God blesses this ministry with Capitán Thompson it could blow everyone involved away. Please pray for God’s blessing and my own humility.
Since a child I have not slept normally due to an illness related to my eye condition called Hypopetuitism which also causes hypothyroidism. I get tired easily and sleep irregularly. In college I would go to sleep at 6 and wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning to study. I’ve never recovered from that cycle and this sleeping pattern has been bothersome to me these first two years on the field. Now I am getting help and the treatment helps me to sleep during the night like normal people and have energy to get through the day. This has been a huge blessing because I’m not constantly wondering how much time I put in to ministry, calculating sleep hours and second guessing my integrity to our home churches. Now Daniela and I are getting more in routine, more in sync and spending less time thinking about the most efficient way to complete trivial tasks and more time on how to bring the gospel to people. We are both very thankful.
Last night we had a great youth meeting. The first words that come to mind to describe it are “raw” and “straight up” :). When we first started teaching I taught the academic way because it seemed to be the best, but now We’re doing a more practical study outlined below:
- Read the passage.
- What questions do you have about it’s meaning or content?
- What do you think is the message of the passage?
- I share some of my personal first thoughts and questions about the text.
- Consult other educated brothers and sister to hear their thoughts on the text (commentaries).
- Evaluate what we have learned.
- Now what do you think the text means?
- How do you think the text applies to us now?
- Let’s pray silently and ask God what He wants to tell us about the text (3 minutes).
- What did God tell you?
It’s pretty intense, but was GREAT!! Only two youth came, and that might be the way it is for a while, but if we can keep confronting them with God’s love this way, it will undoubtedly produce fruit. Hopefully they will keep coming. They left somber. Not judged. Not condemned. But I saw the remorse in them that every Christian must feel at one point or another. I reminded one youth as he was leaving that God meets them right where they are. I always tell them, “It is not your task or even within your ability to do ANYTHING to go (or get) to God. Just collapse where you are and let Him save you.” We’re hoping that they come because of personal desire and not social pressures, and that they desire God more each day. Daniela and I are very passionate about their individual situations and challenges.
You all know I’ve been studying for a masters degree at Johnson, and it seems that people might get a little too big for their bridges when they use big words. I only want to communicate things the best way possible and apologize if I have come off prideful in the past. Sometimes when I’m explaining concepts that are new to me, I only know how to use the “big” words with which they were explained to me. But we all keep getting better by His grace. Thank you for your patience.
Why is this post entitled “The Dawn”? Because the past two years have been the night. It has been difficult, dark, and lonely at times, but by His grace we grew through the trial. We started over from scratch and the elders of CCC and others had to be patient with me. Steve Trinkle helped me walk outside and meet people when I was sitting in the apartment, just praying for something to do for God, and ashamed of the lack of ministry that was happening. Steve and others helped me hone in on a specific kind of ministry I’ve always had passion for and gave me tips on how to try things out without damaging relationships after the trial period so that possibilities for future partnership would remain open. None of the ministries we’re doing now were part of the schedule a year ago, and now God is providing opportunities to do ministry specific to the passion God has given me.
But now we have a foundation. Now we have grown in strategy and defining goals. Now we understand the needs of Chileans better and understand that Chileans will always understand that need better than foreigners. Now I’m more confident and capable of teaching by speaking better Spanish and having a solid foundation for accessing modern shcolarship so as not to be led astray. Daniela and I are stronger.
So, this is the dawn. The night has passed for now and Daniela and I are so encouraged by the way God has been blessing our marriage and ministry. The problem is that just when everything is going great, Satan wants to give you a pat on the back and say, “You did it”. Daniela and I haven’t done anything. God is the one who has provided all of the ministry opportunities and mentorship that have helped us get here. So please pray that I won’t become prideful and forget how to rely on our Father.
Daniela works 50 hours a week… well actually I don’t know how many hours a week she works. lol. I know I kiss her good bye before the son comes up and she doesn’t get back until it’s down again. So, with a work week like that, how is she supposed to be doing ministry activities all weekend and there not be a missing gringo in Santiago? I’m learning that part of my work is to make sure that we have food in the house so we don’t have to waist time we could be doing ministry activities together, going grocery shopping and running errands. It’s actually even more practical because I just hit the store on the way home from a meeting or activity or something that I’m out doing and that way we don’t take extra trips and we get more out of our time. Please don’t misunderstand me. Daniela does a ton, but I realize that if I take responsibility for more at home we can do more together in the community. That is part of us getting into a better routine and more efficient as a team.
As always, thank you for your partnership. You bless us.
Todd and Daniela